About Tenkara Fly Shop


Tenkara Fly Shop TM

Working on a Fly Box

Working in the Shop

 Different because of the Quality, Time & Effort that I put into construction. My 36 year customer service experience is second to none, and I'm competitively priced.

Scroll down or check the right side of page to see customer feedback.

I consider myself a craftsman, not a profit production shop. I tie these flies based on my extensive trout, bass & panfish experience, leaving a bit of time for ongoing-onstream experimentation. Barbless & well-tied, highly visible to the fish. I follow Takumi no Waza, or artisan techniques in placing one's heart and soul into the pursuit of a higher standard of value. I use the finest mottled hackle, Shetland wool & Shetland fur (best for water absorption) and genuine Japanese silk & bee's wax securely tied to high-quality hooks. A natural and durable tool that hangs tough, fish after fish.


With a Minimum Order of $20 hand tied kebari, you will get FREE USA Shipping!

Great Lakes Storm

Great Lakes Storm Wave - Locally called "November Witch" it's not something to trifle with. The colorful name refers to the particularly nasty storms that pummel the Great Lakes and sink ships. Photo courtesy of Photographer Dave Sandford 

My Technique:

I've been tying trout flies for 50 years and developed a tying style that builds on field research in Aquatic Entomology put into practice in stream, lake & pond fly-fishing. If you've never spent summers (mask and snorkle, no wetsuit) immersed in a cold spring creek, you don't know what you are missing.

I could only stay in for about 30 minutes at a time, so stealth was the priority. But I had some great times with it and learned a great deal about trout behavior. I kept aquariums, my largest a 55 gallon stocked with crayfish and predators and learned about how fish feed. And of course seined the local creeks to study the insect populations, keeping samples for later imitation. 

Influences in the education end of my tying experience include many angler/tyers, but scientifically noteworthy are: Poul Jorgensen, and the team of Caucci & Nastasi. When it is about turning on-stream entomogical research into finished trout attractions, these guys were the best teachers.

In addition, I have aquired certain important facts along the way that I incorporate into my flies.


  • I hate it when a fly unravels after a couple of fish, so I build upon the "Old Master's" methods of construction that result in a long lasting fly.
  • There are certain aspects to material selection and use that guarantee superior fish-attraction and performance in the water. For example; ultraviolet sensitivity which allows fish to quickly spot your fly, or using white fur to simulate bacterial growth (predatory fish look for any signs of weakness in their prey).
  • Hackle thickness is tied to water flow;  Bushy for fast water, sparse for still or somewhere in between. Carrying a couple of variations will help you on the stream as experimentation is the best way to become your home stream expert.
  • Or, have you considered the depth in the water column that you should be fishing? Weighted or unweighted and light or heavy hooks help get it done.
  • Tip: While not recommended for beginners, the addition of a tungsten beadhead on a kebari is a great trick for getting deep under a waterfall when needed without seriously overloading a rod if you are careful in selection and use.

These are just a few examples of the thought given to your fly order.

Extreme Durability:

My flies are built using "Old School" Silk and Wax methods rooted in the Old Traditions of Art Flick, James Leisenring, Harry Darbee and Roy Steenrod.They last and attract a great many fish. And attract fish they will. All kebari are tied barbless, with an eye toward staying within the style that I've developed over my lifetime.

Compare my low minimum FREE shipping (plus a FREE wooden box) to a competitor's final cost, then make your choice. 

6 Dozen Killer Buggers

6 Dozen Killer Buggers for John in NC

LINK: Tenkara Fly Shop Pinterest Images

My Fly Fishing Story:

My name is Jim, Jimmy to my family & friends. I have been in business as Tenkara Fly Shop and communicating it's growth and the growth of Tenkara in for six years. I love fishing my steep gradient streams and tying trout flies for the occasion. I love just as much relaxing in my canoe on a lovely lake. I have been doing this since 1967. At that time, I was the only person in my "worm-dunking" community who fished this way.

