Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
- Alot of built movement/wiggle
- Allowing a variety of presentations
- Fast and easy to tie
- Using a few, readily available materials
- Sized to be easily cast
Inspired by a posting I saw on a forum, I did a bit of online research. There are a number of hard and soft cases and bags made for carrying rolled up prints and drawings. The cost of the cases and bags range from a couple of buck up to about $20.
These carriers looked particularly applicable -
Sunday, October 24, 2010
1) Folks who have lost a rod plug
2)Folks who will lose a rod plug
Fortunately, you can easily and cheaply make your own replacement plug. The best material I've found is foam from a cheap pair of flip flops.
Start off by cutting a block of foam, slightly wider than the diameter of your rod. You may want to use a brightly colored flip flop, ideally not one that is still in use by your significant other -
Trim your foam block to a length of 1 1/4 long
Make a slit sut on each corner of the block, about 1/2" down from the top of the block
Trim the corners on the bottom 3/4" of your block
Give it a test fit. You want a slightly snug fit. Do not try to force fit the plug, if it's too big, trim away a bit more of the foam
The foam makes a very functional rod plug. Maybe not so pretty, but by using a bright color it will be easy to find if you drop it.
Now that you have the hang of it, make an extra or two. Put a spare in fly vest/pack.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
- • Look the world in the eye and shake hands like a man
• Always do what you say you are going to do
• Live your life as deeply as you can and love how you are living it
• Do what is “right” and trust your heart and soul to tell you what right is
• Put your family first
• Be the man that your true friends know they can trust and count on
• Become the man you are destined to become … be the best man you can be
• Dare to love and allow others to love you
• When the world looks the blackest, be true to yourself and follow your heart and keep doing what you know is right and it will somehow work out
- • Go fishing when your heart needs too
• Give yourself permission to catch fish any way you want too
• But remember to sometimes fish however you love the most …….even if it isn’t the best way to catch fish
• Go to streams you have never been too before and truly experience them
• Fish your favorite river often enough that
- o You know a few fish by name
o You can tell a particular pool, riffle or run by the sound of it alone
o You have your own rock in the middle that is your own private “thinking” place
• Take the time to stop when you have caught “enough” and just listen to the river rolling by
• When you think you have walked far enough and should start fishing now….. walk fifteen minutes more …… at least
• Make time to fish with your friends
• Enjoy a drink and a campfire with your true friends
• But, enjoy a campfire and a stream by yourself occasionally
• And lastly enjoy the lights ……. Sunlight, Firelight and Starlight ……… because you never know when they may burn out ………
Friday, October 15, 2010
Where my problem comes in, about two years ago, I started to fly fish with a fixed length line rod which required no reel (i.e. Tenkara, if you prefer). From day one, for me it was everything and more when it came to what I loved about ultra light fly fishing. Total system weight, about 2.something ounces. Casts like a dream, very accurate, gentle and intimate. The fixed length line fly rod also provides more control when it comes to presentation, and much more "feel" to every fish hooked. Although I really feel every move the fish makes, I'm able to land fish very effectively and quickly.
Only downside, no reel. I don't really miss a reel while actually fishing, but I do miss handling and generally fondling them. Nothing stopping me from still buying the occasional new reel, it's just I have a hard time justifying it since chances are I won't be using them for their intended purpose. As in most things in life, I guess everything is a trade off.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I fish pretty popular waters, I get to see alot of people fish, some catch fish, many don't. Generally here is what I often see -
1) Learn to fish a couple of waters by spending most or all your time on your chosen water. It's often tougher to catch fish when fishing new waters. Some people I know never fish the same water twice. To each his/her own, but it doesn't help if catching fish on a regular basis is a top priority.
2)When are you fishing? I usually fish the first couple of hours of daylight, and the last couple of hours before dark. Most people I see are just starting when I'm finishing, or visa versa. Catching fish mid day is tough. On my home waters, I probably average 4 fish an hour during prime times, maybe a fish every other hour during non-prime times. The same can be said for the seasons, catching fish during mid summer is tough, at least in Michigan.
