EDC - Every Day Carry / My Tenkara Minimalist Kit

Fall, 2021, the simple two parts of my tenkara kit.

My current version of my minimalist tenkara kit has quite a history behind it. I've been working on a minimalist kit, ever since I've found out about tenkara ten plus year ago. I am not going to go too much into depth about what you need: you obviously don't need a lot of anything if you know what you want. I want a fishing kit that I can carry, every day and it not be invasive to my daily life. I also want a kit that is very effective in what it was designed for, modern Japanese fly fishing, tenkara.

I have written about my kit in the past, the development of it and I can say this, I designed and used one for a solid year before taking it on a two week trip to Japan. I was travelling all over Tokyo then travelling within the country. I didn't want a kit that was separate from my luggage, I wanted one that could go inside of my two backpacks that I was carrying. I used that kit on a pretty intense genryu fishing trip. My hosts, many tenkara experts had an understanding of the Pocket Mini but probably had no need for one as they were in their everyday element and didn't need to carry compact equipment from half way across the globe. I had designed lines that balanced the cast and upon handing them the rod, I received all kinds of compliments on the compactness and usability. After a while, it just was not mentioned, the kit embodies tenkara minimalism and they work so well.

Nissin designs the rods that I choose, the Pocket Mini V3 and the Tenkara Mini (I choose the 3.6m.) If I am targeting a stream known to be tight, I will grab the Pocket Mini V3 2.7m and stuff it inside of the Tenkara Mini case. The Pocket Mini V3 is an exceptional rod that I have bought, used and sold thinking that I didn't need it any longer and sorely missed it for my minimalist kit and ended up buying it again.

I could actually make the kit substantially smaller by choosing a 2.7m Pocket Mini but, I often use the kit as a sort of calling card to introduce tenkara, the Pocket Mini looks like a toy (which it is) but it really doesn't have the look of a serious fishing rod (which it is) if I am showing someone new to tenkara equipment 30 stories up or at a nice restaurant or somewhere no one would have their fishing kit along.

I've been able to introduce tenkara effectively to people by pulling out the rod and extending it and handing it to someone at the office where normally, I would have to pull out my phone and try to describe it. There is nothing like pulling out my fishing equipment out of my bag and showing them the different elements. The Tenkara Mini is impressive as I pull it out, so small and petite. I can pull the 20 sections out for effect or pull it taught in a couple of big pulls. It is a rod of incredible engineering and the people that I hand it to are nothing less than impressed. 

It's a great calling card for sure.

In the years that I have carried my kit on my travels, I have had several opportunities arise where I would normally not have had my equipment. Trips to lakes, under bridges on streams and in city streams too. It is a great excitement to realize that YES! I can fish when normally, I would have to just look at the water and turn it off...

My minimalist kit laid out, it goes into my Every Day Carry bag.
  1. Nissin Tenkara Mini 3.6m
  2. Rod Grippers
  3. 4" Derf Needle Driver
  4. Mini Bear Bell on a quick link
  5. Micro Dropper Bottle of floatant
  6. Kazuo Kurahashi made Kebari Box and Spool
  7. Snow Peak line cutter
  8. Zimmerbuilt custom made Micro Pack and Rod Bag

My EDC kit, I carry it everywhere, all the time.

Contents of my EDC kit. I carry this everywhere.
  1. North Face Field Bag
  2. Mountain Laurel Design Small Packing Cube
  3. Alcohol Wipes
  4. Triple Antibiotic
  5. Sunscreen
  6. Bandaid
  7. Chapstick
  8. Cologne
  9. Medicine
  10. Kenwood THF6 Tri-Band Radio Cheat Cards
  11. Mont-Bell Trekking Umbrella
  12. Matador Pocket Blanket Mini
  13. Sea to Summit Ultra Sil Backpack
  14. Sea to Summit Sling Bag
  15. Tasco Monocular
  16. Small Zippered Pouch of Crystals
  17. Pens
  18. Bic Lighter
  19. Flashlight
  20. Sea to Summit Micro Stuff Sack
  21. Bic Mini
  22. Petzl Micro Headlight
  23. Mini Survival Candle
  24. Sewing Kit
  25. Fold-a-Cup
  26. Leatherman Tool
  27. At-A-Glance Monthly Planner

Depending on the mission, I will add in these elements.

