Tenkara Angler - Summer 2016

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Summer 2016 www.tenkaraangler.com

Summer 2016























Front Cover Photo: Adam Klagsbrun Back Cover Art: Jim Tignor

Know The Rules! Photo: Michael Agneta


From The Editor

Summertime is the Funner Time... Thank you for taking the time to page through this issue of Tenkara Angler. I mean really, who doesn't love summer? I know as a kid it was the ultimate; no more school, hanging out with friends, and getting into trouble. Not anything bad mind you, just things like not coming home on time for dinner because you were in the middle of mean game of Wiffle ball, or perhaps getting your clothes filthy mucking around in the local creeks or from riding your Huffy BMX in the dirt. Heck, I think a lot of people feel the same way about summer, if they didn't, there wouldn't be so many songs written about it. And it doesn't matter if your musical preference is Mungo Jerry or Will Smith, summertime is the best time. This issue of Tenkara Angler goes in quite a few different directions. While trout remains one of the primary subjects, we're chasing other species in this magazine, and it's pretty cool to see what other anglers have on the end of their lines.

Stir in ingredients of art, essay, travel, and other eclectic subjects, and once again there should definitely be enough in this issue to keep your tenkara flame stoked, perhaps inspiring a summer adventure of your own. You'll find a great combination of both new and returning authors, even some that really aren't that vocal elsewhere in social media. I enjoyed seeing what they were up to, I hope you will too. Please enjoy the Summer 2016 issue of Tenkara Angler.

Michael Agneta Editor In Chief




Not Every Fish Need Be Released Photo: Tenkara Guides LLC

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

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

See www.tenkaraangler.com for more information


Steve Cobb at work

The Paintings of Steve Cobb The internet is overflowing with creative expression. Steve Cobb's wonderful outdoor-themed art is an example of one of those hidden gems that has since been unearthed to the masses by the ease of access provided by the world wide web. I hope you enjoy the small "exhibition" featured in this issue. If you have further interest in Steve's painting, his website Quiet Raquette is highly recommended viewing. Not only will you laugh at his humorous posts, marvel at unique fly tying patterns, and view many wonderful acrylic paintings, but he also regularly provides a peek behind the scenes to show the process and progression of how a blank canvas and idea becomes a stunning finished product. www.quietraquette.com


"Westslope Cutthroat"



"Dorsey Brook Trout on the Fly"



"Bonneville Cutty"

8 "Cardinal"



"Twilight Lakescape"


Mythbusting Tenkara in Japan John Vetterli

Photos by Tenkara Guides LLC


A while back I visited Japan for a few weeks of fishing with several recognized tenkara experts.

tapered nylon monofilament lines, western fluorocarbon tapered leaders as tenkara lines, and of course fluorocarbon level line.

When I arrived in Japan, I thought I had a pretty solid grasp of how tenkara was practiced in the land of its origin. Man, I was completely off about that.

All rods from Japanese companies are manufactured in Japan.

Here is the short list of tenkara myths that many westerners have about tenkara in Japan.

One Fly is the way Japanese tenkara anglers fish. Well, I hate to break this to you but the One Fly thing is for the most part an American interpretation of Japanese tenkara.

There are a few tenkara anglers in Japan that do use one fly pattern, very few. And within that one fly pattern there are variations of size, color, and hackle size/stiffness.

Most people I fished with used a pretty wide variety of fly and kebari patterns. These included Masami Sakakibara and Hiromichi Fuji, two of the most respected tenkara anglers in Japan.

There are some tenkara anglers in Japan who do use only one fly pattern. Dr. Ishigaki is perhaps the most widely known One Fly Guy. These anglers are using the one fly method as a personal challenge to add a level of self-imposed difficulty. It is a game they play with themselves.

Level Line Tenkara is what most anglers do in Japan. Well, not exactly. There is a lot of personal line choice exercised in Japan. I fished with people who use tapered furled fluorocarbon lines, PVC fly line, nylon monofilament level lines,

There are some rod companies in Japan that make and source every component of their rods in Japan. Nissin, Gamakatsu, Tenryu, and Sakura. Other companies like Daiwa and Shimano outsource many models that are made all over Asia in places like Vietnam, China, etc. The biggest difference in outsourced rods from a Japanese company is how they manage quality control. Most of these companies send a quality control team to the out of country manufacturing facility to directly manage the production run of the rods. Every piece of the rod from raw materials to final product has direct oversight of the Japanese quality control team.

Tenkara is very popular in Japan. Not exactly. Modern tenkara’s heyday was most likely in the 1980s when guys like Hiromichi Fuji and Mr. Soseki were resurrecting tenkara from historical oblivion by introducing modern materials like carbon fiber and fluorocarbon to the rods and lines. These two men really brought tenkara back from the dead.

Here’s the real deal on mountain stream fishing in Japan. Fixed line bait fishing is #1 there is no contest, period. Followed by western fly-fishing and spin casting with artificial lures.

On the fly-casting side, western fly-fishing is extremely popular in Japan. You are more likely to see someone who looks like they just


stepped out of the Orvis catalog than anything else.

