Tenkara Angler - Fall 2018

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Fall 2018 tenkaraangler.com


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Front Cover: Mike Hepner Back Cover: Anthony Naples Logo Design: Nick Cobler

Photo: Paul Pigeon II


From The Editor Fall Has Arrived... So who's been fishing? Fall has arrived, and with it arguably one of the best seasons to be outdoors. Beautiful colors... cool, crisp weather, less people on the water... it's good stuff. (Just make sure to wear a little orange, because hunters enjoy fall as well). However, if you happen to be stuck indoors... we've got a fresh issue of Tenkara Angler for you to take in.


In this issue you'll find many interesting essays and unique perspectives. One of the challenges to the contributor base for this issue was to concentrate on producing some tenkara-themed stories. And I don't think the essays penned by Brad Trumbo, Keith Anderson, Brittany Aäe, Mike Hepner, and Nick Pavlovski will disappoint. Beyond the stories, there are also some solid entries that touch on kebari (flies) and gear, on-stream tactics, fixed-line fly fishing, conservation, and tenkara in foreign destinations... including brief recap of some time recently spent in Hokkaido, Japan by Tenkara USA founder, Daniel Galhardo. As the Editor of Tenkara Angler, it's always fun to watch the emails or text


messages with articles and photos roll in each quarter. It's sort of like playing cards... you ante up with the dealer in the form of a "call for entries" notification, and then just watch as luck plays out in front of you as you're dealt your cards. Even when you're ready to show your cards, an article or two sneakily comes in a little bit past deadline to make you hand that much better; it's just like playing your "ace in the hole." It's tough to pick a favorite entry, but I happened to take interest in Karin Miller's piece, "It's All About The Blank," which is a deep dive on understanding the features and potential benefits of the different types of carbon fiber manufacturers use in their tenkara rods. Who knew? Fortunately, I think this Fall issue is a pretty strong hand. I know you'll feel the same way. Please enjoy the Fall 2018 issue!

Michael Agneta Editor In Chief





Do you want to contribute to the next issue of Tenkara Angler?

Tenkara or conservation-themed articles, essays, fly tying recipes, gear reviews, tips, tricks, & photography are all fair game!

See www.tenkaraangler.com for more information

Photo: Keith Anderson


Brookies & Beer: Volume 11 By John-Paul Povilaitis

“Hungry Dogs Run Faster”

The weather in Pennsylvania has been rain, rain and more rain for as long as I can remember. That didn’t slow me down from hitting the mountain streams with some of my good friends this summer and into fall. We were all foaming at the mouth to get on the streams when we had a chance. Hungry dogs run faster. Football season is here, the Eagles are Super Bowl champs. It’s been a great year. Go Birds. Cheers.



To Fish or Not to Fish? By Andy Vinnes

I can only assume that many of you have battled with this topic or dilemma before, to some there is a simple answer, but not to all. To this day I continue to ask myself and contemplate when is it ok to fish for fish? Sounds silly, I know, but obviously you should comply with local regulations, have a current fishing license and or stamp for the region your fishing, and yes it should obviously be open season for the specific species you’re after etc. Let me start by going back many years in my own fishing life. I grew up on the move, as in moving to several states as a child and young man. I think I learned to fish like most people did. We would go camping or hiking in the outdoors and we just fished, it seemed like the natural thing to do. I had a rod and reel, a small tackle box which was filled with hooks, sinkers maybe some swivels, of course a rusty pair of needle nose pliers and possibly an old lure or two that you found hanging from a tree or borrowed from your old man’s tackle box. I think mine may have always had at least one old dried up worm as well as some nasty dried salmon eggs as well. Regardless I was a fisherman and, in my mind, a good one. I grew up fishing on lakes, mostly from the shore or off a dock, and when



lucky enough from a boat. Never really fishing in rivers or creeks, I recalled wondering how fish could be in there with the water moving as fast as it was. If I only knew then what I know now. LOL. I recall catching literally thousands of bluegills as a young kid, I still enjoy catching them. As I grew up and we moved around I have lots of memories of catching crappie, perch, sunfish, northern pike, and trout. As a kid I always wanted to keep my fish and eat them, which we did a lot. I can only imagine how many fish died due to the damage I caused from a barbed hook. Back then I had no idea about the concept of catch and release or using barbless hooks; unfortunately, these were lessons I learned later in life. My journey as a child and as a fisherman took me from California, where I recall fishing at places like Lake Pardee, then to Colorado where I have memories of fishing the Estes Park area, then to Illinois where I fished many lakes including the chain of lakes in northern Illinois, and then on into Wisconsin. As time went on I found myself a college graduate moving to California. It took some time, but the Sierra Nevada mountain range was my home away from home. As far as fishing etiquette, I was still rather raw and uneducated. I’m embarrassed to say that it wasn’t really until about ten years ago that I truly “upped my game” and became aware of nature and its impact on me as a person. I began to understand the concept of catch and

release and just being a good conservationist. For example, bring out more than you brought in, help preserve fish in their habitats, so others can enjoy them as you and your family and friends have. To many, California is heavily over-regulated. I believe this to be true when it comes to the outdoors. Approximately four years ago I discovered tenkara fishing and how well it fit into my life as an outdoorsman. It’s really been a blessing as far as I’m concerned. I don’t want to argue with fly fisherman, many of whom seem to be offended every time tenkara is mentioned in the same sentence with fly fishing. The argument is beyond me and I frankly just don’t pay attention anymore. I believe tenkara is tenkara, you either like it or you don’t. Just fish on. Let’s get down to the meat and potatoes, or should we say, fish. I have several friends who are “western fly fisherman.” They are not interested in tenkara, and we are still friends. Some of my good friends fish for trout during the spawn, I’ve always been jealous of the pictures I see of them with some huge fish. After talking to not only my friends but others with fishing knowledge I became aware of a big debate. To fish or not to fish? I spoke to a friend who happens to be a fishing guide in the beautiful Eastern Sierra. He enlightened me as best he could. He explained that many fishing guides will take clients to breeding grounds where very large fish go to



lay their eggs on the redds. Many say this is very unethical or unsportsmanlike. Some say it’s like shooting fish in a barrel, others have compared it to shooting a trophy Elk in a fenced in football field. Guides get paid big money to put clients on these fish, while other guides simply won’t guide during this time of year. Some anglers walk in the


river and disturb the gravel spawning beds (redds). Some fishermen believe that if you put a spawning fish back in the water as soon as possible, it will continue to do its thing. Others argue that this puts an incredible amount of undue stress on the fish and they will not be able to place their eggs as normal, or worse, due to this stress many of them will not survive. At any rate I’m still undecided. I’ve since moved back to Wisconsin after 30 years in California. I have found here that fisherman from all over come to catch steelhead salmon as they swim up a local river to spawn. Many years ago, I went to Alaska and fished the confluence of the Kenai and Russian rivers. Yes, we were catching spawning fish. I’m currently planning a trip in October, November when the walleyes are running, then again in March, April when the perch are



running. Correct me if I’m wrong, but these fish are also moving into spawning areas. I know folks that catch huge bass as they are spawning. So, this isn’t just an issue of trout fishing in California, this is an issue everywhere I’ve ever fished. It seems to me that the entire Alaskan economy revolves around catching spawning fish. I’m not sure if this is an issue that should be regulated by individual states’ fish and game departments or if as an outdoorsman you should just know better? I love reading about or hearing different views on this topic, and where we as fishermen stand. As for me I will continue to fish as I feel is most ethical for me. I would only hope that you do the same. Be kind to those who feel differently than you and do your best to protect what we have available to us now.

Photo: Paul Pigeon II


Idaho Gold: Prospecting the Overlooked & Underrated for Backcountry Cutthroat


By Brad Trumbo

As gray dust billowed in the wake of my Tundra, my mood immediately began to lift. I never look forward to the five-hour drive, but forty miles beyond pavement’s end is a quiet campsite alongside a river flowing rich with Idaho gold. Each year, (baring extreme wildfire danger) my fishing buddy Chas Kyger and I head into the Idaho backcountry to fish a Blue-Ribbon stream for west-slope cutthroat. Pulling into camp alongside his Tundra, I rolled out of mine with renewed eagerness to wet a fly. (Yes,


we both have Tundras. Cute, eh?) Upon the requisite stretch and postdrive small-talk, I hastily popped up my tent, made a rudimentary bed, and set out to fish into darkness. The sun sets early in the deep canyons of the Idaho wilderness; the opulent evening glow casting an amber hue upon the considerable granite outcrops and emerald pools below. Rugged ridges and peaks reach skyward looming over the river, defying its brazen attempts to break

free of their control. Diminutive yellow stoneflies flitter sparsely through the cooling evening air. The evergreen scent of western cedar and grand fir hung pleasantly. The angling pressure was picking up as it was late in the week and the fish were feeling it. I typically fish western fly gear here, but my suspicions of the angling pressure led me to reach for my tenkara rod right off the bat. I wanted the ability to present a flawless drift in the hard-to-reach waters overlooked by others. The rod I brought was one I “built” for steelhead at twelve feet, rated 8:2. The build consisted of the graphite tenkara blank, a cork grip, a winding check on the front end of the grip, all from Tenkara Customs. I added some simple, decorative red wrap to the winding check and slapped a Silver Creek Outfitter logo on it. Much simpler than a western rod with guides, but also less room for frills like feather inlays. Anyhow, I wanted to get a feel for the rod’s capabilities before trying some tactical nymphing for big fish this coming winter. My first rise came on a voluptuous, blonde elk hair caddis. A scrappy fourteen-inch cutty pounced with conviction, almost with vengeance, and put a sweet bend in the top third of the heavy tenkara. As the evening wore on and rises became few, we scoured the drainage in search of sunlit reaches. The bite tends to wane as the mountains force the river into the evening shadows. East-west oriented reaches carry daylight and



fish activity a little longer into the evening. Our final reach of the evening was a boulder-strewn field of pocket water with a few small runs that have produced well for us in the past. I switched to a behemoth of a foam bug called a “Chubby Chernobyl” to draw some attention. Sizing up a large eddy formed behind a car-sized boulder melding into a soft run with deep, swift flanks, I could envision where the fish were lying. Gently laying the Chubby along the flow seam between the eddy and the sweep around the river-right side of the boulder invoked an Chas Kyger with a beautiful Idaho cutthroat


explosion of ferocity resulting in a firm hookset deep in the corner of a sixteen-inch cutthroat maxillary. Playing the fish to net, my admiration of the profound lateral reddening painted against the thick gold, speckled body and the blaze orange under-jaw cuts lit a fire of anxiety in anticipation of the next catch. The fish returned softly from the net into the cold, clear water. I volleyed another cast in the same general vicinity, the size-8 Chubby immediately met with a repeat performance. It simply couldn’t get any better than this before dark. Completely at peace, I broke down the rod and slogged for the rig. Back at camp, we roasted brats and zucchini from the garden in a foil pack over the fire, shared a beer or two, and laid plans for the next day. We hit the sack hard. Sleep came quickly with the care-free satisfaction of being immersed in the cutthroat fishery of my dreams. The dull roar of the river lulling in the background and temperatures cooling into the low 50s, Fahrenheit. But good slumber can never last and I found myself startled awake in the wee hours by the crash of a beer bottle against the ground. An odd rustling followed. Aluminum foil against rock; a scavenger having its way with our discarded zucchini packet. Raking my hands across my tent wall sent the critter fleeing hurriedly; thus, relinquishing its identity as a whitetail deer, blowing alarmed in the distance. A scavenging deer was a first for me, and apparently a good omen.



