Interview with Eberhard Scheibe

I’ve been watching Eberhard through social media for some time. I like what he does and he is kind. Recently, I made another social media tenkara forum and chose an international team of administrators, young and old. Together we are building a fun place to gather and share our ideas and experiences on tenkara.

I do not know very much personally about Eberhard so I will get straight away into the Interview.

Adam Trahan: Welcome to Tenkara-Fisher Eberhard! I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time with you but it is difficult for me. I know very little about you personally and even less about where you practice your tenkara. But now I am reading more and more about you since we are administering the Tenkara Fisher forum.

“Please take this opportunity to introduce yourself.”

Eberhard Scheibe: Thank you! I’m 68 years old and I live in Jena - located in Thuringia Germany. Jena is the hometown of the world-famous company “Carl Zeiss”. My fly fishing has started with a rod of bamboo, a plastic- line and some very simple flies. I like to fly fish in each manner. That means classic fly fishing with rod and reel - single or double handed in lakes, rivers and small streams. All species of fish I could seduce with my flies were welcome. Over the time I have learned to love the shorter range of fly fishing. Watching some YT Movies from a few different Tenkara fishers with different methods by doing their fishing - that has infected me for all time. Creeping to reach a spot, scouting where the fish are and trying to do the “one” cast…. Becoming a bit older I don’t like to carry lots of gear with me. I love to enjoy a nice day outdoors in nature and on the water. It doesn’t matter how many fish I caught or how big the fish are - for me.

 Adam Trahan: I am 62 y/o, I’ve been fly fishing since I was a boy but really got into it in my 30’s. I love fishing this way and I find it quite rewarding to walk into the forest with a petite fly rod in hand. As I gained experience, I began to explore other forms of fly-fishing including rivers, the sea and using two hand rods. I’ve done some travel when I was in the Army and Japan really captured my attention. When I found out about tenkara, I dove headfirst in and studied it. I share my experiences and this spot on the Internet is filled with the work that I do.

“Do you write about tenkara? Where can I read more about your experiences doing tenkara?”

Eberhard Scheibe: I do some conversations about tenkara by using FB and Instagram. A good conversation is a give and a take at the same time. For my friends here in Jena I have written some posts about tenkara, my gear and a couple of tactics. If you want to read some articles in German, here is a link: Write my name (Eberhard) in the search box and you can find a few. Some articles about tenkara fishing, fly casting with the youth and Microfishing you can find there. Furthermore, I have uploaded many videos on Youtube (look for: Eberhard Scheibe or Tenkara Ebs)

In Spring I was at a local fishing fair “Reiten Jagen Fischen” in Erfurt to introduce this fantastic method of fly fishing.

Adam Trahan: One of my favorite things to do is to travel. I do that a couple of ways. I either pick out a place I want to experience and fish or, I will figure out a place while I am traveling with family.

“Do you travel with your tenkara? Can you tell us about it?”

Eberhard Scheibe: I love to fish in new waters. Exploring my homeland at first is very important for me. Lots of people are driving around to reach some “secret” spots in the distance. The beauty of their own habitat will be overlooked. There are so many “diamonds” of small streams in a range of 250-300 km. So I don’t have to drive far. Mostly I fish in 2-3 federal states I can reach in 3-4 hours by car. My wife escorts me and she has her camera handy and so I can bring some pictures and videos for my friends and for me to remember. Driving for a long time makes me tired. This isn’t good by doing tenkara!

Adam Trahan: When I first learned about tenkara, I had some ideas about it that I had imagined yet those ideas were not true. I thought tenkara was very popular in Japan, nothing could have been farther from the truth. Tenkara was not “un-popular” but it just wasn’t known that well. I learned that from my first trip there in 2013. I have learned, whenever I wonder about something as it relates to tenkara, that I should reference the notion from my Japanese friends and in their media.

In my conversations, I will not write anything about it that I don’t absolutely know.