3)The most common problem I see with folks who don't catch fish, they are casting, not fishing. My wife is a fair caster at best, she out fishes most other people on our river. She fishes close, controlled casts. Many people I see try to cast as far as they can, they have no control of what goes on once the fly hits the water. For the past 20 or so years, when I find myself not catching fish, I shorten my cast. For the past 2 years, I have been fishing with a fixed length line (i.e. Tenkara) I only have about 20' of string (total line, leader, tippet) available. Since fishing with a fixed length line, my catch rate has actually gone up. Please remember my short line advice is primarily directed towards fishing moving water, it may or may not apply to still water situations. About 95% of my fishing time is spent fishing for trout in moving waters located in Michigan's lower peninsula.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Last year about this time, I acquired a fishing pal, a Great Blue Heron. For a period of about 6 or 7 weeks, I had a Great Blue Heron follow me around the pond like a puppy dog. The first time I saw this heron, he landed on the other side of the pond, about 60' across. He (not sure if it's a he or she) followed me along our respective sides of the pond, all the time intently watching the Tenkara fishing process. I caught a small bluegill, and decided to see if I could toss it underhand across the pond. I fell short and the fish hit the water and swam off. The heron was taking this all in, and then decided to fly over to my side of the pond. He landed about 25' away.
The next small bluegill I caught, I tossed his way. He pounced on it, downed it, and then headed for the pond to wash it down. After finishing his snack, he came a little closer, maybe 20' off. I ended up feeding him one more small bluegill. I had no idea what a heron's stomach capacity is, so I decided to call it quits for the evening.
The next evening, no sooner did I approach the water, in swoops the heron, and establishes a station about 15' away. Again he followed me along the shore, watching my fly on the water like a hawk. Again fed him a couple of fish that evening. This went on for the next 6 or 7 weeks, the heron ended up following me about 7' away. You could see him react every time a fish stuck my fly, and he'd get excited as the fish was brought to hand. I never fed him more than a couple small bluegill, not knowing how many fish, and what size he could handle.
As the colder weather moved in, I stopped fishing and left Mr. Blue to fend for himself.
I only saw him one day early this spring, that was the last I saw of him. Until a few evenings ago, in he swoops, just like two old pals getting together over a plate of nachos and a cold beer.
I'm not sure what surprises me the most, the behavior, or the memory the bird exhibited. Not every day does the bird see a dummy waving around a big black stick.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I was thinking the other day about what is was that I found appealing about fishing with a fixed line (also sometimes referred to as Tenkara).
I was brought up as a Catholic, in the good old days when Catholics weren't supposed to eat meat on Fridays. Every Fridays, we had fish, and I hated them (since I know my mother won't be reading this, I think it was partly due to her method of cooking them). Anyhow, every Friday I promised myself I'd never eat another fish once I was in control of things. So by definition, I was a catch and release angler, I had absolutely no use for them once I caught them. Since I wasn't going to eat them, I always felt bad when I hurt a fish, it just seemed like a waste. Let me say that I have no problem or issue with anyone who wants to keep fish as long as it's legal and as long as the fish are put to good use.
Over time, I always felt bad if I inadvertently injured a fish, and felt a sense of satisfaction when the fish I released vigorously swam away upon being unhooked. Having caught alot of fish over the course of a career, I also found more and more satisfaction in the pursuit, other than the playing and capture of most fish. Granted, hopefully we still all hook a special fish every now and then that presents a memorable tussle. But for the most part, landing fish tends to get a bit routine. What I really enjoy is manipulating the fly in order to entice a strike and then trying to react quick enough to at least get a feel of the fish.
When I started fishing a fixed line about a year and a half ago, I found it very satisfying. It allowed me unprecedented control to manipulate my fly very precisely. If I want to hop my fly six inches into the air to imitate an egg layer, I can hop my fly six inches into the air. If I want to impart the slightest twitch to a fly during a drift, twitch on.
Once the strike happens, most fish are brought to hand very quickly, much faster than having to strip in line. Since I'm using barbless hooks, it's usually very easy and quick to release a fish full of energy without ever having to touch the fish. When a special fish is encountered, the battle is very exciting, but almost always short lived. Either a large fish breaks off, or again is it landed much quicker than if the fish had been reeled in and then let out to run again. I've found that stream trout up to about 16" can be reliably managed, anything larger the odds exponentially swing toward the fish.
Granted, this probably isn't for everyone, but I find it fits me and my fishing.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
I firmly believe that most, if not all fly fishers will benefit and become better fishers (western or eastern style) by spending time fishing Tenkara style. I am a relatively experience western style fly fisher, with over 45 years of water having passed under my fishing bridge. Having spent a considerable portion of my time astream fishing Tenkara style for the past year and a half, I have noticeably improved my skills.
I see improvements in several areas -
1) A much better understanding for the exact areas fish hold and prefer. In addition, developing the wading skills to better position myself to deliver my fly to where the fish reside and feed.