The following morning, we awoke to find the fishing pressure was double what we expected. The tempting holes and seductive runs enticed all wielding a fly rod. We managed to find our way into some choice reaches, but with lackluster results. We quickly learned to judge the skills of fellow anglers as we inevitably fished our way up behind others at every bend. When the fishing seemed slow, our predecessors had merely flogged the water into submission with little to show. When there were no fish to be had, we knew we were either right on their heels or following a fly fishing veteran. We gave it our best, dawn to dusk, and managed to do ok, but far from the epic potential the river has lived up to in the past. Regardless, all findings supported my initial hypothesis: seek unpressured habitat. Marginal water has ambiguous meaning in reference to the river margins or edges, as well as in reference to what some would call insignificant habitat. Those areas less than optimal in which to wet a fly, but not necessarily for fish. Anglers are always drawn to optimal habitat because they know fish are there, and likely a lot of them. You don’t need to be a scientist or greatly experienced to look at a river and want to fish the “good” water. But what many fail to comprehend is the quality of what literally occurs on or appears to be marginal habitat. The next morning, Chas and I parted ways. I embarked on a long run

Cutthroat dry fly patterns from left to right: yellow foam beetle, blonde stonefly, orange humpy, stonefly stimulator, yellow-body caddis, all size 8 – 10. Not pictured is the Chubby Chernobyl

Sixteen inches of Idaho gold


A battle-scared cutthroat missing the maxillary along the jaw

The shallow margin between the boulders on the right is often overlooked for the larger pool, but also offers quality fly fishing opportunity 14

winding through a boulder field with a high volume of randomly scattered, deep pocket water. It was deep and fast enough with small enough pockets to deter 99% of other anglers. Jackpot! Using the length advantage of the tenkara rod, I began with Chubby, reaching out and dead-drifting or hovering the fly over pockets the size of a living room coffee table. Nearly every pocket produced a small to medium-sized rainbow or cutthroat, leaping, cartwheeling to capture such a fulfilling meal. Based on the eagerness of the fish to accost the fly, the run had clearly not been fished. I continued for hours hopping from pocket to pocket, fishing up to a glorious hole cut beneath a solid granite protrusion. The river widened, trickling in at the head of the pool with a perfectly sloped substrate and a variety of flow seams. I was certain someone had been there before me, but the tenkara rod again gave me an advantage. Working to the head of the pool, I dropped the Chubby into the riffle and dead-drifted it back into deep water; the long rod allowing me to avoid line drag from conflicting flows. The sun was now high, shining intensely on the water. Blinding glints erupted from the broken surface. The Chubby cast a large, black shadow on the shallow substrate, no doubt flaunting with audacity overhead the cutthroat lying in wait. Two sixteen-inch fish fought over the fly on the first drift. When one of them finally won the tussle, I broke it off clean. Realizing that I was using 6X


tippet and was fresh out of Chubbies, I tied on a length of 5X tippet and returned to the size-8 golden-body, blonde elk hair caddis. The next drift was identical. The caddis bobbed ever deeper into the head of the pool. As the depth increased and water color depend from seafoam to emerald green, the fly was promptly engulfed. A respectable seventeen-inch cutty porpoised up behind the fly, taking it deeply. Although a heavy rod, the seventeeninch cutthroat bent deeper into the backbone than I anticipated. I was cautious, nursing the fish in, sure not to over-pressure the tippet. Playing bigger fish with a tenkara rod is surreal. As if frozen in time and space, the cutthroat thrashed against the rod to the rhythm of the flow. It hung and throbbed in place for what seemed an eternity before finally relinquishing to the shallows where it reluctantly slithered into the net and lay softly cradled. This particular fish both peaked and satisfied my cutthroat desires. Marveling at the firm musculature and delicately flaked scaling inspired awe and I released the beauty to hopefully grow through another season. Either no one had been at this particular pool that morning, or they were unable to present the fly acceptably. Either way, it was to my advantage. Pressing forth, working the fast water across the head of the pool produced several more fish in the mid-teens before collectively becoming


educated. With smug satisfaction, I turned upstream in search of pocket water yet again. Another dead-drift through a massive boulder eddy flanked by whitewater turned up another cutthroat, only this fish likely broke twenty inches. Alas, my smugness melted with a smile as I whiffed on the biggest fish of the trip, pulling the fly promptly from its clasp before it had an opportunity to turn into the hook. Vanishing into the green slick, it never took a second look. By this time the air temperature was creeping into the high 90s, and again, fishing simply couldn’t get any better. Deciding to call a siesta, I turned back for camp. Fishing the pockets tenkara style presented the most effective way to cover the tumultuous habitat, particularly in the presence of what I


would call significant angling pressure. I used the tenkara rod to its full advantage, extending the fly into the mid-channel pockets and deaddrifting big dries across flow seams with cool control. For summer and fall cutthroat fly patterns, go big or go home. Who doesn’t love to fish a big dry? Fishing pressure be damned, I got what I came for. Solitary fishing on a gorgeous river filthy with cutthroat and laying waste to them on the fly. Fighting my desire to follow in the other angler’s footsteps by falling victim to the temptation of prime waters led me to far better fishing with the tenkara rod than was possible otherwise. This was my first trip to this river with a tenkara rod, which ended one of the best in memory. A reach like this may be technically challenging with western gear, but is easily fishable with a tenkara rod



It's About The Freedom


By Keith Anderson

Tenkara and adventure motorcycle touring are a match from heaven. Adventure motorcycles are something of a hybrid between a street touring motorcycle and a dirt bike. It allows you to cruise at high speeds on a highway, tear down a dirt road, or even venture down tight single-track trails. These motorcycles epitomize freedom in the same way that tenkara does with its versatility and simplicity of rod, line, and fly. Arguably best suited for small streams and creeks, but versatile enough for


large rivers and even lakes, tenkara and adventure motorcycles complement each other both in spirit and practicality. One motorcycle can play the part of street bike or dirt bike in the same way one style of fly can catch fish in any water. Tenkara allows you to shed the large storage boxes and tons of gear normally seen with Western fly fishing. Tenkara rods are easy to stash in an adventure motorcycle’s pannier, saddle bag, or top case. With only a full tank of gas, a packed rod, line, and fly, you are set for an infinite amount of adventures.


Exploring Jeep trails and dirt roads are an adventure on its own, but with the versatility of an adventure motorcycle those roads open new secluded areas and unpressured waters. In the Colorado high country specifically, the opportunity to access areas that feel like your own piece of nature are waiting for the angler on an adventure motorcycle. Most of the more secluded areas are toward the headwaters where the trout may be a bit smaller, but what they lack in size they certainly do not lack

in fight, or quantity. Many days, not far from Denver, I have been able access streams on trails only large enough for a motorcycle or ATV and fished all day without running in to another angler, hiker, or sightseer.

In both tenkara and adventure motorcycles, it’s about the freedom. Freedom of adventure and exploration, freedom from complication, freedom of accessing seldom pressured fish in remote waters, and the freedom to get away from the crowds.


Strange Trails: Finding My Water By Brittany Aäe


Far out past the astral plane I cast you back from whence you came Cosmic ash and blackened brain I call you by your ancient names - Lord Huron By 7 AM I had my coffee in my left hand while the right deftly worked both stick and wheel, navigating heavily washed-out spare Forest Service roads that had me seriously considering trading for a truck upon my return to town. During my repeated pilgrimages to these burned, numinous highlands near home I’d already blown my suspension on washboard taken at an eager pace and cracked my windshield on some effluvia tossed up by my excited tires. It didn’t matter I’d reserved the day for a long wander after a night spent under smoke plume and stars. When I could feel the air grow thinner, I pointed in the direction of a hidden lake about which I’d heard but never seen. Late summer in the Okanogan is a slow dance with high country trees barely holding on to green, wishing the song won’t end but knowing soon the snow will dampen all sound save for a high-pitched whine of the north wind leaning on nude branches. As such, I spend more time sleeping on the ground, touching stone, and casting flies in September than any other time of the year - and these hallowed highlands will be some of the first claimed by the cold white, so I had to prioritize our goodbyes. I had intended for the day to be a rest day from my career as a mountain athlete; I was inappropriately kitted out in a


cut-off tee shirt and corduroy skirt over my bikini with I had Chacos on my feet - it is a good thing my fishing gear resides in the back of my Subaru from May through October. All I had by way of directions to the lake was a general heading from an unremarkable summit and the promise of hogs swirling in the cerulean to tempt me onto sage, dry grass, huckleberry, and cobble off-trail. Undaunted by the prospect of brush scraping up my shins, a chance meeting with wolves or moose or ptarmigan, or the dust staining my feet, I plodded to the saddle where the trail ended, and the guesswork began. I became curious about the morethan-human with whom I moved, employing a new means of navigation, scent and temperature. Sneaking up a muddy draw scored with the tracks of Moose, likely the individual who watched me from above my camp the night before, I began to sniff at the air. On this day, perched on the edge of seasons, the wind had begun its shift into winter patterns. Instead of hot air seething up from a triple-degree valley, heating the highlands, what rippled through the stunted pines was cool and breathed by the forgiving north. I trod this finger of forest for a short time, remembering the grouse I’ve harvested from this generous grove over the years, then began to sense an increase in humidity in the air at the tip of my nose and, allowing this hint of moisture in the golden highlands to lead me, the breeze refocused itself into a steady flow coming from the west-southwest. I




noted a screed ridge rising about 500 feet above the forest which gave way to larch dressed in their finest chartreuse––the vibrant moment before warm tones of autumn. There was no human trail here, all bare and definite; instead I wove together an array of game trails which made great sense of the subtly terraced scrubland between granite boulders and whose population of kinnikinnick transferred their dew to my dusty toes making mud in my sandals. My mind’s considerable processes had shut off somewhere near where I left the trail behind at the col and, in place of anxious thoughts ruminating and planning, intuition took over. Humidity meant lake, focused wind funneled through col mean a basin, the steepening ground underfoot and force of stream flowing off to my right indicated proximity to headwaters. Then came the smell, you


know the one that comes in the sweet aftermath of releasing a trout, the one that clings to your hands even after several rinsings in cold tarn water? That smell, that distinctly fishy one of scales and depths and algae, hit my face in a planar manner as it shuttled down the basin and I could see the lip of the hillside up which I climbed. In that moment I realized I had found the lake using no map, no thought, no directions, no friend accompanying me to show me which way to go, and the anticipation sparkled in my chest. Upon breaking the ridge I spied the water, held in the dish created by a rounded battlement of grey stone oriented to the summit of a nearby peak and dammed by the larchy peat I’d just ascended. I pulled up a log and observed the activity on the surface of the water: trout after trout disturbed the steely water in girths certainly exceeding the strength of my tippet.