I don’t expect people to be like me however as fishermen, there are ways that we go about studying new fishing methods, one is to just use the tools and apply them to the discipline. I used my own skills to figure it out but when it came to studying the Japanese methods, I used books, videos and I learned from the Japanese.

“Eberhard, how do you learn more about tenkara?”

Eberhard Scheibe: I started to do tenkara 12 years ago. Unfortunately, there is no one I can ask questions directly in person. So, I have to read posts, watch videos and write to my contacts around the world. Discover Tenkara by Paul and John - these were the first real helpmates. As a further resource I can name Tenkara USA. Daniel's book of tenkara has given me lots of help. Going my hard way on the water as a lone tenkara-fisher, I have found many helpful posts and videos from the masters Masami Sakakibara and Hisao Ishigaki. It was and is a hard way by trial and error. I have to learn by doing - sometimes it is very frustrating - sometimes I smile a lot….

Adam Trahan: In my time of doing tenkara, which is 14+ years now, I have had time to learn, practice and I have been told by many people that they have learned very much from me about tenkara. This makes me strive to be even more accurate and purposeful in checking myself and what I write about.

I really enjoyed learning what I could from Tenkara USA and then participating in that community but at one point, I found out about a trip that Yuzo Sebata had done in America. In 1990, he came here and filmed his tour through the west fishing the great rivers and sharing his knowledge about tenkara. In the credits of his movie, there was a list of western fly fishermen that were involved with Sebata san in his tour of the United States.

NO ONE reported on Sebata san or tenkara, this was a big deal to me and the first time tenkara was introduced to America on a large scale. Sebata san is a humble fisherman, he did not tell me about his trip but he did it, filmed it and Toshiba distributed it.

I felt this event was part of tenkaras history and needed to be told. I simply wrote about it, no drama, just the facts. At the point where I started pushing this fact out there, the community outside of Japan really wasn’t concerned about all of that.

I am a historian type of person. I believe that the past is important to the future. No, I don’t live my life in the past, as a matter of fact, I live in the here and now preparing for the future. I believe that in order to not repeat mistakes and or waste time learning the same lessons, over and over, to keep the information from the past and apply it to the knowledge of my interest. For the lack of a better term, this is what I call a “knowledge base” and that is how I look at tenkara outside of Japan.

Unfortunately for me, this is not easy because not everyone operates from the same knowledge base.

“How do you look at tenkara when you practice it? Do you place any obligations on your own practice?”

Eberhard Scheibe: When I fish with a fly - there is one main thing: Respect! Respect for nature, the creature and the whole environment. Don’t forget - respect yourself by doing this wonderful fishing with an artificial fly. There is no need to use barbed hooks, to damage something, leaving your own trash and to be unfriendly to others.

I love to fish in places, where each fisherman is thinking “There is no fish in such a small riffle!” A smile if I had the right nose for a good spot - great. It is not important for me what type of fish I can catch and how big it is. In my opinion, finding a place where a fish lives, what it wants to eat and a clever or smart way to catch it is much more impressive for me and my friends who escort me. This is the way I love to fish and have fun at the same time.

Adam Trahan: From my experiences with reading about what you write on the subject, I see a wise fisherman that wants to share his knowledge of tenkara. That is absolutely important to what I enjoy sharing in a community of online tenkara fisher people. You are kind and unassuming in your approach and I appreciate that.

When I am sharing with someone, I do not operate from a deep knowledge base. There are very few people that have gone to the lengths of research that I have in order to learn about it. I have to be careful, no one likes to “know it all” and I do not profess in any way to know it all. I have learned and have done what I am interested in. For me, knowledge can sometimes get in the way of communicating with people. So I try very hard to shut off that part of my brain that judges. I replace it with that first day wonderment when I meet someone who also knows about tenkara. As I get to know them, that’s when I open that door and I get to share what I know.

