Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rod Case

My Friend Colin uses this 5 mm neoprene can cooler by Browning as a rod case
Colin says there is enough room in it for all the basic gear you need for Tenkara fishing. In addition to your rod it'll hold a line spool or two, tippet spool, small fly box, your hemostat and clippers.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Now that's a hatch!

The hatch was so heavy it was picked up on the weather radar.

Another massive hatch in Iowa

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Love the wind!

I love fishing in the wind. 4th of July weekend I had the chance to fish a couple of windy evenings and had a blast. Granted, this may not be for everyone, but for where and how I fish, it’s great. I fish a large river, so I can just about always position myself with regards to the wind. My river has a lot of caddis flies, so an active presentation works well. The fish are used to seeing and feeding on active caddis flies. To be honest, it’s as much kite flying as it is fly casting. My fly is in the air as much or more than it is on the water. It does allow one to perfectly imitate the up and down movement made by an egg laying caddis. It’s amazing how accurately you can place and manipulate your fly once you get used to it. Basically it’s dappling the fly - touch the fly down. lift it up, repeat. I think what makes it so exciting is the explosive takes of the fish. They feel the need to strike explosively. When feeding on the naturals, they know they will be gone in the blink of an eye. It’s eat fast and aggressively, or go hungry. Next time you are sharing the river with a stiff breeze - don’t curse it, use it to your advantage.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Why do we fly fish?

I recently heard an interesting radio broadcast interview regarding why folks enjoy fly fishing. It was pretty much the standard cliches about the simplicity, the challange, and getting back to nature. It's funny, I've been thinking about this same question a bit for the past previous week or two. What got me thinking about it, was of all things, archery. About the same time I started fly fishing, I used to spend alot of time as a kid shooting a bow and arrow. I would read alot about how hunting with a bow and arrow was much more challenging and required alot more dedication and commitment than using a gun because of the basic simplicity of the equipment being used. That all made sense, just like why folks enjoyed fly fishing. Long story short, I got away from archery a long while back, and thought about getting back into it. As I started to do some research regarding buying some equipment, I found myself scratching my head. Back then, the bow I used looked like this
As I started to search for equipment being used today, the bows I found look like this
As a matter of fact, from what I can tell, more and more folks seem to be opting for a crossbow
So one wonders, if folks are interested in the simplicity and the challenge, why are they looking for equipment that removes both the simplicity and the challenge? To be honest, I sometimes wonder the same thing about fly fishing. I’m fine with however folks want to hunt/fish, as long as it’s legal. I just wonder if they aren’t missing out on some of the potential satisfaction that they seek.

Monday, May 12, 2014

What Flies do I need?

I think you'll find you don't need a ton of flies to catch fish. You can catch fish on western style flies or eastern style flies. The fish don't care. Here are some representative samples of the types of flies I like like to fish - You'll notice most of the flies are pretty generic, they look a little bit like alot of things. I very rarely change flies, but I do change presentation often. If a dead drift isn't working - try twitching your fly, or skate it, or let it sink under the surface. More often than not, you're going to find something that works. One good fly to get started with is an Elk Hair caddis, in size 10, 12, or 14. It's very readily available, you may already have a few in your fly box. It looks a bit like a caddis, a stone fly, a grasshopper, a still born mayfly, etc. Good luck and have fun,

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Build a Rod Case

My friend Arlen has put together a great tutorial on how to build a rod case - Check out How to Make a Homemade Rod Holder for a Tenkara Fly Rod. by Arlen Tofslie on Snapguide.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mayfly - a life story

This is a very well shot and interesting clip. Granted the scenes shot may not be representative of all species or even the total time spent on water for the species represented. Take a look and notice, at least for the shots taken and shown in the clip, the flies spent relatively little time in a dead drift. There is alot of movement going on in and on the water. Don't hesitate to fish your flies with an active presentation, remember when properly done - Movement means Life . . . ,,,

Monday, March 31, 2014

Grandpa's Story - The History of the Adams Dry Fly

A fascinating account of the history of the Adams dry fly, perhaps the most widely used dry fly in North America

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Getting started

I think it must be tough to get started fly fishing today. What seems to be a logical first step, taking a look on the internet, overwhelms one with the amount of advice. It really gets bad if you happen upon a fly fishing forum. Ask what you need to get started and you'll be sure to receive something along the lines of - You'll need a $700 graphite rod, $400 disk drag fly reel, a 70lb vest full of flies to catch fish, go big or go home. (Just for the record, when I started I fished for multiple decades with equipment that most people would now consider pure junk, but you know what, I caught fish and had fun.)