Fishing With My Forefathers


By Mike Hepner

A last-minute call goes out from the OG to Gap Tiger… “Yo, Mallard Duck is headed this way for a brookie adventure, wanna join?”

Two forefathers to the Ratskincanoe in the same place at the same time? Of course, I wouldn’t dare pass on an opportunity such as this! The waters in our area had finally subsided to a fishable level again after what seemed like endless rain. We decided to hit up some of the most beautiful headwaters in our area. Tight fishing but the surroundings on the hike in are worth the trip alone, not to mention the enormous brookie population in this stream! Meeting up with the two as the sun touched the tips of the trees in the forest, we caravan down the gravel lane to a dirt road that we follow even


deeper into the dense canvas toward the headwaters. We finally get to our parking area where we have a pre-7 AM excitement filled greeting. A lot of name calling, and a vulgar exchange of profanity are fired back and forth from one another in an almost Civil War like battle. Today will be a good day, as we gear up and fill our packs with plenty of beer for the hike down the ridge to the headwaters. The hike to the stream carries much of the same battle as we pass patches of

Jack-o’-lantern mushrooms, groves of bright green ferns, and dodge spider filled webs across the trail. Mallard Duck with a worried look on his face says to me, “this is not good,” I asked him what was up… “that first beer went down way too easy!” As the sun peaks through the tree tops and hits the forest floor for the first time this morning I look around and realize that this day was going to be epic no matter what happened! Laughing our way down the rest of the trail and cracking open more beer we arrive at a gorgeous headwaters stream that is begging to be fished as


it weaves through the bright green canopy. With the OG picking the spot we give him dibs on the first pool. First cast he is onto a native, second cast, it’s landed. Heading upstream we find the beautiful stream getting tighter and tighter. With the canopy thickening over the creek the three of us pummel the waters with bow and arrow casts for the duration of the time spent here. With all of us netting a good number of brookies we head downstream to hit the lower section and are greatly rewarded for the trek there, with the stream widening and opening to




larger pools we get into more and more beautiful natives that can’t stay off the kebari in their sights. With the sun beating down from straight above us now and the temps rising we decide to call it a day and make the hike back up the ridge to our rides. It was exactly the mid-summer day we had all needed. Periodically throughout the day I was so glad that I had collapsed my rod and just sat back to watch my bros go slay city. Picking up on tricks and techniques perfected by both to one

day add to my arsenal. Pulling out from the dirt lane onto the gravel road I look back to see the OG and Mallard Duck heading the opposite direction, thinking to myself “damn, fishing with my forefathers was lit!” With an experience like that I look forward to one day getting a chance to throw kebari and go slay city on some beers with the rest of my Ratskincanoe forefathers that I have not yet had the privilege and pleasure to meet. Until that time…



When You Don't Catch Fish... By Nick Pavlovski


When you don’t catch any fish, and not for wont of trying, you’ve got to take something good away from the experience. After all, you’ve most likely travelled some good minutes or hours to reach the spot or spots you tried, and it’s a shame to let it all seem like it was a waste of all that time. Trout season commenced where I live on September 1st, and the fly fishing club I belonged to was holding its annual opening day fishing competition. I couldn’t commence fishing with the other members at midmorning, so I started just before dawn and left at 9:30 AM. I caught nothing. I didn’t miss a take. I didn’t even detect any prospective takes or touches. I didn’t spook any fish. Nothing. Nothing at all, and after having endured three months of no fishing during the closed season. Three months of nothing and then three hours of hard work for nought doubled my disappointment at my results. I began to lament a seemingly colossal waste of time. What good can I take away from this? I wondered. What was the point? I pondered this for three days. It took looking at some photos I took from that morning to start to realise what good I’d gained. As I slid into my waders and geared up, there had been a few kookaburras sitting right over my car, chuckling raucously. Wild “kookas” always keep their distance from humans, so that was fairly special. Hearing their cries


and seeing them so close always reminds you you’re in Australia. Wading along the creek, I heard a multitude of bird calls and calls from different species. Having recently returned from three weeks overseas where only one type of bird still remains (and its call is not pleasant), this was welcome. I was hoping to see the male fairy wren with his bright blue hood, who stands out so prominently but only saw a couple of the drab-coloured females. Perhaps he was minding the children…? Everything looked green and fresh, courtesy of the recent showers. We’re having a drought here, but at least the grass and leaves seemed to glow spring green along the creek and its surrounds. A freshwater crayfish was migrating up the creek as I fished. A big chunky one with white spikes and claws, a colouration variant I’ve not seen before. He wasn’t scared of me and trundled along against the current. I got some splendid photos of it as it passed by. It was soothing to hear the water as it tumbled over rock ledges, brushed past a fallen tree and burbled as it ran over riffles. That was what I took away. I was out in nature. My manufactured life with its manufactured concerns were temporarily forgotten. And that’s sometimes worth more than therapies that manufactured money can buy.


Back to Basics By Chris Stewart

What could be more basic than a worm on a hook? This being a magazine dedicated to fixed line FLY fishing, I can’t write about the back-to-childhood simple pleasure of fishing with a worm on a hook, but I can write about the next best thing. The Overhand Worm is a fly I developed (that may be overstating it a bit – once you see the fly you may think “developed” elevates it beyond its due) specifically for worm fishermen who found themselves through no fault of their own on a flyfishing-only stream.


It is absolutely the simplest fly you can tie. So simple in fact that a worm fisherman who has never tied a fly in his life, and has no tools beyond a pair of nippers, can tie it streamside in a minute or two. Being an experienced fly dresser may shave a few seconds off that time. There may be anglers who do not consider it, or any other worm imitation, to be a fly. New York State, where I live, defines a fly as “a hook with no more than two points dressed with feathers, hair, thread, tinsel or any similar material to which no additional hooks, spinners, spoons or similar devices have been added.” I think chenille qualifies as “similar material.” Nowhere in the definition is the


requirement that a “fly” must imitate an insect with wings. State regs rule! It’s a fly. When I showed it to Morgan Lyle, author of the book Simple Flies, he pronounced it subversive. High praise! When I not only showed it but also demonstrated its effectiveness to George Roberts Jr., author of Master the Cast and A Fly Fisher’s Guide to Saltwater Naturals and their Imitations, he said something to the effect that he kind of wished it didn’t work as well as it did. I’ve used several different hooks, but have settled on the size 12 C’ultiva SBL-35 (what I call the Wide Eyed Hooks) or size 14 Gamakatsu R10-B. Both are barbless, hold fish well, and will often come out by themselves after you get the fish into the net. I usually fish the Overhand Worm with a split shot 6-8 inches above the fly. Depending on current and depth, you might want anything from a #10 shot for relatively slow, shallow water up to a couple BB shot for deep water with fast current, where you want the Overhand Worm to get down immediately. You can use any tenkara, seiryu or keiryu rod you may have. If using a tenkara line, keep the end of the hi-vis or furled line above the water’s surface. Because the depth of the stream can vary considerably from spot to spot, consider using a white sighter, which can be partially submerged without scaring the fish.

Step-by-step fly tying instructions never count preparing the materials to be a step. Following that convention, this unconventional fly can be tied in three steps:



1) Tie a loose overhand knot in a length of pink chenille (previously cut to about 1 1/4“) 2) Insert the hook into the overhand knot

3) Tighten the knot



That way you won’t have to continually change your tippet length. If the water is more than a couple feet deep, or if the depth varies considerably, you will do better with a longer keiryu rod and a keiryu line very light, clear line constructed with tippet material, using knots of keiryu marker yarn for strike detection. The keiryu marker knots can be moved up or down the line easily so you can keep them just above the surface and the Overhand Worm just above the bottom.

essentially no weight. If fishing with kids (and by the way, the kids could tie the Overhand Worms themselves), you could substitute a small float for the keiryu marker yarn. It is easier for a kid to watch a float than to keep the marker knots or end of the tenkara line just above the surface.

When using a keiryu line, you must use a split shot because the line itself has

Or stay grumpy. Your choice.

And if that is starting to sound suspiciously like a cane pole, a bobber and a worm, welcome to back-tochildhood simple pleasure.


Ideas For Choosing Your "One Fly" By Jim Wright

I've never been accused of being a one fly guy. I like to have at least three patterns on stream with me, along with three variations of each, making nine different choices. But I can usually select on the first try, a kebari which will do the job. After many years of reading water, lighting conditions and studying the habits of trout, I can come close to an effective solution on the first try. Because of this, I think anyone should look at this method as using nine - "One Flies." To me it often feels like nearly one fly for every situation. This article is for the newcomer who has a penchant for doing things in an orderly, quasi-scientific fashion. Just like everyone who takes up fly fishing without the benefit of experienced advice, I started my angling career with a mish-mash of patterns and tackle from a department store, which were not appropriate to my needs. So, if you are a new angler, I am hereby making a pitch for your first outing to be at the elbow of an experienced tenkara angler. Particularly one fishing on familiar water. And after some initial guidance, if you have a desire to narrow your fly box selection down to a single pattern, you can surely do so and still catch your share of fish. If you wish, you might learn something



from my own strategy of choosing kebari, helping you zero in on your "one fly." My personal choices would include a small light rooster-hackled pattern which will present near the surface of a stream in average water flows, a medium sized soft hackle that plies the middle stratum. And lastly a larger, and/or heavier fly that will sink quickly to the depths in search of something large with fins. A Dr. Ishigaki, Futsuu, or Kurobe style on a light wire, size 12, 14 or 16 hook satisfies the first criteria. It will begin its career riding high in or near the surface film and eventually sink a bit. It will appeal to fish feeding on or looking up at the surface for floating or hatching aquatic insects. It will also be ideal for the small to medium sized trout whose diet will largely consist of small bugs. The size 10 or 12 sakasa kebari is ideal for prospecting in the middle depths and is likely to be seen by more fish with its attractive flowing soft hackle. Hen pheasant, partridge or hen chicken hackle are all good hackle choices for this fly. Adding peacock herl will maximize its attention-getting properties. Adding a wool body will allow your fly to sink faster/deeper as it soaks up water and is an option worth considering.

