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.
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!
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!
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,
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!
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!!
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.
Outstanding Daniel. Welcome home.
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.
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.