My Favorite Tenkara Rod (not really but really)

Nissin makes great tenkara equipment. The company is based in a long history of tenkara and looks into the future of tenkara while designing rods that serve the present.

About 7 years ago, I found out about the Nissin Pocket Mini V3. I had a trip to Japan coming up and I wanted all of my gear to fit inside my bag. I bought one and used it exclusively. It was my thought that if I was going to depend on a rod so petite in stature, that I should use it hard prior to traveling across the globe to fish with my peers. 

I used the rod for a complete year before I went, and it worked out nicely. I caught small and large fish on it, and it handled the task beautifully. In order to cover the wide range of tenkara and streams that I might be fishing, I bought a trio of lengths. This small quiver of rods would also serve as a parts department in that if I broke a rod, I had two other rods to use to fix the one. Needless to say, I didn't break one and the trip was quite successful. Each one of my friends on my genryu trip took turns in casting the Mini V3, the lines I designed for it were complimentary to the action and everyone liked the balance of the system. Even in Japan, these are special rods for unique application.

That was the first big test of Nissins compact rod.

Later, Nissin came out with a gripped version of the Pocket Mini V3 and called it the Tenkara Mini. To make a long story short, I still have a Pocket Mini V3 in 270cm size that slips into the small custom rod sleeve that I designed with Chris Zimmer at Zimmerbuilt. Chris has helped me with almost all of my onstream carry equipment and it is by far my favorite. Anyway, the Tenkara Mini is built on the same mandrels (taper) as the Pocket Mini however, Nissin, in its nomenclature for the rod says it can handle a stronger tippet than the Pocket Mini V3. In my history of using the Pocket Mini and now the Tenkara Mini, I am staying with what I know, I exclusively use .4 or 7x tippet. Nothing stronger than that and only one brand, Seaguar GrandMax FX.

The Pocket Mini is actually my favorite tenkara rod.

It is my favorite rod because it has consistently made non fishing trips into the best fishing adventure I can imagine.

I've been fishing all my life. It is something that I am. I take fishing trips for weeks across the globe and I go on day fishing adventures in distant mountains of my state. I also fish the urban impoundments and in short, my family supports me but knows I get distracted at times when on a non-fishing family trip.

So, I developed a kit that is ultra-minimal in design, ONLY what I need. A succinct kit that gets straight to the point. 

My tenkara has three components, Keiryu fishing which is simply mountain stream fishing, Honryu tenkara which is river fishing for big trout and non-fishing trips, which is my kit that is designed to sneak away into my bags so that if I find a fishing opportunity, I can fish.

My non-fishing kit is by far my favorite equipment to tinker with. I've been focusing on this kit for many years and Nissin has definitely made my efforts successful in their focus on compact design rods. 

Part of my writing about tenkara has been writing versions of this story and this is just the latest in my efforts.

Each portion of my kit has had many hours of thought go into it. I would list each project, but I try to keep these articles brief and it just takes a little searching to find everything in the CONTENTS section of the site.

I've looked at other rods by different manufacturers, they could not possibly come close to what Nissin engineers have designed. Each aspect of the Nissin compact rod line has been well thought out. If you are a guy that has big oven mitts for hands and breaks things easily, this rod is not for you. 

The Pocket Mini and the Tenkara Mini are precise, compact, light, delicately strong and tough when used with correct technique. If you do not handle the rod with experience, you will break it quickly, probably the first time you open it. Don't buy one if you don't know what you are doing. The first section is mechanical pencil thin. The walls of the sections are nearly construction paper thin too. You can easily flex them out of round when handling an individual section.

These rods are designed for experienced tenkara anglers.

There are so many other compact rods to choose from that are well suited for beginners or casual users. Do not buy the Nissin rods if you are new to tenkara.

Look into one of these rods if you would like to try a compact rod.

The Pocket Mini and the Tenkara Mini are meticulously designed. They are strong where needed and petite everywhere else. I've fished everywhere with mine and have even taught new anglers with them. They demand correct technique in all aspects however they are not tricky to cast, as a matter of fact, they cast very nicely and are super accurate by design.

100% tenkara rods if you know what you are doing.

I asked Keiichi to contact Nissin for more information on the Pocket Mini V3. Below is what Nissin sent to him. I would like to know the name of the angler, or the team of angler/engineers involved.

