Patagonia. We jumped at the chance and quickly came to realize that these rods just might be the best teaching tool for fishing available. Ever.
We see a large number of beginner anglers every season and the one common weakness they all share is casting a fly. We've been to numerous casting instructor clinics over the years and have gained a great deal of help in connecting the student with the cast. None have been easier then the Tenkara rod. Why? A fixed length of line is an asset. You can only cast that length so you are never trying to gain distance. Anglers love to throw long for no apparent reason. Personally we like to catch fish, in close, without much effort. The weight of these rods in the hand also lends to less fatigue and over gripping. Two common problems novice casters develop early on.
The best part of the Tenkara style from a guide's point of view is you can get people into fish very quickly. Having a client succeed within a half hour or less is a huge confidence booster. Almost every scenario/technique was a downstream wet fly swing. I'll choose this technique over nymphing almost every time. It's easy. It teaches one to read water. It's a simple cast and mend. And it works. It works even better with a Tenkara rod. (Never thought I'd say that after swinging flies for twenty years with everything from a light four weight to a 13' spey rod). We've always prescribed to leave the client with more than they came in with. Meaning when I guide I don't set up a nymph/bobber rig, rack up numbers and blow smoke. Teaching a beginning angler to fish well on their own is the goal. Good guides want clients to turn into good anglers. Tenkara lends itself to learning very well.
Sheridan Anderson once said.
A few highlights:
Wet Fly: Just awesome. Easy, fun and simple. Take a step back and introduce yourself to the soft hackle. You will wonder why you have so many flies in your collection. Four or five patterns will cover you for most of the season. Imagine that. Just a few flies. Not Tenkara style flies either. The old school soft hackles that have been around since dirt.
Nymphs: Czech style. One or two patterns. No indicator. Complete drift and depth control. High sticking with a 10'6" rod is easy due to having no reel, line or backing to hold up during the drift. Very sensitive to delicate takes and hook sets are faster due to having no junk(split shot, indicator) to slow the set down.
Dries: Tied with the wets for first place. Unbelievable drifts combined with easy accurate presentations and one can become a Shop Vac. Super fun and productive. We threw from size 10 to 18 with equal results.
Streamers: The one aspect I did not really like. To be honest I concentrated on the above techniques and was so successful I felt I didn't need to delve into the streamer game.
The question most have is how do I land a fish. It's pretty easy with fish under 12". Simply tire them out quickly and hand line them in. My two best tests resulted in me having complete confidence in the system. The first test was a double hook up of two 12"-13" brook trout . Took my time and scooped both up in the net. The other test was a 17" landlocked salmon that jumped four times with an added tail walk for good measure. I simply waded toward skinnier water and released the salmon easily. Using a Ketchum Release Tool eliminates the need to handle fish and is a great addition to a Tenkara system. I figured those two scenarios were all I needed to figure out the Tenkara fish fighting/release game.
What about larger fish say in the 18"-22" range? I'll hopefully be the first to let you know.
Is Tenkara the last word on fishing? No. Neither are spey or switch rods or fiberglass one handers. What Tenkara does do better than any other type of equipment is enable a novice angler to be able to fish on their own with confidence. Also not being burdened with tons of unnecessary equipment and trinkets. What it does for the experienced angler is provide an effective tool to simply fish with. There is a lot more to that last sentence. Try it and see for yourself.
If you're interested in learning more I highly recommend 'Simple Fly Fishing Techniques For Tenkara And Rod And Reel'. Available at Patagonia. The wisdom within is well worth your time. Don't get all Tenkarygeeky (new word for Wikepedia) like what has happened to the spey world. Just simply fish for the pure joy of it. Much like skiing, climbing, trail running and other numerous activities that have gotten soul less at times. Keep it simple.
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Small streams are very good right now. Especially for the DFO angler in search of solitude and wild natives. Foam fly patterns, caddis and terrestrial bugs getting it done. The Fire Engine Ant the top searcher this week.