At this time, there are English written books and media that are deeply focused on tenkara as it was developed in Japan. Those avenues are honest but there are only a couple that lead straight back to the watersheds of Japan, Kurobe and different areas and communities there that still practice tenkara. It’s not necessary to know but it is wonderful to understand the knowledge with other like minds.

“What do you think about tenkara knowledge and the sharing of it on the Internet?”

Eberhard Scheibe: As I have mentioned above I post, read and ask questions online. All of my videos on YT I have uploaded are for all people who want to see and or debate them. All of my posts and pictures on FB or Instagram are to show my way to do tenkara and some further trifles of me. It is very interesting that I can explore a lot of different meanings. All I have to do - sort out all the things that can be useful for me. This is not an easy job. If I share some experiences I hope some friends will find them as good as I think they are.

Adam Trahan: I’m not interested in a rod that has only a short time for development. My interest is in equipment developed from decades of experience from the country of origin. I want a rod that has been developed with as much experience as possible. That’s why I purchase from old Japanese companies, Nissin, Sakura, Gamakatsu and others.

I see you as a tenkara ambassador and that is the best compliment that I can give you. The equipment you use is really none of my business but as a tenkara fisher, I’m interested.

“What kind of equipment do you use to practice tenkara?”

Eberhard Scheibe: I’m a friend of Level Line Tenkara. In my arsenal are lines from #2 to #4. Their use depends on the type of Kebaris I have tied on. A bigger fly casts better with a heavier line for me.

My Flybox is very simple. A handful of unweighted Kebaris tied in size 8 to 14, a few small nymphs and Emergers, that's it.

In the case I need some specials, I have some bigger patterns like Oni Kebaris.

A hook remover and a net are always a need for me.

All of that I carry in a small pack or in my vest.

Adam Trahan: I have two approaches towards my equipment. As I have written above, I use old established Japanese company rods, I know they are performance minded from experience. Beyond that, I use a systematic approach toward tenkara.

I choose a quiver of rods based on the type of waters that I fish.

I have non zoom rods that are sharply focused on the types of streams or, chosen for a particular stream. For example, there is a stream that I fish that has very tight quarters, lots of trees, and technical casting. I use a 2.4m and a 3.2m rod for this type of stream. For larger streams, I use a 3.6m rod. This length rod is my all-around type of rod, without being focused, this is the chosen length for a “one rod.” For bigger water, large streams and rivers, I use a 4.5m rod.

My favorite rods are three zoom rods that cover the smallest of streams to the largest of rivers, the shortest 3m and longer to 3.5m and 4.2m. These rods zoom to 4m, 4.5m and 5m. These are the rods that I travel with unless I am going to a distant stream that I already know and would use a non-zoom length rod for.

And then I have my compact rod and a super minimalist little bag. That goes with me everywhere. When I get to use it on a trip where no fishing was planned? It has become my favorite rod. It’s my favorite rod, really, not really.

“What do you choose for your quiver? What rods do you choose and why?”

Eberhard Scheibe: Most of my rods are made in Japan - Nissin and Oni. One rod is from Paul Gaskell (Otaki) and a Tanuki 425.

I prefer single length rods from 3,00 to 4,25m - I have no zoom rods.

In my quiver I always carry mostly two rods. A short rod 3 to 3,20m and a 3,60m one. So I fish in small streams and there is no need to end the session if one rod is damaged.

Fishing medium waters with more room I have a 3,60 and a 4m rod in my quiver.

I like it light and soft and choose a 6:4 rod and a light line. In most situations I can have a nice time fishing.

In real open and or bigger waters I fish a long rod. If needed and there are some bigger fish in the area I choose a powerful rod like my Tanuki 425.

Adam Trahan: I’ve asked you some tough questions. You are good natured, and I appreciate that we have known about each other and now do a little work together. I want you to know that I appreciate you.

“Please ask any questions you may have of me.”

