Excuse my indulgence in a little local tenkara cheerleading.
Last October I went to North Carolina for the first Appalachian Tenkara Jam. The Jam was the brainchild of Jason Sparks and Lance Milks who had been mulling the idea of a tenkara gathering for a number of years.
The gathering they had in mind would bring multiple vendors together so participants would have a chance to get some hands-on time with different products. There would also be presentations by tenkara savvy folks who wanted to share tips and tactics they have picked up from experience.
I asked Sparks why he thinks the “Jam” concept worked.
"Something magic is happening here. It is fantastic to see a wide selection of tenkara companies coming together under one roof to unite in our growing community. This is the leading edge of things to come."
As with most first year events the numbers were small, but the concept and the quality of presentations was huge.
Here is the cheerleading and good news.
The second Appalachian Tenkara Jam will be held July 11, and 12, at Summit Manor in Herford, Maryland. The concept is the same, lots of product to test and compare, savvy speakers and some pretty nice water to tenkara in (FYI, felt soles are banned in Maryland).
"For everyone looking to feel a tenkara rod in their hands for the first time, Jam offers more than 50 models from 15 brands to choose from,” said Sparks. “There is no where else in the United States where this can be done. Period."
Try It and Buy It
Here is the current list of vendors that will have tenkara gear available to try and buy.
Zen Fly Fishing
Moonlit Fly Fishing
Temple Fork Outfitters
You can think of the “Jam” as a tenkara specific a trade-consumer show hybrid. You have a chance to put different rods in you hands and cast them. You can try different types of lines, different lengths and customize setups so you can see what works for you. And if you like what you find, you can buy it on-site.
New this year is a kebari (fly) swap July 11. Here is how it works. You can either tie or buy a dozen flies to contribute to the swap. Japanese style kebari are preferred but any tenkara suitable fly will be OK. In return for your contribution you will get back a randomly picked selection of one dozen flies. This is a great way to get some interesting tenkara flies to try.
Here is a list of the speakers and presentations.
Robert Worthing, Tenkara Guides, LLC: Wrangling big fish.
Chris Stewart, Tenkara Bum: Long rods & short lines.
Daniel Galhardo, Tenkara USA: Japanese lessons; small lessons from Tenkara masters.
Rob Lepczyk, Great Feathers Fly Shop: Local waters; the mighty Gunpowder.
Lance Milks, Appalachian Tenkara Guide: Traditional kebari history.
Adam Omernick, Zen Fly Fishing Gear: Strategic approach for higher productivity.
John Cianchetti, Tenkara Customs: DIY tenkara rods.
Al Alborn, Project Healing Waters: Working with wounded vets.
There will likely be additional presentations added to the schedule, which is still being developed.
While hands-on opportunities and gathering information is fundamental to events like these, what is really the most valuable aspect is the networking that leads to friendship and one-to-one knowledge sharing.
"The gathering of tenkara anglers may be the best part of it all,” said Sparks. “Here is a chance to get a huge number of people together with a common interest. That is where the real magic is. These friendships are special."
If you are interested in tenkara, the “Jam” is shaping up to be one of the best chances to see, hear and talk tenkara this year.