Tenkara Line Lengths and Stealth

On November 2, 2012 • Comments (8)
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The other day I came across this great chart put together by Vlad Odnoshivkin, from the blog Tenkara in Siberia. It was too good not to share it more widely. It is very nicely done, beautiful to look at, and most importantly it quickly illustrates tenkara: how it can be used effectively to reach fish without being seen, how different line lengths can reach fish in different ways, and more. The “three people” on the left are images of Dr. Ishigaki in different fishing stances; the person on the far right is Mr. Sakakibara Masami. Enough said, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions from it.

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VIDEO: Pause and Drift, Tenkara Technique

On October 21, 2012 • Comments (7)
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Video shot by Brian Trow, of Mossy Creek Fly Fishing.
Please click on the gear icon and select the higher resolution (1080p), and/or make the video bigger by clicking on the lower left icon, in order to see the line and technique more clearly.
 
I took a group out for a tenkara clinic in a spring creek, Mossy Creek in Virginia. I don’t get to fish spring creeks all that often but tenkara can be super effective in those waters, particularly because you can keep the main line from touching the water (if one doesn’t it to), therefore avoiding spooking fish. My very favorite technique for spring creeks, and something that has worked in just about every spring creek I have fished so far, is the “pause-and-drift” technique. For this technique, one casts across, or slightly down, and pauses the fly in place for a second and lets the fly drift, pauses and lets it drift.
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Tenkara with the “No Handed Bandit” Not using a reel has its advantages

On September 27, 2012 • Comments (6)
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Tenkara has opened the doors to fly-fishing for a lot of people, and it has proved to be a great conduit for plain old fun, no matter the ability of the user.  It is moments like this (and like these other trips) that make me very proud to promote a simple method of fly-fishing. And, it makes me very proud to know and work with the Tenkara Guides, Erik, John and Rob, as they pursue introducing more people with disabilities to fishing with a fly.  The video was shot and edited by Sam, “The No Handed Bandit”.

The Tenkara Guides (based in Salt Lake City, Utah) are really eliminating any limitations people with disabilities may have felt when it comes to fishing. They bring an interesting mix to the table as Rob is a doctor who focuses on rehabilitation therapy through recreational opportunities and John and Erik are great tenkara guides with extensive experience in engineering. All I can say is, “nicely done guydes!”

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Trout Hangouts: Edges of Whitewater

On July 19, 2012 • Comments (0)
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Written by Jason

 
“Trout Hangouts” is an ongoing series in which I highlight one specific element or structure of a river, stream, creek, or lake where trout like to hold and talk about how to approach it. Many fly fishers might know how to fish, but not necessarily where to fish. By dissecting the complicated infrastructures of different types of waters into more focused, manageable pieces, any angler can learn how to read the water and figure out exactly where to cast and apply their skills.

How to fish whitewater runs

How to fish whitewater runs

In a recent post, I talked about how fish seek out slower water when rivers are high and muddy.  The same rule applies under normal conditions in faster, whitewater runs.  While it might be tempting to throw your fly right in the middle of a fast run (because that’s probably the deepest part) it’s not a good holding spot for trout.

First of all, it’s too fast.  Trout seek out places where they don’t have to spend a lot of energy to stay in one place.  But, they also want to leverage the current to carry insects and other food to them.  Essentially, they want to find a lie with a good balance between energy spent vs. energy received.  Holding in whitewater just takes too much energy.

Secondly, whitewater is, well, white.  With the water churning so violently, it becomes opaque, making it difficult for the fish to see potential food.  So even if they did want a workout, they wouldn’t be able to see a nymph if it were right in front of them.  Or, by the time they did, it would be long gone because of the speed of the current.

Take a look at the picture above.  The green arrows represent where I would focus my presentations.  Notice I’m targeting the slower water around the edges of the whitewater.  These are the best holding spots for trout in a run like this.  Notice too that I’m not only fishing the edges, but the very tail of the run.  Fish will hold here too even if it is a only short distance because they get the benefit of the whitewater above them stirring up insects from the bottom, without having to struggle to hold in the faster water.  Essentially, you want to carve out the whitewater with your presentations.