If you travel to Japan for tenkara fishing, you had better bring your “A” game.

Tenkara is a small niche in the many hundreds of different types of fishing in Japan. My friend Masami Sakakibara has said that he is pretty sure there are a great deal more tenkara anglers in America than in Japan at the moment.

Many mountain streams are over fished because catch and release fishing just isn’t really practiced in Japan. Over the past few years Dr. Ishigaki and Masami Sakakibara have made a lot of progress in changing the hearts and minds of tenkara anglers in Japan but it is going to be a slow road before catch and release fly fishing is widely practiced.

Tenkara is seeing an increase in interest in Japanese anglers because of all the commotion about it here in the States.

Here is something interesting. When you look at the catalogs from the big Japanese rod manufacturers, these things are a couple of hundred pages thick and the tenkara rods are usually less than one full page of the catalog. Nissin has more variations of fixed line micro fishing or tanago rods then they have tenkara rods.

Japanese streams are healthy and loaded with fish.


Many of Japan’s rivers are dammed for hydroelectric power and that has had massive impacts on Iwana and Amago fish populations in the upper mountain streams. There are fish stocking programs in Japan but the rivers and streams are broken up into co-op areas and each region of a river/stream is independently managed. When you fish anywhere in a river/ stream in Japan, you must purchase a fishing license from the managing co-op. Because of this type of stream management, fish stocking is pretty much a thing of “we will stock the river when we have enough money”.

So, mountain stream fishing is tough in Japan. Anglers reduce the fish population faster than it can reproduce and the dams screw up migration.

It’s still worth the trip though.

Travel in and through Japan is tough for non-Japanese speakers. Travel in and around Japan is really quite easy. Many people in Japan speak English. The announcements on trains and airports are both written and spoken in English, and freeway signs are printed in both languages. The money is pretty easy to figure out. And if you get into trouble, just look for a 10 year old kid. Their English is really good and they are just dying to try it on you.

The food... If you like Japanese food, then my friends you are in luck because the food in Japan is freaking awesome. Some of it can be a little strange and confusing but you can always ask someone about it. Just be adventurous and try everything and most places have pictures on the menus so it makes it a little easier.

On our first night in Japan, Erik and I were wandering around Nagoya at 10pm trying to find a place to eat. We decided on this small restaurant that had a lot of people hanging out around it so our logic was if that many people are hanging around, it must be good right? We took a chance and went inside and were taken to a small table. When handed the menus, there were no pictures. So we did what any jetlagged, starving fishing guides would do, we just randomly pointed to a line on the menu to the waiter and rolled the dice. I have no idea of what kind of sushi we had but it was amazing.

Before you go to Japan, take some time and eat at a few more traditional Japanese cuisine restaurants and ask a lot of questions to the staff about the food.

Japan is really expensive. Yes and no. If you travel to Japan and only see the big cities, then yes, Japan can be very expensive. It would be no different than staying in New York City, London, Paris, etc. But, if you do your homework, you can stay and eat in Japan very reasonably. If I remember correctly, the most expensive place I stayed was $125.00 a night and that was in Osaka, one of the major cities.

When we were traveling throughout the countryside fishing, we stayed at Royokan Inns. Sort of like a bed and breakfast. Most of these places charged around $100.00 per person per night and that included breakfast and dinner. Everywhere we stayed had fantastic traditional cuisine that would set you back easily $25-50.00 per person back in the United States.


Money? Since Japan is arguably one of the most modernized countries in the world, while I'm in Japan, my credit/debt cards should work everywhere, right?

If you travel to Japan, TAKE CASH. Japan is still a cash culture. Finding a place to accept a foreign credit card is downright tough. There is only one type of ATM that will accept foreign debt cards and it isn’t at a bank. It's the Japanese Post Office. And not all of them have the right kind of ATM.

Japanese people are very formal and stuffy. Japan is a very polite culture. There are certain cultural protocols that come with that. It is good to have at least a minimal understanding of how one is to be introduced or to introduce someone.


For the most part, everyone we met was very friendly, inviting, and fun to be with. Every time I see Masami Sakakibara I get a big bear hug.

Remember, these master tenkara anglers are just people like you and me, they all have real day jobs, they love to fish, they all like to have a good time, they just happen to be very good at fishing tenkara through decades of experience.

I was slightly intimidated by meeting Hiromichi Fuji. I have read all of his books on tenkara and knowing his place in the modern tenkara timeline and how influential he has been, I’ll admit I was a little nervous. He is a man small in stature but commands great respect from his peers and students. When my friend Eiji Yamakawa introduced us, we both politely bowed and then he grabbed my hand and gave it a good firm handshake with a big smile.

Hiromichi Fuji is really fun to be with. He has a wicked sharp sense of humor and is very humble and relaxed once you get past the formal introduction part. Love that guy.

Tenkara in Japan has very strict rules. This is where a lot has been lost in translation from Japan to the West.

Tenkara in Japan is very fluid. There are no hard rules or dogma surrounding it. Tenkara is simply a traditional form of fixed line flyfishing practiced in mountain streams throughout Japan.

