If you’ve ever wondered if Tenkara’s popularity is growing in the United States, you’re not alone. I tried to huntdown Tenkara rod sales, but failed. Then someone in the Tenkara Anglers community suggested I look into Google Trends for Tenkara. Brilliant!

Side note: I love the Tenkara Anglers Facebook Group. If you aren’t a member, change that!

Interest in Tenkara exploded in 2009

Tenkara first came to the United States decades ago, but was commercially introduced by Tenkara USA in 2009.

The New York Times reports:

In April 2009, Galhardo launched Tenkara USA, an online tenkara-rod outfitting shop. It was the first company outside Japan to introduce tenkara.

“Ever since, there has been a tremendous amount of interest for tenkara,” Galhardo said. “That’s partly because it’s considered the only really new thing in fly fishing in the U.S. for the last 30 years, since the introduction of spey casting, and, partly it has become very popular because people have been craving something simpler and ideal for stream fly fishing.”

Tenkara USA’s introductory video to Tenkara was published to YouTube on July 8th, 2009 and has been viewed over 1 million times.

Google Trends shows explosive interest in Tenkara beginning in 2009 and continuing through 2016. Searches for the terms “Tenkara” and “Tenkara fishing” peaked about two years ago, plateaued, and then began to decline, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

People in the Rocky Mountain West are REALLY interested in Tenkara

The Rocky Mountain West has arguably the best fly fishing in the lower 48. Sorry, everyone else. Want to argue? Don’t.

I’ll never leave Montana, brother.

So, it’s fascinating to see that the states with the most people searching for “Tenkara” are in the Rocky Mountain West.

Rocky Mountain West and Tenkara

This is great news for Tenkara advocates! People in the Rocky Mountain West know fly fishing and they’re very interested in Tenkara, which means the sport is really breaking into the mainstream, even when it’s mocked by reel fly fishing enthusiasts.

Ok, explain the decline in internet search

Searches for the terms “Tenkara” and “Tenkara fishing” peaked about two years ago, plateaued, and then began to decline, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, what it likely means is that as more people have become familiar with Tenkara fishing, their searches have become more refined and specific.

I wanted to test this theory so I looked into the Google Trends for “fly fishing” and found a 50% drop in searches. Do you think fly fishing is becoming less popular? Of course not! People’s searches have matured.

How does Tenkara compare to other forms of fishing?

While the interest in Tenkara is growing and maturing, Tenkara is still a niche within the larger fly fishing community, but that isn’t surprising. Reel fly fishing has been in the U.S. for a very, very long time. Tenkara, on the other hand is turning ten years old this year and is barely ready for fifth grade.

The important takeaway is that Tenkara is holding strong and becoming more and more popular, accessible, and mainstream.

Tenkara and fly fishing
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