Monday, March 23, 2015

Tenkara, here I come...

So I did it.  I took the leap.  I bought a Tenkara Rod.

It was an easy jump really. Tenkara has proven itself to be less of a fad than originally anticipated (by many) and is taking root in the fly fishing world.   For those of you who read this but maybe aren't familiar with all things fishing...Tenkara is ultra light, reel-less fly fishing.  There is of course much more to it, but that is the simple definition.

I'll admit, at one time (maybe not so long ago) I figured Tenkara to be a bit of an oddball offshoot. Raise your hand if you too thought it was ultra purists taking the cane pole idea and making it trendy. In my mind, it was hipsters, wearing skinny jeans and loafers, drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon and wandering the waterfront running paths acting like they were fishing, but were really just trying to "out cool" each other.

Laugh if you must, but I live in the Madison (WI) area and downtown, this is not entirely out of the realm of possibility.

But as time wore on, more and more of the fly fishing blogs started to pick up on the idea.  Still...I wasn't sold even though the simplicity of Tenkara kept my interest piqued.  More and more articles about Tenkara popped up, and more and more people were apparently giving it a go and deciding that it is fun.  Anyone who reads Troutrageous knows that Michael Agneta is now a full blown Tenkara aficionado.   I've been a fan of T! for a few years and watched quietly from the sideline as he dove further and further into the world of Tenkara.  Via a conversation with Mr. Troutrageous about getting started in Tenkara...he even offered to send me one of his rods to "try out".  Thanks man! But read on and you'll be glad we didn't go that route.  :)

http://www.badgertenkara.com/
It all started this past February, when I went to the annual Badger Fly Fisher's Spring Opener in Madison.  It was their biggest venue ever and they had more vendors on hand than I had ever seen before.  Among those vendors was a local company called Badger Tenkara.  I spent quite a lot of time talking to one of the co founders of Badger Tenkara, Matt Sment.  He was patient, clearly full of passion for not only his rods, but teaching people about Tenkara fishing in general.  The more he explained, the more interested I became and while I did leave the show without a Tenkara Rod in hand, I knew it wouldn't be long before I had my own.  That day, I decided that I was not only going to try Tenkara, but Badger Tenkara would definitely be my rod of choice.

Somewhere in the mix, I also learned about an upcoming event called Midwest Tenkara Fest.  Now I was hooked (pun intended).  Tenkara fishing is finally sort of breaking through here in the driftless and it is time for me to be a part of it.  Plans are currently being worked out to attend the inaugural Midwest Tenkara Fest, if even for just one day.  

Midwest Tenkara Fest
So when the family budget finally found that opening to pick up a Bad Axe rod from Badger Tenkara, I jumped.  A look at my schedule and I realized that in a couple of days, my shift swing at work would offer a chance to do some fishing.  I also realized that it would be great to do that fishing on a Tenkara rod, but I didn't think I had enough time to order it online and have it delivered, so I took a long shot and called Badger Tenkara.  Within minutes of leaving him a voicemail, Matt Smet had called me back, understood my sense of urgency and was willing to meet me in Madison later in the evening to get a rod into my hands.

The rod made it home unscathed and I was a (very) happy little camper.  Then, the following morning, like the dumbass I can occasionally be...I promptly broke the last section of the rod while learning to set it up.  I can be moody anyway...but after this bonehead move, I was an ugly, ugly man for quite a while.  I did contact Matt right away, tucked my tail between my legs and explained that I needed to order a new tip section.

Matt's calm and understanding approach was WAY above and beyond what was necessary.  He immediately set to work trying to get a new tip section to me so that I could still fish it on my upcoming days off.  We set up a time later that day and he offered to meet me near where I work because I only had a small window of time between end of shift and meetings.  Again, this is a guy who did not have to be so helpful in the first place, but is so passionate about his product and fishing that he didn't even think twice about any of this.  Because in my world when things start to go wrong...they go horribly wrong, I had to call Matt (who was likely already en route to meet me) and cancel again.  This time, work was getting in the way.

I was starting to think that maybe God didn't want me to learn Tenkara.

Without blinking an eye, Matt said it wasn't a problem and launched the part via mail.  I didn't get to fish it on the days I had planned, but it certainly wasn't for lack of effort on Badger Tenkara's part.
The rod section arrived exactly when Matt said it would, and after another couple of days full of crazy scheduling, I finally put it together today.  I'm proud to say that my Bad Axe Rod is ready to rock!

As I was putting thoughts together for this post, I was thinking about how many times I have gone to the grocery store, department store, a restaurant, or wherever, and was treated by the employees like they HATED me for being there.  I was starting to believe that true customer service and satisfaction was dead.

Matt Sment and Badger Tenkara have absolutely restored my faith that there are still people out there who not only want to sell a quality product, but back it up with superior service.  And really, in a sport with as great of a brotherhood as fly fishing has...I sure am glad to have people like Matt Sment out there supporting us, and will be Badger Tenkara's biggest fan and cheerleader.

Now...to start figuring out where to fish this bad boy on its inaugural trip.  (after all of this...I feel I owe it to Badger Tenkara to make sure I do the rod justice...)

Til later,

-M

4 comments:

  1. Sweet news! Definitely interested to hear how you like it. I didn't get to fish mine enough while I was out there, but the caddis patterns and even some small nymphs are great fun on those spring creeks. The sensitivity on those things is incredible.

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    1. Tim! So glad to hear from you! We need to get together to do some fishing this year, and that nifty little CDC Caddis pattern you taught me to tie..yeah, it screams to be fished on a Tenkara rod. I will certainly keep you posted on my adventures in fixed line fishing! It should be intertaining.....

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  2. Nice! Welcome to the brotherhood of tenkara, or clan of kebari, or whatever...
    Looking forward to another post or two about breaking IN the rod.
    Once you get the line management down (always a learning curve), I'm sure you'll enjoy fishing it.
    Blast on small fish. Makes them feel huge.

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    1. Got the Tenkara Rod out yesterday for its first run. I'd like to think that I handled line management OK, but that was after 4 hours of stripping streamers in 35 degree weather so my hands were numb and I was delirious. No fish, but that moss that I hooked into felt like a small tarpon as I pulled it across the current...

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