It has been said there are the 10 colors of tenkara, meaning, that for every 10 tenkara anglers there is a different and unique method being employed.

After my trip to Japan and many hundreds of Skype calls, emails, Facebook messages to my friends and mentors in Japan, I have concluded that there are really 10,000 colors of tenkara.

The way tenkara is looked at in Japan is that there are some basic tools like a telescopic rod with a fixed line attachment at the tip, a line made of what ever material and construction the angler prefers, and some flies. After that, it is pretty much open to the individual’s interpretation.

This leads us to the next and final item.

Tenkara anglers in Japan only use kebari pattern flies. Well, not exactly. Let's define the word kebari. Kebari refers to fly patterns that are native to Japan. They are not match the hatch type representations like we see in other parts of the world. Kebari are all not wet fly or Sakasa (Meaning forward) hackle patterns either.

Kebari range widely in styles. There are dry pattern, wet pattern, and weighted pattern, forward hackle and rearward hackle kebari.

In Japan, tenkara anglers refer to western style flies as “flies” just to keep the confusion down.

Some tenkara anglers choose to use only kebari patterns and some use a large mixture of both western flies and kebari.

To add to that, there are tenkara anglers in Japan who do match the hatch and some that don’t.

Again it all comes down to tenkara is very fluid in Japan. You can and are in fact encouraged to find your own “Tenkara Color”.

Make tenkara your tenkara. Don't worry about anyone else’s opinions, just go out there and experiment and have fun.


Stories From Japan Daniel Galhardo

Every image has a story behind it. As I sat down to work on this piece, with the idea being to create a photo essay with images from my travels to Japan, I realized my hard-drives contain several thousand images from these travels. Thousands of stories; some as short as a rock hop, others with so much detail that I could fill a book just about the evening around the campfire. When I decided to introduce tenkara outside of Japan, I realized my mission was to be a storyteller of sorts. In order to bring the concept over, it was not sufficient to just create a couple of telescopic rods, I needed to seek out what gave those rods a soul. In my mind that was to be found in Japan. Year after year, seven return journeys in total, I have returned to Japan in search of stories to tell. I started this piece by trying to find my very favorite images from these travels. It was daunting. But, as I browsed the images I noticed that picking images at random and telling the stories behind them would work equally well. After all, they all have a bit of tenkara in them.


In my mind, this is the quintessential "tenkara-in-Japan" image. This is one of those images that represents a story that would ďŹ ll an entire book. It is likely you will see this image again in the book I will be publishing this year. In my 2013 visit to Japan I had the honor to spend time with Mr. Yuzo Sebata. At least photographically Mr. Sebata is known for wearing the traditional Japanese hat, and

so images of him are easily recognizable. Immediately upon arriving in Tokyo, Mr. Sebata and some of his friends picked me up and we drove 3 hours to our planned destination. We slept in a parking lot that night among dozens of cars that belonged to people who thought a night in one of the several lodges nearby was more reasonable accommodation. We were there to rough it. The next day we hiked a few hours, setup camp and went fishing. That’s when I captured this image.

Mr. Sebata’s thick tenkara line shone brightly with sun above it. I noticed the sun casting a glare on my camera lens, but for some reason it just felt right to leave that “defect” in the image. Mr. Sebata pulled an Iwana, a Japanese char, a few feet upstream, closer to the tumbling waters. We spent the next 2 days fishing this area, with me soaking in the “tenkara-in-Japan” experience and him showing the famous “Sebata magic” where he regularly pulled fish out of spots we didn’t think there were any.


The second night at camp with Mr. Sebata and some friends felt a bit surreal. After waking up underneath the blue tarps that kept us dry during the night, we fished all day. We explored the canyon upstream and downstream from our basecamp. Finding ourselves there in prime mushroom and “sansai” (mountain vegetables) foraging season, we brought back a few pounds of mushrooms and several other edible plants we found along the way. Besides tenkara, Mr. Sebata is well known throughout Japan for his knowledge of edible mushrooms and plants. We brought them back to camp and prepared and incredible meal with our fresh foods. That made the experience whole, and brought to mind Mr. Sebata’s quote about tenkara:


“Tenkara fishing is very simple, which makes me feel I am a part of the mountains. If you want to submerge yourself deep in nature, it is the best fishing style. But just through the act of fishing, we won’t be able to enjoy real thrill and joy of tenkara fishing. Fishing becomes much more fun by experiencing the joy of being able to be a part of nature and learning something new in nature.”

Sometimes it seems that time truly slows down when I go fishing. You identify a good looking pool, you move toward it with your tenkara rod in hand. You prepare to cast. At that moment your predatory instincts take over: your senses heighten and adrenaline makes things come into focus. The same happens, I suspect, when we are watching someone catch one of their first fish on tenkara. On this day, in 2012, my long-time friend Chikara, joined my teacher Dr. Ishigaki, and I on a fishing trip in Nagano prefecture. We watched as Chikara placed his fly in the ideal strike zone, the fly drifted along some rocks and seemingly in slow motion an amago leapt out of the water and took his fly from the surface.