I recall a cheap, glass Berkley dry fly rod purchased at the local Jamesway department store, and the snapping of every fly that I purchased, right off of my simple level leader on every back cast. Christmas of that year I was gifted with a simple fly tying kit and an instruction book by Art Flick, who became my mentor from a distance. Those first trout flies were awful! But, it wasn't long before I could turn out a decent fly. 

My signature fly box

My Signature Fly Boxes - Photo courtesy of Jason Klass

I live on one of the tributaries of the Great Lakes in Western New York where steelhead is king, but I don't normally fish for them. My love is and has always been, to head up into the gorge to fish the small, steep head-water streams that feed the St. Lawrence. They are no wider than my driveway, and are the home of wild rainbow trout in the 6 to 10 inch class, planted in the 1800s by local environmentalists. Or maybe head over the ridge and fish the Allegheny-Mississippi headwaters side for Brookies or Browns. And that's how I discovered Tenkara. As soon as I heard about it in 2012 I knew it was for me. 

Rick Munday gave me a nice review on Facebook/Tenkara and Western Fly Fishing


As I grew older, I put together several fly fishing outfits which were subsequently abandoned in my never-ending search for one that would fit the style of fishing that I practiced. I disliked constant line-mending, desired more precise control and never was one for long fly casts on my brushy headwaters. Back then I used the longest  Western rod that I could fit under the trees, and paired it with the lightest fly line that I could find. So when I discovered it, Tenkara was a revelation for me.

I sometimes tell people that I hate Western fly fishing, as a way to emphasize how much Tenkara has changed my life. Of course I don't hate Western fly fishing. I adored it for over 50 years. In the creeks, on the lakes and in the rivers both in the US and in Canada. For trout, bass and bluegill. I fondly recall each and every memorable trout. The mornings, the evenings ... I savored their gift, like the rare fish that died at my hand and nourished both my body and soul.

My Tamo

My Tamo

Putting to use many years of experience in the Northeast and in Canada, studies in aquatic entomology, fly-tying, working with wood, bamboo and metals, acquired as a wood carver, cabinetmaker and in antiques repair ...

... and, of course largely thanks to my customers this business has blossomed. It's they who have helped build this business and who largely determine the quality product that comes out the other side.

It's not  possible to keep kebari in stock, they are all tied on demand now, year round except for summer vacation. Still, I insist on a certain level of craftsmanship which sometimes makes the completed product take a little longer. It sounds cliché to say that I am not in this for the money, but it's a fact. Sure I use the money, and won't work for slave wages but with such a low margin, by itself it's not enough. You will see for yourself if you buy from me. It's a user friendly operation. I am small & intend to stay that way. And, I want your purchase to be worth your wait.

My goal is just to tie the best, most durable kebari and flies that work the best for catching fish that I and my many friends have found. Not a match the hatch game, Tenkara is all about learning fishing technique with do-it-all patterns.

Try ours out and let me know what you think.

 My Fishing Basket & Line Holders

My Fishing Basket & Line Holders

Whether I am tying tebari, working with wood, bamboo or metal, I feel that I am imbued with Shokunin Kishitsu or Craftsman's Spirit. 

Zen Fly Tying ... Chopping wood, carrying water. That is what makes it worth the trouble.


Beadhead Partridge & Peacock

Here is an example of a highly visible fly

My Glass Ant kebari is a great all purpose mid depth fishing pattern as are all of the Glass Series of Mayfly and Caddis imitations. Killer Buggers are the most evolved flies in my shop. The addition of bright red silk, a bit of flashabou and a tapered marabou tail result in a fly that demands to be noticed. By trout of course, but also great for bass & panfish.

I tie by permission, the popular creations of the Utah Tenkara Guides, the Utah Killer Bug being the biggest selling bug that I have ever tied.  There are many small worms, scuds and all manner of insect life that this fly imitates, including caddis flies. It is possibly the greatest simple Tenkara guide fly of all time. Also take a look at the Grave Digger & Red Ass Monkey.

