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Fall 2019 tenkaraangler.com


FALL 2019 INTRODUCTION 2 FROM THE EDITOR TENKARA 4 TENKARA THRIVES OFFLINE 12 LESSONS LEARNED IN ROCKIES 16 HONRYU TENKARA 26 ACOUSTIC VIBRATION = FISH 30 TENKARA ART OF AUTUMN

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ESSAY 38 FINDING HAPPINESS WITH LESS 42 A DRIFTLESS GIFT 46 THE HEALING STREAM FIXED-LINE FLY FISHING 54 ESTUARINE FIXED LINE FISHING 58 FIXED ON PINKS 62 AUTUMN SMALLMOUTH RIFFLES 70 FALL READER PHOTOS 74 FRIENDS OF TENKARA ANGLER 84 CONTRIBUTORS & CREDITS 88 #TENKARA Front Cover: Adam Klagsbrun Back Cover: Karel Lansky Logo Design: Nick Cobler

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From The Editor

Fall back in love with tenkara... Social media can be an ugly place. While it’s the medium that is mostly responsible for tenkara’s introduction and rapid rise in the west, it can also be one of the places where it most frequently comes under attack. Unfortunately, the criticisms and pitfalls can come from many directions. External detractors make fun of tenkara, essentially calling it an effeminate form of fly fishing. Retailers seem to focus more on multi-species applications rather than its trout & char-based origins. “Tenkara” has become a catch phrase, marketing tool, punchline... an abstract.

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If you read enough online, you might even get discouraged to the point where you choose to put your tenkara rod down and pick up a spinning or fly rod, or try to find the next form of niche fishing to keep yourself on the water, such as ultralight baitcasting. I’ve seen more than a few friends leave tenkara behind to go this route over the past few months. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a well rounded angler, I personally feel as excited and enthusiastic about tenkara today as I did ten years ago when I saw Tenkara USA’s very first video. Yes, it has come under fire from rod and reel purists. Yes, with the uniquely United States'

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“innovation” of taking tenkara rods to both warm and saltwater it has sort of morphed into something it’s not. Yes, our community, similar to many others, can be really good at nitpicking, infighting, and being stubborn. But damn if there isn’t a lot of good out there to be had if you’re motivated and know where to look. Tenkara-Fisher has a long library of interviews with Japanese masters… Discover Tenkara publishes high end instructional materials (both free & paid) on the regular… the Tenkara Guides bring Masami Sakakibara to the United States each year for oneon-one instruction… YouTube features a subtitle translation service on most foreign language videos that help you understand beyond the scenic visuals… 10 Colors Tenkara oversees a forum which frequently hosts deep dives into nuances of the sport you simply will never find in a Facebook group… and one cannot say enough about Google Translate browser extensions for surfing Japanese websites. Much like prior issues, this Fall edition of Tenkara Angler continues to document our larger community’s participation in both tenkara & the larger category of fixed-line fly fishing. I hope in reading some of the more


tenkara-centric stories about gettogethers in the mountains, anglers generously learning from each other, and even a look at its application in a honryu setting, it rekindles a little bit of that fire everybody originally felt when they picked up a telescoping rod for the first time.

Michael Agneta Editor In Chief @tenkaraangler

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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

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Stephen Gressak points to a likely trout hole

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Tenkara Thrives Offline by Adam Klagsbrun

In the spring of 2017, after years of trying to push a deeper understanding of tenkara, (as defined by those who created and named this Japanese Sport) to the west via online groups and forums, I reached a peak frustration point with what many people referred to as the “Tenkara Community" online. It’s not that I had a problem understanding that some people just wanted to go fishing for the sake of catching fish… It’s not like I couldn’t

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see the many people who wanted to be "part of the club" but didn't live near trout water but that wanted to jump on board with the newest fishing fad just like the rest of us. What I didn’t understand then and didn't foresee was the resistance to learning, and the insistence of beginners and less educated people who have never read anything about real Tenkara to fight against something they truly didn't/ don't want to try to understand. What I didn’t expect was that people


who really didn’t know anything would want to spend hours and hours arguing just for the sake of arguing and refuse to accept the simple basics even when provided with published and translated information from sources in Japan. I was also frustrated by rod companies trying to control the "story" of tenkara for the sake of selling and marketing more Western "designed" and Chinese made rods to beginners and kids for the sake of spreading fishing to a new generation. That's cute and all, but that's not what tenkara is all about. By the way, all of that isn't why I'm writing this article, but it IS just one significant catalyst that lead to a quality-of-life change for me. That year I also left my job and decided to go across the country, fishing some of the most amazing places we have for tenkara in the US. It was epic. It was a culmination in all the things I'd learned over the years, helping me catch thousands of fish but more importantly hone my casting and presentation in ways I'd only hoped to do before. I was psyched to do this with Rob Lepczyk, who was a good mentor in many ways from his fishing guide days, and who pushed me to be the best fisherman I can be. Cheers dude if you're reading this. Then in 2018, after returning to a busy sales job but now in Colorado, I mostly withdrew from the online scene and the online “Tenkara Community” for so many reasons, focusing on fishing and being in the mountains as often as possible. Almost surprisingly, that

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opened many more doors for me before that season started and helped me see things very differently throughout the season, in terms of how to help spread the sport, and in terms of showing people what tenkara is really all about. I'm sure a lot of people wonder why I'm so passionate and why I put myself out there so much to define and talk about the meaning of tenkara, to be a stickler about it, most of it is about honor. There's a lot we learn and gain from engaging with another culture. I think it’s important to try to understand other cultures and do our best to honor the people that invite us, teach us, and share with us what is a bit of a "mysterious" and almost "guarded" piece of Japanese fishing history, now evolved into a modern sport. The people who invited me to Japan, treated me with respect, allowed me access to some of the "holiest" and most impactful of tenkara experiences and individuals asked only one thing of me, to go back and teach it like I saw it, like they showed me, like many Japanese would hope it would be taught. So, I do. And now here, in Colorado, during these last couple of seasons spent more "off-line," I noticed that in real life, nobody wanted to argue about the simple facts… Nobody needed to use some battle of logic and wits to undermine facts and realities of what was being presented by the originators of the sport; the Japanese

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anglers. Nobody wanted to say, "tenkara is like pizza and baseball so catching a bluegill or a bass is now tenkara too," while fumbling to tie the right knots on their dry/dropper rig. LOL! No not at all. In fact, I found the opposite to be true. So, during these last few seasons I took a few more students, beat a few more people up with 12-hour days climbing waterfalls and practicing casting.... and angered a few more wives. But then seeing students improve immediately, and after seeing people fall in love with the very things that most people just wanted to argue about online, it reinforced what I have always felt, and it was clear what had to come next.

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Most of the crew poses for a photo at the campsite

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I decided to create a small tenkara gathering much like others in the real life tenkara community have done, (Oni School, Brookies & Beer/Ratskin Canoe Club outings, etc‌) and set out to make a list of people that I knew would be open to learning, and who would benefit from the opportunity of exposure to real tenkara and Japanese tenkara anglers. I ended up directly inviting about twenty people, some of whom I had fished with before, most of whom I had not. Of those, about ten people ended up showing up. Our event was free, I hosted it in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and I can’t thank Go Ishii enough for not only joining us, but really helping a number of people to see, conceptualize, and then execute effective techniques with kebari in


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A Greenback Cutthroat Trout

some of the best tenkara water Colorado has to offer. I did my best to mimic the experiences that I had in Japan for everyone here, and those that we read about in headwaters magazine. I wanted this to be the next best thing to flying to Japan and going into the mountains there. We focused around friendship, cooking good food, Binchotan barbecue, drinking, and much more. We played casting games for prizes like Japanese tenkara gear, flies, knives and more. We smoked trout the Japanese way (Yaki Karachi) and a good time was had by all. The challenge was real. We taught the beginners casting, and where to look

for fish. Meanwhile the intermediate and advanced anglers knew what pockets to look for and how to find a soft seam in hard water. We mostly fished together, often taking turns rather than overtaking each other on the stream and spooking fish. We also split up and did our own things on some days instead. Everyone caught fish, everyone was better at casting and fishing by the time they left, and everyone was able to catch their first greenback cutthroat - which is pretty exciting, because it’s Colorado's only native trout. We had lots of high-water crossings, some crazy scrambles and waterfall climbs, typical mountain weather, altitude challenges, and overall just

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one hell of a great time fishing and hanging out with each-other. It was an honor to be able to share this tenkara experience with such a great group of people. It seemed like by the end of the event, everyone had learned something new about tenkara itself, and had made a deeper connection with the sport of modern Japanese tenkara. I hope to be able to add more people to the event next year, and to continue to grow the

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Jonathan Antunez and Isaac Tait cast to a perfect slow spot in the raging current

connection between the Japanese anglers and the US anglers, outside of the context of business, rod companies, and commercial goals. This is where tenkara really exists, outside the walls of an office, away from the computer or the phone, off the balance sheets and sales reports. Out on the river, person to person, cast by cast, fish by fish. One kebari and one curious, committed angler at a time.


