Let’s talk tenkara!

Jason KlassIn this ongoing series, Jason Klass hosts casual conversations with tenkara anglers around the world to explore the most interesting and esoteric facets of our rich sport.

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Ep. 12: Tenkara Fly Fishing for Mental Wellness

Tenkara fly fishing as therapy

Tony Parmenter, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, EMDR Certified Therapist & Approved Consultant

Redefining “Therapy”

Tenkara as therapy

Therapists certified in Therapeutic Fly-fishing with EMDR (TF-EMDR)℠: (from left to right) Dan Pierce, Alex Danilowicz, Vicky Kelm, Tony Parmenter.

What do you think of when you hear the word “therapy”? Do you picture a quiet office setting with a patient on a couch and a counselor in a leather-elbowed cardigan asking, “how does that make you feel?”

This may be the stereotypical perception of therapy, but today, many non-traditional practices once considered “unorthodox” are now widely accepted as legitimate. Contemporary therapists are integrating a variety of innovative non-traditional techniques in non-clinical settings, including facilitated excursions into the outdoors!

tenkara fly fishing as therapy

While the role nature plays in mental health has long been recognized in other cultures (think “forest bathing” in Japan) the West has been somewhat reluctant to adopt non-traditional methods. 

Yet, many of us say we “feel better” after going fishing. We use adjectives like, “refreshed”, “relaxed”, “de-stressed”, “recharged”.

No doubt, pursuing our sport makes us “happy” on some level. But, is it merely fleeting amusement, or is there something more significant happening? Could fishing possibly be a form of bona fide therapy?

In this episode, Jason sits on the couch with licensed therapist Tony Parmenter to tackle the question: “Is fishing a legitimate therapeutic tool?” 

Tenkara as therapy

Seiyu Therapy 33 Tenkara Rod

Tony is a mental health counselor and trauma therapist who recently launched his new company Seiyu Gear, with the goal of facilitating the therapeutic use of tenkara in his own practice, as well as in the larger mental health industry. 

He’s been a pioneer in advocating fly fishing therapy since 2020 and has designed his own tenkara rod specifically adapted to meet the unique requirements of a therapeutic context. 

Tony explains why fishing makes us “feel good” from a clinical perspective, and we learn that while there may not be an official insurance code for “fishing” … (yet), the benefits are undeniable and worth discussion. 

About Tony

Help create the "Seiyu Therapy 33" Tenkara Fishing Rod! by Anthony Parmenter — Kickstarter

Tony Parmenter is a licensed mental health professional from Vermont. In 2020, Tony began using tenkara as a way to conduct EMDR Therapy, a well-established psychotherapy for PTSD and other trauma-related conditions, in nature. 

He has since published the first written article linking the use of any type of fishing modality with an evidence-based practice which has helped pioneer tenkara as an efficient way to treat trauma with those who would benefit most from doing mental health therapy outside. This has resulted in what is known as Therapeutic Fly-fishing with EMDR (TF-EMDR) and The Seiyu-zuri method. 

His company, Seiyu Institute for Health & Training, provides connections for people searching for personal nature-based therapy on the water, training in TF-EMDR for mental health professionals, and access to the first type of fly-fishing rod developed for the dual purpose of therapeutic and recreational use.

Discount for TenkaraTalk Listerners!

Contact Tony and mention this episode for a 10% discount on a Seiyu Therapy 33 Tenkara Rod

tenkara as therapy

Whether you’re a professional looking to incorporate tenkara into your practice or if your just want incorporate it into your personal wellness regime, Seiyu Gear can outfit you with a full range of adaptive gear, specifically designed to maximize the mental health benefits of fly fishing. Talk to Tony to get started

What impact has tenkara had on your mental wellness?


  1. Great episode, Jason.
    After my father passed away I went fly fishing. This was long before Tenkara.
    It was all about the focus on my fly on the water. It let me escape from the grief, if only for awhile.

    • Thanks for sharing that Rob. I didn’t talk about it in the episode, but tenkara is a big part of my recovery from alcohol and rebuilding my life after my divorce. There’s so much more to say on this topic–almost everyone I talk to mentions how tenkara helped them cope with some kind of struggle or trauma. It seems that in addition to being a highly effective and fun way to fish, tenkara is also a healing mechanism for many.

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Jason Klass, Author
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