When I was around 14 years old I learned people created lures by tying feathers to hook. The revelation that I could do the same sparked my interest for fly-fishing. Before I bought my first fly rod I had already tied at least a hundred flies with hooks, feathers I found while hiking, sewing thread and my own two hands - no vise. I couldn’t buy one, though that didn’t keep me from tying all the flies I needed to learn how to fly-fish. In 2011 I spent two months in a mountain village in Japan, and that’s when I met Mr. Amano. At that point I learned that some people also didn’t use vises to tie flies. After a day of fishing, a group of us hung out at an


inn by the river. We drank a lot of sake and tied flies. In the corner of the room Mr. Amano had a tiny box with all he needed to tie flies. A few pheasant feathers (which he had hunted himself), a spool of thread, and hooks. While holding the hook with one hand he wrapped thread around the hook and spun the feather around it until it took the shape of a “sakasa kebari,” or reverse-hackle fly.

The simplicity of tenkara was inherent to every element of the method, even the creation of the lure.

Mr. Masami Sakakibara has been a good teacher for my tenkara. I have fished with him a few times in my trips to Japan. But, this was the first time we spent multiple days together. He and his lovely wife, Kyoko, arranged for us to stay an old traditional Japanese home, those with the thatched reed roofs. It had all the characteristics of a house that was all and more than its 150 years of age. The “living room” had the atmosphere of a place that had seen its fair share of anglers from past ages coming by. The smoke exhaled by the group contrasted with the dark cedar used throughout the interior of the house. The cups of sake being filled by one another made me feel there were more souls around than we could really count.

Sakakibara-san pulled the vise his father had made for him decades earlier. It is still his favorite to use. He lost himself in thought as he tied the flies and the rest of us observed. I wasn’t sure if he even noticed us there when he started turning thread. 21

Summer's Hideaway Sam Larson


Photos: Jeff Stutsman

I’m staring at a brown trout. .. It’s hovering near the front of the pool, tipped upwards and watching the surface. The water is so clear I can watch the trout’s fins swirl, holding it off to one side of a seam. I haven’t moved in a minute or so, doing my best to imitate the rip-rap and tumbled brush that lines the side of the river. I’m rubbing the cork grip of my Tenkara rod with my left thumb, letting the line drift in the current and thinking about how I need to present the fly at the top of the seam. How I’m going to have to cast almost straight up to avoid the bramble behind me, and how I need to keep my arm high so the line doesn’t land on the water. This stretch of the canyon is steep. Getting from pool to pool means scrambling over water-smoothed granite boulders, kicking the toes of my wading boots into crevices between the stones. The fish have gotten spookier the higher I move up the drainage. More than once I’ve pulled myself over the top of a rock and seen a half dozen fish scatter as my silhouette looms against the sky. Each netted fish, and sometimes each strike, is enough to put down the rest of the pool. The canyon walls have closed in on either side and the sky overhead has diminished to a narrow strip of deep blue. Errant cumulus clouds pilot overhead, the prelude to this afternoon’s coming thunderstorm. As each cloud crosses the canyon the light dims and the water darkens. I cast when the clouds have passed, thinking that the glassy water and bright sunshine help my fly stand out in sharp relief, a slow-drifting temptation for trout eager to embrace another season of plentiful hatches and bountiful food. I drag my line out of the current, and give it a few false casts to shake the water out of the

fly. I’ve used the same yellow elk hair emerger all day and have had good luck with it, though the hair wing is starting to look ragged. This is the first dry fly day of the year and my back cast is light and fast, freed from the heavy clunk of weighted nymphs. I realize how much I’ve missed the swish and flex of my Tenkara rod. In the months to come I won’t have to foul my cast with anything heavier than a foam hopper and that thought makes me ridiculously happy. In less than a month I’ll be able to wet wade. Shortly after that the alpine lakes and streams will ice out, opening up backpacking season and the chance to fish for high-altitude cutthroat. A soft flick and the fly lands at the top of the pool, right where I had visualized it. I freeze and stare hard at the fly as it starts to drift. The brown trout is still holding to one side of the seam and as I watch he rises to my fly and turns to follow it, hovering just below the surface. At the end of the seam the trout turns, sinks, and swims back to his holding position. I let the current sweep the fly well below the trout before I pick it up out of the water. I go back to watching the trout and rocking slightly in my wading boots. I decide to rest the fish for a few minutes. I bring in my line and blow hard at the elk hair wing on my fly, trying to get it to fan out and dry quickly. More clouds scud overhead and the canyon dims and dapples, with sunlight poking down through holes in the clouds. When I look up I can see the trailing edge of the clouds closing in on the blurred disc of the sun. I shake the line out and get ready to cast. The sunlight hits the water again and everything turns to tea-stained glass. The pebbled river bottom, the algae swaying in the current, and the trout all snap into sharp relief. I cast the fly back up to the top of the pool and the fish surges forward, gulping the fly with a