Adam Klagsbrun misses a nice cutthroat next to some overhang

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Chris Zimmer scores a point during casting games for prizes

Go Ishii fishes an upstream presentation with perfect form. A fish was landed a moment later

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Adam Rieger fishes downstream to an ideal seam between slow and fast water

Japanese style slowsmoked trout over the fire (Yaki Karashi)

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Lessons Learned in the Rockies by Adam Rieger

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I love reading books and watching videos on fishing techniques, but I have never been one to learn well from them. I have always been much more successful in learning from someone skilled who has the patience and the interest to show me and help me succeed. Those people are called mentors, and I seek them out for my tenkara education. I was fortunate in early August to join a group of tenkara enthusiasts organized by Adam Klagsbrun in Rocky Mountain National Park to fish with Go Ishii. We were a group of 9-10 who fished, camped, and shared so much knowledge and skill with each other from our various backgrounds and parts of the world. This was a group focused on the strict definition of tenkara and the culture around genryu fishing. This meant fishing for trout and char in mountain streams with a fixed line rod and Japanese kebari patterns. We were going to hike up streams (often in the water) and try to get to places where very few anglers venture. We were going to do some foraging, some fish harvesting, and some drinking, spending time bonding in the mountains. The streams we visited in the park were still experiencing subsiding meltout; the headwaters still had high flows, but most had dropped significantly in volume that there were now edges of runs or pools that could be fished with unweighted kebari patterns. The key to fishing without

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weight was to find these slow or quiet spots and get the fly there and “lure� the fly in some fashion to get the fish to notice before the fly got swept out. Easier said than done! I was fortunate to get some counseling from my first mentor in tenkara, Adam Klagsbrun, as well as a nice chunk of time on-stream with Go Ishii. Not only to have Go coach me, but also to watch him do what he does in person. In addition, I was able to observe the others in the group fish, all being serious tenkara anglers with extensive time spent studying and practicing the craft. While in Colorado, I picked up a few key learnings that I think may help any tenkara angler looking to improve their technique and productivity. I will try to describe them in the following sections. LINE LENGTH With a decent number of trees and brush on the banks and roaring currents in the streams, the quiet spots you needed to cast to were often on the opposite bank. This was not always far, but most of the time it required one to cast a line longer than your rod. In deciding on a rig, I learned that there is an optimal line length for most tenkara rods, and that length is about a meter or so longer than the rod. I primarily fished my Shimano Pack Tenkara which has a long length of about 330 cm, so my line length was

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somewhere around 430 cm. I did not measure it exactly, simply eyeballed it. If I went much longer than that, once adding tippet (we will get to that in a minute), then it would become too difficult to hold the line off the water and get the fly to stay long in the quiet pockets. If I went much shorter, then my casting options would be limited. Go Ishii fished his favorite rod, the Daiwa Rinfu 45SR at 450 cm. Yet he still chose a line longer than his rod, fishing approximately 550 cm of line. Why still longer? More reach. The longer rod did mean in some places there was not an opening large enough for him to cast, but they were the same types of locations I struggled with a shorter rod. We both had to move to the same open areas to cast. If you have trouble casting this line to rod length ratio, I suggest you practice as it will open up more fishing opportunities. If location and situation require a shorter line, making that adjustment will be much easier. TIPPET LENGTH On the East Coast I usually fish about an arm’s length of tippet which is probably about 2-3 feet. In Colorado I added an additional foot or two. Why? The tippet length was critical in the drape or Otsuri equation. My usual length of tippet did not allow me to keep the fly in the quiet zone long enough before the current moved it out. It also did not give me enough time to let the fly sink allowing me to pulse it once or twice before leaving the quiet water. That extra foot or two

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left more tippet slack in the spot I was casting to, and that slack was critical for adding a few extra moments for the fly to stay and be seen and taken by a fish. SASOI OR "LURING" THE FLY As the water was fast and we were fishing unweighted flies, we were targeting tiny quiet pockets of water and our flies were staying near the surface. The fish were resting near the bottom, so the fly had to both stay in the zone long enough, but also had to grab their attention. Often the dead drift did not cut it and we had to “tell” the fish our fly was there. This is where pulsing the fly was important. This was often the difference between catching a fish or not. DOWNSTREAM PRESENTATIONS Sometimes, due to the geography of the quiet spot, downstream presentations were necessary. As I did them, I started to notice I was enticing more fish. It was explained that being able to keep the fly in the quiet zone longer was the key, and another effective way to do that is to cast downstream on a tight line and let the fly drift slower than the current. This makes “noise” in the water and animates the fly similar to pulsing. It also makes the fly seem like something the fish can easily get. One issue with this technique is slack and ability to get hook sets. It is very hard, but you must resist the urge to set the hook and try to instead push


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your hand and wrist forward a touch. A tiny move by your hands translates to much larger movement down the rod. That slack allows the fish to not feel tension and turn with the fly, hooking themselves. This is hard but keep it in mind when doing this type of presentation. FALSE DOWNSTREAM PRESENTATIONS Go Ishii introduced me to this concept during one of our times fishing together. You can cast across, or even slightly upstream and then position your rod tip upstream of the spot you casted to, thus angling the line like it is a downstream presentation. This becomes similar to casting below your position and keeps the fly in the zone for a bit longer. That tiny bit of extra time can be the difference between catching a fish or coming up empty. STIFF HACKLED WETS These flies were the ticket. While I

used soft hackled flies with much success, they tended to be shorter stiffer style soft hackles. The stiffer hackles helped you “grip” the water in the quiet places and hold the fly there longer. A nymph or fly without hackle would never have stayed long enough in the quiet spots or allowed you to keep all the line off the water. I also think stiff hackles make more “noise” in the water, creating vibrations like an insect would that fish can detect. Tenkara “hangouts” like this are just amazing ways to learn from others and to learn from doing. My fishing skills were impacted greatly from these few days. I hope more of these types of things pop up in and around the country for serious tenkara anglers to meet and learn from each other. I know many of us fish for solace, but the occasional social outing with potential mentors is priceless. Online chats, books and even videos can only do so much, there is simply no substitute for time on the water with those more experienced and skilled than yourself.

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Honryu Tenkara by Adam Trahan

Photo: Siegfried Forster

The goal of this article is to share my experience and technique with you. I am a tenkara fisher that has taught myself honryu techniques through trial and error. Perhaps I can save you the trouble of not making the mistakes I did. My influences are Japanese anglers such as Kazunori Kobayashi, Koken Sorimachi, Katsutoshi Amano, Hisao Ishigaki and many others. I have many many seasons of my own experience fishing western rivers and mainstreams with a fly rod, now I am fishing these same rivers with a honryu tenkara rod. I approach sharing my experiences with honryu tenkara as your peer, enthusiast, writer and practitioner. Let's learn this together and share what we know.

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I am drawn to fishing tenkara techniques in big water because it opens opportunities for catching bigger fish. The allure of large fish on a tenkara rod is exciting! When I sight catch a large trout in thin water, I know I am doing well. Big fish feeding across currents and at depth, educated fish that are line shy and wary of drifting boats with spin fishermen ripping metal through their lane, those fish are now my target. Situations where a fly line laying on the water will ruin a presentation whereas a light colorless gossamer line is held up and suspended without announcement on a long tenkara rod. Honryu tenkara will take far longer to master than catching opportunistic trout in small streams. Honryu tenkara holds much more for me to learn than tenkara


fishing mountain streams. Instead of one or the other, I choose both. One is the spice, the other is the meal, both go together.

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Honryu tenkara is a method on its own. It isn't the substitution of fixed line rod for a nine-foot five weight fly rod. I do not use a honryu rod like I would a fly rod in a river. I upscale my tenkara equipment for reach and use tenkara techniques. The attraction is simple, I am able to fish big water by breaking it down into smaller sections and fish a river like a small stream by using longer rods and lines. This is not tenkara vs. fly fishing, it is using longer tenkara rods and lines for their attributes in bigger water, not a substitute of fly fishing. Honryu tenkara is a specialized method. I am a tenkara specialist and I am approaching bigger water with equipment that is longer, 4 and 5m class rods casting 6 to 10m level lines.

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Let me explain. Like most things I do, I just jumped in and started doing it. I used entry level 4m tenkara rods and Japanese books on honryu and then I forgot what I was doing and gravitated to using my tenkara rod for a fly rod. Fly fishing was what I knew from years of experience and I was trying to do that with a tenkara rod on the same water. It didn’t work very well, I kept trying to go back to fly fishing the river as I knew it. I tried to use my tenkara rod for fly

fishing techniques as I’ve done for many years, extended dead drifting a nymph deep in a fast flow with an indicator using cut back ends of fly lines. It was frustrating to say the least. Throwing slack then lifting the rod to set the hook was ineffective without having a line in my hand, stumbling backwards on greased cobblestones, falling down, dejected, miles from anyone alone. I would yell at the top of my lungs many times listening to the echo across the river on thousand-foot cliffs, laughing, then swearing.

WTF! AHHHH! Why was my catch rate disappearing? With the knowledge of my river, why wasn't I catching fish consistently? I’m not going to let this beat me. So, I went back and started over. I bought a proper honryu tenkara rod, rigged long level lines for it and began picking apart the river as I would a small stream, keeping a tight line. This was the key to success for me. I used my tenkara techniques in the river. I did not substitute my tenkara rod for fly fishing techniques. Not to say that would not work, it does (Yvon Chouinard's "Simple Fly Fishing" method) but not as well as fly fishing with a fly rod! Let's stay focused on honryu tenkara. I found that if I just looked at the water and utilized the attributes of a tight

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line, something very opposite of dead drifting a fly line, I could feel the sub surface fish take much better than I could with my fly rod. Water that I could not reach out and utilize effectively with my fly rod, I could feel subtle takes with my tenkara rod. Deep water now was available to me whereas with slack line fly fishing to get my flies down, I could not feel takes, I had to indicate eats with a fly line, I could feel eats with a tight tenkara technique.

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With honryu tenkara, I could feel what I could not feel or see before when I was fly fishing. I can do more with this simple method with less equipment, no sinking line, no throwing slack and drifting with indicators... In my experience, I have had the luxury of time, the knowledge of hundreds of fish caught in my river. All I have to do is apply the knowledge of tenkara techniques putting the fly/kebari to where the fish are on longer rod and lines. Let me explain a little about my background and experience in my home water. For small streams in my area, my favorite is the Little Colorado. I have been fishing this stream for 50 years. Here, I stay out of the water whether I am fly fishing in the old days or like now, with tenkara. The rod I use now is 3.9m and I use a 5-6m line. I only use one zoom tenkara rod for all small

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streams and I am able to reach trout from behind the bank and I am able to work the whole width of the stream at less than 10’ across and 10 cfs (cubic feet per second.) The Little Colorado headwaters where I fish are at 10,000 feet in elevation and the stream runs petite yet a strong 340 miles out of the mountains and on through the desert to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The Colorado River section that I fish is upstream from the confluence of the Little Colorado. My home section there is in Glen Canyon, right below the Glen Canyon dam. Flows of 14,000 cfs are high with an average of 10,000 cfs or so down to a low of 7,000 cfs. I fish 14 miles of this river below the dam to the famous put in for Grand Canyon float trips at Lees Ferry. In this area, the river cuts an enormous canyon 1,000 feet deep or more. The water ranges from a few inches to hundreds of feet deep, 40 yards narrow to 100 yards wide. It's a big western river and I am enjoying exploring it for the last 25 years with a fly rod and the last few with honryu tenkara techniques. There are a few things that I find important for honryu tenkara fishing, understanding trout behavior, hydrodynamics, food sources and proper equipment and last but not least, good casting control. Let's quickly explore each element. Understanding trout behavior is key to catching them. Knowing where fish are and why they are, where they are is


super important. Why are they in the shallows or suspended, fining around in an eddy circulation, what are they doing where they are at? What are they eating? Trout are typically eating all the time in a temperature stable river.