Leave whitewater for the kayakers.  For the fly angler, the slower moving edges are the more exciting part!

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Trout Hangouts: Bridges

On July 15, 2012 • Comments (1)
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Written by Jason

“Trout Hangouts” is an ongoing series in which I highlight one specific element or structure of a river, stream, creek, or lake where trout like to hold and talk about how to approach it. Many fly fishers might know how to fish, but not necessarily where to fish. By dissecting the complicated infrastructures of different types of waters into more focused, manageable pieces, any angler can learn how to read the water and figure out exactly where to cast and apply their skills.

Tenkara fishing under bridges

Bridges are curious things. For trout, they can either be safe havens or danger zones and a lot really depends on something pretty far removed from a piscatorial perspective.

If you’ve fly fished for any length of time, you’ve probably waded up to a bridge at some point and the water beneath it probably looked pretty fishy. Indeed, bridges can provide great holding water. After all, they offer impenetrable protection from predators, shade when it’s hot, and usually slow down the current enough to provide a comfortable lie. In theory, that all adds up to a perfect place for trout to hang out. But what I’ve discovered is that the design and type of bridge makes a big difference.

The bridge in the picture above is a good example of one that trout might find appealing. It’s very robust because it’s made of stone. Even if cars drive over it, there is probably minimal vibration that transmits into the water that might scare fish (or, they’re just used to it). Also, it has solid stone side walls that prevent shadows or flashes from shiny parts on cars to go into the water. So, that would be a good bridge to fish under (I happen to know because I have). But the people who built this manmade structure probably weren’t thinking about creating a trout hangout when they put this bridge up. It was just coincidence.

Now imagine a bridge made for foot traffic along a busy jogging trail or tourist hotspot. It might have been constructed out of slatted wooden boards with gaps that let light, shadows, and vibration project into the water below every time a pedestrian passes by. That’s not a great place for trout to hunker down in. Actually, with all the activity, it’s kind of scary. So even though the flow under that bridge might be prime, the constant threat of perceived “predators” from above, will make it a troutless stretch of stream and not worth fishing.

The first thing you need to determine when approaching a bridge is if it’s viable or not. If you determine it’s good structure, then you need to figure out your approach.

Unless the bridge you’re encountering is really, really big, then most likely, you’re going to be faced with the possibility of only two presentations: upstream or downstream. When fishing a traditional tenkara presentation, I usually favor a downstream presentation. It really depends on the height of the bridge. Whether it’s a short or tall bridge and you’re fishing downstream, you can probably make a normal cast, let it drift down a little, then start pulsing the fly once it’s under the bridge.

But if you’re fishing upstream, that’s a different story. Since you can’t use the flow to get your fly into position, the casting will be tighter. You can’t really do an overhand cast when you’re trying to fish in a tight tunnel so something more like a side-arm cast or slingshot cast might be the way to go (watch this video at 5:43 to see how to make the slingshot cast).

So, the next time you encounter a bridge, think about if it’s really worth fishing or not. It could be a great opportunity, or a waste of your time.

How do you approach bridges?

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A MUST-SEE VIDEO 7lb brown trout on tenkara

On July 9, 2012 • Comments (7)
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Written by Daniel

 

In his website Ryan Jordan says of tenkara, “If you think roping a bull in a cattle chute with a piece of dental floss sounds totally cool, then you’ll really like tenkara fly fishing”.
I was finally able to visually exactly what Ryan was talking about when I watched the video below. This video has been around for a little over a month, and although we have shared it on Facebook and Twitter I just noticed we never shared it here on this blog. Our main post for today is on how to choose a tenkara rod, and though we make it clear tenkara is not made for targeting very large fish, we have designed two rods with larger fish in mind.

Below is a must-see video of Guillaume Durand, a tenkara guide in France, catching, fighting and landing a beautiful 7lb brown trout in New Zealand. He was using our Tenkara Rods.