Ishigaki Grizzly

Killer Bugger


Utah Killer Bug

A size 6 or 8 kebari, and/or a smaller weighted pattern will dive to the bottom where fish are often found early in the season, during high, turbulent or rapid water conditions or in deep pools for mature fish. The Killer Bugger gets top marks for its abilities to dive for the gold. It's copper wire weighted hook, wool body and marabou tail combine to get down and entice larger fish that are more interested in bait fish or larger insects. Just be sure that your rod will handle a weighted fly before arming up. In addition, I would tie each pattern in

Beadhead Midge

a couple of different colors for use in varying lighting/water clarity conditions. A dark color silhouettes against the surface standing out against the sky. A light color like yellow or white shows up well against darker backgrounds and is easier for you to see generally. And a medium bright color like red works well in slightly turbid or rapidly flowing water (and is killer for brookies, rainbows, or panfish). With this selection I'm confident that I could successfully lure trout and many other species to strike under most


fishable conditions, if I don't bungle the approach and presentation. These kebari choices are based upon my own experiences afield, both in research of fish behavior, stream fauna and on-stream fly-tying experiments. The results are never guaranteed, but all things being equal, tying imitations of aquatic insects to proportion and incorporating lifelike movements will add greatly to your success percentage. I like to think that my approach is sort of holistic, since I am studying the stream environment in addition to fish behavior. In my younger days, I spent hours in snorkel gear watching trout feed, and seining samples of aquatic insects in nearby streams that lacked a trout population (chosen for environmental reasons). Finally, comes the fun part, testing "in stream" over rainbow and brown trout, occasionally with the rare brookie. So, this is the approach that works for me. In analyzing these findings over the years, I could easily choose a "one fly" if I wished. It will likely imitate nearly the largest, commonest most popular pattern in the eyes of the fish. The so-called commodity fly. In fact, I know of several streams here within an hour's drive in which I would do extremely well with about any fly pattern. The reason being that these streams are mostly limited to smaller sized fish, due to a limited natural food, oxygen and/or limited water supply. These fish are naive, very



hungry and eager to try out your offering. Assuming of course that I avoid fumbling in my footing or presenting to fish that are not seeing my fly due to sun position or other reasons. Think about our own experience of looking in the direction of a low sun and encountering limited vision. That's the reason for varying your color patterns. So what things do you consider when narrowing your selection to a single pattern? To start with go back and reread my approach again while considering your own favorite streams and the sort of environmental conditions you experience there. You may be fishing in a slower stream full of deep pools with overhung trees, or a high gradient one with small plunge pools through a woodland. Or maybe something in between. Does it contain mostly rocks, gravel or exhibit a soft bottom, maybe banks overhung with sod and brush? Sample nearby streams of similar character for aquatic wildlife and fill a notebook with descriptions of the critters that you find there. No need to worry about species and Latin names. Just note the size & colors. Do some internet research for your area. What are other anglers using? In what season(s)? Stream reports are common and useful. An example of what you are looking for is this: a commonly recommended fly pattern that shows up in several

seasons, not just one. Like the "midge" pattern for example. Midges are active for many months of the year in some places and year-round in others. Now that's a pattern that could be useful. I particularly recommend it for headwaters and high lakes. Do any results of your search look like the drawings in your notebook? If so, that's a good candidate for final choice and a clue, that may eventually be the key to turning you into a "Master of your stream" with a single fly.

Other patterns that would make my list of top choices where I fish most would include: · An ant pattern or Dr. Ishigaki kebari, both are equally effective in my opinion, depending upon conditions · A "Killer Bugger" pattern, size based upon rod weight versus depth of water · A Takayama sakasa kebari, or Royal Coachman wet fly, useful for it's all around attraction skills · The Incomparable Pink/Oyster Utah Killer Bug, or the red under color Sawyer Killer Bug (preferably with added wool tail) · A partridge and peacock or Takami kebari, just because they imitate and attract lots of different insects

So, this is one method you might try, and could become your method too. It should easily help to choose just a single kebari to place your trust in. Obtain a few flies which in your opinion qualify for a final run off and go out and fish them. But don't take too many and be sure to allow a goodly amount of time for each to see what it has to offer before thinking about changing flies. Trying them out for several seasons is not an unreasonable goal. Most of the fishing that I personally do is in the headwaters of large and small streams alike, or by canoe in local lakes. Being able to offer the fish a selection based upon the requirements at hand is often rewarded with success. My nine fly patterns are useful indeed. But a single pattern will work too, and if you do a little homework first, will not handicap you in the least.



It's All About the Blank

By Karin Miller, Owner of Zen Tenkara As more tenkara rod companies have popped up in recent years and consumers have greater options, one question is being asked more frequently, but is rarely being answered adequately. “What’s the difference between tenkara rods from different companies if they’re both the same length and flex?” This seems like it should be a relatively easy question to answer, but it’s quite complicated and many rod companies/ manufactures don’t even know the differences themselves. The fact is, tenkara rods from different companies, regardless of identical length and flex specs, are most often very different. Fly rods, whether regular rods or tenkara rods, are only as good as their rod blank. It doesn’t matter how they’re packaged or what other bells and whistles come with the rod. In the end, you’re paying for the rod blank – or at least that’s what you should be paying for, not fancy handles, paint


jobs or marketing campaigns. The rod blank is what makes up the main course of your rod. Beyond the obvious measurements of length and flex, a plethora of variables exist that impact your rod’s performance. These include blank taper, diameter, girth, wall thickness, number of sections (which impacts flex, strength, durability and collapsed length), carbon fiber quality, carbon fiber modulus, the number of wraps used to form the rod blank, wrap directionality and whether any resins or composite materials have or have not been used in the making of the blank. All these factors give a rod blank its character. Additionally, the dimensions, specs, material and components of the rod handle, along with the finishes used to complete the rod, produce a finished product that will perform in a certain manner, for better or for worse. These variables also determine whether a

rod will be strong (have backbone), be brittle and break when under pressure, how it will flex and recover, how sensitive it is or (how it transfers information), whether it will feel front heavy or balanced in the hand, how accurately it casts and, how much line it can throw. So, when comparing tenkara rods, there’s much more that impacts a rod’s performance besides length and flex. The moment you pick up a tenkara rod and give it a wiggle you get feedback or a “sense” of the rod. At that moment what’s talking to you the loudest, is the material, what the rod is made of. Today, most tenkara rods are made from carbon fiber, but not necessarily the same quality or grade of carbon fiber because not all carbon fiber is created equally. Carbon fiber is a material made up of extremely fine fibers consisting mostly of carbon atoms that are bonded


together in crystals that align parallel to the long axis of the fiber. These fibers are then bundled together in quantities ranging on average from 1K to 24K (K= thousands) to make up “tows” or “yarns”. These different sized tows or yarns can then be woven into different patterns such as unidirectional, tweed, braids and several others to make various carbon fiber “fabrics”. Different patterns have different characteristics and qualities based on the pattern itself and the tow size used to create it. The same pattern can be made using different tow sizes and this will change the character and performance of the woven fabric. Variables are almost unlimited. To make life easier, when talking about carbon fiber, it’s defined by grades. Grades are based primarily on two factors, tensile strength and tensile modulus. Tensile Strength (ksi) is a measurement of the maximum stress a

Carbon Fiber Sheets



material can withstand while being stretched or pulled apart before it breaks or fails under pressure. Tensile Modulus (msi) is a measurement of elasticity or flexibility - how much the material deforms (and returns to its original state) under pressure. Tensile modulus is a ratio of stress to strain. While tensile strength (ksi) and tensile modulus (msi) are correlated, they are different, so don’t confuse stiffness or “elasticity” (tensile modulus) with strength (how much pressure is takes to break it or be pulled apart). Confused yet? If you answered “No” hold tight because there’s more. If you responded “Yes”, just push through it, you’ll get there. Carbon fiber grades are broken out into four categories based on a range of tensile strength and tensile modulus: Standard Modulus,


Intermediate Modulus, High Modulus and Ultra-High Modulus. Keep in mind the higher the modulus, the smaller and denser are the fiber strands used to create it. This results in needing less of a higher modulus carbon fiber material, to obtain the same stiffness as a lower modulus carbon fiber material. However, the manufacturing process to create these higher purity strands is more time consuming and complex, so higher modulus carbon fibers are more expensive. High and Ultra-High Modulus carbon fiber is extremely expensive and primarily used in aerospace applications. In the sports industry, Standard and Intermediate Modulus grades are used. Intermediate Modulus (IM) carbon fibers range from a low IM5 to a high IM10 (in China the range is from IM6 to IM12) and are used in

making higher-end fly rods and tenkara rods. Interestingly, when you review the tensile strength and tensile modulus within the IM range, there’s not a huge difference in tensile modulus (elasticity) between the different IMs. The range is from 40 to 45 msi. Yet, there’s a considerable difference in the tensile strength (what it takes to break it or cause failure). Intermediate Modulus tensile strengths range from 770 ksi in a low IM5/6, to over 1010 ksi in a high IM10/12. And remember, the higher the carbon fiber grade and IM, the lighter the material will be. These factors, when combined, create the price discrepancy between different Intermediate Modulus carbon fibers and as such, the rod blanks manufactured from them. How else, besides price, does this lesson in carbon fiber transfer to rod blank performance? Rod blanks made from a lower IM carbon fiber material will be heavier, less sensitive and less accurate than those made from a high IM carbon fiber. They may also be more “elastic” and more durable. A rod blank made from a high IM carbon fiber will be lighter, stronger, more sensitive, more accurate, and more efficient. But it may also be less elastic and less durable. Keep in mind, regardless of the grade or IM of the carbon fiber used to make a blank, a rod can still be designed to have a specific flex. It just may or may not “do the job as well” or have a more limited application due to the inherent characteristics of the material used to produce it. Many of these can be off-


set and even heightened, based upon the rod specs that paired with a specific material. But, without question, a tenkara rod made with a rod blank rolled with IM5 carbon fiber will feel very different and perform very different from a tenkara rod with a rod blank made from an IM10 carbon fiber, regardless of whether all other specs are different or the same. When it comes to designing or purchasing a tenkara rod, it’s not just about choosing a length and flex. Rod designers and consumers should consider girth, taper, number of sections, wall thickness, wrap directionality, etc. But even more so, they should consider (or at least know) the grade of carbon fiber and its rating within that grade, that they’re using or getting. Because of all things, it’s this, that gives the greatest character to any given rod. It’s the stuff the rod is actually made from, that give it more or less backbone, make it lighter but stronger, give you solid or wet noodle hook-sets, make it dampen quick, be more or less sensitive, and determines much of its casting abilities. Not to sound corny, but it’s what's inside, that counts. So, while you may or may not know the IM of your tenkara rod, know there is a difference and whenever possible, do side-byside comparisons and you will definitely feel the difference. As a consumer, you can make your own educated choice on the qualities and characteristics of a tenkara rod that most meet your needs.


Tip Plug Candy By Rob Gonzalez

Ok, I admit I’m a little OCD about this tip plug mod. Most tenkara rods these days come with the familiar red lillian material threaded through the rod tip plug. I assume its there for a few reasons: visibility in case you drop the tip plug, something to hang your tip plug from for safe keeping while you fish, or as replacement material should you break your lillian. In years of tenkara fishing, I’ve never had a lillian fail and sure - I’ve seen the videos on making the repair yourself, but in all honesty, I’d probably just get a new tip to be safe.


Early tenkara rods didn’t provide this extra lillian material on the tip plugs, like the Tenkara USA Iwana. This isn’t a new mod for me. Years ago, I drilled out the faux wood Iwana tip plug and used bright fly line backing, fly line running line, and even Amnesia to create this same loop. Since most modern rods now have the extra lillian material, I had an OCD moment about wanting to make all mine all the same. They were all different lengths on my rods, some new and bright red and others faded from age. It just bugged me.