2) Playing and landing fish. The skill of actively and aggressively using the rod to play and bring fish to hand. Rather than take a passive role and let the reel do the work, one must actively play the fish if larger specimens are to be brought to hand (and released in prime condition)
3) Perhaps the most notable area is that of precise fly manipulation. Not only is one able to present accurate dead drift offerings, but one can also provide a variety of active presentations. One soon realizes that dead drift is not always the mst optimal way to present one's fly.
Monday, August 16, 2010
When I first started fishing Tenkara style, my rod of choice was a 13' rod. Subconsciously, I think my reasoning was if a long Tenkara rod (11' or 12') was good, a longer rod was even better. As I fished/explored more, I soon found myself fishing a 12' and often times an 11' rod.
I personally found the shorter rods more fun to fish, and really didn't sense any disadvantages, at least in the environments I fished.
The shorter (11' / 12') rods were noticeably lighter in hand. Almost to the point of being negligible, sometimes forgetting that I have a rod in hand, rather than feel like casting, it's more like pointing my finger where I want my fly to land.
I originally thought that since I was using a fixed line, a longer rod would provide the ability to cover more water. I personally found that not to be the case. Adding a foot or two or three to my leader and/or tippet provided just as much range as using a longer rod. I also found I had no trouble mending or elevating the line off the water.
The shorter rods seem to be a bit more delicate and responsive when fishing and fighting fish. I'm not sure if that's true or not, maybe it has to do with the feel as a result of a lighter mass and shorter lever.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
I recently started taking pictures, and found I really could do a self portrait of a larger fish. I just wasn't able to control the fish in a manner I felt comfortable with, long enough to get the camera on and focused.
I thought about using a net. As I thought, my rod weights in at less than 3 oz. I only carry a small box of flies, and maybe a spare spool of tippet. If I went to a net, it might very well weigh more than all my other fishing equipment combined. It would certainly be the most ungainly thing I would be carrying.
I while back I saw a reference to a mitt that could be used to help control fish. I decided if it worked, that might not be a bad way to go. Both for me and the fish.
I bought some mesh material, and had intended to roughly lash something together myself. But then my wife, the Bag Lady graciously offered to sew something up for me -
Having used this for the past several weeks, I can only say, it works great! The fish actually seem to settle down, it only takes a very light touch to hold them.
The mesh bag weights nothing, I keep it tucked into my wader belt, it only takes a second to deploy.
Biggest fish landed to date using the mesh bag was a feisty 16" rainbow. I was able to cradle and control the fish just fine. I could have even takes a dandy picture, had I only remembered to bring my camera.
If it's not one thing, it's another.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
A significant portion of Tenkaraists refer to the main portion of the "stringy thingy" as the leader, to which they attach the tippet.
The "stringy thingy" portion of the tenkara set up I personally like to use consists of three separate parts. A line (the furled gizmo), then a leader (which may be optional) then the tippet. Just like a western set up. I personally almost always use a tapered leader portion between my line (which is usually furled) and my tippet.
I've basically settled on two set ups -
When fishing still water for bass/bluegills, I usually am fishing a ponds from shore. For that situation, I've been using a 20' furled weight forward line, and a 6' two step tapered leader attached to a 4' final length of "tippet". I really like having the extra range, I can fish out to about 35'. Although I like fishing this longer set up, it may not be for everyone, it does require a bit more concentration when it comes to casting.
Probably 90% of my fishing is for trout, wading in large rivers, fishing mostly dries/damps. For trout fishing, I've been using a 10.5' furled triangle taper line, about a 7' two step leader ending up with a 4-5' length of tippet. That about all the line I usually fish even when using a western set up, so that suits my style of fishing just fine. It cast almost automatically, and allows me very good control for mending or animating my fly. If there is a down side, it does require a bit of hand over hand to get to the fish (as of course does the pond set up).
I realize that I am probably the one breaking with actual Tenkara tradition by including a leader. So it may just be my western mindset, but I would argue, er I mean discuss that in western fishing, the line is primarily used to provide mass which in turn is used to transmit energy applied by the angler via the rod. The leader provides a transition to the tippet. It seems like the "stringy thingy" that gets attached to the tenkara rod lilian certainly functions as a line, not as a leader. So it makes sense to me that when we refer to it in English, the terminology that should be used for the main section or the "stringy thingy" is line, not leader. (regardless whether or not an actual leader is included.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
I first started fishing with my dad and grandfather. This was back in the late 50's early 60's.
