March 15, 2022

Is Tenkara (Really) Getting Too Complicated?

 I recently read a blog post by Jason Klass on Tenkara Talk, where he asked the question if tenkara was getting too complicated. Jason was an "early adopter" and is a highly respected tenkara personality and influencer. He is the author of numerous articles on tenkara, and has done presentations at tenkara gatherings and summits. His blog, Tenkara Talk, is, as I have written before, the best overall source for information on tenkara related techniques, philosophy and opinion. 

But Jason and I don't always agree on everything in the "tenkaraverse". He is apparently not a fan of objective data when it comes to choosing a tenkara rod. 

Rather than summarize his argument and running the risk of misrepresenting his view, I'll let you read his blog post. For what it's worth, I did write a response/comment on his article, but I since there's a chance it might get moderated out, here's a screenshot of what I wrote (bad grammar and all):

Here's a zoomed view that's easier to read:

OK, I'll admit that what I wrote was a little too sarcastic. I freely admit that. But I do think my last few statements have merit. I do think you can have more than one approach to choosing a tenkara rod. If a person doesn't want to read reviews on a product, they don't have to. They can keep it simple and just "take a risk" and buy that product. If a person doesn't want to look at the data for any given product then they don't have to. I'm sure that would work well when buying a car (I know, tenkara rods are not cars, but you get my point). 

I publish my rod data for anyone who would like more information on a rod than what is provided by the rod company (which is often biased and not fully transparent). My data doesn't replace the purchasing risk, it just gives a little more information before you take that risk. If you want more data, then look at the data. If you don't, then don't. But I do agree, buy a tenkara rod and go fishing!

Anyway, I fully support Jason in his opinion. But that opinion is not mine, and I just wanted you to see what I wrote. And remember, it's not him versus me, there can be both. Cheers!


  1. Tom,
    I see and can agree with both points of view. My non analytical mind (Salesman) likes Jason's point of view but I can also see where your doctor's mind, which has to be analytical, is also valid. Tenkara has plenty of room for all of us. Tight lines to all.

    1. I agree, Dave, "Tenkara has plenty of room for us all". Well said.

  2. Tom, your comment was approved and I replied. I just didn't see it until this morning.

  3. I’ve considered myself a “fly fisherman” for 65 years. One of the things that kept me engaged was the realization that I would never know it all, there was always a reason to learn more. I got my first Tenkara rod 10 years ago, in part because it is ideal for the type of fishing I’m drawn to — mountain streams not far from where I live. I was first drawn to it because it promised a certain kind of simplicity, and soon found that it is as least as complex as conventional fly fishing. Add to that its connection to highly developed learning from Japanese fishing culture, and I am totally hooked.

    Philosophically, I think life is complex, and that out challenge is to find ways to manage the complexity without ignoring it. Personally, my path is to be open to all the variables, so that I can find the most elegant (not quite the same as simple) ways to do what I want to do. Japanese culture seems to allow, even revere, that approach, recognizing masters and Senseis who have taken a lifetime to understand the beauty of a broken tea cup.

    That said, Jason’s point, I think, is how about we welcome beginners into the process of learning Tenkara, how “we” market the sport. My own feeling is that Tenkara is not, and should not be, for everyone. Those who are curious will find the ways to learn. Much of what you have done is not for beginners, or rather is for advanced beginners. You and Jason are both Senseis , and both are important to the future of the sport.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. Привет, Том. Я поддерживаю то, что ты делаешь. Твой труд по измерениям и статистике удилищ очень важен. Рассуждать в эмоциях о удочках тенкара можно, но эти эмоции надо подкреплять твоими таблицами и твоими цифрами. Это вместе очень полезная информация. каждый человек слова другого человека воспринимает не одинаково, а цифры все понимают правильно. Продолжай своё доброе дело для тенкара. Том а ты когда измеряешь мошность удилища (CCS), удилище закреплено горизонтально?

    1. Спасибо, Сергей. Я ценю вашу поддержку. Что касается замеров CCS, да, шток находится в горизонтальном положении. Я следую упрощенному методу, описанному в этой статье:

    2. Том, а ты не интересовался, по какому методу японские фирмы присваивают своим удилищам тенкара строй 7:3 6:4 ? Как они это измеряют практически?