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Reaching and holding a fish – not like an eagle.

On July 8, 2012 • Comments (2)
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Written by Daniel

 

My wife and I were reviewing pictures from a recent fishing trip we took with two friends who are new to fly-fishing. I mentioned how it was funny that I needed to remind both our friends to “show me the fish!” After struggling to hold the fish, they would proceed to hide most of  it with their hand. I personally couldn’t understand why they were doing that. And then my wife remarked that, “most people will try to grab a fish like this…” as she mimicked the motion we use to pick an apple off a table for example, “that’s how we naturally do it”.
Holding a trout from above

 

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5 Ways Tenkara Can Help You Catch More Fish

On July 2, 2012 • Comments (12)
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Written by Jason
Catch more fish with tenkara

Jason Klass on Bear Creek in Colorado

Many people have claimed that switching to tenkara has helped them catch more fish.  Some have even described it as “magical”.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide the latter (and Tenkara USA makes no claims as to the magical properties of the tools it makes), but there are certain elements of tenkara that (when applied correctly) can definitely help you increase the number of fish you catch.

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Tenkara Level Lines – cut them or join them

On June 29, 2012 • Comments (5)
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Maybe we need to revise the term “fixed-line fishing” slightly. While it is accurate to describe tenkara as a “fixed-line” method of fishing, it should be noted there is more flexibility and versatility in tenkara than most people think. One example of that is how I normally use our tenkara level lines.

Tying blood knot with tenkara line

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A Beginners’s Mind A great fish, a good laugh, and good points about tenkara

On June 16, 2012 • Comments (9)
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Margaret will have to forgive me for having fun with some video clips I captured on my iphone while we visited Colorado a couple of weeks ago. This video was too good not to share.


While stopping for lunch in Breckenridge, Colorado, we noticed a good number of fish in the stream that runs through town. I was not sure we should fish for them, they were right in the middle of town. But, my wife, Margaret, suggested we try it.

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Tenkara featured in current Fly Fisherman magazine Article by Yvon Chouinard

On May 23, 2012 • Comments (4)
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“Believe it or not, what started as a novelty for me has actually increased my catch rate by three or four times.” – Yvon Chouinard, Fly Fisherman magazine (June/July 2012)

In what can be seen as a huge milestone for tenkara in the US, tenkara has finally been featured in Fly Fisherman magazine (June/July 2012), in an article written by no less than the legendary outdoorsman Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia. It took quite a while for the largest magazine in the sport to cover tenkara maybe they feared their advertisers weren’t going to be too happy with the idea of a reeless method of fly-fishing being featured . We couldn’t be happier to see the article written by Chouinard himself, a person with great knowledge of the method and dedicated to it.

What most people don’t know about Yvon is that he is a huge fan of tenkara, and one of the only people in the country that practiced tenkara before we came about. He has been by far our biggest ambassador; during the fishing season last year  there was probably not a week that went by when we didn’t get a call or  email from someone saying, “Yvon suggested I talk to you guys…”.  And, he even attended the 2011 Tenkara Summit, where I had the pleasure of fishing with him.

In the article, Yvon describes his favorite technique, twitching the fly. He says, “just like your house cat or any predator, [fish] want action…The best way to imitate that action and to trigger a response is by using a slow-action rod with a delicate tip and a short, line line. The best rod for that is the Tenkara.”

When I was in Oregon last week it was evident most subscribers were already receiving the magazine. When I finished my presentation several people came to ask me about his technique, which Yvon says is deadly. One of the last times I saw him he told me about the article he was writing and a new technique he had been using. He sounded excited about the success he’d been having with it, outfishing his friends 4 or 5 times he told me. It sounded very similar to one of my favorite ways of fishing, so I was looking forward to reading how he described this.  We will let you get a copy of the magazine to read more about how he does this, and the rig that he prefers to use.

Yvon makes special mention of two books as “Suggested Reading”: Tenkara: Radically Simple, Ultralight fly Fishing by Kevin C. Kelleher and Misako Ishimura, and Wet Flies by Dave Hughes.