I ran across this micro hi-vis reflective cord (1.2mm) from Arrowhead Equipment. It’s available in several colors and almost identical to the lillian material diameter. (I did have to enlarge the tip plug holes in the Tenkara USA Sato and Rhodo with a Dremel, but it fit my Tanuki rods, and the DragonTail HellBender). I chose hivis orange for visibility on the ground or in the water if I dropped the plug and was excited about the added reflective strands. Now I could replace all that extra lillian material and make all my rod tip plugs have the same


look and length. My goal was to make them as short as possible but still be able to tie an overhand knot (bent tip tweezers makes this much easier). I chose a length of cord around 4.5� for each plug. Be sure and keep your extra lillian material, you never know. (I even went a step further down the OCD rat hole and bought the reflective hi-vis orange 2.75mm cord, also from Arrowhead Equipment, to dress up the zipper pulls and tippet hanger on my new camo Zimmerbuilt strap pack. I feel better now.)

Reference website: arrowhead-equipment.com - Micro Reflective Cord: 1.2mm available in 5 colors (used above for tip plug candy) - Reflective Guyline: 2.75mm available in orange or black (used above for zipper pulls, tippet hangers etc)



Interview: Tyrone Espinoza TyRoam Hiking & Wading Staffs By Michael Agneta

I was recently very fortunate to have Tyrone Espinoza of TyRoam Handcrafted Hiking & Wading Staffs take a few minutes out of his busy schedule for a quick chat about his growing company. I've been a fan of Ty's beautiful craftsmanship from afar ever since stumbling on photos of his wading staffs on Instagram this past summer, and thought it would be an excellent opportunity to reach out to him for this quarter's issue of Tenkara Angler. Please enjoy!


Hello Ty, please tell us a little bit about yourself; where do you live, what is your background in the outdoors, be it hiking, fishing, or otherwise? Growing up in Redondo Beach, Southern California in the 1960’s and 70’s, I have lived and played in the outdoors since I can remember - the original Coppertone baby. At a very early age of 7 or 8 years old I took to fishing big time. I remember saltwater fishing for bonito and yellowtail with

my little brother Mark in King Harbor Marina using ultra-light spinning gear with 6-pound test. Fighting some pretty serious sportfish with our reel drag screaming and chasing down fish in order to land them. - and we landed plenty! I’m pretty much a traditionalist and have always had a fondness for the outdoors and working with my hands especially woodwork. Fast forward, today my beautiful bride Rosie and I live in Sacramento, California where we are very active cycling, weight training, hiking, gardening, ocean fishing, fly fishing, and tenkara - fixedline fishing. Oh, I should also mention helping care for our small grandchildren, they’re a ton of “energy” - code for crazy wild! We love them.



Can you give us some information about your business, how & when did it start, what was your inspiration, etc…? I began dedicating time to launching my business: TyRoam Handcrafted Hiking & Wading Staffs in early 2017 shortly after I retired from California state government as a healthcare administrator. Although, I really started field testing my handcrafted hiking/ wading staffs several years prior and continually making modifications from lessons learned on and off the water. I paid attention to all the little details I encountered during use such as leash length, best types and densities of wood, lengths of staff, different types

of grips, different types of waterproof glues and varnishes, etc... I applied all the years of my field testing experience and acquired knowledge into the development and evolution of my wading staffs. I already have plans for the next evolution... it’s an ongoing journey. The old adage... once you stop learning you start dying... yikes! The initial inspiration that provided the catalyst was when I was first looking to purchase a wading staff at local fly fishing shops I saw cheap uninspiring wooden staffs that weren’t more than overgrown Tinker-Toy sticks that were grossly overpriced. That is when I decided to make my own and put all those years of high school wood shop to use, only about


40 years later. In addition, it was a great outlet to unbury the creativity that had been stifled from decades of administrative purgatory - working for "the man."


There are a lot of great products out on the market today; if you had to explain why somebody should consider one of your staffs over the competition, what would you tell them? I let the beauty and functionality of my staffs speak for themselves. Once someone actually sees and “feels” the quality and uniqueness of my staffs then they come to realize how special each one truly is. Those that get an opportunity to pick up and hold one of our TyRoam staffs can feel the craftsmanship. With each one I build it seems like a little bit of my soul goes into them. Likely because I spend considerable time hand-sanding them


that it almost seems I get personally attached to each one. It’s silly, I’ve even come to put nicknames to some that customers seem to enjoy hearing the story behind the inspiration. I’m not aware of any competition that can say the same or put that much passion into their products. It seems like today businesses are focused on decreasing materials costs and time in order to maximize profits. That’s definitely NOT what we’re about. In fact, we’re the complete opposite. Our TyRoam staffs are 100 percent handcrafted, which takes considerable time, and, we spare no expense in only using the FINEST materials. Our gratification comes from someone using our staffs. On the more technical spectrum: I use Brazilian hardwood, four coats of superior marine grade varnish that undergoes a light 600 grit hand


sanding between coats for a super silky finish, rubber motocross grips that get tacky when wet, premium marine grade shock cord for the leash that withstands the sun and won’t degrade from the weather, industrial 1/8 thick vinyl tubing to protect the lower part of the staff from being wedged between river rock and low lying brush, and where the leash is piped into the wooden staff it is infused and encased with epoxy so it’s totally cemented and waterproof both inside and out. As for the wood staining techniques I use to come up with some incredible designs... let’s just say it’s at the journeyman level. Oh, there is so much more at the micro level that are invisible to 99 percent of folks. One good example of this are the hog rings I use to bind the marine shock cord. I

use galvanized rings that are rust resistant to further enhance the durability and functionality, then I use not one but two applications of commercial grade adhesive vinyl heat shrink wrap around the rings to form the leash. Yes, this is overkill, however, I design and make my staffs to be passed on from one generation to another. Plus, some of us Virgos by nature can be over the top - ha! It’s all these details and my unwavering quality inspection that goes into each TyRoam staff. And, for those that like metal collapsible, folding, and, telescoping staffs... good luck! I’ve had these fail on me wading across mid currents only to have it get stuck between some rock and fully separate when trying to pull it free. Nothing against metal staffs... they serve a purpose. Frankly, I make my


staffs for those that appreciate things made from natural materials, and, that recognize genuine craftsmanship and know they are holding something truly unique that speaks to their souls.


In your opinion, what makes a great hiking staff and/or fishing staff? Is there a difference between the two? A staff that feels comfortable, durable, functional, and has the structural integrity to help you out of a challenging situation. Yes, in my opinion, the difference between a hiking and wading staff can be attributed to the weight, waterproofing, grip types, length, and type of material used on the base of the staff. I design and build my staffs to be more stout with a bit more density. I pay careful attention to the weight of my staffs so they can be fairly universal for both hiking and wading, however, leaning a bit more


towards wading. I also use materials and applications more suited for wading, however, they double as nice extras for hiking as well. A couple examples of this are using waterproof marine varnish and motocross grips... they’re both nice extra compliments for hiking as opposed to a standard polyurethane finish and less expensive vinyl grip. I noticed in your Etsy shop you also sell some tenkara flies (kebari), how did you find tenkara and what do you enjoy about it? I was introduced to tenkara several years ago by a fellow fly fishing club member while fishing on the East Walker River, in California. Fortunately, he was very skilled in tenkara and taught me the fundamentals that helped tremendously in making the adjustments from traditional singlehanded fly fishing to the tenkara fixed-


line method. What I enjoy most about tenkara is the simplicity and that one doesn’t need a lot of gear. My bride Rosie really likes it too for pretty much the same reasons. I also enjoy making the various tenkara type flies and learning how to fish them. Tenkara has also helped me in becoming a better fly fisherman. It has taught me to be more stealthy when approaching the water, especially when wading since you only have a limited reach with the fixed-line approach.

What is your favorite part about operating a small business such as TyRoam? This may sound really corny... however, It never gets old hearing all the

compliments from folks on how beautiful our hiking and wading staffs are. Rosie and I really like engaging with folks while participating at fly fishing fairs and expos - this part of the business is a lot of fun. On the subject of metal staffs... I don’t feel that any metal hiking/wading staff can impart such human emotion compared to a beautifully handcrafted hardwood staff. Especially when passed on as an heirloom or even a gift to a loved one. Also, we here at TyRoam take into account how important it is to have plenty of our hiking/wading staffs built and designed for women. We’re not talking making them “girly,” however, having a staff with a touch of elegance yet outdoorsy flare that is also a 100 percent fully functional workhorse. It’s nice being the owner



and calling the shots to equally include hiking/wading staffs designs for women.

What do you see in the future of TyRoam Hiking & Wading Staffs? Are there any short or long-term goals you’d like to share? In the very near future, I’ll be introducing an additional leash option to the lineup - a full shoulder strap. I think this will be very cool and really compliment my staffs. Here again, evolution as to functionality. Also on the horizon, I have a prototype for handheld wooden fishing nets, and, carbon composite fishing nets. For this venture, I plan on repurposing materials to lessen our carbon footprint. When available, I’ll have them on my Etsy.com shop and search: TyRoam


Quick “fun” question – if travel & resources were of no concern, what would your “ideal” outdoor adventure look like? Hiking and fishing of course, then ending the day with an ice cold Sierra Nevada pale ale and some smoked salmon. I would love to go on an extended full-service fishing excursion in a remote area of Wyoming during the fall to experience all the colors and beauty of nature hand in hand with my Rosie to share the experience. Did I mention, I’m also a romantic at heart too?

Finally, do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share that weren’t covered in the previously asked questions? Yes. When engaging with both men


lower Yuba River a juvenile rattlesnake was resting along the river's edge right in front of my favorite fishing hole. So, I took my wading staff and extended it as far forward as possible and very gently nudged the rattler that soon departed - then, I dropped into my spot and started fishing. So, my long-winded point is that a hiking/wading staff is a very functional tool, and, tools are designed to make things easier and when used correctly be more efficient - it’s not a sign of being handicapped.

and women it surprises me to hear some say “Oh, I don’t need a hiking/ wading staff ... I’m not there yet.” Meaning, that somehow age and debilitation is associated with needing assistance from a hiking/wading staff. I don’t argue and simply let these folks pass. However, I think to myself that they’re missing the opportunity to ACTUALLY being able to perform better during their hikes and wade fishing WITH a hiking/wading staff.

It’s truly been a pleasure to participate in this interview and share our TyRoam story - we’re grateful. We’re simply a very small independent home-based family business... a throwback to old-fashioned values with the nostalgia of old Americana.