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Understanding hydrodynamics is important too; trout will position themselves in areas where they will not have to move much to intercept food. Movement takes energy, food is fuel, energy is expended at the cost of fuel and trout do not waste precious energy to feed themselves. They will be found where they can watch for insects, worms, scuds, chironomids, midges and bugs in the flow and simply open their mouths to catch and eat and or move very little to let the current carry them to intersect the

food in the river flow. Understand how water moves and flows around objects. Understanding hydrodynamics is important to all aspects of fishing. Remember, fish will capitalize on places where they suspend in the current and use it to dart in and out of opposing currents to feed. Knowing where these areas are, even down to shoebox sized rocks, 6' deep, understanding that fish will utilize areas of reduced or increased flow is important to your catching. For targeting fish, casting accurately is everything. If you can't get the fly/ kebari to the fish, they can't see it to eat it. Practice casting your rod, using a methodical approach at gauging distance and pinpoint accuracy. Be able to utilize the reach of your rod and line system across currents. Keep

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Photo: Noah Trahan


a tight line even when pulsing a fly with the flow. This tight line tactility is where honryu tenkara shines. Being able to feel the take is important to setting the hook and a tenkara rod is faster at setting the hook than a fly rod.

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There is specialized equipment for honryu tenkara. Rods designed by the experts are 4 to 5m in length and made to cast long lines. There are many to choose from. I personally choose a Gamakatsu Suimu 5m single hand rod. I pair level lines up to 10m with the Suimu. I make my lines out of clear limp fluorocarbon made for conventional casting rods. I do not use colored lines, the water I

fish is crystal clear and sometimes thin. I don't need a color line to see, I'm fine with a clear line. I'm utilizing all the attributes of a tenkara system for a river and feel is just as important as seeing. River trout are much larger than small stream fish. There are times when a large trout will take a dead drifted fly and turn and swim downstream with the flow, in this case, with tenkara, I am not dead drifting, I am moving the fly at the same speed as the current with a tight line and the system will telegraph the fish taking the fly faster than a indicator or bobber. I'm using tenkara techniques in a river, not using a tenkara rod as a substitution for a fly rod. For my net, I use a tamo. A Japanese Photo: Noah Trahan

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round net is ergonomic to moving from spot to spot. I forget that it is there. When it is time to use the net, reaching for it and landing the fish is easy. There is plenty of room to secure the fish with the round shape while removing the hook. The netting is fine and the colors, the aesthetics of a finely crafted Japanese round net are amazing. I choose a little larger net of 35cm or so diameter, a small stream tamo is about 25cm. Your regular fly fishing net will work fine, a round net is not necessary.

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Wading equipment should match the water conditions. Most rivers will have rounded rock bottoms of various size stones that are slick with moss. Without getting into a debate about felt vs. rubber, choose whatever type boot you like. I use a rubber sawanobori (Japanese shower climb) boot sole with neoprene socks and spats when I am shallow wading. If I am probing deeper into the river, I use a chest wader with a felt sole bootie. When I am honryu fishing the Colorado River, I am back hauled upriver and set up camp. I fish the area and then packraft back downstream however many miles to my car. Equipment must be chosen carefully in order to be compact enough to fit in a 65-liter waterproof bag, that includes my camping, sleeping, personal effects, fishing gear and the kitchen. I am a minimalist on the river just as I am on the stream. My honryu tenkara can be grouped

into two types of adventures. One is up canyon to areas that can only be accessed by boat, camping, fishing and floating back to the put in. And two, drive up or hike to river fishing. Both are exciting yet I find the river camping, honryu fishing and packrafting back much more stimulating and focused, honryu tenkara + packrafting is my favorite. My experiences are foremost yet I study Japanese media and speak with expert anglers on the subject in order to learn more about how other anglers practice honryu tenkara. Recently, I have found the resource material by Discover Tenkara very similar to my own undertaking. Paul Gaskell and John Pearson are working directly with the honryu anglers in Japan to teach and share this technique. By far, the Discover Tenkara resources are easier to obtain than the Japanese material that I have spent quite a bit of time and effort requesting from friends and purchasers in Japan. My experience of fly fishing, then learning tenkara, then trying fly fishing techniques with a tenkara rod, then tenkara techniques with up scaled tenkara equipment was a long road of failure and then success. You can quickly and efficiently learn honryu tenkara by focusing on the English language Discover Tenkara tuition. As I approached writing this for "Tenkara Angler" I wanted to expose what I consider some of the best multiangler resources and I thought to

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myself, I'll just ask Paul Gaskell what his approach to honryu tenkara is. What follows is a verbatim communication between Paul and I. Adam: Paul, I’m writing a piece on honryu tenkara. I think your stuff on the subject is good. I’m of the opinion that honryu tenkara is not fly fishing in a river, it is tenkara in a river with up scaled (longer rod/line) equipment, not fly fishing, tenkara.

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“What do you think? Is it tenkara or fly fishing with a tenkara rod or both or ?” Can you give a few words to be included in my article? I like your contribution to this method; I would like to include your thoughts as well as references. Thanks. Paul Gaskell: I think the best overall resource of ours is the article on this link: https://www.discovertenkara.com/ blog/honryu-tenkara.html There is an earlier article (from 2014), where (as far as I can tell) we first introduced the term "Honryu tenkara" to English-speaking tenkara anglers, but that is (necessarily) less detailed than the article above where we benefited from 5 more years of experience. The honryu tenkara tactics that I've been shown in Japan - and then practiced in Japan, Italy and in the UK - have a really different "flavor" or gutfeeling compared to "fly fishing with a

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tenkara rod". I think that distinction is a result of the strong background in "regular" Japanese tenkara that the people who have worked on developing Honryu tenkara in Japan possessed. Already being on a particular track tends to control the destination and you certainly feel the extension from a very distinct "Japanese" base when you see great honryu anglers in action. Some of those elements are the fly first delivery (even on long casts) the high rod fishing position - with the associated diligent holding of as much casting line off the water as possible, but you could argue that those are present in other styles of fishing too (Italian styles of fly casting can concentrate on fly-first delivery of dry flies - and competition nymphing with long leaders or traditional soft-hackle wet flies fished upstream emphasis "line off" tactics). So, I think it is the level of attention to detail - such as the subtlety of manipulation of flies (when they are not being fished dead drift) and especially the development of the skill of feeding slack down the line between each pulsation of the fly. This last point relies on a great sense of touch and a well-balanced rig of rod and casting line. It is the angler's ability to control the rebound of the rod blank during the loading/ unloading while you "pulse" a kebari that is key. Done well, it creates an almost elastic-band sensation as the line draws tight and then little coils of slack travel down the line during the pause between each pulse.


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Level line is, I think, the best tool for this. I'm sure that terminology will develop over time as techniques and understanding continue to mature but I have a personal hierarchy of terms that help me keep things straight in my own mind. I like to think of "tenkara rodding" as a useful term for using tenkara rods to tackle species or waters that are outside the rapid coldwater streams and salmonid fish that are the home turf of tenkara. This also nicely captures the use of western fly lines/rigs attached to tenkara rods - for example fishing poppers for bass. Basically, this gives people a good clue as to what's effective in different situations. So, I can be "tenkara rodding Euro nymphs" one day or I can be "tenkara rodding

poppers for bass" another. That is really helpful to other people wanting to recreate the sport that you had. I think it's important to keep "Fixed line fly fishing" as a top-level category ABOVE tenkara. This is because there are many traditional methods of "fixed line fly fishing" around the world (tenkara is one). In Italy alone you have Pesca a mosca Valsesiana as well as "Scurriazzo" and "Frusta Fiorentina". That last fishing style has at least a little bit in common with honryu tenkara but with even longer rods (around 6m) and multiple flies used to tackle big river terrain and chest-deep wading. Tenkara (as distinct from tenkara-rodding) has a connection to the landscape and the

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Photos: Siegfried Forster


culture of mountains and you definitely feel that coming through in modern honryu tenkara. That feeling is what makes it a different experience from the (equally fun) fishing of western rigs and tactics on a tenkara rod. They are each different - but not less. It might be handy to point people to the "Apennines" section of this article for more on Italian traditional/fixedline fly fishing: https://www.discovertenkara.com/ blog/fishing-in-italy.html

Adam: Thank you for your contribution Paul, I appreciate it. In closing, if you are looking for more in your tenkara, you might want to try fishing in rivers with specialized longer tenkara rods and lines for catching, playing and landing the larger fish there. Many people have helped me with the Japanese techniques in learning honryu tenkara. I want to share what I've learned by passing it on here. I hope you find this article useful, good luck and take care.

Further Resources: Tenkara-Fisher:

https://www.tenkara-fisher.com/2019/04/honryu-tenkara.html https://www.tenkara-fisher.com/2019/02/gamakatsu-multiflex-suimu-ex-5m.html

Hiroshi Watanabe:

https://www.tenkara-fisher.com/2017/02/tenkara-in-main-streams.html

Kazunori Kobayashi:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONnV8_v1yAU

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Acoustic Vibration = Fish by Brian Lindsay

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I was born into a fishing family. My father was an avid Fisherman and took repeated reel-based lure and fly fishing road trips in southern and northern Michigan and Canada, with our family before and after I was born. He eventually taught all three of his sons to fish, while my mother peacefully sat and watched us all enjoying our summertime fishing fun. When I was one, he took us all on a grand Canadian fishing expedition up to Flin Flon, Manitoba. At the time it was the farthest north you could travel by car in Manitoba without shipping your car by train up to the “polar bear� town of Churchill on the western shore of Hudson Bay.