1. Portability: Firstly, the main design concept of Pocket Mini V3 was the portability. At that time all the portable keiryu rods were not compact enough to house in a Japanese standard sized bag, always the top part of the rods were out from the bag. Nisshin wanted the dependable fishing rod that we can put completely into the bag, and they launched the product development from there.

2. Action: Normally the rod action becomes stiffer if we make the rod with more number of the sections. Besides in case of the ultra-compact rod, folded length is only 25cm, this phenomenon become even more conspicuous. Designers have been very distressed to this part, but they finally made up very smooth first action 4.5m keiryu rod with surprising 25 sections with the technology and know-how Nisshin cultivated over the years. Also Nisshin made 25 rod sections fit into only 22.7mm base-diameter rod end with special technology of carbon mixing.

If you love tenkara and obsess on the idea of nesting rods. I suggest taking a look at the Tenkara Mini. There are a couple of different lengths to choose from. I choose the 3.6m for most of my tenkara fishing. I use the Mini V3 as a short rod and for a parts bin (just in case) but I have never broken one of these rods. The last time I fished mine was a few weeks ago and I hooked into several fish up to and over 18" I was able to land two. I had been invited to a wedding in Colorado that was on a lake where the owners had stocked trout and feed them regularly with trout chow. The trout were HUGE and I fished for them in my wedding suit. It was such a fun thing to do to pull the rod out of my pocket and in two minutes I was into super fat and healthy rainbow trout. One of my favorite non fishing trips turned into a fishing trip that I will never forget.

The Nissin Tenkara Mini is my absolute favorite tenkara rod. 

It has made so many memories that it has created a new genre for my fishing. A completely different approach that is still in the same way I fish tenkara that actually helps with my regular tenkara. It is a practice in ULTRA-MINIMALISM in that I actually only use one fly and it works, everywhere.

It is my favorite rod by far however, it is not my first choice by any means. Not even close. If you are interested, the Gamakatsu Suimu EX 400 is and that is another story to tell.

Zoom Rods

Tenkara rods come in all kinds of materials and a variety of lengths but most tenkara rods are telescoping. The few rods that I have seen from Japan that were not telescoping are called, "in stick" configuration. Bamboo tenkara rods are in stick in that the smaller sections fit inside of the larger sections with plugs for the sections so that they do not slip out in transit. "Zoom" tenkara rods are telescoping yet can be used at two and sometimes three different lengths.

I bought my first Zoom type tenkara rod in 2010, it was a double zoom in that it could be used at two lengths. The section above the handle nests inside of the handle with the end of the section secured in a butt cap extension that fits inside of the adjustable second and third sections. Where the nested zoom section protrudes from the handle, that area of the rod is subject to wear. The first zoom rod that I used, that part of the section wore quickly rendering a rod that was "loose" and sometimes came loose and out of its secured position. 

Not a good first impression for my first zoom rod.

I fixed it and got rid of it.

I learned a lot about the zoom function yet I was still confused, I didn't know if that long zoom rod was to cast primarily extended zoom and when landing fish, shorten the rod or cast short and lengthen if needed and or...

What configuration was the rod designed for?

How long do I make my lines?

Is there a use besides lengthening the rod for reaching distant fish?

As far as I have experienced, no manufacture has detailed if a rod is to be purchased for the shortest length as a primary configuration or the longest. Zoom rods come with an ambiguous description, a brief detail of the zoom lengths and that's about it.

In short, I've had many zoom rods and all have failed my test of time until recently.

As complex as a non zoom tenkara rod is in design, they are quite simple in construction. Zoom sections increase complexity and as a result, manufacturing challenges. The nested configuration must be secure in design and able to perform through time even with it's additional wear points. For zoom adjustment, it's all about the butt cap and how it holds the zoom sections and how those zoom sections exit the larger sections at the point where they are nested. 

If the rod is used frequently in multiple lengths, those areas will wear and the action of casting will amplify that wear and you will be able to feel it and or hear it in your cast.

 My chosen style of tenkara is minimalistic, that is, I carry one rod on stream (or honryu) and that's it. I carry a backup line and typically one fly box. I like to choose the longest rod I can for the given water I am fishing. I want a rod that will take me from small head water streams to the largest river and biggest trout. That's what I want but to design a rod for subduing a big trout in heavy flow would not render a very fun rod for a short cast to a small six-inch brookie.