smack and a splash. He sets the hook himself when he dives back to the bottom and I feel him kicking and lunging at the end of the line. If there were any more unseen trout lurking in this shallow pool, no more than a slow eddy between tumbled rocks, they’ve all scattered by now. I grab the line with my right hand as the trout dashes in front of me and guide him in towards the shore. Kneeling in the sand, I tuck the handle of my Tenkara rod behind my chest pack and start to pull the line in. When I have the trout in hand I reach down and twist the hook from the corner of his mouth. Under the water’s surface I hold the trout in my palm, watching his eyes whirl


and gill plates flex. I can feel the motion of his fins against my fingers and I can’t help but run my thumb gently down the top of his back, reveling in the intricate mottling on his flanks, the gold and black, the red spots ringed in pale cyan. It reminds me of river bottoms, of currenttossed gravel and stone flecked with micah. My touch awakens something in him and he kicks his tail softly against my fingers. I lay my palm flat and he swims slowly out of my hand, settling behind a rock less than a foot in front of me. I stay kneeling there for a minute more, watching him rock back and forth in the current.

When I rise the trout darts from behind his rock into the deepest part of the pool, vanishing beneath a whorl of foam. Overhead, the clouds continue their march to the east and beams of sunlight flash on the water’s surface. I bring in my line and wrap it loosely around my hand, hooking the fly into the top of the cork grip on my Tenkara rod. Upstream, over the next tumble of grey, riverwashed granite, is another small pool topped with yet another careless-seeming pile of rock over which clear water splashes, and then another glass-topped pool. And so it goes up the canyon, the river wandering back and forth

across its stone bed, tumbling down granitefloored steps towards the plains of the Front Range to join the heavy currents of the Platte on their way to the ocean. I marvel that the water I’ve touched will rejoin all other waters and rise again into clouds over unknown terrain, then fall on mountain slopes and flow downstream to nourish yet unborn trout. The sun-warmed granite is smooth under my hand as I clamber along the river bank, gazing into each pool, searching for a flashing fin or a swirling plunge of freckled scales.


Onaji : Same Onaji : Same Words: Paul Gaskell Words: Paul Gaskell Photos: John Pearson Photos: John Pearson

There was a char. It lay in the cold, clear water draining the slopes of mount Hakusan in Japan. In the deeper pools, the water took on a deep green, blue hue. In the shallow water around the fish, it was as clear as tap-water. From above, you could easily see each individual stone on the streambed. Here and there a large, smooth rock broke and eddied the flow of water. The smaller boulders and cobbles formed a jumble of crevices and shady bolt-holes. In the lee of one large rock the char angled and trimmed its fins to hold station in the softer flow. It watched the flat lens of water above its head and waited.


There was a trout. It lay in transparent, teastained water seeping out of the beds of moss and peat of an English Pennine moor. On days of high rainfall the water took the colour of a dark beer. In dry periods, it was a pale amber. The large, angular rocks were slabs of gritstone broken off from sheets of bedrock. This was the same stone used for centuries to make grinding wheels that sharpened blades. In the stream, the smaller and more rounded cobbles and gravels were worn-down fragments of those same large blocks. Just at the place where one big gritstone block parted the current, it caused drifting insects to be funnelled into the gentle, circling flow in its lee. Beneath, the trout lay and watched. Beside the Japanese stream an angler crept softly towards the water. Placing his left knee on the ground allowed him to brace one forearm against his raised right knee. He

remained some way back from the water’s edge – so as to avoid spooking the fish he hoped to catch. Holding this position, he watched the water. While he waited he held a long, supple rod in his left hand. Because this was his non-fishing hand and because it was furthest from the stream; he used it to hold the rod low and parallel to the ground well away from the water. In this way, the rod should not give any cause for alarm to any fish in the stream.

A length of wiry orange fluorocarbon stretched from the rod tip to the palm of his left hand where it gripped the rod handle. Behind the knuckles, the rest of his casting line and his tippet were wrapped neatly around the meaty part of this hand – with the fly and coiled line pressed into his palm by the handle of the rod. Looking out over the stream he saw where the current curled around the smooth rock jutting out of the water. The same angler - separated by a short time and a long journey - crouched by a tea-stained Pennine stream. Turning his back to the water

and carefully passing the rod, still held low to the ground, to his right hand; the angler slowly uncoiled the line and stretched out any curls right the way up to the fly. Whenever he does this, his left thumb holds the fly in place against the palm of that same hand. The fly itself is always a simple creation of speckled feather and thick sewing thread. The thread is strong – of the type used in sewing machines. Its thickness means that only a few turns are ever needed to build up the body of the fly. Having stretched out the coil memory from the line, he always knows that it will extend straight and true when cast across the stream. So when, on this occasion, he turned back to face the water he deftly flicked his back-cast high and straight above the sloping bank. By the Japanese stream the rod loaded by the momentum of the back-cast and – before it could straighten – a squeeze on the handle sent the line neatly out over the stream. The loop unfurled and dropped the fly and the last three inches of tippet gently onto the water’s surface.