I’m a very athletic guy, at least in my own mind, and I use my TyRoam staff for bushwhacking through thorny wild berries, parting a path through poison oak, climbing up and down railroad track embankments, wading through some pretty good river currents to fishing holes I would not be able to usually reach without having to swim to. In fact, one summer while on the



Remembering Forward: A Trip Not Taken By Anthony Naples

This article was supposed to be a sublime piece of writing and photography that expressed my love for limestone stream fishing - a poetic piece of prose that would have you wiping tears from your face while you told your concerned significant other “that it was just a bit of dust in your eye”. An homage to and a sort of homecoming to the place that spawned me as a fly angler. It would feature photos of beautiful water and butter bellied limestone brown trout (caught on a tenkara rod of course). And perhaps even some very large trout if things went especially well. But as Robert Burns reminds us “The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew and leave us nothing but grief and pain for promised joy!” The plan was to fish some of the limestone streams of central


Pennsylvania. Lodging reservations were made. Flies were being tied. And then the rain started. That’s okay I like a little rain especially in early fall. Rain thins the angler numbers on popular waters. Maybe cooler, overcast and rainy weather triggers some little blue winged olives (BWOs) to pop. Thinking of the possibility of BWOs I made sure to tie some red Takayama sakasa kebari. I have used red Takayama sakasa kebari quite successfully during BWO hatches numerous times now on Pennsylvania and Wisconsin spring creeks. I have a theory that a sparsely tied Takayama sakasa kebari with its bulge of peacock and gangly hackle is just the right kind of impressionistic fly to imitate a messy, struggling emergent mayfly. If you’ve never fished limestone spring creeks such as those in central

Pennsylvania or the Driftless Region of Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota then you may not know that they are quite different beasts than freestone mountain streams. They have more constant temperature and flow, buffered pH and nutrient rich water. And unless too degraded by development and pollution the generally have a much higher density of bugs that trout eat than do freestone mountain streams. The result can be lots of fish (sometimes very large fish compared to stream size). And also very well fed fish. That doesn’t necessarily mean fishing is always difficult. Sometimes these well fed fish are very engaged with bugs and can be found feeding in all levels of the water column. At prime times when lots of different bugs are hatching I’ve had great success with near-surface fishing of wet flies and kebari. At times like these fishing in limestone streams can feel pretty darn


easy. But at other times the fish are not so engaged higher in the water column. At these times you often need to get the fly near the stream bottom and put that fly right on the nose of a fish to spark much fishy interest. These limestone trout are not “smart” or even “picky” or “finicky” per se, they’re just kind of lazy. In rich, food abundant streams the fish can afford to utilize a “sit and wait” strategy. The fish can just sit and wait for a morsel to drift right to them. They don’t need to move and often they won’t move to your fly. Nothing is carved in stone of course and fish are not always predictable (at least not by me). But when I head to spring creeks I like to be prepared with dozens of small bead head pheasant tail nymphs. These are my go-to nymph - and have served me well everywhere I fish for trout. Even with the water a little bit up and off color I was still pretty confident they would be key.

Try a sparsely tied red Takayama sakasa kebari the next time you encounter a hatch of mayflies. You can even add a Leisenring Lift presentation where you lift the fly as it approaches the fish to imitate the emerging insects.


My Go-To Bead Head Pheasant Tail


My Bead Head Walt’s Worm Anchor Fly

My Two Nymph Rig As the day of departure approached I was watching the rain outside my window and I was watching the stream gage for the creek online. The rain kept raining and the stream kept rising. The 77 year average flow was 54 CFS and it was now up to about 200 CFS. At this point I had to accept that it was going to be higher water conditions than I’d first anticipated. And with higher water I wanted to have some heavy nymphs to act as anchors in a two-fly nymphing rig to get those small bead head pheasant tail nymphs deeper in the fast, high water. These days when I do a two fly nymph rig for getting small flies deep I tie the larger heavier nymph in first (higher up on the leader) and then the smaller fly as the point fly at the end of the leader. A Few Words on Streamers And still the rain kept coming but that’s okay. The stream gage was now up to 300 CFS. If water gets high and


off-color then the big fish come out to feed. The higher flows and off-color water make stealth easier. With even more rain and higher flows now expected my confidence in small nymphs started to waiver a little and my thoughts turned to streamers. I’ve always enjoyed swinging bunnystrip streamers or woolly buggers with a fly rod and when I took up tenkara almost 9 years ago now, I brought my fly fishing tool box along with me and so streamer fishing has always been a part of my tenkara from the get go. Like swinging a wet fly on steroids streamer fishing can be explosively fun. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a mindless routine: cast, swing, step, cast, swing step... Targeted casting to trout lies, controlled drifts with varying speeds and action, and focused swings (focused on fish holding areas) are necessary for optimum fun. When I first started fly fishing I absolutely sucked at streamer fishing. Not that I’m the Jimi Hendrix of streamer fishing

I like streamers made with fur or marabou for lots of motion. For high water conditions I like to add a tungsten bead and/or lead wraps or lead eyes or the like for some weight.


now - but I have gotten better through the years. And though it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the difference is I think it has much to do with a better understanding of where fish live and thus more focused casting and fishing to those areas. I tend to fish streamers much like nymphs mixed with wet flies. I often start with an upstream cast and then a contact-nymphing, tight-line style drift (that’s where mobile marabou and bunny fur come in handy with their inherent movement). The drifts may be interrupted with lifts and swings in areas that I think look particularly fishy. And of course some downstream jigging and an “I’m an injured and dying baitfish” movement at the end.


Here’s a word of caution on that downstream stuff though. Be careful to keep the rod at an angle to the line you don’t want to be pointing straight downstream to your streamer. In the case of a nice fish this is a good way to break the tippet and lose the fish and fly. Keeping the rod at an angle to the line will keep the tippet protecting spring in the rod. Acceptance And the rain kept coming. Ultimately the flow went from the average flow of about 54 CFS up to over 1200 CFS. That’s over 20 times average flow. But with an irrational hope and longing I called the local fly shop. The guy said in no uncertain terms - Do not come here, the stream is not just unfishable but it is dangerous. He may have


thought I was a bit daft for even calling. But to quote Emily Dickinson “Hope is the thing with feathers”, which I always figured was a reference to fly fishing. I had to accept defeat. I could not go on this trip. The memories that I would make would not be made. The much planned trip and the subsequent article were not meant to be. What could I write about then? As it happened I was reading the excellent book Time Travel by James Gleick, in which he quotes a line from Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll: ”It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,” the Queen remarked. That line got me thinking… In preparing for this trip I was living it already. The future was bleeding into the present. And oddly it was almost like a memory when I looked to events that hadn’t yet - and wouldn’t ever happen. Each fly that I tied had a “future memory” attached to it. As I sat in my basement tying flies I was transported to the places and times where I would use each fly. I was reliving past successes and “remembering” future successes. I was visualizing the runs, and pools, and riffles where I’d use each technique in my tenkara toolbox. I was living a lifetime of trips past and future. I was a time traveler. I was Schrödinger's cat. I existed in a state of quantum superposition. I had both gone on the trip and not gone on the trip. Even as I write this I feel strangely nostalgic for a trip not taken.

"Release" Steve Cobb


Tenkara Lessons Shared; Lessons Learned


By Bob Long

Ogura-San was in the Chicago area from Japan, and our mutual friend, John Miao called and said Ogura wanted to try for some smallmouth bass. John asked which river did I recommend, and did I wish to join them? “Absolutely, and the Kankakee River,” was my immediate response. This would be Yuichiro’s (Ogura’s given name) second visit and fishing outing, and I was hoping that he would be willing to make some minor-to-major adjustments in his tenkara fishing approach.


While most of our fishing is done using tenkara fly rods, Ogura-San uses his to fish for native trout in thin, clear and cold, high mountain streams in Japan. I use mine to fish for smallmouth bass in Midwestern rivers, creeks and streams; usually stained, warm and slow (as pictured above), in this case the Milwaukee River as it flows through Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Trout and smallmouth are quite different fish, as are the conditions in which they are found. Also, quite different can be the tactics, techniques, flies and lures one uses to

catch each fish. I tend towards nonconventional approaches with my fly rods; wading and casting mainly downstream and down-and-across with my tenkara rods for smallmouth and trout, using mostly lures instead of flies (90% of the time vs 10%), while very seldom employing dead drifts. I enjoy great success. I am not a guide, but a teacher, an instructor. It is my intention is to teach you how to read water, how to use your fly rod and tenkara rods to cast and drift lures and flies to catch fish with my methods so you can do so under whatever circumstances you encounter. Lessons shared; lessons learned. So, as Ogura-San was my guest, and with my particular tenkara background and approach, I suggested/requested of Yuichiro that if he were willing to be flexible in his approach and follow, as much as possible or comfortable, what I was recommending, he would catch fish. And in my experience, catching fish is what cements within us, the lessons we are seeking to learn. He was willing. He caught fish; a good number, and some a good size, especially for the tenkara rod. I was quite pleased, not just with myself (for my above listed techniques and tactical suggestions working to get fish), but for him having success (as my guest). I think this was the second time he has fished for smallmouth bass (there are transplanted


largemouth in Japan, but not, I believe, smallmouth). I was also deeply impressed by his flexibility; his willingness to try the new. I know several American fly fishermen who have taken up tenkara rods and fishing techniques here in the U.S over the last nine or so (it is that new here, although it’s 300+ years old in Japan). Many are "deeply stuck" on how Tenkara is done in Japan and are quite rigid in their belief that it should be done that way here as well. A good number of American converts tend to be quite suspicious and reproachful, if not outwardly disdainful and hostile, to those of us who, while we seek to honor tenkara and learn about it, do not slavishly seek to emulate it in our approach to fish and conditions we find across the vast and exceedingly diverse fishing landscape that is the U.S. (U.S. size: 6,110,264 sq. miles to Japan’s 145,894 sq. miles). In addition to being from the home of tenkara, Yuichiro, it seemed, grew increasingly comfortable with what I asked him to do in the present moment, including using small plastic lures and jigs instead of flies, fishing downstream and down-and-across (no upstream, up-and-across, or across), not using dead drifts, but giving his lures “a vulnerable aliveness” employing soft, alternately quick and slow, jigging and swimming movements. We fished at least 14 hours together over two days at two locations. During that time, he stuck with my methods and grew into and with them.


Lessons shared; lessons learned. I did not take this casually or as a given. Ogura-San has over 30-years’ experience fishing tenkara; I have about six. During the whole time he didn't insist on bringing his native techniques to these new waters. He didn’t back-slide into them (as, when in doubt “we go with what we know”) as we fished pools, runs, glides, deeper riffles, bubble lines and haystacks. While some of these concepts and ways of classifying fish-holding waters may have been new to him, while others could have been familiar, we certainly fished them in ways that were quite new. And, I never heard even one, “yeah…but.” I’ve watched videos of tenkara in


Yuichiro, Kankakee River


Japan. Although I like what I’ve seen and think “I get” what they are doing, I am not sure that if I were dropped abruptly next to a mountain stream in Japan with my tenkara rod, I would be equally able to adapt as quickly, or with such grace as Yuichiro did here. A cool side note for me was that Ogura-San had an American designed and made tenkara rod, the 10’ 6" Patagonia TFO Soft Hackle, while I had a Japanese one, the 14’ 5” Daiwa Expert LTH44; his much lighter, softer, and shorter than mine. He even managed to strongly adjust his casting motion and rod movement to be able to cast heavier lures instead of lightweight flies and work them through current and depth. He did so marvelously; almost, it seemed,


Ogura-san's TFO rod alongside a beautiful smallmouth bass

intuitively. I was hoping I had found the right balance of when to offer advice or counsel, and when to let the lessons sink in and allow Yuichiro space to work them out on his own. Lessons shared; lessons learned. In our many and varied conversations, Yuichiro shared with me that while a small number of tenkara fishermen in Japan are rigid (highly structured or strict) in their fishing approach, most

were quite open to allowing each fisherman to discover and create tactics and techniques that worked for them. This was comforting as I admit, my fly fishing and tenkara techniques for smallmouth bass are quite unique (i.e., non-traditional, non-conformist, the opposite of dry flies and nymphs). For many fly fishers they border along a line that runs from the veryuncomfortable to the damn-near



I had real reservations when Ogura-San pulled out his Patagonia TFO 10’6” Tenkara rod. It felt way to light to cast the weight and size of the lures we were going to use. I thought it way too light to fight the size of the smallmouth in current we were likely to catch. I really didn’t want him breaking that beautiful rod. He was completely successful with casting, hook-setting and fighting fish. Yuichiro showed me some “mad” Tenkara skills.

heretical. Such "right way/wrong way" rigidity is a bit of the nature of fly fishing and can be found in compelling number of the fly-fishing community in the U.S. (Many have a "fly fishing as religion" ethic, along with the sense of intolerance and righteousness that can sometimes accompany strong beliefs.) I am not being willful in my fishing approach or thoughts about it versus other techniques (I respect what works for you, it just may not be for me). My methods developed naturally


over a long period of time (since the 1960s), and they retain a sense of child-like discovery and fun for me. Plus, as a bonus I guess, they are highly effective for catching fish, and deeply reflective of what the fish and the rivers they live in, have shared with me over the last 55-plus years of (fly) fishing. I am glad tenkara has come to fit right in with what I do. I am pleased Ogura-San found meaning and success with them as well.