For my chosen tenkara water and trout, it takes at least two rods, if not three fixed length rods to cover the headwater stream through the mainstream and big trout.

Zoom rods are designed to cover a wider variable of reach. Of course, they are designed for some variability in fish size, but zoom rods are designed for more variability in casting length than a fixed length tenkara rod. 

Zoom rods target a wider range of casting lengths. 

As a side note, the Oni Honryu 395 and 450 are two of the most variable fixed length rods that I have owned and used. Capable of catching a six inch brookie and subduing a 20" trout in current.

But are zoom rods designed to be primarily used at one length? Then pulled longer or nested shorter secondary to the primary design length?

What length or configuration (extended or nested) are zoom rods designed to primarily cast at?

Most zoom rods feel best at their shortest length. 

The balance is in favor, the rotational movement is best at their shortest length. Pulling longer, the balance is lost to tip heavy and the rod taxes more of the fisher in the cast.

Rods like the Tenryu TF39TA and the Tenkara USA Sato are comfortable to cast at length all the time.

I choose a zoom rod for its shortest length for the water I am fishing.

I choose the longest rod from my quiver for the water I am fishing but with a zoom rod, that choice targets the shortest length in its zoom configuration.

I keep a fairly small quiver of rods and until I find one better than one in my minimal quiver, I have to get rid of one. In 2019 I bought my first Gamakatsu Suimu EX 500. It is a fantastic rod at its 4.2m (nested length) and super long at it's extended 5m length.

That's a 5m rod! 

But I'm not casting it primarily at that length. Just a small percentage of time when I need the extra reach.

A zoom rod is all about the line angle and extra reach we need at times. 

For the first season, I used it primarily at 5m for the long lines I use on the river. Casting a 5m rod with a 7m line is a beast. Casting the rod at its 4.2m nested length with a long line is pretty easy even at the end of a long day of large fish fighting.

The Suimu EX 400 is a 4m rod at length, that is a long rod! But at its 3m nested length, it is a finely balanced small stream tenkara rod capable of fishing tight quarters streams. Those streams often open up and I can extend the rod to 4m and get a great fly only cast at a nice distance.

When I make a choice in a zoom rod, I am focusing on the shortest length and using the longer lengths for reach. Sometimes when landing a large trout, I will nest or shorten the zoom sections to help reach the line, this is a minor function and not to be considered as a choice, secondary to choosing a rod.

In choosing a line length for whatever zoom rod I am using; I craft a line slightly longer than the longest length. This way, at the shortest length, I have a long line that is desirable for fighting larger fish. That length protects the tip of the rod by giving you more line to be able to move and or land the fish without closing the curve of the rod tip. At extended longer lengths, the line is at an acute angle and fly first is easier and the presentation stealthier.

Zoom rods are a great choice for tenkara. 

They cover a wider variety of stream size, line lengths. There are some special considerations when considering a zoom rod. I suggest asking people that have owned the rod if there is any trouble with the rod as far as wear and tear on all the lengths. 

Does the rod hold at each length? 

Does it rattle?

Does it perform at its shortest length?

Confused? Yes, it is confusing if you wonder what the rod was designed for.

This is an opinion article on the way I enjoy and use my zoom rods.

Enjoy tenkara your way.

Interview with Shouetsu Goto

Yoko and Shouetsu Goto

Thank you for taking the time for this interview. I was planning it, but I wanted to give you a little time between Yoko san interview. Now, I am able to introduce you with a unique introduction. I am so happy to be interviewing both of you now, especially since your new book is out.
First and foremost, thank you again for your time.

I have been to Japan three times, but last time I visited many friends at Tadami Bansho. I have been taken on several fishing trips in the valleys of Japanese mountains. We hiked long distances, not only eating at camp but also climbing and route finding. My backpack was unusually heavy, wading, hiking and climbing was a bit of a challenge. My friend said it was a little easier than their trips, but there was one time I was going up a vertical mud wall that was undercut at the bottom. Thirty feet up and it was vertical. The last ten feet I was skating, and I felt like I would get hurt if I slipped and fell. Luckily, I had a few friends who looked after me.

Anyway, no one in our group slipped and it turned out to be an epic trip that I still remember clearly. Your style of fishing is inspiring, and the effort and special equipment is required. I realized that your headwater fishing is on a different scale compared to fly fishing or tenkara in the US.