The only fishing that held my grandfather's interested was using cane poles to fish for bullheads after dark. It was always an adventure to get slathered up with bug dope (I still can smell the 6-12 brand repellant) getting ready to venture out in the dark armed only with a flashlight.
My dad was always an avid catch and fillet fisherman. He grew up during the depression and his family pretty much survived on the fish they caught. My dad's only interest was catching panfish (bluegills and perch (he used to also fish for crappie but lost interest in them for some reason)). My dad's weapon of choice was also a cane pole, although he did sometimes use an ancient spinning rod to fish vertically "off the bottom".
For some reason, I always knew I'd like fly fishing. Since neither my dad or grandfather knew the first thing about it, I was on my own. I started at about age nine or ten. My gear consisted of a branch off of a weeping willow, about 5 or 6 feet of 8 lb mono (the only fishing line my dad used), and a fly made out of a piece of kitchen sponge and a rubber band.
I spent countless hours fishing a small, shallow channel for "mud bass" (in retrospect I think they were some green sunfish hybrid). It was simple, but held the attention of even a 10 year old for at least two or three years.
In a surprise move by my parents, they bought me a real fly rod and reel when I was twelve years old. I'm pretty sure it was about a 7 or 8 weight, I never did know (it still had the old letter designation which I never understood). I do know I used a 5 weight line on it. Casting was always an adventure, but that's what I used for the next several years as a teenager.
Once out of college, my interest in fly fishing grew and I know I've invested multiple thousands of dollars on some very nice fly fishing equipment. Much of the quality stuff has turned out to be a fairly decent/good investment. I've spent several tens of thousands of hours using the equipment, and have caught (and mostly released) tens of thousands of fish.
About ten years ago, after having fished extensively, I developed a system where I only used one fly pattern for about 85% of my time spent trout fishing. I did vary size and color, but it was nice to have confidence in a simple generic fly that I knew would catch fish in a wide variety of situations. Part of the system was I realized that fishing a relatively short line was a very effective way to have precise control of the fly which was a very effective way to catch fish.
Two seasons ago, I saw my first reference to something called Tenkara. It must have been in a fishing forum someplace. I started to do a few google searches, and as soon as I started reading about it, I knew I was going to enjoy doing it. The references I found talked about using simple patterns on a fixed line, which was very akin to the way I was already fishing.
What also attracted me was the reference to the use of furled lines, since I was already actively furling (and selling) leaders. If that weren't enough, the history of Tenkara supposed derived from the Japanese Samurai warriors who used Tenkara as a training method for swordsmanship. My wife and I have both practiced martial arts for the past 15 years, including karate and Iaidio. Iaido is the art of drawing and cutting with the Japanese sword.
Again I started out with less than optimal equipment, a $12 fiberglass crappie pole bought at Walmart. It actually didn't cast all that bad, and it caught fish. I found myself once again, back in time, a close equivalent to fishing for "mud bass" with a willow branch. It's kept me fascinated for the past two seasons, the more I fish with it, the more I like it.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
One option is to furl a multi-piece line which can be connected via loop to loop connection. This system actually provides some advantages regarding having the flexibility to easy rig up a longer or shorter line.
Here is a set up I have been using for warm water, still water fishing conditions.
Top left is a 10.5' level furled line that basically serves as a Tenkara line extension. Bottom right is a 10.5' furled weight forward tapered line, top right is a 10'-12' foot tapered single strand mono leader. The furled level extension and the furled weight forward tapered line are connected with a loop to loop connection
This gives me a total line length of about 33', couple with the reach supplied by the rod, I can fish out to approximately 38'.
Personally speaking, when I first started to fish this set up I was able to reach out over 35', but in order to do so, I needed to really concentrate on my Tenkara casting technique. As I fine tuned the leader/tippet, as well as limit the fly size, casting has become much more routine and predictable. As with most things, it just may be a matter of practice makes perfect (or at least close to it).
Of course, I still find it a much more pleasurable/enjoyable experience fishing a more normal sub 20' Tenkara set up. When fishing a normal set up, casting happens almost sub consciously. I basically look, see a spot that I want to fish, and bam, the fly shows up. My total concentration is on the water. When casting the "magnum" set up, I really need to focus more on the physical act of casting.
I use the "magnum" line when fishing still water ponds/lakes, primarily from shore. Because of the way I fish, it really offers no advantages when I fish moving waters. When fishing rivers and streams, a conventional length line is what I use.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
This fly was originally popularized by Carl Richards (the co author of Selective Trout / Fly Fishing Strategy). Carl and his friend/fishing partner, John Krause were guiding a client on a fishing trip along the Muskegon River (located in the lower peninsula of Michigan). The client happened to be from Chicago, and was the fisher who originally showed Carl and John the fly.
