Tenkara – no – Oni — Masami Sakakibara’s World of Tenkara —

Oni Blog

“When I started Tenkara” (3)

Posted on | November 8, 2013

When I was 25 years old, I took more interest in Tenkara than flyfishing.

At that time, I drove for fishing every weekend after the work.

I had become famous in a village as I frequented there.

The villagers often said, “That car is here again.” They talked to me very often.

Local people know best place where fish are holding.

As I visited there often, I made friends with some people, who are still my good friends.

When I went to a headwater with my father, he was pulling the fly by sinking it on Tenkara rod at an enclosing bund.

Then an amago chased it with his big mouth open.

It wasn’t a shaku or 12inch size, but it was like 28 cm long. I said, “Wow”

I was surprised as I was watching the whole thing stanidng next to him.

I was so impressed by the power of artificial fly.

I was convinced that artificial flies are so productive; they seduce fish.

But, my dad couldn’t hook up the fish after all.



I used to go to headwaters with him so often in those days, and he would often say,

“Gods of mountain often speak to me when I look up at the mountain during the fishing break.”

That is different from the sound of branches, leaves which rustle with wind; it is rather like someone’s monologue that can be heard from the far above.

“Mountain god laughs at me who came again for fishing,” said my dad.

This sense is probably unique to Japanese people; we love nature by expressing in this way.

Instead of being feared, we think humans and divine beings live together.

I also thought in that way, so I wasn’t lonely even when I went fishing alone.

I now feel those mountain gods are mostly gone..



When my dad lost 28-centimeter fish, he said he had also seen 40-centimeter amago running away.

I believed in the 40-centimeter amago!

Since I heard that, I have visited the place several times, never to meet the fish.

About that time, I got assigned for one-week business trip.

Killing time with some frustration, as soon as I finished the trip, I went to the fishing spot.

I was told that the brother of my friend threw a worm on the eel hook into a mountain stream and hooked that 40-centimeter amago.

I was so shocked to hear not only that it was caught in that stream, but with a worm. How dare someone could do that!

I felt so blank. I became totally nothing.

It’s probably my mistake as I said to the friend, “There is a big one.”

Shocked so much, I didn’t go there that year.

The place is now inhabited only by 28-centimeter fish.



I would often practice casting so much at that time.

I cast at a gap (10-20 centimeter wide) between reeds growing on the side of the stream.

I narrowed the gap gradually.

I had focused on that practice for nearly three months.

Accuracy to put the fly had become better.

Why did I stick to accurate casting even from the beginning?

There are many obstacles in the stream: rocks, bush, cobwebs, logs etc.

Also some in the back.

It is the most rational to accurately cast a fly at the point you want to let it in.

In this way, you do not have to waste energy.

It’s just like other sports; batters who want to hit a ball should practice to be accurate enough.

Runners should practice running to make their bodies prepared for running. They are all the same.

That’s also the way people advance themselves.

This is how I thought.

The goal is to present a fly beautifully on the point.

It should land gently and quietly just as if it were placed by being carried by fingers.

As to presentation area, I had been not so sure about where to present it.

I’ve been still in the quest about that question.


I probably still have to learn about presentation point..

Weather, river conditions and mood of fish affect the point.

But the bottom line is to present the fly on the best point.

That is the first step. The headwater I fished with my dad was like a dojo or a practice hall.

I wanted to learn how fish respond to the fly I cast to the point which I thought was perfect.

I murmured myself, “He ignored my fly.” “He will bite it. I got it!” “No, it’s off the hook! Why!”

Then, I said, “It got off the hook as the hook was in the hard part of upper jaw. Maybe I should drift it like this so that the fish can bit it more easily.”

“But, it cannot eat it properly…”

I always bother over something, which I belive will accumulate in some experience.

All the lessons are repeated in this way. Mountains and rivers must have smiled at me who was absorbed in this ludicrous ordeal.

They must say, “He is still doing that.”



Translation:Naoto Kaiba




5 Responses to ““When I started Tenkara” (3)”

  1. Adam
    November 8th, 2013 @ 12:07 PM

    Thank you my friend. Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. Jeremy aka adventureR
    November 10th, 2013 @ 8:15 AM

    Masami Sakakibara & Team Oni, thanks again for the great blog!
    I too grew up on a mountain and understand the feel when you break your concentration traveling, fishing, and exploring and look at the beauty around you. Your views on nature are very nice to follow as well as learning to hone ones fishing skill.

  3. ONI
    November 10th, 2013 @ 9:43 PM

    Dear Jeremy
    You enjoy.Thank you too.

  4. Delane G
    November 11th, 2013 @ 11:51 AM

    You take me to a different place and one I would one day like to visit. Your skills as a fisherman and as a writer are much enjoyed in my home. Thanks!

  5. Oni
    November 11th, 2013 @ 10:56 PM

    Dear Delane G I hope you come to Japan too.
    You will enjoy so much!!

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2012- Tenkara no Oni - Masami Skakibara - All Rights Reserved.