So, I appreciate what you do.

I watch all your videos! Several times! They are great, and I know in another life, I was one of you!

I bought your book Genryu Izakaya and I love it. I have already discovered a good knife, the G. Sakai, which I currently own and use in my camping kit and at home. We also found nesting wooden bowls from Vidahde. This is very convenient for hot food and very aesthetic. There are good things about your videos and books, like here in Tenkara Fisher's Origin Story.

Anyway, thanks for all the great resources.

First of all, I admire you both as a couple and as individuals. You are very resourceful. I'm glad your house is tidy and your pub is open!

"How did the idea for Genryu Izakaya start?"

Shouetsu Goto: My wife named it Genryu Izakaya because I cook food that looks like an izakaya. After that, I started making videos on YouTube because I felt that I couldn't convey the fun with just photos on social media.

Adam Trahan: Your YouTube compilation is a perfect blend of tenkara, genryu, backpacking, tenkara, temba and cooking!

I really like your channel.

"I heard that you are also in Japan's Headwaters magazine, can you tell us about some of the articles in the magazine?"

Shouetsu Goto: Before calling myself Genryu Izakaya, I have accompanied Shinichi Takakuwa, a famous mountain stream guide, on several occasions. Since I started Genryu Izakaya, I have only been out once, but since it also doubled as a book interview, it was mostly about introducing the original cuisine.

We do not introduce the name of the river to protect the fishing grounds of the important headwaters.

That's why I don't get many requests for magazine interviews.

Adam Trahan: There are a lot of big rivers here in America and many of us do mainstream tenkara.

“Do you practice Honryu?”

Shouetsu Goto: Unfortunately, many of Japan's mainstream rivers are man-made, such as dams, and the water is not very clean. I like fishing in the great outdoors, and I also want to go camping, so I often go deep into the mountains.

Adam Trahan: One of the things I do is packcraft and honryu fishing in the big canyon rivers. The water is cold! The canyon is beautiful, and I have continued to enjoy it over the years.

"Please tell me about one of your ideas for a perfect fishing trip?"

Shouetsu Goto: Our fishing trip includes fishing, wild vegetables, mushrooms, sake, bonfires, and camping.

There are so many things to enjoy, so even if fishing isn't your thing, you can still have fun.

We always look for new fishing spots, so it is not always possible to catch fish. That's why I started cooking delicious food and enjoying sake.

Adam Trahan: I really enjoy taking people to river canyons. Everyone says the same thing, "EPIC", laughing and enjoying the experiences and memories together.

"Do you like to bring new people on your trip to Genryu?"

Shouetsu Goto: I would like to introduce new people to the wonders of Genryu and the joy of fishing. However, headwater fishing requires "physical strength" and "mental strength" of course, but you also need knowledge and skills to protect your own life, such as climbing and sawanobori. Taking a beginner is very difficult.

Adam Trahan: I'm not a teacher, but I enjoy sharing the fun of tenkara with people. I will teach many people how to do it, but I do not consider myself a teacher or a guide. I was getting paid to write about tenkara for a while, but it wasn't the best time ever. The best time is being with other people I don't have to teach and enjoying the experience together.

I can't read Japanese, but I can understand picture books, and if I have any questions, I have friends who can read Japanese and help me.

"Can you tell me about your book? Is it an educational book, or is it just a recipe for what you do and what you experience?"

Shouetsu Goto: Genryu Izakaya is not an educational book. However, for those who want to go headwater fishing, there is information that is necessary for people who want to go, such as the know-how to transport food deep in the mountains without spoiling, and the introduction of special tools. Of course, there are nearly 150 recipes that anyone can easily make delicious meals.

"Are you planning to write any more books at this time?"

Shouetsu Goto: If the publisher requests it, I will. There are still things we haven't talked about with our original know-how and new recipes.

Adam Trahan: I started to write a book about tenkara but I decided against it. I think I would rather it be a sort of mystery, what my idea of tenkara is. There are a few books in the English language about tenkara. My favorites for gifts or suggestions to new tenkara anglers are one from Daniel Galhardo and the others are from John Pearson and Dr. Paul Gaskell. The other books which I have not listed, I have not read. I don't think I can do a better job than Daniel, Dr. Paul and John, mine would just be different so really no need or desire to write a book from an English language point of view.

What I enjoy most now is using my computer to create websites that reflect what I do and what I am interested in.

