Thorough Review and Assessment of Our Publications (Free and Paid)

Saturday, 14 May 2016  |  Paul G

Chris Hendriks is a guide in Norway. He kindly agreed to do a thorough and independent review of our stuff (including the new e-Book). 

Although I am a big fan of Discover Tenkara and their publications, when they asked me to write a review about their e-book, I wanted to write a honest and critical review. Why? This will help Discover Tenkara to publish even better work then they already have done and this will also benefit us as the end user.

I will write a review about their e-book, but also about their overall published work, how they overlap and complement each other.

Let us start what I personally don’t like about their e-book. Personally, I like books, proper books. I like to hold the book in my hands and turn pages. This was my very first e-book and it took some time to adjust to an e-book. But after a while I got familiar with it. What is the positive side of an e-book? Readily available, low cost, both available on your phone or laptop or whatever the device is named that you have it on. But again this point is pure a personal thing.

Review of the e-book Discovering Kebari: Choosing and using flies that catch fish.

The e-book gave me a proper insight about Kebari;

  • Why and how they are build that way,
  • Why and how they are used that way,
  • There are several more patterns then just the sakasa kebari,
  • Why they not only work in Japan,
  • How to choose your kebari under different circumstances,
  • Which kebari is good for which kind of presentation
  • How to use your kebari under these circumstances.

They also make sure that you know that the function of a kebari is more towards movement and not appearance/ imitation of an insect. The vision of fish in the traditional waters where they fish tenkara, is so minimalized by moving water that they concentrate more on the movement of their prey then the actual imitation of the insect. In their words ; “there is far greater emphasis on what each material will physically do for the angler once it is tied on the hook.”

They will show you what to think about, when choosing a kebari and taking about 11 factors in mind. These are for example;

  • Pattern / profile
  • A size chart
  • Colour
  • Material
  • Circumstances
  • Signal vs. noice factor
  • A chart where they combine ;
  1. Stealth
  2. Noise
  3. Fly size
  4. Manipulation
  5. Visual presence

I know these are a lot of factors but they managed to break it down for you in very easy steps that, even on stream, are very easy to remember without you getting a note from your pocket how to choose your fly. The way Discover Tenkara has done this, explaining all these factors and combining all these factors in a way that is easy for you to remember, is quite remarkable!

Another thing which they make very clear is this;

Have several flies! But make sure that each and every different fly-pattern excels in a certain job / presentation. This way you are prepared for several circumstances.

So for me personally this e-book opened my eyes or transformed that what I already knew in words but in such a way that it is easy to understand. They did this for me on the following subjects;

  1. Their chart where they combine stealth, noise, fly size, manipulation and visual presence.
  2. The use of hackle material and how this influences the presentation in typical tenkara techniques.
  3. The different ways of presenting a fly in the traditional tenkara techniques. ( most of these were very familiar to me but some were completely new to me ).
  4. How to choose your kebari. There are two good things about their approach; This has been done by taking a lot of factors in mind, but they have done it step by step so therefor it is easy to remember and it also applies for western patterns.

Now the final question; they have a purpose with this book which they lay down for you at page 2 of their e-book. Do they actually reach their goal?

The first purpose of the e-book is to link crucial factors of  stream side conditions, fish behaviour and presentation methods, and link these directly to the physical properties of your flies.

The second purpose of this book is;

When you understand what each material property and dressing style provides, you can choose the best fly pattern for the job from ANY fly selection of flies put in front of you.

What they did is outline all the crucial factors within streamside conditions, fish behaviour and presentation methods in a very understanding way. Then they gave examples of flies and explained why these flies would apply for a certain presentation in a certain circumstance at the stream. They also explained how and why kebari are built in a certain way and what you can expect from that pattern and in which presentation it excels. So in my personal opinion, they succeeded with their first purpose.

Now am I able, after reading this e-book to choose the right fly for the job from any given fly selection that is put in front of me? Yes, based on the info that is given to you in this book, you can.

I have one remark here though; this book gives you a load of great information, easy to remember because it is broken down in pieces that are easy to understand. But they haven’t gone into depth of how to actually present and fish these flies. What I mean is this book is absolutely awesome for it intendant purpose. The title and the two purposes mentioned in the book also say so. But it doesn’t teach you how to fish. This is something that you, if you only keep it to this single publication from Discover Tenkara, have to figure out by yourself.

