Tenkara – The Book Review

I received my copy of Daniel Galhardo’s tenkara:the book last week and was surprised to open it up to find I got copy 18/200 from the Kickstarter campaign with a nice personalized inscription on the cover page.  I then set about reading it since, at the moment, I have been unable to get out fishing due to weather.   Finally, a book about tenkara the way tenkara was meant to be fished, not a book about fly fishing with a tenkara rod.

First, the book is absolutely beautiful.  High quality paper, great photography, and even better illustrations.  I love the illustrations in the Learning Tenkara section that combine line art with photographs, hats off to Jeremy Shellhorn who was the designer and illustrator for the book.   Secondly, I love the fact that you can read the first 7 pages (plus see a few photo pages) and really get the bulk of what you need to know to get out and fish tenkara.  These pages are basically a higher quality rendition of the materials that come with TenkaraUSA rods showing you the basics of fishing tenkara.   Third, I like the QR Codes scattered throughout the book that you can scan and go see material on the TenkaraUSA site that adds depth to the topic at hand.

Of course,  the book can’t be 7 pages long but the rest is good material.  A nice history of tenkara,  giving credit to the tenkara teachers who helped Daniel on his tenkara journey and then chapters diving into equipment, kebari (flies) and how to fish tenkara.   The entire book is focused completely on the traditional Japanese method of fishing tenkara which is the way I fish it 99.9% of the time, even down to using one-fly.   If I want to fly fish Western style I’ll grab a fly rod with a reel, I fish tenkara to be as simple as possible and I appreciate the esthetic of traditional tenkara and don’t want to use a floating line and a Royal Stimulator even though I’m sure that would catch fish.

Entering my fourth full year of tenkara now and having listened to all of Daniel’s podcasts, reading the tenkara magazine each year and keeping up on various tenkara blogs I can’t say I learned a lot of new things from the book but I enjoyed it completely.  For someone totally new to tenkara though this book is a master class on everything you need to know to get going and well worth the $25 you’ll spend on it.

My only criticism about the book would be that it is totally TenkaraUSA focused and does not cover equipment from other companies except a brief mention of Tenkara No-Oni’s rods.   That said, I’m still 100% TenkaraUSA focused in my own arsenal of tenkara rods which, amazingly, matches the rod line-up from TenkaraUSA.    Product promotions are scattered around and the book does come off a bit as a very big ad for TenkaraUSA but it is published and sold by them and if it helps spread tenkara to the masses then that is a good thing for tenkara in this country as well as Daniel’s company.