Archive for September, 2010


Simply Tenkara

Tenkara fishing

Tenkara fishing supposedly originated in Japan at least 200 years ago. While doing some research in preparation for a visit from some new friends from Japan who hope to experience some extreme Golden Dorado fly fishing, I came across this ancient fishing style which seems to really be catching on. A site I found in Japan states:

Since the feudal time, as record states, there have been 2 schools of Japanese traditional freshwater fly fishing. One is commonly known asdobu using group of nymph-like wet flies in a sinker rig. Another school is known as tenkara using single soft hackle fly to catch mountain creek trouts such as yamame and iwana. The former became artifacts for it was enjoyed by swordsman class, and the latter became craftwork of remote site fishermen .

According to Wikipedia, the first reference to tenkara fly-fishing (テンカラ, literally: “from heaven”, or “from the skies”) was in 1878 in a book called “Diary of climbing Mt. Tateyama” written by Ernest Mason Satow, an able linguist and British diplomat during the early modernization of Japan.

Tenkara rig

Traditional tenkara used bamboo hand rod, horse tail for taper line, and silk for tippet. Fly patterns were soft hackle which cover mostly beaneath the surface film. Modern tenkara use glassfiber or carbon hand rod in 3:7 reflex for taper line and 5:5 reflex for level line. Lines are now made out of fuloro carbon and fly patterns welcome western dry fly patterns as well.

Most common rig uses running line (tapered or level) between 3.9-7m and tie a 1m 4lb test leader. The length of running line is deterimined by the size of the stream, and in the deepest of small stream, leader is directly tied to the tip of the rod to execute dapping.

Wikipedia claims that tenkara is one of the most popular methods of angling among fresh-water fisherman in Japan.

On the TenkaraUSA website there is extensive  detail about the equipment and technique used in tenkara.

The reasons that Tenkara seems so attractive to many people and is apparently catching on in the US and other western locations, is firstly due to it’s simplicity. Fly fishing is notorious because of its barrier to entry for traditional anglers due to its relatively higher cost of equipment, even though rising costs of angling equipment have tended to level the playing field and thus we’ve seen more and more people get into fly fishing over recent years.

This leads me to the second reason why I believe tenkara is so attractive, and that is its shared essence with western fly fishing as a means for getting closure to “oneness” with nature and the object of our numerous hours spent on the water; the elusive aquatic scaled vertebrate in your local honey hole.

I had no doubt corporate America would outdone by a cheaper means of supplying us fishermen with a way to get our fix – I mean fly fishing has become a huge industry, let alone angling – so I started checking out some sources of gear. There are a number of suppliers out there and one you’ll probably run across pretty quickly is TenkaraUSA. (Great name… not so original, but to the point.) From what I could gather from visiting their site, the cost savings between tenkara and traditional fly fishing comes from the absence of a reel. All or most of the other elements still seem to be in place from the various line types (fly line, leader and tippet; no backing of course), flies (of course), to all the other complimentary equipment (waders, etc.) and some alternate equipment (special gloves vs. landing net).

So if you are already a fly fisherman the cost to entry into this apparent predecessor to your current hobby, is basically the cost of the specially designed telescoping rod for modern day tenkara. The cost is anywhere from around to $100.00 to $150.00, and I’m sure there are, or will be, more expensive versions out there.

telescoping rod

So basically I’ve become curious to find out whether or not the cost / benefit analysis will indicate whether or not tenkara really has a future in the west. I’m sure that with adequate marketing in the US you’ll see some growth in the practice of this sport there, and many will want to be the first kid on their block to show off their new toy (I will probably fall into that category). I’ll also be watching here in South America where, at least in my mind, the  true test of “stickiness” of this new trend will be whether or not locals pick up on tenkara.

Travel light

My conclusion at this point is that tenkara is simply more simple particularly for those of us who want to travel light and fish smaller, harder to reach steams, spending less time rigging lines and reels or switching reels or untangling backlash. I certainly don’t think tenkara will replace western style fly fishing. It certainly won’t for me. Part of the fun of fly fishing is its intricacy, technique, style and uniqueness.

For what it’s worth, I haven’t stopped angling since I started fly fishing, and I expect that if I try tenkara I might very well then have three different options to practice my favorite hobby.  I expect that many others will follow the same path.

Perhaps I can persuade my Japanese friends to bring a tankara rig with them when they visit so that the waters of Argentina can say “kon nichi wa” to tenkara. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

More reading and places to start your own investigation:

A Japanese Form of Fly Fishing Gains Fans in the U.S.New York Times article about Tenkara

Tenkara Fly Fishing blog

TenkaraUSA website

Advertisements

“Tied with pride, fished with attitude”, the new edition “Issuu 5” of Baltic Pike Flies is out and exceeding my expectations. I’m proud to say I’ve had the pleasure of using these flies, and can tell you that they look and move as good in the water, as they do on your computer screen. In his own words…

Baltic pike flies Issue 5 has been a while in the making but I finished it last night. When you do something like this you suddenly realise how much time and effort must go in to producing quality productions like “This is fly”, “Catch Magazine”, SID, Bloodknot to name but a few. Anyway I hope you all enjoy it. Best viewed in full screen mode.

– Simon Graham

Simon has outdone himself once again!!

Baltic Pike Flies

Issuu 5

Baltic Pike Flies: Issuu 5

After learning about the trout itself, you should learn about rivers. You’ll see that it’s easy to un derstand where you’ll find the fish if you understand the anatomy of a river. Luckily for us, it’s not that complicated. If the trout’s figured it out, hopefully you’ll be able to.

River currents tend to flow with a pattern that repeats itself over and over. Just remember: “riffle-run-pool” Source: Troutlet

Here’s a basic breakdown of each section and how it translates to trout fishing.

 

River Riffle

The riffles of rivers tend to be where water is shallow and the current is strong. In large rivers, this area would be the white-capping rapids. In all rivers, you might see banks of gravel or pebbles breaking the surface of the river throughout the riffle. For the most part, this area of the river will only contain small trout, because the water isn’t quite deep enough to ensure large fish cover.
 

River Run

The run of a river is deeper and slower than the riffle. If you’re looking for the area of the river that house the most adult trout, this is your best bet. It provides good cover and the current is a great moderate speed that allows the lazy trout access to a sufficient buffet. After all, the trout’s ideal habitat is one that provides him with adequate shelter and delivered food.
 

River Pool

River pools are the laziest part of the river. Here the water is deep and the current runs slow. Some trout, especially big Brown trout, may be found here, but the slow current doesn’t provide enough food for most.

Now that you understand the current and its effect on trout, perhaps you can be the one in your group that seems to have a nose for where the action is. Good luck!!

 

Rainbow in a run

 

In July of this year I spent an unforgettable week on Eagle Lake with 32 fishermen during our traditional family and friends Canadian fishing trip. I’ve been going since I was 7 years old. This year was the first time it became my responsibility to coordinate the trip. Not a small task, but worth the effort. I’m working on a longer write-up of the trip to share, but I wanted to give everyone a heads-up. There were many more friends and family who couldn’t attend who I know will enjoy hearing more about the fishing, card playing, shenanigans, antics, accommodations, and fun.

We caught plenty of Northern Pike, Walleye and even some Musky. It really took some skill and knowledge to find the fish this year due to a few conditions I’ll explain in the next article about the trip. Thank goodness we had some skilled fishermen on the trip, and also, thank goodness for Peg and Bob at Temple Bay Lodge. They run a great outfit and are really wonderful people.

%d bloggers like this: