30 days, 3 countries, 12 species, 1 fly

On September 16, 2013
Comments (9)

I have just returned home from a 30-day round-the-world journey that took me to 3 countries (Japan, Italy and the UK). It will take me a little time to digest the experiences and share more insights, tenkara how-to’s, videos and photographs with you.
But there was one photo that jumped at me the other day and I wanted to share it with you.

During this trip I tried many tenkara flies which were given to me by friends I made along the way. I used most flies given to me, even if they were not the “one fly” that I normally tie. After all they were in my box and because they were there, if the catching slowed down I had to experiment. Interestingly, not a single time did changing flies started producing more fish. I did catch fish on at least 3 other flies (one dry, a bead head nymph and a very small nymph), but switching back to my usual fly produced fish too and I can honestly say I didn’t notice any difference.
I realized a big part of my confidence and reliance on “one fly” stems from having left the others behind, and the biggest reason I like the idea of one fly is so I don’t have to think much about what I’ll be using, nor spend a lot of time working on flies or second-guessing my fly choice.
Regardless, in the last 30 days I have caught 8 different species/types of trout (Amago, Yamame, Yamato Iwana, Nikko Iwana, rainbow, leopard trout, Mediterranean brown trout, and brown trout), in addition to grayling, 2 types of minnows and a chub. I caught each one of these species on the Ishigaki Kebari. I caught these fish, with that fly, in shallow water and in deep waters. I fished with it in slow and super clear spring creeks, in steep tumbling mountain streams, in large rivers, in dark tea-colored waters, in notoriously difficult tailwaters, and in clear water for spooky fish. I also fished in hot and humid days, bright and dry days and in torrential rains.
Why did I do it? It was not a mission to catch as many fish species on “one fly”, it really was not that at all. I just did it because that’s the fly I had most of in my box and over the last few years I have gained a great degree of confidence that it works in a variety of waters and for a variety of fish. The greatest thing about it for me is freedom. This approach allowed me to travel to 3 countries with the same small fly box, without once having to go online to see what would be hatching in the waters. As I often say the one fly approach in the most difficult concept in tenkara for people to embrace, but I also find it to be the most liberating concept from this wonderful method.

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9 Responses to 30 days, 3 countries, 12 species, 1 fly

  1. Jeremy (achilles38) says:

    That is a great picture. I’ve also found the Ishigaki Kebari to be my favorite fly, and the one I use for about 75% of my fishing. I only have 2 colors, the one TUSA sells, and a black/tan one tied by John from Tenkara guides, and they both catch every type of fish I’ve caught on tenkara-bluegill, crappie, bass, rainbow, browns, whitefish, brookies, cutthroat, a few other fish I couldn’t ID, several types of trees and bushes, my hat, my wife’s Iwana…just to name a few, haha. Awesome fly!

  2. Great report Daniel. It was a real pleasure to host you for the UK part of your journey.
    The Ishigaki kebari is quickly becoming my favourite fly!

  3. Brian Lindsay says:

    Hi Daniel,
    I also have become free of fly types. I have caught 9 species from the same fly. All in America of course but in different regions all in the same month. I think letting go and tuning in t the technique is simply the key.

    Peace and Tenkara,


  4. Adam Hanna says:

    I continually becaome intrigued by the one fly moethod, but find my most difficulty challenge is getting the fly down far when it can be key. I would love to see a video of various presentation methods!

  5. Michaela says:

    Welcome back Daniel

    I have been fishing a one fly pattern in different colors , a Ishigaki
    Kebari fior the past 2 years. Ialso enjoy the feedom of only one
    pattern to tie. I have caught 7 different species using the same pattern fly……..I love it!!

  6. Jay Johnson says:

    In general, I do not follow the “one fly” philosophy. I still have less than 6 months of Tenkara (and fly fishing in general) under my belt, so I find myself still in that phase of experimentation to see what I like. I also really enjoy tying flies. It brings a whole new level of joy to fishing and gives me something to do when I can’t get on the water. This I am also very new at, so I am still trying out different patterns, seeing what I like, and trying different materials to increase my skill and experience.

    However… once I get out on the water I would definitely say that I follow the “one fly” philosophy. At the start of the day, if I don’t already have a fly hooked onto a line from last time, i’ll open my fly box and pick something for the day (depending on water type, if I have a new pattern I want to try or really just how I feel). Once I start fishing, I stick with my guns. I never want to waste time changing flies, because in my mind that is precious time that I could spend catching a fish.

  7. JDSmith says:

    Outstanding Daniel. Welcome home.

  8. Martín Blasco says:

    Great lesson! Such a simple and unpretencious way of enjoying ones nature. I still keep fishing more with Tenkara (just my Ayu, traditional line and one Ishigaki Kebari. That’s all. A happy angler.) than when I fish in the traditional Western style fly fishing. I’m actually trying to even introduce more elements of Tenkara into Western fly fishing and not the other way around.

  9. Dale H. says:

    While I don’t fish the Ishigaki Kebari as much as I should, I have also had some very memorable days with it. My past two trips out, a black body/grizzly hackle has performed really well. I did try a bead head version also and did very well with it in front of a dam I fish. One thing I have found is that I do well with about 6 turns of Whiting hackle that is only as wide as the hook gap for my kebari. The hackle didn’t mat together which looks very different in the water.


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