In the peat-stained Pennine water the fly was pulled downstream by the current and the angler tracked that movement faithfully. He allowed it to lick along the quicker seam of flow on the near side of the rock. As the fly reached the end of its Japanese drift a single pick-up, back-cast and delivery cycle dropped the fly right into the exact point where the current curled back on itself around the rock. The fibres of hackle locked into the current and the fly swirled gently in stasis – anchored between the light tension in the line and the push of the eddying current. Each hackle barb was pushed and buffeted by the ever-changing currents as the fly remained trapped in the lens of water in the lee of the boulder. In both streams a fish-eye swivels in its socket. Each retina receives an imprint of the proportions and outline of “prey” struggling to free itself from the eddying lens of water overhead. An angle of fin and tail are altered – flaring in the current and raising each fish from the stream bed. A kick of a tail and the flash of open mouth are followed by each fish

turning down in the current to return to the safety of ambush. The angler sees the dull flash of flank through the lens of water. Each version of this angler taps his rod up and back and sets the hook with suddenness. His rod hoops over and the fish flash, kick and turn into the main flow before breaking the surface with a spray of foam. Turning, cutting angles, diving and running – each kick is felt through the taut cushion of the rod. Soon enough, the rod can be angled back and the casting line drawn into the waiting hand. Gathering this line carefully, each fish is guided within reach of the simple wooden net that can, only at this point, be unhitched from the waist-belt. A scoop of the net and an admiring glance – the privilege of encountered wildness is completed by slipping the barbless hook free of the jaw.

A wetted hand and a photo to seal the memory, the fish is released. The experience behind those memories is the addiction that guides the life of the angler. Thankfully there is no cure.


Stripers! Chris Stewart

Bent Rod, Quiet Water

One of the most frequent questions I get at fly fishing shows is whether I have rods for steelhead. There are fixed line rods designed for salmon and steelhead, but at $600-700 for a Daiwa Salmon Special, no one yet has taken the plunge. For some time, though, I have thought that a carp rod might be sufficient and last year I started carrying carp rods – obviously for carp fishing (which John Vetterli says is “just too much fun”) but also for steelhead and schoolie stripers. I haven’t had a chance to get upstate to try for steelhead, but in late May George Roberts, friend, fellow tenkara angler, and fly casting instructor, organized a striper weekend for me. We were joined by Brad Clark, and from the way Brad and George heckle each other, you can tell that they fish together often. The plan was to fish the Bass River on Cape Cod and both South River and Cohasset Harbor on the South Shore (the shoreline south of Boston).


George gave me some Tabory Snake Flies to use. A Tabory Snake Fly has a stacked deer hair head and collar, marabou body and an ostrich herl tail with a few strands of flash. The flies George tied were over 5" long. The one shown below has a body of arctic fox as a substitute for marabou.

White Snake Fly

Although a 5" fly is not what one would normally cast with a tenkara rod, with a carp rod and a 6m Nissin PALS SP Pro line it was really pretty easy. The casting stroke with a 5.4 or 6.3m rod is long enough and the SP Pro line is heavy enough that the big, bulky fly turned over nicely. Truth be told, I think the tightly packed deer hair head (especially when wet) makes the fly dense enough that you could probably cast it pretty easily with a size 4 fluorocarbon tenkara line. The Bass River wasn’t a blow-out but it wasn't a skunking, either. I would guess I caught five or six stripers, all pretty small. Brad probably caught as many with his fly rod. The stripers were big enough to put a bend in my Suntech Field Master Honryu 81 but not nearly big enough to require a carp rod.

The following day we fished the South River and did get skunked – not even a swirl, let alone a take. After the South River, we went to a place I shouldn't name. George said it wasn't a particularly interesting place to fish but it’s

one where he’s never been skunked. For fear of jinxing it - or perhaps thinking that I would feel too much pressure, he didn't tell me until afterwards that his perfect record was riding on me catching a decent fish. I fairly quickly missed two light hits. Finally getting the fly in just the right spot, I got a solid take and was into a fish that was nothing at all like the fish we caught in the Bass River the previous evening. George had warned me to use the rod rated for the strongest possible tippet. That was the Nissin Red Dragon, with a 2X tippet rating. I had planned to bring a Nissin Kyogi, which has a 0X rating, but I sold my last one just two days before the trip! The fish tried to turn downstream but the Red Dragon was able to prevent it from making the turn. Between the fish and the current, the rod had a very deep bend but I never felt like it was at its limit. The current was an issue, but sharp rocks were a bigger concern. I could feel the line rubbing

