One gentle flick of the wrist, and the light line soars forward, dropping the kebari precisely on target. A native brook trout rockets to the surface and crushes it, turning for safety in the rocks below. The angler feels the rod flex all the way down to the grip as the fish connects and runs, moving it deftly to hand after a spirited fight.
What are we talking about when we say "5:5, high-flex"?
There was a bit of a buzz floating around the Jamboree, word was on the street that the fly fishing area had something new and exciting to share. We got a visit from BSA National Commissioner Charles W. Dahlquist, who wanted to give our tenkara rods a try. He had a bluegill on the line after his second cast, and a big smile on his face the whole time. Then he passed the rod to Scout leader Nancy, who had never caught a fish on a fly before. After just a few minutes of coaching, we got her onto a nice largemouth bass!
We soon opened up and got the Scouts fishing, eight at a time, for 20-30 minutes each. Each group would receive a short orientation talk explaining the basics of tenkara and demonstrating the cast, then we would get them on the water. Instructors would move from student to student, giving feedback and answering questions to help the Scouts get dialed in and catch fish.
The rods were rigged with a wide variety of flies - drys, nymphs, streamers, and wet patterns. All of them produced at various times, and it gave the Scouts a chance to explore different techniques. The lake was well stocked with panfish, bass, and catfish. Many of the Scouts got onto fish quickly, especially earlier in the day. Even when midday heat and sun made conditions challenging, catching continued at a steady pace. Some Scouts caught their first fish on a fly, some caught their first fish ever, and some even got to catch fish on flies they had just tied in the fly tying tent!
1) We staffed the tenkara area with two instructors, myself and one of the trained Scout leaders who would rotate in. With 8 young anglers, a 1:4 instructor to student ratio worked well. When any Scout needed help landing a fish or required direct instruction, another Scout would invariably get a fish on the hook too - so the second instructor was necessary. Even with barbless hooks, many Scouts still need help getting the freeing the fish and getting it back in the water, especially if they have never done it before.
2) While we taught the Scouts how to properly extend and collapse the tenkara rods and demonstrated the capability, we kept the rods fully extended for the duration of the day. The only time we collapsed them was when a snag or tangle demanded it for maintenance. At the end of the day, we would then collapse and store the rods. Minimizing the amount of collapse and extend cycles will help guard against potential breaks.
3) Young anglers followed instructions pretty well, but they did have a habit of dipping the rod tips into the water. This started to create a build-up of muck on the top sections, which can be a pre-cursor to damage if and when it gets in between the sections. In a camp setting, regular cleaning will be required to keep the tenkara rods operable.
4) The other big habit that I saw, was a lot of "climbing the rod" to land fish. Instead of holding onto the cork grip when bringing the fish in, they would begin to move their hands further and further up the rod. This has the potential to inhibit rod flex or create stress angles that can seriously damage the rod. To counter this habit, we pointed out the potential risk, and then added that it is a lot more fun to fight the fish with the rod by holding on to the cork grip. This really helped the Scouts focus and improved their fishing experience too!
5) The BSA National Fishing Task Force is very pleased with what they saw at the Jamboree. They believe that the event proved the suitability and durability of tenkara rods for high volume use in Scout camp settings. In fact, the tenkara rods out-caught "western/conventional" fly rods by a significant margin!
It was a privilege introducing so many young anglers to tenkara at the National Scout Jamboree. Our sincere thanks to all of the BSA National Fishing Task Force, Certified Angling Instructors, and Scout leadership who made Badger feel welcome, and worked hard in the West Virginia heat to deliver an outstanding fishing program - FISH ON!
Matt @ Badger
It's no secret by now that tenkara is an excellent way to introduce children to fishing. We've discussed it in our blog posts (Tenkara and Kids & Family Fun with Tenkara*) and both of us have done a lot of fishing with tenkara rods and young anglers. It has proved itself a standout choice among kids fishing rods because it is easy for kids as young as 2* to catch fish and have fun! This is important to us because here at Badger, we believe that positive experiences with the outdoors as a child are the foundation for healthy relationships with the outdoors as an adult. We believe this because that is how we became avid sportsmen ourselves!
We were both participants in Scouting as we grew up. Our troop was exceptionally active, with a camp-out every month (even in Winter!), and week-long summer camps. We hiked, camped, learned first aid, paddled canoes, fished, and did service projects; all under safe supervision by dedicated volunteer adults who set excellent examples of leadership and citizenship. It was a highly positive formative experience for us, and we both feel it set the tone for our outdoor adventuring as adults.
This is why we are honored to announce that Badger Tenkara is proudly sponsoring the Fly Fishing Merit Badge Activity Area for the 2017 National Scout Jamboree! For the first time in the event's history, tenkara will be available in the fishing activity area; over 40,000 Scouts will have the opportunity to explore tenkara at the Jamboree by using our SCOUT tenkara kids fishing rods.
We first started discussing the merits of tenkara with Scouting leadership a few years ago. After a long conversation at a trade show, they quickly recognized the advantages that a collapsible, ultra-lite, fixed line rod offers young anglers on outdoor adventures.
At that point, we began to support the BSA National Fishing Task Force in their evaluation of tenkara style fly fishing. They were well suited to perform an extensive assessment and determine how tenkara could best fit into Scouting. The testing occurred over several months, and we were excited to serve as a resource for the process.
The Scouts have reached an important conclusion that we are very excited to have been authorized to share with you:
Tenkara fly fishing rods are now officially a valid choice of gear to use when Scouts are completing requirements for the
Fly Fishing Merit Badge!
Matt will be at the Jamboree getting the SCOUT kids fishing rods rigged up and spending a few days fishing with Scouts as the Jamboree begins. Stay tuned to Badger Tenkara for updates as we make tenkara history, and introduce a record setting number of young anglers to tenkara!
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BREAK THIS ROD Contest
Travel Fishing Rod