If you’re not a subscriber to Fly Fisherman magazine, or gave up your subscription because they never talked about tenkara, definitely look for this issue. (And, no, the big striper on the cover is not a fish caught on tenkara – big fish are what sell magazines… or so they say).

Fly Fisherman magazine features tenkara by Yvon Chouinard

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Tenkara Oregon

On May 21, 2012 • Comments (7)
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Oregon has some truly overlooked, yet world-class tenkara waters! As I mentioned on my last post, I had been invited to come speak in Bend, Oregon and decided to stay for a week and enjoy my time here.

The day after my presentation I was joined by eight folks from the Central Oregon Fly Fishers club for a day on the Crooked River. Only one person already had experience with tenkara, and the group’s interest for the method was contagious. It made for a very enjoyable day on the water.

Tenkara oregon group

One of the best things about these gathering is how much I get to digest what I have learned of tenkara by explaining and perhaps defending it. A simple question, like “how would you approach this section?”, or “what technique would you use here?” turns into an opportunity to learn more about why I do what I do in some situations.

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Tenkara with Dave Hughes

On May 17, 2012 • Comments (6)
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As I settle in my hotel room for the night, I turn the TV on to relax after a long day of what others would perceive as work: introducing about 100 new people to tenkara. After a minute of surfing channels, I come across the movie “The River Why”. While I was familiar with the title and I have meant to read the book, I have never read it, and must confess I don’t know the story line is (the movie is playing as I write this post, and if the post has grammatical errors, well, forgive my distraction).

According to the program description the movie had been on for approximately an hour. And, I just so happen to turn it on right as this is happening: Gus, the main character of the movie, is showing someone a new trick. It turns out, the person he was showing the trick to caught a fish, and he was also a very famous writer. And, thus, the writer decides he wants to interview Gus, and he writes a book stating Gus is a young guy who may be the best angler he’s met in decades. As the book comes out, Gus’ business of selling tackle and flies that he ties, booms.

Why do I tell you this story? Because the coincidence, if I can call it that, was too much to ignore. For the last two days I have been fishing with the world-renowned writer, Dave Hughes! And, yes, I was teaching a few new tricks to the famous writer and angler. But, no: none of us caught a large Chinook, was forced to jump in the water, and fight a super large fish into the night as a result. So, I’m sure this post will be infinitely less entertaining than the movie.

Dave Hughes and Masako Tani doing tenkara

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How to Fish with One Fly Pattern Tenkara Techniques

On May 12, 2012 • Comments (8)
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This is one of the most difficult concepts to embrace in tenkara, but in my view the most liberating. What I am talking about is the idea of using [any] one fly pattern in pursuit of trout in mountain streams. I have talked at length about the idea of not getting caught up on the western fly-fishing mentality of changing flies in order to catch trout, but rather to learn techniques to use your one fly in many conditions. Instead of relying on gear (i.e. changing of fly patterns), one can rely on his skills to make the fly work in any situation. This is not something I tell people they have to do with tenkara, it’s simply something I say is possible, and very effective.

If you are short on time, the main content I want to share is the section titled “Techniques” below, which talks about the 6 main techniques used in tenkara.

Getting comfortable with the idea that one fly pattern is sufficient takes time and some degree of dedication, but most importantly it takes knowing that this is something you want and something that suits you. It is not something most people can or should be convinced of, they have to know they want this degree of liberation in order to seek it. Much like tenkara, those who get it, get it and will eventually try it on their own pace, and it is not for everyone.

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Tenkara lessons from 6-year old Jack

On April 9, 2012 • Comments (7)
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On my last post I said the off-topic post would not set the precedent to talking about funny cats. But, I could not have predicted the future. In this hillarious video, 6-year old Jack (son of John, from tenkaraguides.com) gives us some great lessons on tenkara, covering the importance of casting accuracy, enticing a take, fly manipulation and how to land a fish.

 

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