Bent Rod, White Water


on the rocks and thought it might break at any minute. Before too long though, the fish started to tire and I was able to slide it into some shallow water and then lip it. George guessed it was about 24 inches. Comparing the length of the fish to a known length on the rod, it was actually just over 25 inches - my largest fish to date on a fixed line rod. We did fish one other spot, but for me that one fish had already made the trip and by then it was getting on towards dinner time (or at least cocktail hour). The next morning, we got up at 4 AM to fish Cohasset harbor at low tide. When we got there, another guy was just suiting up. He got there first, and I was concerned that he would have the best spot. I needn't have worried. Before too long, stripers were busting the surface all around us. We had waded out no


more than about knee deep, and not only were they within easy reach of the Nissin 2-Way 620ZX stiff, at times I was casting parallel to the shore and hooking up. I lost count of the stripers I caught, and before long didn't even think of the numbers. I was more concerned with the number of fish I was missing. I think at times I was too fast and pulled the snake fly right out of their mouths, and at times was too slow and they spit it out. They were persistent, though! An immediate cast back to the swirl or splash of a missed hook set was usually met with another take. I have no way of knowing if it was the same fish, but it didn't matter. After catching more fish than I ever could have expected, I had to call it quits. I was getting hungry. Let me tell you, it’s not often that you have a “many” day -- before breakfast!

Fishing in the Harbor


Tenkara Tribe Poe Paddy Roundup 2016: Day 1 Rob Lepczyk

When do you guys want to leave?”, as early as possible, “like, 2:30??”, sure. That’s how it went down. We all wanted to get there as soon as possible, no matter what. 2:30 came as my wake up call. Ate breakfast. Met the guys at the barn, and departed for the camp ground, four hours north in Pennsylvania. Well, actually, it was three and half, but became four hours after an awesome detour I’ll get into later. Charlie, Liam, Greg and myself convoyed up in my Jeep and Liam’s Ford Focus, remember he has a Ford Focus, it’s an important detail. I bought walkie talkies the day before, so we had too much fun with them. We came up with trucker handles, Mallard Duck, Tan Hands Tony, The Navigator, and Panther Martin. We used walkies the whole weekend, The Yellow Jacket bought a set of radios, so he and Bob Marley both had radios as well. As we got into the mountains, the gravel road was fine until the GPS decided to take us up Jake’s Lane. A very large No Trespassing sign


guarded the way in, but we kept going. The road deteriorated rapidly, until we saw an odd looking Amish fellow stacking wood, “hey fella, is this how we get to Poe Paddy?” He simply dropped his head and shook it back and forth, “no, not this way boys”. His face lead us to believe this happens more than one would think. If we had been in Maine, we would have gotten the old “ya can’t get there from here” answer. The different looking Amish man proceeded to give the most twisted, backward-ass, mountain directions any of had ever received. We turned the convoy around and made a left onto the road we had been on previously.

The gravel road continued up into the mountains into Bald Eagle State Forest. But our sense of adventure could not be contained. We found a less maintained road with a sign simply reading, “to vista”. “Ummm Tan Hands Tony, you guys wanna take the vista road?? Over”, “Panther Martin, this here is Tan Hands Tony, let’s take the vista road, over”, “10-4 Tan Hands Tony, let’s do it, over”. And so our brief, yet exciting, adventure begins.

We finally found the vista, yes it was grand, picture worthy even, a good view of the Penn’s Valley and part of the Penn’s Creek. We each staked our claim off a pile of rocks and got back into the cars. Shortly down the road we found another sign. “Unmaintained Road Ahead”. Sounds great right? Well, not if you are driving a Ford Focus. The road wasn’t anything a Jeep hardo/ enthusiast would go for, but for compact cars, this trail isn’t recommended. The Focus scraped and banged more than a few times, as The Navigator put it, “tensions were high in the Focus.” My Jeep was rocking and rolling, side to side and bouncing up and down. Mallard Duck and I had a great time. The trail was on a sharp ridge crest with steep falls on both sides, but eventually it led us right into camp! We cruised down to the sites and found Adam Klags, Robb Chunco and Jethro, and John-Paul! Charlie needed to print his fishing license, so we left the group and head back to town. On the way back we fished this delicious looking

creek, to very little success. We got back and set up camp and had a beer, or two. The crowd on Penn’s Creek was ferocious, we gathered the troops and set off to the same small creek, again, we didn’t do too well, some caught a few. The evening drew near and the cooler called us back to Poe Paddy.

…To Be Continued in upcoming issues of Tenkara Angler...


Brookies & Beer II John-Paul Povilaitis Rob Lepczyk



The Pass Lake Wet Fly: Tenkara Perfect Anthony Naples

As long as I have been fly fishing, since about 1992, wet flies have been constantly “rediscovered” in magazine articles. So I’m not going to do any rediscovering because I figure they’ve never really been gone.

If you’re coming to tenkara without a western fly fishing background, perhaps wet flies are new to you in name. But if you’ve been fishing tenkara kebari you’ve been fishing wet flies and probably even employing some of the same tactics that those old-time wet fly anglers used in Europe and America.

I won’t give a full discussion on wet fly tactics in this article, but I will give you some tips for fishing the Pass Lake after the tying instructions.