Urban Tenkara:

An Eye-Opening Experience


By Kyle Settle

Tenkara is still relatively new to me. I grew up spin fishing for trout in the Virginia mountains and eventually made the transition to fly fishing for trout, as well as warmwater species. While flipping through YouTube videos a few months ago I stumbled on a video for something called tenkara; so, I clicked on the video and let it play. In the course of a few short minutes a gentleman caught bluegill on just about every cast using a fixed line setup. It reminded me of the times as a kid when I unsuccessfully tried to build my own cane poles. I was instantly hooked on the idea of learning to fish simpler without all the excess gear we feel we need while spin or fly fishing.


I began to research tenkara rods and wanted to find something quality but within a lower budget in case I chose not to stick with it. I eventually landed on Wetfly’s website and found a great deal on a Backcountry Mini rod. It is small enough to fit into a backpack and doesn’t scream I’m fishing here while walking down a sidewalk or trail. I recently found a beautiful little tailwater creek within my neighborhood that receives almost no pressure. While all the other neighborhood fisherman focus on the 82 acre lake above it, I have found it is simpler to focus on the tight water below the dam that seems too inconvenient for most people within

the area to fish. My tenkara rod is the perfect tool for it. The first-time fishing with my tenkara rod was a great experience. And it’s a memory that I will cherish for years to come. I approached the creek with anticipation and butterflies the size of pterodactyl in my stomach. My first cast was effortless and landed at the edge of the break created by the sun kissed water and the shadows of the oaks that lined the creek. I let the small streamer sink and gave it a few small twitches in hopes that a hungry bluegill would chomp. Almost immediately my line snapped taught and I lifted the rod tip to set the hook. After a brief tussle, I was able to land one of the smallest bass I have ever caught. I swear I am probably prouder of that little bass than some of the bigger ones I have caught on spin gear.


from the lake. My first cast in this area landed me an awesome little largemouth well into the double-digit mark. I couldn’t have been happier. This made all the missed strikes disappear from memory and solidified my love for this simpler way of fishing. I cannot wait to trek off into the mountains to chase brook trout with this rod. It should be perfect for those areas where my conventional fly rods end up snagged in the thick creekside vegetation and should provide me with wonderful memories of the little sharks of the mountains. Photos: Jenny Settle

A few casts later landed me a new species on the tenkara rod, the fish I was after when I decided to only bring the tenkara rod out on this excursion, the bluegill. Moments later I netted another interesting catch, a golden shiner, which was extremely cool as I had to idea they existed in this body of water. I fished on for a few moments as my wife took some photos to commemorate my first day on this new fishing journey. I began fishing an area that is extremely rocky and had an excellent flow of water coming down



Photo: Jenny Settle




By Craig Springer

Jennifer Johnson of the Arizona Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office shocks Apache trout while White Mountain Apache Game & Fish staff net the fish. Photo: Russ Wood, USFWS

The biological clock never ceases ticking, and all living things die. But that clock can be frozen, and decay ceased indefinitely. The implications to fish conservation are large. Williams Creek National Fish Hatchery, situated amid the ponderosa pinestudded hills of the White Mountains of eastern Arizona, harbors gold: the only captive Apache trout brood stock in existence. This hatchery, one of 70 other national


fish hatcheries, turns 80 years old this year. It’s a product of the New Deal era - a hatchery built on Apache lands under the auspices of the White Mountain Apache Tribe for the express purpose of raising trout for fishing. Trout fishing, then as now, helps fuel a rural and tourism-based economy in the White Mountains. The Apache trout, as odd as it may seem, is a fairly recent arrival to the hatchery given that it sits so closely juxtaposed to native trout’s habitats.

Recognizing the trout swimming in their streams as something special, the tribe closed off reservation waters to fishing approximately 30 years before the Endangered Species Act became law in 1973. The tribe was the first conservator of Apache trout.


Though this rare trout wasn’t described for science until 1972, hatchery biologists made early attempts at creating an Apache trout brood stock. Getting wild fish accustomed to captivity is difficult. Those attempts fell flat until 1983, by which time commercial fish food had become more refined such that captive wild fish take to it easier. The existing Apache trout brood stock turns 35 year old this year. Those captive fish descend from the original fish brought on station more than three decades ago. To bolster the brood stock, the biologists have turned to what sounds like sci-fi: “cryopreservation.” It’s a big word for this: they collected sperm

from wild Apache trout and froze it. It’s science-fact. Hatchery biologists along with staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) Arizona Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office and White Mountain Apache Tribe collected sperm from wild Apache trout from the East Fork White River. Under the guidance of Service biologist Dr. William Wayman at the Warm Springs Fish Technology Center in Georgia, the team of biologists collected and froze sperm from several individual Apache trout this past spring. Gathered and stored in clear straws the approximate size of a coffee stirrer, the sperm now reside in vats of liquid nitrogen at -321 degrees Fahrenheit in Georgia in permanent storage, locked in time. And there it will be stored until it’s needed for spawning at the hatchery in November.

“We expect cryopreservation to boost our brood stock,” said hatchery

Apache Trout Photo: Jennifer Johnson, USFWS





1)Williams Creek National Fish Hatchery biologist Russ Wood prepares Apache trout milt for freezing. Photo: Jennifer Johnson, USFWS 2) Apache trout sperm label indicates to be frozen at Warm Springs Fish Technology Center in Warm Springs, Georgia. Photo: Jennifer Johnson, USFWS 3) Dr. Wade Wilson, a geneticist at the Southwest Native Aquatic Resources & Recovery Center in Dexter, New Mexico guides brood stock management. Photo: USFWS 4 & 5) Straws containing Apache trout sperm are frozen in vats of liquid nitrogen at Warm Springs Fish Technology Center in Warm Springs, Georgia Photos: William Wayman, USFWS




manager, Bruce Thompson.

“Cryopreservation reduces the likelihood of spreading disease that comes with having live fish brought in from the wild, not to mention the savings - a savings in space, in time and in money - by not having to keep wild male trout alive on the hatchery.” The hatchery stock originated from the East Fork White River - it’s a rare lineage of a rare trout, says Service geneticist, Dr. Wade Wilson. He’s stationed at the Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources and Recovery Center in Dexter, New Mexico. Wilson has expert knowledge of trout, having worked with two other species native to the American Southwest, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout and Gila trout.


cell. Cryopreservation hasn’t been used yet for Apache trout brood stock management, but the concept isn’t new. The method is common in the livestock industry and has been used for decades. For rare, native trout, “it’s like backing up your data” says Thompson. “You store off-site what’s precious, and we’re confident that this is good for Apache trout conservation.” Bradley Clarkson, Alchesay-Williams Creek National Fish Hatchery biologist and White Mountain Apache Tribe member handles a large Apache trout Photo: Craig Springer, USFWS

“Cryopreservation at least preserves the genetic diversity of the males, and the main advantage is that we can infuse wild genetics into the captive fish with great ease,” said Wilson. And the approach will be disciplined, as Wilson has developed a plan for the hatchery staff to ensure that each pairing yields genetically robust Apache trout offspring that exemplify the East Fork lineage. Having collected the genetics from the wild male fish and the captive female Apache trout, data from Wilson’s shop will steer captive spawning this autumn. Those offspring will be future brood stock. The whole idea of freezing and thawing a living organism gives flight to the imagination, even if it is a single


Tenkara in Hokkaido By Daniel Galhardo


Outside of Japan, Hokkaido has been gaining notoriety in recent years for skiing. In the winter the region gets so many feet of light powdery snow that if you were to stand outside for a week... well, you’d die... but you’d also get completely covered in snow. I have been interested in going to Hokkaido for several years for other reasons. In fact, I have tried to arrange a visit to the northernmost island of Japan on three different occasions just to see plans fall through. The reason I have wanted to go so badly has been for fishing of course. Hokkaido is a bit like the wild Montana


or Wyoming of Japan. It’s sparsely populated, and its rivers have some very large trout. The vegetation is much more lush, with some plants reaching Jurassic proportions, due to the amount of rain that comes down over there. But the amount of space between villages, and the relatively small number of anglers did remind me of Wyoming a bit. Although when I looked up the population numbers I learned that Hokkaido has 67 people per square kilometer. That’s more than 10 times the density of Wyoming. However, most people are in or near Sapporo, the capital, and we were much further

northeast of there. As is usually the case when I visit Japan, I was going to be joining Dr. Ishigaki. We were also going to be joined by Dr. Ishigaki’s friend, Mr. Yoshyia Nakayama. I always get the impression that the people who I fish with in Japan have the most appropriate last names. Translated into English Nakayama means “into (inside) the mountains”. Other people I have fished with have names that translate as “mountain river” (Yamakawa) or “river rock” (Ishikawa). This was to be my 9th visit to Japan to learn more about tenkara, and I was curious to see what I could learn now. But, I was mostly looking forward to catching some large fish. You see, people have the impression that Japan only has little fish or small streams. But, the reality is that the streams and rivers of Japan are just about the same as the streams and rivers we find in the US or in other continents. The waters themselves range from small to large. And, the trout, they are the same. Or, at least they could be, if they were given a chance to get that large. Most anglers in Japan still have a strong catch and keep mentality. In the main island of Japan, where the population density is more than 10 times that of the US as a whole and fishing is a much more popular activity, streams and rivers have a lot


of angling pressure. It also doesn't help that most places have no regulations in terms of how many or what size fish anglers can keep. People do catch large fish in the main island as well. That’s easily observed when you see mounts of actual fish that have been caught in the past. But, with catch and keep practices being the norm, fish are just not given a chance to get very big very often. In Hokkaido, on the other hand, with reduced angling pressure, fish are allowed to grow. And that’s what I wanted to see. On this trip we would be catching the native white-spotted char, or amemasu. And, we would also be running into rainbow trout, a bit more of a controversial fish as it is not native to the area but the sport it provides ensures the government works to keep them in the water even if they may replace the native trout over time, but I’ll leave that conversation for another piece. We flew from Tokyo to Kushiro. Flying within Japan is always an incredible surprise now that flying within the US is all but a nightmare. Very surprisingly they didn’t check my passport once… and even if they did, they wouldn’t even be able to verify it was really me as Dr. Ishigaki, who booked my flight, just used my katakana name (ダニエル ダニエル). We didn’t need to take off our shoes and the security people were polite to a fault. We literally had to show up at the security line just minutes before



the flight time, and if that wasn’t enough time the security folks would come around and announcing which flights were going to board soon and they would usher us to the front. It was, truth be told, a delight. On the other hand, Dr. Ishigaki has told me he’s likely not returning to the US to fish anymore, and the main reason is, in addition to the long flight, how stressful it is to fly here. And then we started fishing. Yeah, we didn’t have to drive that long to hit our first piece of water. A bit north of Kushiro is a series of lakes and several streams amongst them. We stayed in that general area for about 5 days. We fished a small stream, a large river, a medium mountain stream and even a lake.