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In Flin Flon (a historic copper and zinc mining town), I was told there was not much interest in recreational fishing. So ironically, in the middle of the summer the campgrounds were empty. The lakes were empty of fishermen, but full of local, indigenous, mature, giant, walleye pike, which hit on any lure or fly tossed into the water. My dad caught more walleye pike each day than my family could eat, but we enthusiastically ate all the deliciously pan-fried fish anyway, and I am told they were the best fresh fish that my family ever had. When I was two or three, I was on a more local weekend fishing trip to a lake in southern Michigan, when as my dad told the story for years after, we


were out in his 16 foot aluminum fishing boat with an outboard motor, and while he fished, I rolled my Matchbox cars back and forth along the bottom interior hull of the boat. It was coated with a light grey rubberized non-skid coating with little rough-surface particles embedded in it, so that my continuous rolling made a horrible rattling racket, only amplified by the aluminum hull’s natural resonance.

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Years later, as my Dad would re-tell this story many times, he would always

smile and say that he never caught more fish in one day than he did on that day, with my unknowing acoustic assistance. I never forgot that story. Many years later, only recently actually, I had the opportunity to live for a few months in Missouri, with easy local access to Lake Taneycomo (the major fly-in fishing destination outside of Branson), which is well stocked with rainbow trout and other species of fish from nearby hatcheries. Taneycomo My dad in the famous boat

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offers exceptional shore fishing opportunities, which I was able to take full advantage of.

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When I went to Missouri, I was determined to become a good tenkara fisherman. I took it on as a personal challenge to teach myself, without being taught, the way that you can most effectively catch fish with a tenkara rod. It was during this period that I remembered my father’s story. Having now discovered, trained, and dedicated myself exclusively to tenkara fishing, I wondered if there could be any common ground between the successful vibration of an

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aluminum hull into the water so many years before, and the vibration of a tenkara line and kebari fly that has already been cast, as it floats serenely on the water. Following months of experimentation and 200 days of fishing I concluded that the most effective way to fish was to add an acoustic vibration to a kebari fly that is on the water. After I experimented with the technique many times, I developed a standard acoustic vibration method that typically attracts fish. To further explain, I put my hand on the handle of the rod and rest my


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index finger on the handle. After the fly has been cast and gently lands on the water, I tap my index finger three times, three times, three times, three times, which creates both a physical and acoustic vibration. Typically, that attracts a fish and they'll hit the fly right away. I've also experimented with using a beadhead kebari, where the physical and acoustic vibration of the bead landing on the water typically attracts many different species of fish. These two techniques, landing a dry fly on the water and tapping the tenkara rod, because it is a fixed

length, allows you to instantaneously transfer a very light acoustic vibration to the fly. In the case of the beadhead kebari that is meant for drifting at depth, so you can also transfer your acoustic vibration into the deeper waters. Both techniques keep tenkara fishing simple and helps you catch fish. The acoustic vibration techniques that I developed during my time at Lake Taneycomo were more successful than I would have ever imagined, and I caught (and released) many beautiful rainbow trout, brown trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and bluegill during that season.

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Tenkara Art of Autumn by Jim Tignor

Frequent artistic contributor Jim Tignor returns for the Fall issue with some new tenkara-inspired digital creations.

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"Fall Fishing"

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"Cast"

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"The Drift"

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Finding Happiness with Less: The Art of Downsizing Your Gear & Embracing a Minimalist Mind by Dennis Vander Houwen

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I am going to ask you to take a moment and think about all the fishing gear and paraphernalia you have acquired over the years or even just the last year. Seriously... take a moment… RIGHT NOW… One of the hazards of any passion is the accumulation of things. It can be rods, lines, flies, fly tying material, waders & boots, maps, fishing bags, bins etc... I try to fashion my own life as a minimalist and still I end up with more gear and accoutrement than I like to admit. Those who are on the path of reducing their possessions of stuff find a unique kind of freedom that is sometimes difficult to put into words. It is cathartic and humbling to see what it feels like to go with just what you need. Satisfying to know how little you can get by on and what living without the distractions of “too much” feels like. Every fall I try to remind myself once more why I was drawn to tenkara. It’s about the simplicity and no-nonsense approach to having minimal amount of gear. It is important then for me to look at what I acquired over the year, remind myself about what I really need and decide what needs to be kept and what needs to be purged. This process is an ongoing exercise in letting go of things and evaluating my relationship to my possessions. This practice can be applied to virtually any part of your life. Look at the tools in your garage, the socks in your drawer, that junk drawer we all have in our kitchens. All of these areas can be better with less.

Minimalism does not mean going without. It is about having what you need and being able to assess if the things you think you “want” are really things you really “need.” One of the things we all deal with in our “lives of stuff” is that we hold onto things “just in case.” The truth is that the things we have kept “just in case” seem to never get needed. In fact, most of the time the specific something we find ourselves needing, we can go out and get it at that time that we need it. While the idea of minimalism sounds simple enough, it is challenging in practice. As humans we develop emotional ties to our things. Our possessions are sometimes nostalgic, can be about status, or just work as a security blanket for us. Having stuff makes us feel secure. This feeling though is a form of self-deceit. But don’t feel bad about that. It is a primal human survival trait to gather things in order “to be prepared.” Our consumer society is also guilty of presenting us with those things that we “never knew we needed”. By taking on the practice of minimalism even in the smallest effort, we take control of our world of things and can make conscious decisions about our consumerism. The process for simplifying your gear and life are a process of letting go of things slowly. By following a few easy steps, you will be able to bring yourself closer to a better relationship with the things you own and have fewer things that “own you”.

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Look at your stuff! Find a place that you can lay all your gear and related materials out and see it for all its glory and spectacle. If it helps, you can start small with just your fishing gear or fly-tying gear or just your rods and flies. Just put things into organized piles. Be sure to notice what you have duplicates of and what things you are keeping “just in case.”

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Looking at our possessions gives us a little moment to reflect on our habits of consumerism. Not buying things we don’t need is a big step. Knowing what we have can also keep us from making impulse purchases or buying duplicates of something that we already have in the future.

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Sort your stuff. You are now going to go through each of your items from the main pile and sort them into three separate groups. I suggest using three boxes. Putting something into a box becomes the point that you have decided the fate of that item. BOX ONE: The stuff you really do use and want to keep Simple enough, this is the go-to gear and favorite things that make you happy and that are essential to your gear. Just one set of waders, one or two pairs of wading boots or shoes depending on your needs. This is


about knowing your baseline of basic gear. BOX TWO: The stuff you don’t need and can donate to someone This box should fill quickly if you take this practice to heart. We all have stuff we have kept but will never use. The issue is that these items are still functional and perhaps even valuable. Sell what you think you can and donate the rest to a fishing charity like your local Operation Healing Waters or maybe to someone you are trying to introduce to tenkara or fly tying.

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BOX THREE: This is for pretty much for anything that doesn’t fall into those first two boxes We all own things that are virtually garbage or have no value to anyone else. Don’t hold on to these things. It is better to recycle anything you can and say goodbye to everything else. Once you toss it into this box, don’t go digging it out. Make each item you put in this box a “permanent farewell” to that item.

in a storage place and if you do need an item in the box it will be there with the needed items. Think of it as a kind of “time capsule” you are keeping for 6-12 months. Anything you still have in the box after that time, you probably aren’t going to need, and without hard feelings or hesitation, you can be free of. The reality is always that if we really need something we can go and get one at that time. The money we save not buying items we don’t need is more than enough to justify purchasing just the things you know you are going to use. Adopting minimalism is not a process of self-denial of possessions. It is a way to look at what you do value and understanding your relationship to all the things in your life. Consider this, if you can bring yourself down to just a few rods that you own then you will likely take better care of those rods. You will cherish the items and not see them so quickly as “expendables.” Hoarding anything is not something to brag about. Having what you need and being generous with any surplus you have is seriously an ethos everyone should have.

(OPTIONAL) BOX FOUR: The “Just in case” time capsule I would recommend that this optional box be smaller than the others. This fourth box is going to be the “just in case box”. Think carefully before adding anything to this box. This fourth box is going to be sealed up and marked “just in case”. This box is kept

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A Driftless Gift by Andy Vinnes

So, many of you can probably imagine my disappointment when I realized that my annual tenkara trip to the Driftless region was not going to happen. The Midwest Tenkara Fest was not to be, due in part to the severe flooding and damage that the area received in late 2018. I just had a difficult time accepting this news and didn’t want to believe it. I recall seeing some of the news coverage on TV and photos of the damage on certain social media outlets. It was awful. It all made sense now. In fact, I honestly wondered if the area would ever recover and if I’d ever fish that incredible fishery again. It wasn’t long after that I started reading and seeing comments from people that were again fishing in my favorite fishing region. Maybe there was still some hope. I remember talking to my girlfriend about my disappointment and then again about my renewed hope of making the 3.5-hour drive and chasing some of those blue lines on my old trusty Driftless region map. In the back of my mind I just couldn’t help but think, that just maybe it wasn’t meant to be this year. Honestly, I just didn’t want to sit through another long Wisconsin winter without satisfying my itch for Driftless region trout. Ugh. Summer was here, at least that’s what

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they were saying anyway. For those of you who follow Midwest weather, it’s been a very strange year so far, leaving many of us, especially me wondering if we would ever have a summer. Some time passed, maybe a month or so and all it did was rain, which of course added to the potential of flooding in our state. We have several major water ways that run north to south here in Wisconsin, just to name a few; the Mississippi, Rock, Wisconsin, and the Fox Rivers. One day my girlfriend Amanda (or Mandy as I call her), asked me to look at the calendar that we keep on the refrigerator, we use it for things like college trips, date nights, birthdays, and concerts. Mainly so we don’t double book for a weekend. To my surprise I saw the words “DRIFTLESS TRIP” written across the days Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I looked at her like a kid at Christmas getting a new puppy dog, or a gun. She said stop talking about it, let’s do it! This from a girl was never really a fisher woman until we met about a year and a half earlier. She’s never even heard of tenkara fishing and even though she was born and raised here in Wisconsin, she had no idea about the Driftless region either. So now it was my turn, I booked a motel, one that I’ve stayed in before, all the while worried if she would find it acceptable or not. Oh well, we just need a place to sleep and maybe take a shower. We then went shopping; you


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can’t fish the way I like to fish without having certain tools available to you. Before you knew it, she was the owner of a new pair of waders and boots, as well as a new lanyard. I figured she may not like this type of fishing, but at least she will look good doing it. And believe me, she did. Almost a natural. I spent time and money preparing. I made and ordered some new flies. Studied my map of the area. I was ready for this trip. My plan was to basically just be her guide and teach

her what I knew about tenkara and the area. (I’m no expert, but I hope my passion showed). Finally, it was time to hit the road. We were there in no time, a three-and-ahalf-hour trip seemed like a drive around the block. You’ll be happy to know that the motel was acceptable. The weather was good, we had some sun and some rain. She took to it like you wouldn’t believe. I was so happy inside. She only wanted about 15-30

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minutes of instruction and she was on her own. She liked the shorter rod and it worked well for her. It took a little while but on our second stream she had caught and landed to hand her first brown trout on a tenkara rod. I must admit the fishing was slow, but we still had a great time. I think she now fully understands my passion and why I like the Driftless as much as I do. I truly hope that heaven has a Driftless region.