The Eastern Killer Bug, invented by Frank Sawyer holds a special soft spot for me. It was the first nymph pattern that I ever used, and it was successful, oh man was it a good fly. Fished right of course. That was in my spinning rod days only a couple of months before I was able to save enough to buy my first fly rod. We fished them right on bottom with a split shot or two ahead of it. Not much different than worm fishing actually.

Or my own fancy version, christened the Candy Cane Minnow Tail by two customer-friends, the bug has come a long way with an under-body of bright red copper wire, a Patton's #229 wool body, and a red silk-tied thorax and tag tail that allows it to be used as either a tiny mayfly or minnow. I trim the tail sparse and pick out the wool on top to imitate a large number of hatching Mayflies and Caddis too. But honestly, the original plain one is just as good and it's the one that I have listed for sale.

Oh, and some kind of worm fly is a great idea. There are many situations where this fly, properly fished will save the day. Especially with rainbows and steelhead, or rising water and tail-water rivers. I would like to make an unapologetic pitch for my Dragon Worm. It does indeed push all of a predator fish's buttons, whether in feeding or in aggressive behavior. Some of my friends hate it, as it doesn't quite fit with the nostalgia of a traditional Japanese pastime. But you can't argue with the results.

See the FAQ page or write for more info.


In memory of Skye

She was my very dear friend and co-pilot of 13 years. We spent every day together; in the woods and on the streams. Having snacks, playing with her squeaky toys, tying flies & going to the post office. She was gentle, except with cats. Well, even then sometimes, as long as they didn't enter her yard (had to watch her around skunks), then she would kick up a fuss. Along with Fergus and Dawson, these sheepdogs have the greatest hair for tying the Kebari, creamy and buggy.

Dawson's fur is blue dun, perfect for the "Grave Digger". Fergus has a tan-gray which nicely compliments the color of the "Red Ass Monkey". These guys have such great fur, that they have developed the Shetland Series of caddis-imitating kebari in favorite Jamieson's Shetland wool yarn colors using their under-fur for a collar behind the hackle. Smart Scottish folk!

Fergus & Dawson

Fergus & Dawson

Colorado Outdoors Magazine Article:

Hi Jim. You may consider this order a little strange since it is for one fly each of 12 different patterns. I intend to photograph each fly and submit the photos to my magazine editor for inclusion in an article that I am writing for Colorado Outdoors magazine for next year. I am fully capable of tying each of the patterns (and have tied some already), but looking at your photos, I realize that you do a much better job. I would also like to cite you as the fly tyer and list your company as a source of Tenkara flies, if that is okay with you. I have attached a copy (photo below) of a previous article that I did for Colorado Outdoors on soft hackle flies as an example of my writing. I tied all of the flies photographed in the article, but I guess I am getting a little lazy with the Tenkara patterns. Also, I'd like to spend more of the short Colorado summer fishing with my Tenkara rod than sitting at a vise trying to tie the perfect fly. Thanks, Ron Belak

Hi, Jim. About 2 or 3 months ago I ordered some Tenkara flies. You filled the order with exquisitely tied flies (and gave me some extras) when I explained that I am going to use them to illustrate an article that I am writing for "Colorado Outdoors" magazine. The article is for May and I am just starting to write it. I could not identify 2 of the extra flies that you gave me and have attached pictures of them. Could you please identify them? I will credit your flies to "". Thanks again, Ron Belak.