We caught fish left and right, with a good number of them in the 18 - 21” in length. I was able to show that indeed Japan does have large fish. What many assume was a technique developed to catch small trout, more than likely developed to catch these same fish, for back in the day it would have been more common to find fish of this size anywhere in Japan. In one of the streams large mayflies, perhaps size 8, fluttered around everywhere. The typical response I had come to expect from Dr. Ishigaki had been to shrug the hatch and keep using whatever fly. Yet, this being a place he doesn't fish often and with us having little time, he deferred to the suggestion from Nakayama-san that we use a mayfly imitation provided by Nakayama-san himself.



I didn't want to be a contrarian and obliged, switching my fly even though I was sure my standard kebari would have been just fine. I caught a nice amemasu with the yellow mayfly imitation. This fish was perhaps 16 inches in size. And then, when they weren't looking I snipped my mayfly off and quickly tied on my Oki kebari. Three casts with that fly and I had another fish, about the same size. That story repeated itself pretty much the same way through the rest of our days in Hokkaido: Nakayama would give me a fly he said was the “right one”. The “right fly” would always be a different fly, covering the gamut of typical western flies, from woolly buggers to some stonefly nymph imitation to little dry flies. I would catch a fish with it, then switch to one


If you want to learn a bit more about the fishing in Hokkaido on this trip, as well as fishing in a couple of other parts of Japan I got to visit, I recorded 3 episodes of my podcast during the trip. They can be found here: https://www.tenkarausa.com/ myportfolio/japan-cast-2018/

of my sakasa kebari and catch a fish with it too. Then I’d make sure to let them know what fly I was using, after all, I was taught that “any fly is ok” by Dr. Ishigaki and I saw no reason to ignore his teachings now. Later, when I asked Ishigaki why he was now seeing a need to switch flies, when in the past he would just keep his fly on, he responded with “When in Rome…”. But, I suspect that after so much time fishing pretty much the same fly, he’s been looking forward to a bit more diversity in his fishing. And, the reality is that there is nothing wrong with that. It was not a judgment on my part, but simply curiosity, after all I was not taught the tenkara fly is the right fly, but rather I was taught that “any fly is okay”.

And, if you want to see a video of what the fishing in Hokkaido on that first day may have looked like, you can find a video of Ishigaki fighting one of the island’s large rainbows here: https://www.tenkarausa.com/a-large-trout-fight-inhokkaido/


Tenkara Curious in the Province of Quebec, Canada By Danièle Beaulieu


This summer I worked as a guide and instructor of tenkara fishing for groups interested in learning that style of fly fishing in the Forêt Montmorency (see Tenkara Angler, Spring 2018 issue). A lot of them had never heard about tenkara, they just saw it mentioned on Forêt Montmorency’s Facebook page. It was intriguing to them. Learning the basics of tenkara as a beginner can be very simple. It took such little time for them to learn how to cast and hook a fish, and it was nice to see that kind of instant success. One thing that helped them for certain was that the temperature of the water remained nice and cold (52F to 66F), even as air temperatures were superhot. One thing you must know about that specific part of the River Montmorency, is that it’s filled with wild little brookies and they are very special. In that sector of the river the fish are an "allopatric population" which means they are always going to


stay small, even in relative old age. This is due to the smaller size being a prized survival trait to this geographically separated population. You definitely have to be very quick and very sharp in concentration to catch those little brookies. Man, they are like bacon in a pan! I showed the anglers a few presentations on how to present and fish a wet fly, like the “Upstream sasoi”, the “Yoko biki”, and my favorite one, the “Gyaku biki”. They worked pretty well on all those presentations. Aside from the instruction, I really had some fun by myself fishing in that nice river with a lot of boulders and pocket water using dry flies. The brookies were going mad for an Ishigaki kebari in size 14. They were jumping out of the water to get that fly. What a blast! I hope to see some more tenkara enthusiasts on that river next year!


Friends of Tenkara Angler













Contributors & Credits This issue of Tenkara Angler Magazine was made possible by the extremely generous contributions of the following members of the tenkara community. Danièle Beaulieu

Chris Stewart

Started fly fishing in 2000 and tenkara in 2014. She fishes rivers all across Canada & New England. and started a business selling tenkara rods and accessories called Tenkara Canada.net.

(a.k.a.) the TenkaraBum, grew up in Colorado and is currently based in NYC. He is the owner, CEO, & shipping clerk of TenkaraBum LLC. He usually can't be found because he's wearing camo.

Anthony Naples

Steve Cobb

Based in Western Pennsylvania, Anthony has been a voice in the tenkara community since 2009. He is the proprietor of Three Rivers Tenkara, an online retailer of tenkara rods and fly fishing supplies.

Resides in the St. Laurence valley in Northern New York State. He fishes nearby waters in the valley and the Adirondack Park. A painter, you can find his works on QuietRaquette.com.

Andy Vinnes

Karin Miller

Is a retired law enforcement officer from California, now residing in Wisconsin. He’s been tenkara fishing for three years but enjoys all types of fishing as time allows.

is the owner of Zen Tenkara. Since its start in 2012, Zen has looked to push the traditional, established boundaries in an effort to "define American Tenkara"

Jim Wright

Bob Long

Owner of TenkaraFlyShop.com, Jim Wright has pursued trout, studied stream entomology and tied trout flies since 1967 and retired his Western fly gear, taking up tenkara in 2012.

Bob is in charge of Chicago's Fish'N Kids Program which takes kids age 8-12, teens, adults, seniors and people with disabilities of all types fishing. He also teaches many tenkara and fly tying

John-Paul Povilaitis

Rob Gonzalez

Resides in South Central Pennsylvania where he enjoys spending time with family and friends, & sharing beers and stories around a campfire. If he's not at a local spring creek, he's probably in the woods snagging trees.


Rob Gonzalez is an avid fly tyer and tenkara angler from the central Texas Hill Country. For the past few years, he’s been at the forefront of promoting tenkara statewide. Join him at www.Facebook.com/ groups/TenkaraTexas

Paul Pigeon II

From Central Pennsylvania, Paul is an ambassador for Fly Life, 406flyboys & ANTflyfishing, promoter for Hartman woodworking, Moonlit Fly Fishing and Dragontail Tenkara. He started tying flies in 2015, adding tenkara flies and realists last year. He began fishing tenkara this year.

Craig Springer

Keith Anderson

Keith Anderson resides in Colorado and has a passion for fishing little known streams, creeks, and rivers from a motorcycle. He switched from western fly fishing to tenkara exclusively in 2016 and hasn’t looked back. He is the co-creator of fifty50 Touring. Instagram: @fifty50touring

Daniel Galhardo

Craig Springer oversees external affairs for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southwest Region.

Daniel Galhardo is the founder of Tenkara USA and the person who introduced tenkara to the world.

Nick Pavlovski

Tim Bete

started tenkara fishing in February 2017. He has uploaded videos of some of his trips over at his YouTube channel. He’ll probably upload more once the dry fly period arrives.

Tim Bete is the author of Guide to Pirate Parenting and In the Beginning… There Were No Diapers, both available on Amazon.com

Brad Trumbo

(a.k.a) “The Tenkara Kid” or “Gap Tiger.” Husband to 1, Father of 4. Die hard Penn State wrestling fan with a love for tenkara fishing, kebari tying, native brookies, Belgian beers, Pittsburgh sports, and lessons on the water or vise from OG.

Brad Trumbo lives in southeast Washington State and serves the public as a fish and wildlife biologist. In his spare time, Brad volunteers with Pheasants Forever, pens tales of outdoor pursuits, builds (and sometimes uses) custom fly rods, and reminisces of his Appalachian homeplace. www.bradtrumbo.com

Brittany Aäe

Kyle Settle

Mike Hepner

Is an endurance coach and creative based in unceded Methow territory. When she’s not running, climbing, or skiing, you can find her making flies dance at the fishing hole near her little cabin in the woods. Find out more about her on Instagram: @_magneticnorth_ or website: magneticnorth.us/runfishrun

Kyle Settle is a Water Resource Engineer and Owner of Blue Ridge Native LLC, a guide service geared toward chasing wild trout in the Blue Ridge Mountain of Virginia. When Kyle is not fishing he enjoys photography and hunting the mountains of Virginia.




TenkaraCalendar.com is a simple community-driven resource to organize, keep track, and promote tenkara-based events, get-togethers, "takeovers," meet ups, and seminars. The current events through July 2019 are listed below, however please feel free to visit the website to submit and publicize your upcoming tenkara or conservation-themed initiatives, or simply to learn more. North Carolina: Tenkara Campout Friday October 5th - Monday October 8th, 2018 Davidson River Campground, Pigsah Forest, NC Colorado: River Cleanup & Tenkara Clinic with Tenkara USA Saturday October 6th, 2018 - 8:30 AM Eben G. Fine, 101 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, CO California: Tenkara Fishing Bootcamp with Tenkara Tanuki Friday October 12th - Sunday October 14th, 2018 Cardinal Village Resort, Bishop, CA California: Fly Fishing Faire Saturday October 20th - Sunday October 21st, 2018 Glendale Civic Auditorium, Glendale, CA Costa Rica: Guided Trout & Machaca with Zen Tenkara Monday February 18th - Sunday February 24th, 2019 San Jose, Costa Rica Colorado: 2019 Tenkara Summit - 10th Anniversary Saturday July 27th, 2019 Millennium Harvest House Hotel, Boulder, CO




News & Notes From Around Social Media Jason Klass is not only posting again over at TenkaraTalk, but has also relaunched his GearTalk blog...

If you enjoyed Andy Vinnes' article on page 6, I bet you'll also enjoy the latest episode of the DrakeCast podcast... Tom Davis recently published a fascinating post on "swing weight" of tenkara rods over at Teton Tenkara...

Did you happen to notice there's a new Oni rod called the "Itoshiro"? It's a 340cm / 7:3 model, hmmm... There have been some gorgeous tenkara fishing photos posted to Instagram by @hynnbu...

The Discover Tenkara crew recently met up with Vito Rubino for a special Webinar of fishing in Italy...


Fall 2018