Eberhard Scheibe: I’d like to know how your fishing will be if more and more streams fall dry. At the time many streams were closed here. In future a further way of life in nature should be open if this trend will be continued.

The following question, please don't misunderstand:

Do you eat fish you have caught if this is allowed? I often hear “NO!” The main sense of fishing is catching food for life. This question doesn’t affect a stretch which is marked as “C&R” or “No Kill”. By the time some things have been developed I can’t understand right.

Adam Trahan: Good questions.

We have already had this happen in the 90's. It was a very hot and dry year and there were many forest fires. I just stopped fishing freshwater and did only saltwater fly fishing. I did not want to bother the trout while they were trying to live in the warm and low water.

I love fly fishing the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. I like it more than freshwater fly fishing, but I live inland and it takes a lot of time, money and dedication to drive all that way. The homework involved because I am not attuned to the sea (tides, waves etc) isn't always cooperative with my schedule. But I do it regardless, I love the sea so much.

Catch and release is something that I do to preserve a stream. I love to eat fish and also red meat, I would like to be just a pescatarian. I mostly eat fish that are store bought or I get fish at a restaurant. 

Anglers that are strictly catch and release are not fishermen in my view. 

If you fish and don't eat your catch, well, you are just harassing fish, incidentally, killing them for your pleasure, that is not fishing. Catching and eating is a big part of fishing. That being said, I rarely take a fish for a meal these days. I catch a lot of fish and I pick and choose when I will take a fish. It has to be a healthy stream where my kill will not affect the ecosystem. There are years that go by, no eating my catch and then there are years where I might eat a dozen. The Japanese taught me to prepare trout in a easy way that is very tasty. Before that, I did not really like pan fried breaded trout, but now? Salt BBQ trout is a great meal while camping.

Adam Trahan: Eberhard, I don’t know about you, but tenkara almost replaced my freshwater fishing choices. I decided to return to fly fishing again and I am so glad that I did. I love casting and shooting line. Yes, there are places where I will no longer use a fly rod choosing to use a tenkara rod. But if I feel like threading a cast into the hole in the stream side cover, I can now choose between a fly rod or a tenkara rod. The same goes for rivers, I can shoot line or use a honryu tenkara rod.

“Do you do fly fishing? How do you choose between the two or do you even choose at all?”

Eberhard Scheibe: That is an interesting question! I like to do classic fly fishing with a rod and reel too. Euro Nymphing, Streamers, Dry- and mostly Wetfly fishing. In any streams and rivers tenkara is not allowed. So I can use my “old” techniques. It’s fun - real fun for me to do some spey casts with a very soft single handed bamboo rod. A 2,2m class 4 rod is loaded with a WF5 Line. So I do single- or double spey, circle and snake rolls and so on… Only a few folks on the banks have seen that before. ;-)

Adam Trahan: I hope I have covered enough for a nice interview or conversation.

“Please use this opportunity to write anything you want.”

Eberhard Scheibe: Many thanks to you for giving me the ability to write something unasked before.

Fishing, fly fishing or tenkara fishing is nice and important for me, but there are times I have to pass on that.

One thing is over all of them: my family. So I like to travel, dance and explore some “mysteries” with my wife. Sometimes my sons and the grandson or granddaughter will be in.

In April we were at the EWF (Experience the World of Fly Fishing) - the most important Fly Fishing fair in Europe. Some of my friends from Italy have built the “Tenkara Village”.

We met Masami Sakakibara and Tenkara Tanuki in person there. This was the absolute top highlight for me in my career as a tenkara fisher.

There are times I can’t fish for trout and grayling (out of season). Using my micro fishing gear I can still fish. Testing some ditches and brooks for some smallies can be an interesting alternative instead of staying at home…. I can tell my club what species I had caught on the very small hooks.

So, that's it! Many tanks to you and if you have any further questions - don’t hesitate - I will try to help.

Best regards


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