One nice thing about getting started with Tenkara, philosophically the set up is pretty simple and straight forward.

So once you have rod in hand, the best way to start catching fish is to spend time on the water. If you can find a mentor, that's great, it will help shorten your learning curve. If you can't find a mentor, don't worry, you'll figure things out.

The flies you are using are great flies to use, don't spend time worry about that, it just a matter of putting them in the right place, at the right time, in the right manner.

Just a couple suggestions, during the majority of the year, on my waters, fish (and bugs) tend to be most active in the lower light periods of the day (i.e. early morning and late evening). I see alot of people just coming on the water after the fishing slows down in the morning, and leaving to go home just before fishing picks up in the evening. Granted, you can catch fish all day, so fish when you can. But if you have a choice, try to optimize your time on the water.

Here is one thing to try, when I fish, I try to concentrate on current seam lines. This is where a ribbon of faster water meets a ribbon of slower water. Like alot of people, fish like to eat as much as they can, while expending the least amount of energy. Rivers are like conveyor belts, the faster the belt moves, the more food it's going to carry along. However the faster the water is, the more energy fish have to expend to keep from getting carried away down stream. So fish like to find a place that the water isn't moving too fast, right next to a faster moving line of current which will be carrying a good amount of food.

Some seam lines are easier to see than others, as you continue fishing, you'll learn to recognize them. Some of the most obvious and easily spotted ones are called foam lines. You'll see a long line of foam/bubbles on top of the water. Where the water is concentrating foam, it's also concentrating food. So if you see a foam line, it's a good idea to fish right along/in it.

Hopes this helps to get you started.

Dr. Ishigaki Presentation to Discover Tenkara 2013

Dr. Ishigaki Presentation to Discover Tenkara 2013 from Discover Tenkara on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Furled vs Single Strand Lines

Fortunately, using a fixed length line system is pretty straight forward; a stick, a string, and a fly.
Probably the most commonly asked question when it comes to getting outfitted to start fishing with a fixed length line rod is – What kind of line should I use? 

One thing that is useful in helping to make that decision is to keep in mind how different line designs and materials perform their assigned task.

The purpose of all tenkara lines is to transfer the energy generated by the rod to the tippet and ultimately to the attached fly. Different line designs use different methods to accomplish this transfer.

Typically, a single strand line relies on the inherent stiffness of the material to transfer line energy. So in effect, it works like a bow and arrow.  The energy generated by the rod creates a spring effect in the line, energy bends the spring, and the spring releases the energy when it straightens out.  That in part is why flouro is generally a preferred material over mono for tenkara lines.  Flouro as a material tends to have more inherent stiffness than does mono.

A furled line on the other hand does not rely so much on stiffness; rather it relies on its own inherent mass. This is typically how the fly lines on reeled rods transfer energy.  That's why it so important to get the right line size for a given reeled rod. Sufficient mass is required to capture and transfer the energy supplied by the casting motion of the rod. A furled line may have more mass than a single strand line, but it does not have to be as stiff.

So to greatly simplify, a single strand line can be relatively thin (diameter), but needs to have some level of stiffness. A furled line doesn't require stiffness, but it needs more mass which usually equates to a larger line diameter.

So where the design and material properties comes into play is how the line reacts when it does (or does not) come in contact with the water. A single strand line is thin, so it exposes less cross-sectional area to currents, but when a segment of the line is moved by a cross current, the stiffness causes that movement to propagate thru much of the rest of line.