The Tenkara Mini is an enjoyable rod for the sweetest mountain streams.

Tom Davis from Teton Tenkara on the Nissin Tenkara Mini: Casting this rod is fun. It is very lightweight in the hand and has excellent balance. The action is stiffer than most Nissin 7:3 rods that I have felt. Even though the RFI is in the low 6:4 range, the rod feels stiffer than what it measures at. I suspect that might be due to the large number of joints and it's aggressive taper. Still, it's a great casting rod. I used a #3 level fluorocarbon line under breezy conditions, and I had no trouble controlling the line and getting the fly to its intended target.



A Story

The forest is my friend. She listens and speaks to me. “Adam, be who you are.” And ultimately I am. I walk along a stream picking lines between trees, some of those lanes are natural while others are made by inhabitants. The smells are amazing, the sounds are relaxing, I can understand and make sense of her moods while she helps me make sense of mine.

I feel like Jonathan, a seagull that a great writer detailed in a old book about a individual in a community. Jonathan loved flying where the others simply looked at flying as something seagulls just did. He would practice flying until he knew it well, pushing the envelope of his wings until one day, his flying lead him away from the other seagulls.

The concept is not unique, it’s how the idea for a popular book that is widely read came about.

The suggestion to fish this new to me stream came from a friend. I sent him back pictures of the same jewel like fish he caught. He began texting me back, while on a flight to Japan, his family lives there. “...probably the same fish I caught.” 


A week ago, John told me about his dry fly fishing here. Using a fine short rod (by Japanese designers) he sampled the pools in the stream collecting the jeweled fish photographs and his own moments flying free. He sent those photographs to me in a text. “We should go here.”

I was born in Arizona, I believe John was too. We are the same age and we meet nearly forty or so years ago flying free. We have common interests, friends and separate memories of the same friends yet we flew our own flights.

John reconnected with me while I was on my first tenkara trip to Japan. “We should meet”

John did not fish but I did. I had many moons of casting flys in the streams, rivers, lakes and sea. I had gathered fly fisherman from around the world together with the many web sites and forums that I created.

John could read and write in Japanese so we explored the history of tenkara through my library. I introduced him to fly tying and he showed me the differences in the language and meaning between the two countries. John lived in Japan for thirty years before returning home.

Never fishing before, he had no preconceived ideas. His learning was from the old Japanese tenkara books. I never held back when I was fishing and taught him tenkara and while he was a beginner, he taught me tenkara as well. 

John and I together meet Hisao Ishigaki for the first time. He briefly translated our introduction and put things at ease while we spoke in sensei’s native language. Later he helped translate interviews for both communities, making sense of the meaning we wished to convey.

And then one day John began to catch as many fish as I did, sometimes more and I knew he was flying free.

I began to receive pictures of monster fish caught with Japanese equipment and techniques. Fish that I could have caught but didn’t. The friend I took to our new stream agreed, we would buy him a bottle of Japanese whisky for turning us on to this stream.

I wrote this story while releasing a tiny jewel like fish.

I want to convey how simple and at the same time, how complex fishing can be.

Fishing a small stream helps me to put my ideas into a medium that I could share with John, Jim and anyone else that I resonate with.

But I feel like Jonathan Livingston Seagull. 

Free to fly (fish) the way I want and write about it the way I want.


This particular stream was well suited to a 3.2m Zerosum. I really like the 7:3 flex profile. I use a 3.3m Fujino White Tenkara tapered line terminated with a tippet ring, I use Stonfo. For tippet, I use Trouthunter 5.5x.

At 3.2m I can usually see the fly. On this day I used a Parachute Adam’s size 16. I use floatant, it keeps the fly high up on the meniscus like a real fly. Most of the time the line is not on the water and I am using techniques like suttebari where I might peck the surface gently a few times before setting the fly down.

Japanese tenkara anglers use dry fly techniques for tenkara as well as sub surface wet flys.

The white line is a must in these invisible streams. It appears clear. If you can’t see the fly, you can use the line as an indicator. Or you can strike at movement.

All my fish this day were by sight using suttebari and accurate casting to 5 gallon bucket sized micro bucket pools.