There are many tenkara books written by Japanese authors that would benefit the tenkara community outside of Japan if they were translated into English.

"Do you have any plans to translate your book into English?"

Shouetsu Goto: I think it will be up to the publisher, Yamato Keitanisha.

Adam Trahan: I use a Gamakatsu Suimu. Such a great rod. There are very few people outside of Japan that use them. I own all three sizes and each size is good for what it was designed for. The EX 400 is my mountain stream rod. It is my number one choice for tenkara. For Honryu, I choose the EX 450 and 500. I use these rods for their length and ability to fight big fish.

"Please tell me about your tenkara rod of choice. If you have anything to say about it, which one would you choose? Why?"

Shouetsu Goto: For tenkara I have about 10 rods, but I mainly use the Suimu EX400 and Keiho 3.3 (old type). Suimu has the advantages of being durable and hard to break, allowing for accurate casting because the shaking of the rod is quickly stopped, being powerful enough for long casting, and being able to quickly bring the fish to hand even if a large fish is hooked. I also use the Keiho. It is a rod with similar characteristics, and I have it for fishing narrow streams in Japan.

Adam Trahan: I met Yoshikazu Fujioka about 25 years ago. I started making a site for mountain stream fly fishing. I like the way Japanese people fish in mountain streams. Thank you to you and your wife for creating a YouTube channel "Genryu Izakaya" for those of us who love what you do.

Looking at your channel, I can see that the equipment you are using is working very well. I use some of it in my adventures. I just want to say thank you.

I enjoy sharing my interest in tenkara, which is why I make Tenkara Fisher available. I think that is the same reason for creating Genryu Izakaya.

"You have a website. I like your videos, magazine content, and books. What are you going to do with your it?"

Shouetsu Goto: I'm thinking about linking new YouTube videos, blogging about fishing trips, introducing the tools I use, and selling original goods.

The website is still incomplete.

Adam Trahan: It is late summer here, but our fishing season in Arizona is year-round. Many of our mountain streams get blanketed with snow and become unavailable due to road closures. This is the time of year we are looking to make our last great adventures of summer and then we get into fall which can be really good fishing but the snows of winter, it usually slows our fishing down.

I turn my attention to fishing in other directions. The rivers are farther down in warmer climates and the fishing there is good all winter. I used to do a lot of snowboarding and hiking in the lower mountains, but fishing mountain streams isn't really a wintertime activity for me. I tie kebari and think about and plan adventures for the new season. Here in town, they stock trout in our local ponds, so we go fishing and then cross the street and go to the bar!

Shouetsu Goto: I pick mushrooms and grapes in the mountains in autumn.

In winter, my wife and I go hunting. I often shoot ducks and wild birds. The feathers are available for tenkara kebari.

Adam Trahan: If you are ever in the area, please feel welcome at my home. We live in the desert Southwest, very different from your climate, however I have had Japanese friends who really like our desert vista. I would be happy to show you around.

I plan to visit your area with a friend that I introduced to tenkara. He has lived in Japan for thirty years so far. He is from Phoenix but married a Japanese gal and has a home in Tokyo. He now goes back and forth, and I will accompany him on a trip in the near future. He knows we have to visit your Izakaya when we go fishing in the Alps.

Sometimes I like to go to Hawaii and fish for trout on the island of Kauai. It reminds me a lot like Japan except there are no streams down past headwaters that hold trout. Kauai is too far South on the globe, only the streams that were stocked long ago near the top of the mountains in one specific area will sustain trout.

Besides travel, I don't do many other types of fishing. I used to do a lot of saltwater fly fishing and bass fishing when I was a young man. I might fish now and then in the sea or go bass fishing with my family, but it isn't my passion.

Recently, I have decided to start tanago (micro) fishing. There are places near my home where I can do that. I don't think it is anything like tenkara but it is something I have always wanted to do.

"Do you guys do any other kinds of fishing?"

Shouetsu Goto: Fishing for horse mackerel, kis and gobies in the ocean. In winter, I go smelt fishing.

Adam Trahan: Yuzo Sebata came to America in 1990 and toured the big Western Rivers with a camera crew from Toshiba. They documented his visit fishing the rivers with tenkara while interfacing with fly fishermen from the area. His tenkara is excellent as you know and even back then, he made it look like it was natural to be doing in the rivers.

