So Jason Klass beat me to the punch over at Tenkara Talk with his review – and I’ll refer you there to get his insights too. I actually spent quite a bit of time chatting with Jason last night about the DVD and I think the take away from that conversation is that we were both very pleasantly surprised.
I am always a bit hesitant to watch tenkara “how-to” videos. The reason being that I have been enjoying my tenkara journey on the slow road. Tenkara was a sort of starting over point for me – a chance to reset my fishing and rebuild it from the ground up. I have not been in any hurry. I’ve spent a lot of time meandering about on stream banks trying things out, testing things, poking at the hornet’s nest, taking things apart and putting them back together. I’ve spent a lot of time re-inventing the wheel. I don’t want a “Tenkara Owners Manual”. So I only watch tenkara “how-to’s” sparingly. And when I do, I want to be inspired, not spoon-fed.
So I put the disc in the player, and pressed play with trepidation and preconceptions.
And was very pleasantly surprised.
This is not a video that asks the viewer to sit and watch some guy tie flies for an hour. Rather than creating a dry “how-to” video, Paul Gaskell and John Pearson of Discover Tenkara have instead made what is more like a documentary. And that is a very good thing in my opinion. They take us to Japan with them and we get to meet Japanese anglers and listen to them talk about tenkara and about kebari. If you’ve been around tenkara for a while, you’ll recognize some faces like Dr. Hisao Ishigaki and Masami “Tenkara-no-Oni” Sakakibara.
Rather than dictating to us, John and Paul allow us to discover along with them. And discover I did. Much of what I picked up wasn’t strictly related to kebari tying techniques. The conversations with anglers helped to put tenkara and tenkara kebari in a better historical and contemporary context for me. It was the conversations that I really enjoyed.
There were some surprises too. I found myself revising some ideas – and I know John and Paul were as well. I won’t spoil those insights for you by mentioning anything specific here – it’s more fun to watch things unfold. It was pretty entertaining to see the western anglers, John and Paul, with a bit of an urge to codify and classify like we tend to do in western fly fishing (myself included) – bump up against a tenkara culture that comes at things quite differently.
But there is tying too of course. John and Paul tie flies as well as do the Japanese tenkara anglers. It is not an exhaustive how-to, but rather an introduction to some patterns and principles (as the title states). The tying instruction is a good jumping off point. Also, I was glad to see Yoshikazu Fujioka’s My Best Streams website mentioned. If you are tenkara angler, and a kebari tyer and are not yet familiar with the site you need to check it out. You’ll find loads of inspiration as you page through Fujioka-san’s large collection of regional tenkara kebari.
The production quality of the DVD is very good and the whole thing flows quite nicely as a story rather than just a “how-to” – it was entertaining, and I would encourage folks that aren’t fly tyers to not discount it. There is plenty for the non-tying tenkara angler to enjoy. My biggest complaint is the title – Japanese Kebari: Patterns and Principles. That title, though quite accurate, doesn’t really hint at the broader range of the content. I would also like to see an insert with notes, maybe some pics of the flies with names and tyers’ names.
Rather than just show me “the way” to do things, John and Paul do a good job of presenting the idea that tenkara, and kebari tying in Japan has many faces and is very far from homogeneous. I’m inspired in my personal journey. And I’m left wanting more videos like this one.
I also watched Discover Tenkara’s first tenkara DVD entitled An Introduction to Tenkara: Basics and Fundamentals – and was likewise impressed with it. I found it a nice tenkara introduction. It takes place in the UK though – not Japan. But still though, the streams they’re fishing in the UK have me itching to make a trip over there.