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Our second day was on some beautiful water loaded with fish that weren’t very hungry. But again, I was where I wanted to be and with who I wanted to be with. What else could I ask for? We tossed about every type of fly possible at them, and as we moved further and further from civilization the fish began to bite. It was truly awesome to watch her (a true beginner) become a tenkara angler. Thanks for the memories Amanda. I can’t wait for our next trip.


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The Healing Stream by Dr. Mark Phillips

I grew up in Middle Tennessee on a one-hundred-acre cattle farm. Actually, it wasn’t our farm. It belonged to my maternal grandparents. My father, mother, three siblings, and myself lived on the back side of the farm along a half-mile gravel road in a mobile home. Well, it was actually two mobile homes bolted together by my frugal and creative father. There were several ponds on the farm, mostly for the cattle and home to several snapping turtles. My uncle, who never married, remained on the farm (still there today). He loved hunting and fishing

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and would bring bluegill and small bass home from adventurous fishing trips abroad to stock the ponds on Pa and Ma’s farm. This was a small, country boy’s dream. Virtually every afternoon after school you could find me at one of the ponds with my trusty Zebco 202 fishing for those transplants with a glob of red worms, bobber, and Eagle Claw hooks. I only kept a few for eating. Even as a young lad, I enjoyed letting the majority go to be caught again another day.


Years went by as they do so fast. We moved from the farm into town. I continued to fish, but not with the innocence of yesteryear. In my late teens, fishing was about numbers and size. Spinning and baitcasting gear took the place of the 202. In time, marriage, career, children, and making my mark in society squeezed out much of what had brought me so much happiness in my younger years. Did I even own a fishing rod anymore? If so, where was it? Did I really care? There were so many things more important, or so I thought.

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While pastoring a church in my late 30’s, I came across several church members that loved to bass fish. And not just fish for bass, they were competitive. They invited me to an allnight bass tournament. The faint happiness of my youth began to spring up within me. Fishing… I used to love to fish! I can do this. It can’t be that difficult, I thought. I joined them one Friday night for a one-fish tournament and loved it! Needless to say, I began hinting to my loving and graceful wife that I might need a boat to ease the stress and pressure of the hectic ministerial life. She saw right through me, but with careful budgeting I was able to purchase a 20-year-old, fiberglass bass boat. Now, I was in the club. I would be the next Bill Dance. However, I needed the best rods and reels with the best line and lures. This would cost a tremendous amount of money, especially on a preacher’s salary. I began saving, trading, swapping, begging, etc., to get the

latest and greatest in bass gear. After all, everyone knows you can catch more bass with a shinier boat, bigger outboard motor, more expensive reels and rods, etc. Why, the fish will practically leap into your live-well just to be considered one of the privileged among their school! It has often been said that the two best days in a boatowner’s life is the day they buy their boat and the day they sell it. I was living proof. That crazy boat nickel and dimed me to death! A few years after I sold the bass boat, I joined the Tennessee Army National Guard as a chaplain and deployed shortly thereafter to Iraq as a battalion chaplain. Seminary never prepared me for what I saw and experienced. Only by God’s grace did I make it back in one piece, physically. Emotional and spiritual togetherness was a different story. Though I never received a purple heart, my heart had been changed and I’m not sure if the color mattered. How do you erase the memories? How do you live with the memories? How do you pretend it never happened? Or, do you actually want to let go of the experience? Looking back, my service overseas sent me into an education not warranted by semester hours or degrees on the wall. My homecoming was bitter-sweet. No ticker-tape parades or brass bands could have come close to thrilling me as much as the first embrace in my wife’s arm when getting off that bus. I had missed her and my two daughters

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terribly. I remember thinking that if I could just get back home, everything would be like it was. I had even briefed hundreds of soldiers on how to prepare for their own homecoming and to set realistic expectations. It was now my turn. How would I react? The paradox, I suppose, is that which caused so much anxiety and stress, also created purpose and camaraderie within the brotherhood of the soldiers in my unit. I was torn between wanting to be home and wanting to stay within the security of my unit. Here would be a good place to help educate you to the world of the Army chaplain. Soldiers go to war. Returning soldiers turn in their weapons and ammo and enjoy a warm reunion with their families and friends. No one is shooting at them. No one is trying to blow them up. They can now live in relative peace and safety, unless their memories haunt them. For the most part, chaplains never leave their war. What I did in Iraq, I am still doing on a day to day basis. Marriage counseling, individual counseling, trying to prevent infidelities and divorces started on Facebook. Talking the soldier off the ledge of suicide. The months after getting home brought sleepless nights, sitting up in bed in the darkness and not knowing where I was, being startled from every knock at the door, avoiding crowds and loud noises, and dreading phone calls from people who needed something from me that I was sure I was unable to give. I longed for an escape to nature where everything

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was how God intended it to be. The trees and flowers do not complain. The streams are not anxious. Wildlife is not depressed. In nature, there is order, purpose, and meaning. Nature moves at its own pace, unless man intervenes. Nature is not arrogant, greedy, nor purposely hurts its own for power and fame. Nature is… nature. Was there a place I could go to escape? What about my wife and children? Could they go with me? What was the name of this place? Did it really exist? The search for peace and contentment never eluded me. I coped with the only mechanism I knew; prayer and Scripture reading. Besides, isn’t that what I had told hundreds of soldiers who were dealing with stress and worry? Though I do believe that God is the Great Physician, I found only temporary relief from my own anxiety. Maybe it was self-induced. Maybe I didn’t have enough faith, as some would believe. Maybe my prayer stance was incorrect, or the time of day, or the direction I was facing during my prayer time. Whatever the reason, it followed me, it went before me, I was its closest friend. I have always been drawn to philosophical literature, especially stoic literature. A friend from church had introduced me to the writings of Izaak Walton. Though not considered a Stoic, Walton wrote with a sense of natural spirituality. He brought me a copy of “The Compleat Angler.” I inhaled every word. On those pages, I


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found a glimmer of what my heart had been searching for – contentment and simplicity in nature through fishing. And not just any fishing, this was arcadian fishing. I wanted more. While scouring the basement one day, I looked in the corner and behold – there was all my bass fishing gear. Tackle bags upon tackle bags full of the latest fish catching contraptions. A platoon of the fanciest rods and reels lined neatly along the basement wall, and all of it going to waste, but not for long. A wild thought rose up inside of me. I was going to sell all my bass

fishing gear, (Besides, I no longer owned a boat) and start fly fishing. If Izaak Walton could find solace in fly fishing, so could I. I listed all my gear on a local, online auction and sold it all as one lot in less than six hours. I bought a pair of waders, wading boots, some flies, some other “doo-dads” that the guy at the fly shop said I needed in order to be a respectable fly fisherman and then did what any respectable beginner would do – searched on Google to learn how to fly fish! I’d like to tell you that I learned

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everything about fly fishing from Brad Pitt after watching, “A River Runs Through It”, but I didn’t. My first fish on my Pflueger fly rod was a bluegill taken from my brother-in-law’s farm pond. My next fish would come from the Caney Fork River in Middle Tennessee. Though not a romantic story, a line tangle landed my first trout, a brook trout.

it at my feet – my first trout! I was shocked and excited at the same time. I merely had to hand line it to the net. This fly fishing sure was easy!

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Frustrated with my casting, I had developed a terrible wind knot. A wind knot is just a kinder way of saying that I was a terrible fly caster. Blaming it on the wind sounds more respectable and philosophical. While standing in the stream trying to untangle the knot in my line, unbeknownst to me my black zebra midge had fallen in the water. I only realized what had happened when a seven-inch brook trout nabbed

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“Mend it, mend it, mend it some more. Now, big mend!” These repetitive words from the flyfishing guide rang through my mind all day and haunted me in the night. He meant well, but I was stressed from just trying to take care of all that fly line on the water. This was the only time I had used a fishing guide. Surely, it isn’t always this way. I knew about the drag-free drift. If the fly does not look natural or behave in a natural way, then the fish won’t take it. Proper line care is a fly fisherman’s best friend. But, wasn’t fly fishing supposed to be relaxing? It had started out that


way. It seemed the more I read about how to be a better fly fisherman, the more chaotic it became. Some days I would leave the river more stressed than when I got there. Just like bass fishing, the fly-fishing industry seems to “walk about as a roaring lion seeking whom it may devour.” Do I use a vest, a sling pack, a waist pack, 8 foot rod vs. 9 foot, graphite or fiberglass, fiberglass or bamboo, fast tip or slow, tie flies or buy them, dry dropper or plain nymph, weight forward or double taper, large or medium arbor, fluorocarbon or nylon? The list goes on and on. Leading up to this point were many days filled with an overwhelming longing to simplify my life. I began listening to The Minimalists podcast and reading blog posts by various authors on the advantages of living with less. It felt good selling unused fishing gear to begin the contemplative practice of fly fishing, but something was still missing. Through this desert experience, I remained faithful to God in prayer and Scripture reading, and fellowship. There was just an unsettling feeling deep within my soul that I could not clearly identify.