On the other hand, since a furled line can be fairly limp, a segment can be moved by a current and the line is limp enough to cause a bend in the line, rather than dragging the rest of the line along.

Similar considerations come into play when the angler is interested in minimizing contact between line and water by suspending the line over the water.  It is easier to suspend a stiffer, lighter line (single strand), than a heavier, limper furled line.

There are other considerations, such as when nymphing, a thin single strand more easily cuts thru the water, but again the stiffness may be a factor in influencing the movement of the fly.

Bottom line, there are tradeoffs based on the materials and designs that are used. The best line choice often comes down to where and how you plan to fish.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Fly Design

If you are interest in seeing the types of flies traditionally with a tenkara rod, a quick search on google can provide an interesting variety of regional and personal favorite patterns.   I first started to do some research about five years ago, when I first heard about fishing a fixed length line system.  As I looked at the various fly samples and patterns, what primarily struck me was not so much the differences I saw in the various patterns, but the similarities.

Just about all the “traditional” flies one sees are fairly generic patterns, you don't see an attempt to suggest anything too specific (i.e. a may fly wing). The flies tend to have a fair basic body profile along with some hackle wraps.  What is primarily different  body color and placement of the hackle as well as the angle to which it is applied. 

As I started tying and fishing flies based upon some of the more traditional patterns, I thought about the various environments where I would be using the flies.  I tend to fish somewhat varied water type - still  lakes and ponds, some very rapid rivers, and some streams in between.  I thought about what profile I want the fly to project, and used a design and materials to try to achieve the desired effect.  Alot may depend on your style of fishing and the way you present your flies as well.  Do you tend to use an active presentation, or prefer to dead drift your offerings?

I do tie my flies using some different colors of bodies and hackle, but to be honest, I think it is for my own amusement rather than that the fish care too much.  What I do think is much more important characteristics are size, and hackle stiffness.  I personally tie the majority of my flies with lessor quality hackle.  Since it is less stiff than the premium hackle, it provides more movement in slower flowing waters.  I also like the slightly thicker barb diameter it provides in the way it looks on the fly and in the water.  The other obvious advantage, it’s much cheap to buy than prime dry fly hackle.

As with most things fish related, we all develop our own ideas and theories.  You may want to play around with some variables next time you sit down to tie.  Try some different hackle stiffness along with whatever base pattern and color combinations you use.  Go out and fish them, and see what you think. 

have fun,

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What rod should I buy?

One of the most frequent question one sees on any fishing related forum is - What rod should I buy?

The good news / bad news is that at the same time, this is one of the easiest / hardest question to answer.

The good news is that there are no wrong answers.  The vast majority of fishing equipment available today is good stuff.  It really doesn't pay a company to spend the money required to produce, market and sell schlocky equipment.  In the day and age of the internet, the news would get out quick and the company would soon be out of business.

The bad news, there is no right answer either.  Asking what rod to buy is akin to asking -

What is the best color of t-shirt to wear?
Should I marry a redhead, blonde or brunette ?
What kind of pizza should I order ?

Each of these questions in large part comes down to personal preference.  The fact that my favorite pizza is thin crust with italian sausage doesn't mean that your favorite won't be thick crust with green olives.  Of course the thing to remember is that all the pizzas are wholesome, you aren't going to get sick or poisoned if you eat them.  So you can order any pizza on the menu with some level of confidence.

So if you ask 25 people what t-shirt/pizza/rod you should buy, be prepared to get 50 different answers.  None of the answers are totally wrong, but none of them are exactly right. You will probably like using any one you buy, but you may find you enjoy using one just a little more than the rest.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What goes around maybe comes back around

I went thru the cycle and am back where I started. 

I started out with a cheaply made Garcia fly rod with a cheap knock off of a Pflueger Medalist reel  fifty  years ago.  But guess what, I spent countless hours fishing, caught a bunch of fish, and have nothing but great memories of my childhood fishing exploits.  Over the course of the next 45 years, I accumulated a couple of tens of thousands of dollars worth of some very nice equipment.  And truth be told, I enjoyed doing that as well.