Now when it comes to the other publications of Discover Tenkara; they have in total published 3 dvd’s, one e-book Discovering Kebari: Choosing & Using flies that cach fish, a series of emails which they also turned into ebooks,Western Fly fishing Essentials E-course part 1 and 2, and these emails are a still on going process where they have reached the fase of pure tenkara techniques.

The first dvd was an introduction of tenkara in every aspect. They excelled at it. This dvd made me into such a big fan of them. Their second dvd, japanese kebari, patterns and principles, not so exciting as their first dvd but it is also more intended for people that are already very interested in tenkara and want to know more about their flies. And also with this purpose in mind they excelled.  Now it was quiet for a while. Suddenly they start with these email-tutorials. I did not expected a lot of it because most email-subscriptions promise a lot and turn out to be mediocre. But I thought since some of their blogposts and their dvd’s were spot on, this could be a something after all.  I could not be more wrong!!!! Their email-tutorials were awesome and mind-blowing!!! These emails are food for thought, go through the most used techniques and offer you a fishing-system. Not only are these first tutorials meant for both tenkara and western fly fishers, they actually teach you how to fish. They show you pictures, drawings and video’s which make sure that you will be taken through each and every step of any given fishing-technique. They do it in such a way that after reading and studying this technique properly, you can go out fishing and practising this technique.

After these email tutorials they came with their E-book Discovering Kebari: Choosing & Using flies that catch fish.  And around the same time came their third dvd Japanese Kebari, practical fishing aplications. This is quite important to know for the following reason;

I wanted to give you a review of all their published work, how it overlapped and complement each other. When you look at the order of their publications:

  • Dvd; An introduction into tenkara
  • Dvd:japanese kebari patterns and principles
  • Western fly fishing essentiels e-course part 1 and 2
  • Dvd japanese kebari, practical fishing applications
  • E-book Discovering Kebari: Choosing & Using flies that catch fish

They published from my point of view correctly. They start with an introduction, they explain the thought about these strange tenkara flies, start to teach you in a great way how to fish, adaptable for both western and tenkara rods. And to top it of, come with a great e-book that makes it easier for you to choose your flies for any given condition and they make it easier for you to understand with their third dvd.

I taught myself how to fish. I read a lot, I practised and fished a lot and it took me a long time, and finally after many years some great people helped me out and mentored me in the world of fly fishing. That is what you need people that help you out and show you how it is done, what the pittfalls are and how to overcome them. The right guide can teach you something in one day , that will take you at least one season or even longer to figure out, if you want to figure everything out by yourself. Now these whole series combined, especially their latest e-book and their latest published western fly fishing essientials part 1 and 2 are one of the best publications I have come over in all my years of fly fishing and buying books about fly fishing, which are now already 15 years of experience in fly fishing only. I have only a few books that changed my view completely or taught me so much in a good pedagogical  way that you can actually understand, remember and practise what you read and this whole series is among them.  For those that start out  fly fishing or tenkara, can't afford a guide but want to learn and understand things properly, but also those with experience and want to learn more; get these publications they are wonderful!!

The only  thing that they haven't covered so much about in depth is casting with a tenkararod, they do show you how to cast in their first dvd but they do not dive into it. I do not see this as a disadvantage because the only publication that I haven't read in their whole yet, are the email tutorials solely about tenkara, but they are a work in progress. So it would be hard and unfair for me to say anything about that.

Just to make one thing clear; I have absolutely no affiliations with Discover Tenkara, I receive no gifts nor do I make any money by giving this review. I gave you my honest opinion about their work and I hope you guys appreciate it.

Chris Hendriks

Chris Hendriks Fishing- Experiences

TenkaraUSA certified guide and EFFA certified guide

Founder and organiser from the anual European Tenkara Convention

Even more kindly - he even did it in English rather than Norwegian :) 

So as not to bias or "cherry pick" anything I've just copied and pasted Chris' review exactly as he supplied it with nothing deleted and nothing changed. Please enjoy it in full below.