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Because I could not identify it, I did not know how to tend to it. When I started feeling anxious about things, the urge to be alone in nature consumed me. Thoughts of thru hiking the Appalachian Trail filled my mind, and I became a voracious reader of stories about people who sold everything to be content with a simple lifestyle in

nature. The day hikes and fishing trips my wife and I enjoyed were always too short. Visits to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and local state parks left me hollow inside, as I yearned to stay in the Cove and mountain streams and not have to reengage society. What was God saying to me? If He spoke, was my world even quiet enough so that I could hear? Where was He leading me? This wasn’t just about fly fishing. It was going to be a journey much deeper. Slowly being drawn to a minimalist mindset, I wanted to enjoy fly fishing in its simplest form. I wanted it to be enjoyable and peaceful – no stress. Isaak Walton didn’t seem stressed when he fished. He would have used an 18 ft. greenheart rod with a braided horsehair line and hook. I didn’t want to spend 30 minutes suiting up at the truck or carry 20 pounds of gear every time I wanted to go fishing. So much gear created stress. Stress created frustration. Frustration created anxiety. What is greenheart anyway? I reminisced back to my childhood days when a pole, some worms, and a bobber was all I needed, and I had fun catching fish. There had to be a better way. One day, I searched online for “simple fly fishing.” The word “Tenkara” popped up. I began reading about this Japanese form of fly fishing. The tenkara method only uses a rod, a line, and a fly. That’s it. There is no reel, no guides on the rod, and a small pouch or shirt pocket will carry everything

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needed for a day on the pond, creek, or river. I became very interested and after much research, I sold a couple of my Western fly rods and purchased a tenkara rod. Much to my surprise, after my first trout and bluegill on a tenkara rod, I knew I had found something much more than a simpler way to fly fish. I found that there was contentment and fun in the simpler, smaller things in life. This “tenkaraway”, or Tenkara Path as Dennis Vander Houwen calls it, would soon permeate every area of my being. I tried to see the “30,000-foot-view” of what I thought was happening around me. For the past 8 years or so, I had been gradually letting go. Letting go of material possessions that added no value to my life. Letting go of relationships that robbed me of emotional and spiritual energy. Letting go of religious paradigms (a different blog article) that stifled my walk with Holy Spirit. I let go of the guilt from saying “yes” to every person’s agenda and inconveniences. It felt good to finally experience the idea that less is more. So, did tenkara fly fishing solve all my problems in life? Not really. Holy Spirit was already taking me down the path to simplicity. The reason, I believe, was and is to divert my attention away from me and focus upon what really matters; loving others and building healthy relationships. These two virtues cost nothing. They’re not complicated. They do not depend on the other person’s attitude or behavior. I get to choose to be loving,

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compassionate, and genuine. By the way, Jesus said Himself that every law or commandment is summed up in this: “You must love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul, and all of your mind… Love your neighbor as yourself… All the other demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40) Focusing on material possessions can cause people to become self-centered, greedy, and angry when they don’t get what they want. I believe being able to let go of that which constrains us and strive for a minimal, simplistic life creates freedom and contentment in every aspect of our life. Each time I go fishing with a tenkara rod, line, and a few flies, I am reminded that the simple things in life are enough. Conversing with folks, enjoying God’s creation, or helping someone in need are just a few things that cost nothing but reap huge rewards. With fewer possessions, I don’t have to work extra hours to pay for things I don’t need or try to keep something serviced or protect it from being stolen by others. I certainly don’t have to worry about mending my line. For me, healing is found in a gentle stream of simplicity and solitude; a stream where all that is living finds its purpose in nurturing that to which it is connected. It offers only what it possesses; no more – no less, but what it possesses is sufficient to sustain life for all in the stream.


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Estuarine Fixed-line Fly Fishing

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by Rory E. Glennie

Saltwater estuaries along the East coast of Vancouver Island are wonderful places to explore with a tenkara rod. They offer easy access, miles of shallow water, a variety of underwater habitats and a plethora of toothy critters to catch. While many other folks are out chasing the big silver slab of a salmon aboard an expensive boat, ambulatory anglers can find great fun and excitement in simply wading the shallows while poking about with only a rod, a line and a fly. This is a great way of introducing fixed-line fly fishing to neophytes and non-anglers as there is nearly always something out there willing to bite the hook.

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FINDING A VENUE For most folks unfamiliar with the layout of Vancouver Island just clickon to Google Earth™. Many good fishing beaches can be found by flying around the coastline; the “street view” feature can prove helpful in locating beach access points. Zooming in on potential hotspots may show access points as well as terrain. Where a creek dumps into the ocean is a good staring point for exploration… start there. Then follow your nose to check out the surrounding territory. The beaches are public property and open year-round. Once accessed through one of the many public entry points,


simply stay below the highest stormline of weathered driftwood and you’ll be fine. A tidal water sport fishing license is required and may be obtained for a nominal fee online at: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/ rec/licence-permis/applicationeng.html BOTTOM STRUCTURE & TOPOGRAPHY

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Most estuaries, where a freshwater stream fans out into the saltwater, often provide a variety of bottom structure; boulders, rocks, gravel and sand are the most common. Good fishing estuaries offer some of all those types and have a gently sloping bottom for ease of wading. There will also be “weeds” of several types including kelp, eel grass, glasswort, and sea-lettuce to name a few. This is all good habitat for predatory fish. When covered with water, this

structure is home to a multitude of micro-organisms, zooplankton and tiny baitfish which larger fish prey upon. TIDAL INFLUENCES Tidal flow, the twice daily raising and lowering of water height, plays a big part on where and when fish will hangout. Depending on time of year and phase of the moon, tide height can range between zero and sixteen vertical feet here on Vancouver Island. It is best to pick-up or download a “tide guide” so one can reckon which beaches will be covered with water and how deep it may be. As a start, click: http://www.waterlevels.gc.ca/eng/ station?sid=7953 This is the Fisheries & Oceans Canada website to source up-to-date tidal information and more. That particular tidal reference point shown there

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covers a good portion of East-central Vancouver Island. Through using the navigation menus on that site, information on other sections of coastline can be viewed. DENIZENS OF THE DEEP

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While not really “deep” that two to three-foot-deep intertidal zone, which is readily waded, hosts several fish species. The beach fly fisher’s Holy Grail, transient sea-run Cutthroat trout, come and go through the area at will. Bottom-dwelling fish like Staghorn sculpins, Midshipmen, flounders and sole are most active with the ebb and flow of the tides. The real beauty of fishing off the beach is that one never knows what might next take the fly. TACKLE & FLIES My preference in a tenkara rod is to

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opt for length. The 13’6” Amago model or the Ito model zoomed out to 14’7”, both from Tenkara USA, are my rods of choice. While standing in one spot, the extra length allows me to effectively cover a larger radius around me. Only a judicious amount of wading is necessary for two reasons; 1) excess wading spooks the fish away from you. 2) most fish will come and go through your chosen casting zone as the tide ebbs or flows or as they sense an opportunity to feed there. Both of those Tenkara rods have enough delicacy and backbone to handle fish from a three ounce juvenile Ling cod to a three pound sea-run Cutt. Effective fly patterns for bottom fish are often the simplest; a bit of brightly colored lamb’s wool yarn, a red/yellow combo works well, tied in behind a small metal beadhead, all on a number ten hook – the wool sticks like Velcro™


to their raspy teeth. For sea-runs, to imitate a favored forage fish – a Stickleback, a more traditional size twelve silver-bodied Muddler works wonders. TECHNIQUE Very much like traditional Tenkara stream tactics, the fly is pulsed through the area in a lifelike manner through deft rod manipulation. Over a rocky section, the fly is brought in quickly enough so not to get stuck between the boulders, as the fish will likely ambush it from their lair in the rocks. Over a sandy section, the fly is let fall to the bottom, then pranced along the substructure in a series of bottom bouncing drops. This is where the beadhead shines; ticking the fly along the bottom is akin to ringing the dinner bell, as this sound alerts a fish to the fly long before they can see it.

If you sense or see that sea-runs are around -- they often swirl at or jump clear of the surface -- a quick series of cast and rod-twitch retrieves circumscribing the area around you will often entice one to smack the Muddler. MOVE ALONG While not wading too much is advantageous while fishing through an area, do not get rooted in one place for too long. If there are fish, they will make themselves known when you feel a tug on your line. Besides giving you a chance to stretch your legs, searching new areas up or down the beach may prove worthwhile in finding some more appealing fishing. Most of these “homebody” fish circulate up and down, in and out with tidal flows, so, locating them is all part of the challenge.