About five years back, I got hooked when I started to fish a fixed-length line system (aka tenkara if you will). Although I still owned all my nice stuff, I  found myself fishing a $12 crappie pole I bought at Walmart coupled with a line I had furled with nothing else than a bit of tippet and a fly. Not only was I catching fish, but every time I thought to check, I had a big smile on my face.  I’ve since update my crappie pole, and spend most of my time fishing an actual $50 tenkara rod.  It’s a joy to cast and fish.  I still spend a lot of time smiling when I’m around the water.

But you know, on occasion I still like to use a reel, and surprisingly enough, as often as not I grab my $25 Eagle Claw Featherlight. It a much nicer rod than I started out with 50 some years ago. I didn't know any better about equipment back when I started, but it didn't matter, it provided endless hours of fascination and enjoyment.  I fully enjoy fishing the Eagle Claw as well.

In point of fairness, I still appreciate my top drawer stuff, maybe more than before. I no longer long for equipment I don't have, but rather enjoy the stuff I do have.  I’ve been freed from lusting for all the new equipment I didn’t own, instead I really enjoy and am thankful for all the stuff I do have.  I no longer have a constant urge to daily scan web sites for new gear, nor does Cabela’s inexplicable draw me there on a weekly basis.

I enjoy fishing in a much different way, brand names and cost no longer matter, it’s just all about going out and enjoying the act of fishing.  It’s a bit hard to actually explain.  I don’t know if it is just another phase or not, I guess time will tell.

In the meantime, I wish you joy and happiness in your time afield.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Save for a rainy day!

Warning!!!!!!! This advice comes from a crotchety old geezer who feels the world is passing him by the wayside.

If you have a piece of fishing equipment you like, buy and extra.  If there is something you really like, buy enough to last the rest of your lifetime.  I can’t say I actually planned it this way, but that is the way it worked out for me, and I’m glad it did.

Fishing rods and reels are not that big or hard to store.  You can stockpile a true treasure trove in a surprisingly small, out of the way corner.  If you have certain preferences about the equipment you use, there is a good chance you might not be able to find a replacement sometime in the not too distant future.
Case in point, I don’t like ferrules on my reeled rods.  I’d fish a one piece reeled rod if it wasn’t for the logistics involved. I do need to transport rods inside my car, so I compromise (I’m flexible) and fish two piece reeled rods.   I recently took the time to count while flipping through a fly fishing catalog.  The catalog listed 440 rods in various models by various manufacturers.  Out of the 440 rods, two were 3 piece, the rest were 4 or more.  Not a single 2 piece rod was listed.  Granted, if I needed to travel about a lot in airplanes, I might opt for a more multi piece, but what percentage of my or anyone else’s fishing time is done out of an airplane?

I feel that fly reels are also quickly passing me by the wayside.  When I use a reel, I like a simple, small arbored, non disk drag reel.  A fly reel should look like a fly reel (think Pflueger Medalist), not like an alien spacecraft.

If you still need further convincing, quality fishing gear holds it value pretty well.  At least a lot better than a lot of stocks and bonds I’ve owned over the years.  Back in 1986 I bought two Hardy Perfect reels.  They cost $75.00 each.  Now they are easily worth over $500 each.  It’s easy to sell a Medalist reel for at least what you paid for it 50 years ago, so really you had the use of the reel at no cost to you.
The trend is particularly evident with fixed-length line rods.   Just over the few years that tenkara has started to enjoy some level of popularity in the U.S., the complexity has dramatically increased.  I like the simplicity – a stick, a string, and a fly.  I don’t feel the need to use a rod that can be lengthen and shorted or to carry along 14 different lines.  But again, that’s just me.   If that’s what folks like, they should, and will, buy what they enjoy.  I have no problem with that, I just want to make sure I have my own personal (and perhaps quirky) needs covered.

So when you find a piece of equipment you like, buy it.  Don’t consider it an extravagant purchase, rather consider it an investment.  We all know there is wisdom in the age old tome – Save for a rainy day.