Category: Fishing gear


As my first real post of 2011 I’m happy to share the new edition “Issuu 7” of Baltic Pike Flies. Simon has a recognizable style that shows in every fly he ties, while never failing to amaze…

Baltic Pike Flies

Issuu 7

Baltic Pike Flies: Issuu 7
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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

“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

While my fish-blog pal Simon is trying to keep busy and pass the winter hours away tying those fantastic flies of his, I wasted spent an hour of my own surfing the web to take a break for work and enjoy, albeit virtually, with some of my hobbies, mainly fishing and off-road.

I came across a few interesting things, and one thing in particular that kind of combined both hobbies… the Wilcraft.

I was surprised I hadn’t seen anything about this before. It seems to me this is the ultimate ice-fisherman status symbol. And as you might have guessed, it’s from Minnesota, because lakes and ice are abundant.

Wilcraft

Wilcraft

If you’ve got about $10 grand, and a place to… dock? park? this craft you can show up on the ice next season to impress (or scare) the crap out of your fishing buddies.

Check out this video (…you think we can get them to change the music?)

Hey Simon, perhaps you can get one customized with a fly tying station!

BPF #3

Baltic Pike Flies

Issue 3

BPF Issue 3

Baltic Pike Flies: Issue 3

Pontoon float (update)

A while back I posted an article (Float) on personal flotation alternatives, such as belly boats, pontoon boats and the like. Well I finally made up my mind to go out and get one since I’m currently motivated by the upcoming trout season here in Argentina.

m_69660

Pontoon float

I did quite a bit of research and found that there were many sellers out there selling the same products, so I guess you’d have to say that they were actually re-sellers. What was surprising was that the existence of a “middle man” didn’t necessarily mean an inflated price. The prices were all over the place for basically the same items.

I was eventually able to procure the object of my desire, and did so from a reseller (CoverBonanza.com) and not directly from Classic Accessories. I paid about $329 dollars for my sage/grey pontoon float and another $68 dollars for shipping to my father’s place in New York. Since I live in Argentina, I had to include it with my checked baggage at the airport. I’d called ahead and was told I’d have to pay $100 for oversize baggage. Getting through customs in Argentina turned out to be easier than I thought. I guess they were tired of hassling passengers that day. Anyway, since I’m not an Argentine citizen I wouldn’t be subject to tax, but that doesn’t always stop them from giving you a hard time on the off chance that you might palm them a $20 peso note… Continue reading

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