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Fixed on Pinks by Brad Trumbo

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A rare high-pressure day, the sun shone beautifully across my shoulders into the turn pool where the river met the ocean. The tannin-stained river spilled over the cascade perpendicular to the boulder I stood against, then curled downstream alongside my perch. A large eddy occurred between me and the cascade where salmon were stacking up for the ascent. The rocks deposited on the ocean side of the channel pushed the flow against solid granite. Over time, that flow had carved out a large backwater where salmon, seals, bears, gulls, osprey and eagles all met for a limited time each year. Having crept out along the edge of a large boulder outcrop at low tide, I stood watching intently as pinks battled their way up the downstream riffle to enter the pool, jab at their salmon brethren, and regain enough strength to traverse the coming cascade. In my hand I held a 13-foot tenkara

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rod I built specifically for big fish, being rated 8/2, meaning the rod operates on a fast or medium-heavy action relative to typical fly or spinning rod actions, respectively. My intention for the rod was dead-drifting nymphs and kebari for steelhead in winter, but I had only hooked up some decent cutthroat with it to date. My goal was simple. Hook and land a big pink salmon. If it meant breaking the rod, I was willing to make it happen. Using a 10-foot section of old floating fly line with a 4-foot section of 8pound fluorocarbon attached as tippet, I rolled out a small, black, eggsucking leech pattern I tied with an orange bead head and free-floating trailer hook. I had already landed a few smaller pinks in the 3-pound class, but the giant I was about to hook was beyond my wildest pink salmon fantasy. Casting to the edge of the current in the eddy, pinks darted in and out of the downstream riffle leading into the


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pool. And like always, as my mind began to wander amid the scenery, a nuanced strike pulled me back into reality. I noticed a large buck pink in the pool tail-out and my leech bouncing bottom under him. Repeating an identical drift, the buck opened his mouth, snatching the leech with an apparent irritability that struck me with a bit of regret as I swiftly set the hook. I often refer to sturgeon fishing as attempting to pull a school bus from the riverbed. Fighting the big pink buck on my tenkara rod instilled a similar feeling of futility, but a feeling more like trying to overcome the fear of a dire task with some cognizance that the outcome may not be favorable. I can only liken it to stepping out onto the cabin porch in the middle of the blackest Appalachian night you can fathom in just my boxers to investigate what sounded like a human intruder. As my eyes adjusted, the large, round shape of a black bear peering back at me from the steps became apparent in the soft glow of the wood stove. One of us had to give, and I hesitantly stood my ground, knowing the outcome could be quite dramatic. Fly fishermen know to let the fish fight the rod, particularly big fish. Tenkara anglers know to point the butt of the rod at the fish to accomplish this, but trust me when I say that’s much easier said than done on a fish that has been swimming the ocean for the past year. Treating the tenkara rod as a switch rod, I stuck the butt into my waist and heaved the long cork grip into my gut

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with my right hand. The buck wasn’t making any blistering runs, but he certainly had me wishing for more line and a good drag. Busting out of the pool, headed back toward the ocean, I was left simply to follow with my net in one hand, the rod held high in the other. Suddenly, I felt like Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It as he chased his monster rainbow down the Blackfoot River; an awkward dance of balance and trying to keep the right pressure on the fish among slick, loose rock. Vowing to keep him from hitting the final riffle into salt, I clasped the rod with both hands and turned the buck upriver one last time, all the while fearing the rod or tippet would fail at any moment. With a few more laps around a short run, I was fortunate to slip the net under him and bring him to shore. The magnitude of this fish didn’t hit home until I realized how small the net looked with him in it. I had landed many a solid coho with that net, but a pink had never taken up such real estate. Gently popping the barbless hook from his gnarly kype, I lifted the buck for closer inspection. He was simply magnificent. Measuring around 28 inches with a high hump, yellowing, speckled fins, glorious gray-olive dorsal coloring and a brilliant pinking around the tail, this buck enhanced my appreciation for an underrepresented species among the salmon angling community. A trophy indeed, I ended my trip on this beautiful salmon, landed against the odds on a fixed line fly rod.


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Tenkara Rods and Autumn Smallmouth by Bob Long Jr.

Even though tenkara is about simplicity, this article has complexities. It was written with the idea that the reader will have some measure of experience with tenkara and/or fly fishing for smallmouth bass. “Innovation is hard, because it means challenging what we take for granted. Things we think are obvious. The difficulty for innovation lies in the ‘Tyranny of Common Sense.’* People think things can’t [or shouldn’t] be done any other way, because ‘that’s just how it’s done.’ Or ‘It’s always been done that way.’” - Ken Robinson

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Even when neither statement is true. (* Or in the case of Fly Fishing what I call, “The Tyranny of Tradition.”) In my neck of the woods, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan, autumn means a chance for some wonderful smallmouth fishing in rivers, creeks and streams. With the cooling water temps and the decline in the length and power of daylight, the fish are a little hungrier, a bit more aggressive and on the prowl for larger food items. Smallmouth large, medium and small have to eat as much as they can in hopes of putting on the healthy weight


they’ll need to survive the winter. Autumn offers quite the chance for both numbers and for larger fish. So, don’t put away your tenkara rods just yet. The fishing can be marvelous and your 12- to 14-foot, 7:3 and 8:2 action rods can continue to get workouts through September and October, and maybe into early November. FISH LOCATION

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The fish won’t be in the faster, oxygenated water of summer, but just off to the side, close to or in slack water areas that have schools of larger or more densely packed bait fish. These areas may also be home to the year’s remaining crayfish looking to capture the last of the sun’s warmth and edible bits from shallows. I look for water that runs 18 – 36” deep, with sharp to subtle drop offs, with rock and gravel around, or with bottoms that transition from light to dark, or soft to hard. Reading water, understanding the needs of the fish during this cool down season is essential. The best flies and casts placed flawlessly in fishless or marginal water won’t get you jack. If you find these types of fish holding waters, especially if defined by distinct bubble lines (a highly visible delineation of current seams that shows the separation between slow and fast current, or indicating the presence of strong obstructions) I recommend you fish the slow side of the bubble line. I have found bubble

lines to be easier to identify smallmouth holding areas than just current seams alone. And don’t fish these areas fast. Let your offering linger awhile. Swim it around. Work the area. Baitfish and crayfish don’t get swept through these slower current areas; they live there. I find tenkara rods to be especially adept at presenting flies and lures in this relaxed, unhurried manner. However, slow doesn’t mean dead. “Dead drifting flies or lures for smallmouth” is a trout concept, and I never teach this presentation. Dead drifts are for trout eating buggy things that come drifting by; something forage for predatory smallmouth seldom do. Trout have feeding lies and lanes; smallmouth don’t – they go where their food is. So, I suggest giving your flies “life.” Can you cast into an area, and using your rod to work your fly or lure, let it swim around and stay in the water for 30-seconds? Without recasting? This is really emotionally tough to do; we aren’t used to it. Many of us lack that kind of patience. Some think it nonsense, wrong or won’t work. We are emotionally tied to the mantra of castdead-drift-or-strip, cast-dead-drift-orstrip on and on. Although I am sure this technique works just fine for many of you, would you be willing to try something else – for smallmouth bass in flowing waters - with your tenkara rods, that might work better? Smallmouth know when something

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has moved into their area - when there are new or different vibrations, actions or scents present. But they aren’t pressured by trout-style notions of “opportunity” (gotta’ get it before it drifts past me). Although opportunistic, they can, and do, hunt or take when they want. I like tenkara rods for these slowdown, control presentations. With your rod tip held high there is little slack in the line. This gives you control to feel your fly - feel it as it moves in various currents or across in-water or bottom structure. You can move your fly as you wish; left, right, high, low, drop back, bring it forward, hold in place. As smallmouth don’t eat dead or inanimate things, these “bring life” moves to your fly or lure can be very enticing for this predator fish. Often in autumn, the takes aren’t the splashy commotions or heavy thuds of summer, just a slight tug, a stop, a move of the line to the left or right. Tenkara rod casts of 30-feet or less help you feel those more subtle takes. And, when you go to cast again, don’t rush. Lift your tenkara rod slowly, smoothly bringing your fly or lure to the surface. Many fish will take just as it starts to rise, or as it reaches the surface. HOOKSETS

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Firm, but measured hooksets (with really sharp hooks) are the way here. Set the hook from the butt to midsection, not the upper third (the soft, giving tip sections) of the rod. Set with

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a move to the left or right of your body, with your hand holding the handle from the midsection of the handle to the top of the handle. I often like my hand higher on the handle when using tenkara rods for smallmouth. My hand is so high up the handle, I often grip a bit of cork and graphite. (Mine is not a fixed, “this is how you’ve got to do it” system. It depends on what feels right balancewise, from fly to fly, water type to water type, leader length, and from rod to rod). I almost never hold the rod from the bottom of the handle. That just feels too light and flimsy and without a sense of control, balance or touch for me. Setting the hook with a swift-butsmooth pull to the left or the right not only hooks the fish from the power sections of the rod, but gives you an edge on controlling (or at least being on somewhat equal footing) with larger fish. Tenkara rods don’t have a lot of pulling power, but upon hookset, there is often a moment or two when smallmouth seem disoriented, and can be pulled/guided – at least a bit - one direction or another; out of strong current, or away from in-water obstructions, or away from deeper water towards the shallows. Often when you set hooks into larger fish, especially with the rod tip held high, the fish can just take off on you, pulling the rod tip down violently, breaking tip sections (ugh) or tippets (still an ugh, but a preferred one).


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TENKARA ROD SETUP I have seldom found smallmouth to require a lot of trout-like stealth on my part. In addition, unlike trout, smallmouth are very seldom seen. Our waters aren’t that clear and smallmouth don’t hang out high in the water column where they might be visible. They blend in really well with their environment. Smallies are curious. You can get really close to them. You are approaching fishholding areas, not sighted fish. So, long casts simply aren’t needed. 30-feet or less usually less works fine for me. “Don’t cast farther, wade

John Miao of Chicago, fishing downstream, working along the edges of a nice dropoff defined by a strong bubble line. He is able to keep and work his lure or fly right in the area where the smallies hold. The Big Fish pool, DuPage River, IL.

closer” is my one of my mantras. Tenkara rods really put one in position to accomplish this well. My standard way of setting up my tenkara rods for smallmouth is to keep my furled leader at equal to, or one foot less in length, than the length of the rod. Thus, I use: · a 10- to 12-foot leader with a 12foot rod · an 11- to 13-foot leader with a 13foot rod · a 13-foot leader with a 14-foot rod I always carry extra furled leaders

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with me in 9-ft., 10-ft., 11-ft., 12-ft., and 13-foot lengths. All chartreuse in color - the color I see best. My experience has been that Smallmouth don’t seem to care about the color of line. Although I have longer furled leaders of 14-, 16-, 18- and 20-feet, I’ve not yet found a reason to use them: not in my waters, or with the way I use tenkara tackle. So, I’ve no thoughts on that. All of my leaders have size-14, barrel swivels attached to them – eliminates line twist, makes changing tippets simple, stronger and larger than tippet rings. To this I attach two-feet of 4-lb or 6-lb, clear, fluorocarbon tippet material. I use Cabela’s branded tippet. No reason other than I like it. With this setup, my fly or lure is only a foot longer than the rod. I’ve got max control and feel with my casts, my drifts/presentations, my hook-setting, fish fighting and landing actions (those long hand-lining actions to bring fish in with long leaders that I see in videos feels really awkward to me. Shorter feels much better). All the above constitutes a highly effective fishing technique using tenkara rods for smallmouth – I catch a lot of fish. Admittedly it can feel startling or uncomfortable to many who feel fly fishing in general, or when using tenkara rods specifically, should look a certain (more traditional) way. CASTING POSSIBILITIES