Twenty years later, the company Tenkara USA was able to sell tenkara rods to the public. The company produced a lot of videos and marketed tenkara. I believe it was the combination of the Internet and the simplicity of this style of fishing that appealed to new fishing customers.

I don't think it was better than Sebata san's introduction, I believe it was different. The timing and the ease of use for people to use their computer's and pull up the content is what helped tenkara get started outside of Japan. Timing is everything, that's what they say and it's really true.

There is more about that but what is important, tenkara is now outside of Japan and it is growing.

"What do you think about that? What do you think about tenkara being practiced outside of Japan?"

Shouetsu Goto: I'm happy that tenkara is becoming popular outside of Japan. And I would like you to change freely without being bound by Japanese traditions and styles. I also want to try tenkara fishing abroad.

Adam Trahan: I like Ayu fishing! But we do not have Ayu here. I like Tanago fishing but we do not have Tanago here. We have species of fish that some of the equipment that was developed specifically for that can be used for our fishing here. But the keiryu equipment (mountain stream fishing) developed in Japan has had the luxury of much more experience and time and lots of resources to develop the best equipment.

Japanese engineering is a testament to improvement.

I like the philosophy that goes along with improvement, Kaizen being one example that can be used to help improve anything including one's own life.

"You have read here how much I like what you do, what the Japanese culture does that I like, is there anything that American tenkara people do that you like? Or is there something that we should be doing?"

Shouetsu Goto: I know Adam loves Japanese culture and tenkara.

Adam Trahan: I was taught to fish by my Grandfather. He did not even like to fish, my Grandmother loved to fish. My Grandfather likes to live by the lake and drive a boat. It was a good arraignment. Before my Grandfather passed away, he helped me develop a "fly" for the catfish in our pond. I was really proud that he was able to see my fly fishing.

"Please tell us who taught you to fish, also, who is influential to your fishing?"

Shouetsu Goto: My father taught me when I was little. At that time, when I was fishing. My father was working in the mountains, so we went fishing in the headwaters.

I started tenkara only 15 years ago, because I admired Yuzo Sebata's style of fishing when I saw the magazine "Keiryu."

After that, I had the chance to go fishing with Mr. Masami Sakakibara and Shinichi Takakuwa.

I saw Mr. Sakakibara fishing and learned the effectiveness of tenkara fishing. I accompanied Mr. Takakuwa and learned how to have fun in the valley.

Adam Trahan: Before I started tenkara, I was making bamboo fly rods. I was making a kind of secret website. We have gathered many great bamboo rod makers from around the world to talk about bamboo fly rod fishing and the secrets of making great rods. For me, I think the best tenkara fishers outside of Japan come from a background in fly fishing.

Occasionally, I pick up one of my self-made rods or a sweet graphite fly rod and toss it out in the garden. We haven't forgotten how to shoot the entire line.

"What do you think of fly fishing compared to Tenkara?"

Shouetsu Goto: I used to fly fish too. I think fishing is a lot of fun. I think it's wonderful that you can learn about aquatic insects and enjoy not only rivers but also lakes and seas.

Some people say that tenkara has an advantage over fly fishing in the Japanese climate, but that doesn't matter. You just have to do what makes you feel like having "fun."

My style of fishing is mountain climbing and sawanobori, so tenkara suits my style because it allows me to prepare and clean up quickly. The tools are also very light and good.

In Japan, there are many headwater anglers who enjoy fly fishing only with dry flies.

Adam Trahan: My first fishing trip to Japan was hosted by Satoshi Miwa, a Japanese biologist. I met Miwa san through my fly-fishing site, It was shortly after I quit fly fishing to be very good at tenkara. It was a wonderful visit but sort of odd in that my Japanese friend fly fished with me and I did tenkara. He ended up writing a story about how we toured the alps, the Nagano area. He is from Mie prefecture, and it was quite a drive for him. I did visit his area and we went to Iga, the Ninja village as I have a fascination for Ninjutsu. Miwa san ended up doing some translation and hosting of other tenkara fishers. On our trip we also shared a day with Masami Sakakibara on the Itoshiro river. He really tuned the western fly fisher cast out of me and helped me develop my own technique.

On our trip, many new friends were made. I introduced Japanese friends to other Japanese friends not so much on purpose but because I was traveling and being hosted by friends in different areas.

Tenkara seems very special in Japan and I have noticed, it is not as popular as fly fishing.