    3. Я Исигаки задал этот вопрос, но пока он не ответил.

    4. Я не знаю, как они это измеряют. Мне будет интересно услышать его ответ.

  5. I, for one, enjoy data that help answer questions. What makes rods different? What rod is best for particular situations? How do rod characteristics affect casting and fish catching/fighting? I choose to learn more. It makes me appreciate them more. Others don’t need to or may not want to. That’s fine. It’s a difference in thought process and curiosity, not a characteristic of the sport or hobby. Engineers and designers of rods go through complex calculations and processes to produce rods, similar to the traditional bows that I love. A longbow is really just a stick and a string, but they’re all unique and different. I like hearing about the wood types, materials, limb tapers, glue, speed, hand shock, power curve, etc. It doesn’t complicate the idea of pulling the string and letting it go. Cars are the same way. Some people want to learn everything about them, others just want/need to know there is a gas pedal and a brake pedal. I like to have an idea of what I’m buying, before I buy it. I like researching to inform my decision. Others would be happy with a choice based on a coin flip. To each their own. -Kris Franqui

  6. I depend on your reviews a lot for selecting rods. works for me!

  7. I find Jason Klass's post almost self-refuting. You can't test out tenkara rods in a local shop to compare, so you have to read stuff online. And the problem with that is...some people provide too much information about the measurable properties of rods?

    You have to wonder whether the real problem being addressed is that Tom's test data aren't always kind to Jason's sponsors. Sorry to say it out loud.

  8. As an experienced fisherman, but a newcomer to tenkara, I am very grateful for the honest reviews Tom has provided, I've learned the hard way many times over that buying tackle based on the manufacturer's advertising blurb often ends in disappointment. But if someone choses to take a chance and buy without doing any research that's fine by me, ultimately they will go through the same process I have over the years, namely accumulating loads of rods they don't like!

  9. Tom. After reading information (advertisements and other drivel) from other sources (including TenkaraTalk), I always come to your site to actually learn about a product or process. Thank you for what you do.

  10. Dr. Tom, just keep doing what you enjoy doing. If it's not fun, don't do it. Your site is the only one outside of Japan that I visit. That's the best compliment that I can give you. Have a nice day.

  11. @Tom Davis, @Tenkara on the Trail...

    Personally as a beginner, but a 6 decades plus, lover of all kinds of fishing.

    I think, there exists, a place in the middle as it always does with facts and truth ...

    This is were, we consider, within the scope of our personal experience, physical, personal, emotional and environmental limitations...

    Choices of the heart... the how often - the why's and whatfor's and wherefore's ~ of fishing opportunities... mostly nearer than farther away... etc.

    Digging into the technical miller's fines, might simply be a reason, to talk ourselves out of something...

    To loosie-goosie approach might spell disappointment, and disaster...
    Instead of a wonderful adventure, and time of exploration...

    I am a marketing researcher, salesman, by heart, nature and profession.
    I want people to buy my products, because, I've seen the results and rewards, they've brought to my clients...

    But life, a well lived life, is marked and markedly so, by dappled points
    on-a-timeline of thoughtful, balanced decisions...

    That being said, I wrote a Facebook post, about extremes, in February 2022...

    "It's funny you know -
    How easy it is to talk ourselves right into having little...
    And Right Out of Having Plenty..."

    You can add your own personal set of adjectives of missing or having plenty...

    To the catcher's of all things special.

    David Justiss

  12. Hi Tom, I believe that your rod testing and putting the results on your chart can be very helpful. I personally used that data to help me make a decision on a rod that I will be purchasing.

    I think that the information you provide can be a valuable tool for those of us who have been fishing tenkara for some time. We've owned rods, sold rods and settled on rods that we like. Where I agree with Jason is that for someone new to the sport it could be a bit overwhelming, then again maybe not. I suppose that would depend on the individual.

    Anyway, keep doing what you're doing.

  13. All I can say is, I wish there were more thorough, respectful and passionate data-driven people like you in my other hobbies. Your site is invaluable.