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I’m not married to one casting motion or movement with my tenkara rods. I

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use overhand, underhand, sidearm casts, and a modified Bassmaster’s style flip/pitch cast that is superb for dropping a fly into or near edges and tight cover (logs, rocks, ledges, weed beds). I’m not casting to impress others with my tenkara rod, but to put the fly or lure where I wish it – sometimes in difficult spots - as needed. Being versatile means more fish. My main technique for accomplishing this is that I fish mainly facing downstream. I can work sections of flowing water in a 180-degree arc from my left to right, to straight downstream. I cover water effectively, always with the fly or lure under control. I can leave my offering in the water as long as I want, where I want. It helps immensely. FLY/LURE SIZES I say flies and lures as I use both. I consider flies to be simply another form of a fishing lure; noun, “an artificial bait used catching fish.” For me flies, crankbaits, inline spinners, jigs, spinnerbaits, spoons and various shapes of plastic are just differing types of lures. The material used to make them, their size, weight and form defines how and when I use, not their “lure” type or names. In the first 30 years of my youth, flies, spoons, in-line spinners and small balsa wood plugs were all used with the fly rod. Today, I use both flies and lures with my tenkara rods. I am comfortable recommending both.


Tenkara rods and smallmouth. The short casts create great opportunities to learn how to read water with discernment, to wade effectively get within casting distance, to be create casts and drifts to meet the situation, to learn anew how to fight and land feisty fish in current on light rods and tippets without a reel, extra line or drag available. It has made my fishing so much fun and satisfying.

I say flies and lures as I use both. I consider flies to simply be another form of a fishing lure. Fishing lure: noun, “an artificial bait used catching fish.” For me flies, crankbaits, inline spinners, jigs, spinnerbaits, spoons and various shapes of plastic are just differing types of lures. The material used to make them, their size, weight and form defines how and when I use them, not the “lure” type or name. I love exploring and using plastic lures with my tenkara rods. 67


Now, think of the size lures you’d throw at the bass at this time of year with spinning or baitcasting gear. No teenytiny stuff. 3 – 4” swimbaits and twister tails, 3/8 to 3/4 quarter ounce spinnerbaits, 3” to 7” plugs and crankbaits, size 3, 4 and 5 in line spinners. Don’t get nervous just because you have a tenkara rod. While they can’t throw stuff as large as previously listed, they can easily handle 3”, 3.5” and 4” streamer and crayfish flies and plastic lures (lightweight swimbaits, twister tails, crayfish imitations). Leave the trout-sized stuff at home. While not etched in stone, I’ve found meaty offerings get autumn feeding smallmouth to bite more aggressively. Even 8” smallmouth will try to eat things half to ¾ their size. It is in their nature to do so. (Its that smallmouth have to reach at least 6”-8” in length to survive the winter thing.) Tenkara rods (as “fixed-line” fishing) can quite successfully do all the things I’ve described above. I’ve done it since I started with tenkara about seven- to eight-years ago. It took a lot of imagining, creating and innovating. Getting advice and counsel from the tenkara community was kind of tough as the few smallmouth tenkara rod guys I met were, and many still are, fishing for smallmouth bass with (maybe) slightly modified cold-water, trout-oriented tactics and techniques, not warm-water bass ways. (As I said, there weren’t many tenkara rod smallmouth in the old days. Not many now. I’m always looking.)

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This is not a knock on them at all, as it’s normal to go with what we know as a reference point when trying new things. (I call it the “if I’m going to catch or not catch fish, I’d rather do so using techniques I know, as opposed to techniques I don’t know – and have no confidence in,” syndrome.) But, I think of smallmouth bass and trout as I think of league baseball and 16-inch softball; they look alike in a lot of ways, but are two really different games at the heart of it. I also learned to accept things not working out as I wished, as I worked through various approaches to using tenkara rods in warm water (the old Thomas Edison 1% inspiration - 99% perspiration thing). It took patience and a “stick-to-it” attitude to get where I am now – which works well (and not just for me, but for those willing to try it on for size). Thankfully, I was willing to look past the “Tyranny of Common Sense” and the “Tyranny of Tradition.” (Tradition and Common Sense are both meaningful concepts in life. I just tend to question their veracity when they become authoritarian, dogmatic and oppressive. Example of Tradition: such as when Thanksgiving dinner is and always has been at Gramma’s house, even though Gramma has dementia and sometime ago forgot how to boil water, much less baste a turkey over eight hours. Why are we still doing this? Won’t anyone else try hosting dinner?) From the start, I had an idea what I


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wanted to do with tenkara rods and smallmouth. I didn’t know if it would work, but I considered not knowing to mean “let’s explore possibilities,” not get mired down in “how is this gonna’ work” challenges. I am not a person who rides on the “yeah, but,” and “oh, yeah, well what about…,” negativity train. I didn’t know how long it might take, but I did know it would take commitment, effort and time. Got plenty of that. Dave Whitlock was once asked, “what does it take to become a good fly fisherman.” His answer; “Find a good instructor.” I understand that words on paper to describe processes so technical can be a poor substitute for one-on-one instruction, but I’ve tried

my best. Hope you got something out of it. The rods I use are the Daiwa Expert LT39 and the LT H44, the DRAGONtail HELLbender, the Zen Tenkara Sagi, the Patagonia TFO 10’6” (as well as the TFO 8’6” when I’m in one of my “Mississippi River Gambler / Wild West Gunslinger” moods), the Badger Tenkara Wisco 2, and the Fountainhead Stonefly 390 (a very nice 6:4 rod I use less and less as it’s no longer made). They are all nice. Rod choice mainly varies by the size of the stream, size of the fish and size of the fly/lure I wish to use. Other than that, it’s pick a name out of a hat, or play rock, paper, scissors.

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Fall Reader Photos

Some quick hits from readers out and about with their tenkara rods

“Landed a hog of a Brown trout on Sunday, July 7, 2019. Rod was a Daiwa Expert LT 39, 12' of #3 fluorocarbon Sunline, 3-4' of 5x Fluorocarbon tippet (Trout Hunter), and a #12 Bread & Butter (modified) fly I tied on a barbless jig style hook. Knot used was the modified double Davy. Caught on the restricted C&R Heritage section of the Little Lehigh Creek in Pennsylvania, which is a limestone stream. Only wish I had a better picture & camera to give this beauty justice.� -Matthew Kolb

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"My wife Kimberly O’Keefe catching her first but not last brookie of the day." - Shaun O'Keefe

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"You can never start them too young. Katie O’Keefe learning how to tenkara fish!" - Patrick Wrath 73


Friends of Tenkara Angler

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Contributors & Credits

This issue of Tenkara Angler Magazine was made possible by the extremely generous contributions of the following members of our tenkara & fixed-line fishing community.

Brian Lindsay

Brad Trumbo

Currently lives in North Texas in a little town called Vernon that is well known for its oil, cattle, and now wind farm industry and is the birthplace or Roy Orbison. In early retirement, Brian spends his time helping others in the community. After a lifetime of fishing he is dedicated to fishing tenkara in its true form.

Brad Trumbo lives in southeast Washington State and services 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

Adam Trahan

Dr. Mark Phillips

Created Tenkara-Fisher in 2010, the 2nd oldest resource outside of Japan dedicated to tenkara. His extensive catalog of interviews with tenkara personalities can be found both online and in print.

Adam Klagsbrun

Adam is an avid lightweight backpacker and a champion of preserving tenkara as it is known and practiced in Japan. Adam authors the blog, “Of Rock & Riffle.”

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Dr. Mark Phillips is a Lieutenant Colonel and the Senior Army Chaplain for the Tennessee National Guard. He is also an adjunct professor and has been practicing tenkara since 2015. threelittletrout.com

Jim Tignor

Jim Tignor lives in Chapel Hill, NC. He is a relatively new fisherman, but seemingly obsessed with tenkara. Find Jim’s prints at: jimtignor.imagekind.com.


Dennis Vander Houwen

Rory E. Glennie

An early adopter of tenkara, Dennis lives and fishes all over Colorado. For more information on living simply or approaching a richer life with fewer things check out his blog, TenkaraPath.com where you can also support his tenkara lifestyle by purchasing one of his amazing, handmade tenkara line spool, fly keepers.

A resident of Vancouver Island, British Columbia who has been fly fishing the mountain streams for wild, native-born trout since 1970. The only Canadian member of Tenkara USA Guide Network. Staff writer for Island Fisherman Magazine since 2009.

Adam Rieger

Bob Long, Jr.

works for a wine and sake importer and distributor in NY and NJ. He lives in the Croton river watershed about an hour north of NYC, but travels the tri-state area hunting brook trout whenever his wife lets him.

Andy Vinnes

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

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

Additional Photo Contributors

Karel Lansky, Matthew Kolb, Michael Agneta, Noah Trahan, Patrick Wrath, Shaun O'Keefe, Sigfried Forster

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Photo: Adam Rieger

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#Tenkara

News & Notes From Around Social Media Registration is now open for the 2020 Oni Tenkara School, a rare opportunity to learn from a true tenkara master...

Tenkara-Fisher's Adam Trahan recently compiled musings from 24 tenkara enthusiasts in "Quivers"... The YouTube channel GO TENKARA is excellent; be sure to subscribe to see great tenkara videos from Japan...

Discover Tenkara recently released "Your Complete Guide to Everything"... and they're not joking... Tanuki Boot Camp will come to the Driftless in May 2020. Learn tenkara in Wisconsin's trout paradise...

If you missed out on the DRAGONtail Mizuchi "kickstarter," the small stream rod is now available on their site...

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Fall 2019


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