As the story goes, neither Carl or John were overly impressed with the way the fly looked, but as faith would have it, they decided to give it a try and instantly became a believers in the fish catching ability of this simple fly. Carl went on to talk about the fly during various presentations, and was said to say the Chicago leech was "The best wet fly I’ve ever found!".
John also tied flies professionally, and helped to popularize the fly by tying and selling the fly at Parsley's, a major sporting goods retailer located on the Muskegon River in Newaygo.
In honor of the Windy City client who first showed Carl and John the fly, it came to be referred to as the Chicago Fly, also known as the Chicago Leech.
It just about impossible to fish this fly in a way that won't catch fish. It can be fished dead drift (with or without an indicator), swung like a wet fly, or stripped like a streamer. Depending on how you squint, the fly can look like a stone fly/dobson fly nymph, small crayfish, leech, or a small minnow.
The original fly was tied in black, but folks have had sucess using other colors as well. The one and only one requirement, it must be tied using 100% mohair yarn. I'm not sure what it is about mohair, but it does make a difference on this fly. I personally think the fly works best when tied very sparse. Other anglers think it looks better with a fuller profile, and both versions seem to catch more than their fair share of fish. I tie the fly in a size 10 or 12, but again larger and smaller versions have been known to work well.
I think it is very much in the spirit of Tenkara. A generic, easy to tie fly that can be fished using a variety of methods.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The lilian is hollow, and is designed to slip over the end of the Tenkara rod tip.
Apply a thin layer of epoxy to the tip area of the Tenkara rod. The epoxy will serve both as an adhesive as well as a lubricant to aid in slipping the hollow lilian over the rod tip. I have found that using a twisting motion helps to seat the lilian over the Tenkara rod tip.
All that is left to do is to clean up any excess epoxy which was push out when seating the lilian,
and of coure, be sure to let the epoxy thoroughly cure before using the Tenkara rod.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Landing larger fish may present a challenge, but I personally think the challenge is what makes fishing fun. The one thing I like about Tenkara, I think it will make you a better fisher person. This is particularly true in the process of trying to control (and hopefully land) larger fish. The challenge is certainly there, but I think in most cases, all the odds aren't on the side of the fish.
There are alot of real nice conventional fly reels on the market today, and that has become a mixed blessing. It allows the conventional fly angler let the disk drag reel do the work in subduing larger fish. The angler strikes the "orvis pose" (rod high over head) and hangs on. When the fish runs, the reel supplies resistance (and about a mile of line), when the fish gets tired, the angler derricks in the prize.
The one thing to remember when fighting fish, the fish always follows his/her head. The fish can only go where it's head is pointing. A fish's head does not move up and down, so when you apply overhead pressure, it needs to be sufficient to lift the fish out of the water column, if not, it doesn't do much good. The fish feels pressure and responds by heading in the opposite direction. That's exactly what you don't want to happen in Tenkara. (It isn't all that great with conventional fly gear either, but that's where our old friend, Mr Fly reel comes in with several hundred yards of line and a disk drag that can slow down a Buick Park Avenue.)
A fish's head is made to move side to side. When a fish's head is side loaded, it has one of two choices, either follow the direction it's head is being pulled, or expend alot of energy trying to pull it's head in the opposite direction. Of course, things can get even more complicated for poor old Mr./Mrs. fish when that direction of pull suddenly changes from one side to the other. Once the fish starts getting turned, he/she must now also fight any current, which will tend to try to further spin the fish. (When pulling straight up and back on the fish, it takes off straight down steam, so the current is working in the fishes favor).
Tenkara equipment excels at providing side pressure to the fish, and with the mere flip of the angler's wrist, suddenly that point of pressure moves 24' in the opposite direction from where it was just a second ago. Bottom line, in my opinion, Tenkara equipment can be a very effective fish fighting tool.
Of course, everything sounds easy in principle, and things don't always go exactly as planned. But that's what makes it fun, and trying different things is what makes one a versatile angler.
Monday, May 3, 2010
The Muskegon River, located in the western part of the lower peninsula of Michigan is my home river. I have been fishing the Muskegon River extensively for the past 25 years.
While many folks consider tenkara a technique best suited for small streams and rivers, I find tenkara fishes very well on larger rivers, like the Muskegon, as well.