"Can you tell me about the growth of tenkara in the last ten years and is it becoming more popular?"

Shouetsu Goto: I'm not in the position of a fishing tackle manufacturer or a mass media company such as a magazine, so I can't judge whether tenkara in Japan is becoming more popular or growing.

From the standpoint of a tenkara fan, I feel that the types of rods and tools are decreasing, and the number of shops where you can get them is also decreasing. The fishing magazine itself is getting more and more out of print.

Nowadays, we are in the age of getting goods and information on the Internet, but I don't feel that tenkara's information is increasing.

I'm happy to hear from time to time that they started playing tenkara after watching Genryu Izakaya on YouTube.

Adam Trahan: My visits to Japan are not fishing trips. They are cultural experiences with some fishing.

I understand from my friends in Japan that the old ways are being forgotten. Young people are moving to the cities and with that, the passage of the traditional crafts is being lost.

The bansho that I stayed at in Tadami was old and beautiful. The gasso style home I stayed at in Gokayama was old and very beautiful as well. The techniques that these houses are made with are quite special. The grass roofs need to be replaced and it cannot be done by one person.

In your videos, I see that you and your wife have purchased a home in the country.

"Can you tell us about your home? What are your plans with the Izakaya and anything else you can tell us?"

Shouetsu Goto: The house I bought after moving from Tokyo is located in Toga Village in Nanto City, Toyama Prefecture. Toga Village is part of the Five Mountains, and in the past, there were many Gassho-zukuri. My house is also an old private house that is more than 150 years old, and it used to be made of gassho.

With the help of fishing buddies and YouTube fans, we renovated over the course of a year, started living in April 2022, and were able to open as a tavern in June. All we asked the contractor to do was water and gas, and everything from the foundation under the floor to the floor, walls, and ceiling made it a house with a strong sense of affection that we created with our friends.

Many locals and people who come to fish come to drink.

You can eat dishes that we make on YouTube.

Adam Trahan: I am 61 years old. I enjoy shooting my guns at a target facility. I have some hunting friends that are teaching me about hunting but there is a lottery and I have not won my ticket yet. I can hunt with a bow but I have to learn the bow technique first.

I already do too many things so I will just stick to my guns.

I see that Yoko san hunts.

"Can you tell us about hunting in Japan?"

Shouetsu Goto: Yoko and I hunt. The animals that live here are different depending on the region, and like tenkara, there are various hunting styles. Some people hunt in groups using dogs.

Some people use traps.

We like walking in the mountains, so we like to follow the tracks of beasts, approach them, and confront our prey. I think it's similar to tenkara.

Adam Trahan: The first time I came to Japan was when I was in the Army. We drove the caravan from Yokohama to Camp Fuji Marine Base. I practiced live fire with the Japanese army there. I am very proud to have trained with your military personnel. I am very honored. After living at the foot of Mt. Fuji for about a month, I learned about the weather and atmosphere of Mt. Fuji. I understand that it is a very special place for Japanese people.

"Is there a special tenkara place in Japan? I hear a lot about Kurobe. Can you tell me a special tenkara place?

Shouetsu Goto: I go fishing by myself, so I don't often go to famous places.

Kurobe and Okutone are famous in magazines, and we used to go there a lot, but we lost interest because of the crowds.

Now I'm wandering around looking for the source where no one comes.

Adam Trahan: Shouetsu-san, thank you for helping spread the word of tenkara through my interview readers. Thank you. I first learned about the historical tenkara from Soseki Yamamoto's book. His writings included many tenkara fishermen. Like Mr. Yamamoto, I try to involve as many people as possible in my tenkara coverage.

Shouetsu Goto: I have friends outside of Japan who are interested in tenkara and who understand it. I am very happy to be here. I think they are learning more about Japanese and tenkara culture than us Japanese.

Please continue to do your best to disseminate information overseas.

Thank you very much for this time.

Fujino Soft Tenkara White

Fujino makes great lines, I have used many like the Hisao Ishigaki's Straight type and the Soft Tenkara Long type. The White Tenkara line is a nearly clear tapered Nylon line available in four lengths, 3 - 3.3 - 3.6 and 4m lengths. The lines come with a petite loop for attaching to the lillian. The tip of the line is small enough for a 5-turn clinch knot on a tippet ring which I use exclusively with all my Fujino lines.