Colorado Outdoors magazine photoTwo of my flies

Hi Ron. Congratulations on your upcoming article. Also, I appreciate the exposure for Tenkara Fly Shop. These flies are my own creations. At the left is my "Bead Bunny Kebari". I like to use glass beads on wet fly types for use in slower water. It breaks the film easily and sinks in a more natural manner than does a metal bead, especially tungsten. Another benefit is the light play through the bead as an attraction element. Each bead is separated by a fine layer of "Antron" dubbing and the hackle is rabbit fur. The fly on the bottom is a pale "Woven-body Sakasa Kebari" with gold rib, bead head, hen hackle and peacock herl collar. Again, thank you for your interest in my flies and I wish you great success with your article. Keep me posted. Yours, Jim

Jim & Son Scott

Fishing with "The Doctor", my son Scott

Jim Fishing

 Fishing on the Batten Kill River


Releasing a Fish

A few words about my tenkara fly tying & fishing style:

Many Tenkara anglers will say that almost any fly will suffice, and it is the technique that is most important. It is true, tenkara techniques provide a decided advantage. But that is only part of the story.

After (nearly) a lifetime of chasing trout, I would add; "Using tenkara kebari of the rough coloration and size of the largest, abundant, most recognizable food, at the level that the fish are feeding, all things being equal, will increase your performance dramatically!"

And there is a lot to be said for simplicity. You don't need every tenkara pattern in the shop. But, a small group of flies designed to fish at a given depth, in a few colors and selected for your specific watershed certainly makes a great deal of sense.

My Home Stream

My Home Stream

Years ago professional fly tyers would say that "you have to catch a fisherman before he can catch a fish". What they meant was, trout flies tied full and bushy were more attractive and sold better than sparsely tied flies which actually caught fish. Flies always gave better performance once they were old and well-chewed. Those of us in the know would trim three quarters of the feathers from any flies we purchased so that they would perform.

But now, anglers are better educated. So, you will certainly understand when I say;   "I don't care about catching your attention, or to produce a pretty fly, I tie kebari so that you can catch the fish's attention".

But, if you are spending a chunk of cash on your sport, THE STUFF THAT YOU SEE why would you skimp on kebari, THE ONE THING THAT THE FISH SEE ?

My tenkara kebari & fly patterns are based upon long, personal experience, aquatic observation, and tied for outstanding performance. Look at the feedback above, and then decide whether you want to save money, or catch fish.

The bitter taste of poor quality lingers long after the sweet taste of low price is forgotten.

Tenkara Fly Shop TM Image
Fisherman on a Rock - Katsushika Hokusai
A number of folks have asked about the origin of the Tenkara Fly Shop Trademark  Banner Image. Here is what I know about this old Japanese woodblock print, shown in it's original form above.
This Japanese Tenkara Fisherman is an example of an image of an early woodblock print popularized by many of the island's artists. Done by Katsushika Hokusai as a self portrait, "Fisherman on a Rock" is in a style called Surimono, a particular kind of Japanese print that were produced during the Edo period (1615-1868). These are tiny little prints (about 6×6?) that utilize poetry as well as images. The elegantly written poem at the top right corner (untranslated) show that it is an example of a finely made print. The print is signed "old man mad about drawing".
Katsushika Hokusai - 1760–1849 was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Tokugawa period (1600 to 1867). In his time he was Japan's leading expert on Chinese painting. Born in Edo (now Tokyo), Hokusai is best-known as author of the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji done in 1831. Hokusai was a stubborn Bohemian
artist who fought with his teachers and was thrown out of art school.
He was an artistic genius, obsessed with art. He produced over 30,000 works, on silk, woodblock, books, manga, illustrations, paintings and sketches. Some of his paintings were public displays measuring over 2,000 square feet. This work of art well represents the guiding principles of my business, that of a solitary craftsman creating quality, traditional kebari and rustic bamboo equipment.

DISCLAIMER : All of the content of this site, in the form of the images, photos or pictures we display because I believed that the content was “public domain” . Most of the images or pictures displayed are of unknown origin, and I do not intend to infringe any legitimate intellectual right, artistic rights or copyright. If you are the legitimate owner of any one the images that we show or posted here, if you do not want us to them, then please Contact Us and we will immediately take any action that is needed.