Large waters require some work. Feeling lazy? Don't go there. Wading is doable and productive if one is willing to work. Tough nymphing, tougher streamer work. Dry fly getting the smack on the FIRST cast. Your best cast. The FIRST. We observe numerous anglers over the season. One thing becomes clear after about the second month and it's this. People love to pound water, cast endlessly and not change anything! For the love of God change something! The key to playing a seasonal game is to change incrementally with the season. Example: We are seeing the end of an awesome Golden Stonefly run (another in September, Don't you just hate missing out, this guide is a jerk), the Alder fly emergence is about to erupt. We are looking forward to the change. Watching those size eights getting the eat really gets old.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
High water nymph rigs, #8 brown, black, yellow bugger with the Napa Worm, 1" thingamabobers, awesome shuttle drivers, broken trailer bunks, articulated Butt Monkeys, Cahills, running low on split shot, Brookie parr, Chubby Chernobyls, empty tippet spools, broken boot laces, osprey antics, washboard roads, blackflies, a.m. Berry's Store stop, dark roast or espresso?, Aquel, Brookfield Power sucks, size 8 Goldenstones, thin blue line trips, bank banging sessions, high winds, one, two and three boat trips, drifting nymph float fishing tricks, new deep water nymph rigs, yellow tint lenses, pissed off brown trout, happy clients, frustrated ones also, Cohiba cigars, Tenkara rods from Patagonia rock, humming wading staffs, the evening moose dodge, shoreline/tailgate/beach lunches, afternoon espresso, egg laying caddis, Pheasant Tail soft hackle, calluses, way too many tan lines, bug dope, full hood conditions, Filson Tin Cloth hats, canned beer, Superfine Glass rods, Adams parachutes, Iris blooms, wet dog smell, reading the same article from The Fly Fish Journal for weeks while waiting for clients, dark chocolate, The Orange Cat cafe sandwiches, set, Set, SET!!!, sunsets that go on and on, shooting at least fifty images per day and the slow, deliberate surface take.
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Small streams are big fun right now. Size 10-12 attractor dries on a 3Xx71/2 foot leader is about as good as it gets at times. If you're thinking of something different this season try a small stream trip. Two to three different waters in a day. Easy wet wading, three or four weights, bamboo or glass, dry flies and brook trout. What's not to like.
Those two above paragraphs were written before the blow out conditions we are experiencing right now. Still fishing the dry, the nymph, the wet, the streamer with pretty good results. Our apologies for a late report but sleep rules in June. The marathon month. Head down, eyes forward.
We are back out starting again tomorrow. Looking back in last two weeks we have fished/guided twelve different waters. That's what June is about. Searching out the new, the productive and the under the radar water. Looking into the future, we are going out on a limb and saying that July is looking really good right now. Think Alder/Zebra flies, Blue Damsels and numerous caddis.
Get on it now. Hell or high water. Remember you can do more with high water than you can with low water. Evolve or die.
Friday, June 6, 2014
Tools this week included 3,4,5,6 and 7 weights, 250-300 grain sink tips, full sinking lines at 6ips, switch rods with Scandi heads and a few Tenkara rods to fill out the quiver. More on the Tenkara in a later post when guiding slows down. Looking at the calender, it's going to be awhile.
There was once a time when I first started playing this match the hatch game I had expectations that never materialized or were completely opposite of my hopes. Thinking about caddis, I would get beetles. Thinking about fall baetis and I would streamer fish. Think spring midge and throw the bobber instead. After a season or two of this scenario I realized I didn't know shit. Now I just let the day unfold and play the hand I'm dealt. Whether guiding or fishing on my own or those rare days with my friends, I just roll with it. As the an incredibly wise man once said "The Dude abides". Throw those preconceptions out and take what you get. You'll be a much better angler as a bonus. Or you can stand on the bank and wait. Like forever.
Saturday, May 31, 2014
Nymph patterns working O.T. right now are: Anything Mayfly like, P.T.s, Hare's Ears, Copper Johns, Princes, Zug Bugs and A.P.s. Zebra Midge 16-18, Metallic Caddis, copper, 12-14, Stonefly patterns in black and yellow, 6-10.
Streamer work getting a little better. Midsize to XL. Smelts still around but they will soon be a memory. Full sinking lines for the deeper pools. The pause/stall very stylish now. Salmon bright and aggressive. Down right difficult to photograph. If you can't handle a salmon (or any fish for that matter) correctly for photos, don't bother. We've witnessed some very poor fish handling skills lately and have grown tiresome with it. Do it right or don't do it at all.
The floatant is stocked, emergers fresh and hunt begins. Good hunting.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Nymphing is pretty solid now. Mayfly patterns in 10-16, SJs, Golden Stones in 8-10 and size 18 Zebra Midges in black and brown. Pretty simple patterns along with shot and proper rigging should produce. If not change something besides the flies.
Streamers are pretty good not great. Soon will be great. Still on the slowish swing retrieve gig. Black and purple seemed the color of the week. Dark day dark fly mojo.
Midge, BWOs and caddis flying about on three different waters this week without a nose poking up for anything. Throw the bobber until it's time for recess. Just nymph with patterns that you see hatching and don't forget about lift/swing at the end of the drift.
Get the floatant ready. It's about to break out.