Nylon is lighter than fluorocarbon and that really helps with low angle extension and drape. The white color is nearly clear, and I consider it one of the stealthiest tenkara lines commercially available. This line disappears and longer lengths and although it is easy casting, if you are not accurate and understand how to put your fly exactly where you want, I suggest skipping this line and staying with any color line of your choosing.

As the seasons go by and I advance in my tenkara skills, I find that I want to "feel" my line more than I want to see it. Yes, I can see the kebari, where it is even using absolutely small hook sizes (I use my imagination) and as it is moving. I'm not so interested in being distracted by a colored line. I indicate by vision if I am able, but I am learning that feel is very important.

Let me explain.

My fishing is visual. I know where the fish are if I cannot see them. If I can't see them, I place my kebari where they are. If I cannot see my kebari or the fish, I am still looking where my fly is for any indication of a fish eating my fly, all of this is first before my line comes into detection. I want a line that can deliver my kebari and I want to know what the line is doing while it is in the air. If I do not know what I can do with my cast, I cannot focus on where to put my kebari. This line casts well and is easy to understand where the line is going if I back cast upwards or backwards into a hole in the trees. I always look behind me if I am fishing a tunnel stream to understand if I can thread the needle behind me. All this being written, the last thing I want is a garrish pink, orange, yellow or green colored line to distract my vision and imagination of where the kebari and trout are. Never mind how some trout are line shy and spooked, I don't want to see the line. I do want to see the line if possible but that is way down on the list of priorities (accuracy, spatial orientation of my cast, delivery, sight of fly, sight of fish.) 

Most unseen takes I can visualize the shape of the drape, it changes, moves...


I can see droplets on this line, they help with indication, a little something on the line picked up from the water, all of this helps.

I don't want color; I do want to feel the line and be able to deliver it exactly how I want, and this line will do that.

If you are interested in advancing your skills, this is the steppingstone to do that.

Or not.

I must say that there are very few others that are on this path outside of Japan. I know of no company that sells tenkara lines that has created a clear or nearly clear tenkara line. Let alone one that is easy to manage and deliver the line exactly the way I want to deliver it.

Besides a clear premium soft fluorocarbon fishing line that I adapt for tenkara, this is one of my two favorite tenkara lines specifically made for ease of casting and absolute stealth.

I'm not the only tenkara fisher looking for these attributes in my fishing, the Japanese are doing it and offering excellent lines to take your skills to the next level.

Fujino Website

FujinoStraight Line - Soft Tenkara Long Type - Soft Tenkara White

FC Line System Fluorocarbon

If I am using a conventional Level Line, this is my choice. It is super visible and is good for teaching my new tenkara friends how to see strikes by watching the action and or drape of the line. It handles well and straightens easily. I use it with a clear tip knotted in and terminate that with a tippet ring. 

If you like visible Level Lines that are soft and easy to work with, this is a line to consider.

I also use Nissin Oni in pink however, I like this line a little more for its color.

Sunline Long Cast Fluorocarbon 8m Tapered Clear Line

Sunline Long Cast Fluorocarbon Tapered clear lines are wonderfully casting lines. They are similar to a Western fly rod knotless tapered leader except, this line is 8 meters long! You can cut it to length for any of your tenkara rods. There are two "gauges" of line, a #4.5 and a 3.5 which corresponds with the weight of Level Line. 

These lines are clear and stealthy. If you are used to colored lines, nothing to see here, move along. But if you are already using or transitioning to a clear line system, and you want a line that casts nicely, then this is a line for you to consider. It won't cast for you or make you a better caster, what it will do is enhance the skill and technique in your cast as the tip of the line is tapered and will smoothly deliver the energy in your cast to your fly or kebari. 

If you are a Western Fly Fisher transitioning to tenkara, then this may be your line as you already have used knotless clear leaders, and this is just an extension of that type of line end.

I like a stealthy long level line made of clear premium fluorocarbon however, this line promotes accuracy a little more than level line as it delivers the energy at the end of the cast better. I also like the performance in manipulation as the smaller tip transitions away from the larger level section farther than a level line to tippet. 

I initially found out about this line from Chris Stewart but he no longer carries the line, Keiichi at TenkaraYa can get it for you no problem.

I use this line and it works very well. 

I recommend it for those of you who want to improve your tenkara and you are already at an advanced level.