If you dig around a bit you’ll find various origin stories for the Pass Lake. Some say Canada some say Wisconsin or even Washington. I will say it seems to be a popular Wisconsin fly even now. In his book Upper Midwest Flies That Catch Trout and How to Fish Them: Year-Round Guide, Ross A. Mueller states that the Pass Lake was designed by a Clintonville, Wisconsin


minister in 1938. And by the way that Ross A. Mueller book is a great little book. I personally came upon the pattern while living in Maine in about 1996. There was an article about it in a regional outdoor rag and so I tied a few up and hit the stream. I can still remember the first brown trout that I caught using it on the Little Ossippe River in southern Maine. The were small black stoneflies fluttering about and a rising trout under an overhanging branch that I couldn’t approach any way but from upstream. I tied on the Pass Lake, let it swing downstream and under the tree … and it worked its magic. The trout was hooked and so was I. I’ve fished the Pass Lake on and off in the intervening years but in the last couple of years my increased interest in fly manipulation due to my tenkara habit has brought it to the front of my fly box again. I don’t want to overstate it – but the Pass Lake works. It just plain works. I’ve fished various other winged wet flies but when it comes to versatility and effectiveness I have not had nearly as much

luck with any other as I’ve had with the Pass Lake. I suspect it’s that white wing that makes the difference. The fish see it, and I can see it too. Being able to see and track that white wing in the water can sometimes really help to see trout moving to the fly.

The materials are pretty simple. And of course, you can vary them. The keys to keeping it close to a real Pass Lake is a tail, dark body, white wing and brown hackle.

I generally tie them in size 12 or 10. I tie them both on heavy wet fly hooks and also lighter dry fly hooks – just to keep my options open. You can even stretch it out and tie it as a streamer. The hooks used here are Fulling Mill Heavy Weight Champ barbless hooks (which you can get at my Three Rivers Tenkara shop). The Fulling Mill HWC is a competition quality, barbless, heavy nymph hook – and it is super sharp.

The traditional wing is white calf tail. Frankly the calf-tail can be a pain in the butt to tie with, it’s slippery and doesn’t compress very much. White antron makes a great, easier to use substitute, especially if you want to tie it in smaller sizes like 14 and down.

using the golden pheasant tippets lately, just because I like the look. But I wouldn’t sweat it too much. I used the brown hen hackle fibers for tailing for many years – the fish didn’t seem to care. I’m not too particular about the thread – I’ve been using red a lot, and black and brown. I’m not convinced it matters at all. In sizes down to about 12 I use 6/0 but go down to 8/0 for the smaller sizes. For the body I like using peacock herl – because peacock herl is awesome. But the original is black chenille. I sometimes use the eyed peacock sticks for herl – but to be truthful, I wouldn’t worry about it too much and I’ve been using strung herl too. Some folks complain about strung herl – and it usually isn’t as full as some of the herl on the eyed sticks – but often I don’t really want herl that full anyway. And the way that I double wrap it makes it pretty nice even if it’s not the thickest.

For the hackle I like to use India Hen Neck. This is a really cheap type of hackle (usually about $5 or so) and I really prefer the softness and webbiness of it compared to the more expensive genetic hen hackle that can be $20 and up.

For tailing, golden pheasant tippets seem to be popular now, though the original may have been mallard flank according to what I’ve read. I’ve been


Step-by-Step Tying Instructions Step-by-Step Tying Instructions 1) Tie on thread and tie in golden pheasant tippet tail. I like to wrap the tailing fibers all the way up the shank to help create a smooth body and create some heft.

2) Tie in the peacock herl, two or three strands. And like with the tailing, tie it on all up the shank to create a smooth underbody. Before wrapping the herl for the body you can create a thicker body with the thread under wraps if you want. Finish the under wrapping with the thread back at the hook bend.

3) Wrap the herl around the shank up toward the eye, and then back to the bend to form the body. The double-wrapped herl creates a nice full herl body. 4) Here’s my little trick for a durable herl body. Spiral the thread in spaced wraps up over the herl body up to the eye to reinforce the herl body. Throw on a couple of half hitches and trim the herl.

5) Time to tie in the wing. Snip a bit of the calf tail for a wing. You don’t want too much or it will be thick to properly tie in. You’ll get good at judging the right amount. You can even the tips if you like – but I don’t worry about it all that much. 6) Measure the wing length against the fly – I tend make the wing extend to the end of the tail, but many folks tie it a bit shorter, about to the hook bend. 7) Tie in the wing – being careful to leave room for the hackle and head. The pinch wrap technique is handy to keep


Pass Lake Wet Fly the wing from slipping around the hook shank. To do this you pinch the wing as shown and pull a few thread wraps around the wing as you keep it pinched. 8) Once you get a few wraps around the wing then you can let go (maintain thread tension) and finish tying it on. 9) Because the calf tail is slippery and doesn’t really compress much I like to put on a drop of cement at this point to help secure it. 10) Prepare a hen hackle by pulling of the fluff at the base and creating a tiein point by stroking the fibers back from the tip. 11) Tie in the hackle with a few wraps over it and then a few locking wraps under it. 12) Trim the excess and wrap over the butt, bringing the thread back toward the hackle stem. 13) Wrap hackle forward and tie off. 14) Trim excess 15) Complete the fly by creating a neat thread head. End with a whip finish and coat with head cement for durability. 16) The final picture shows an alternate version with an antron wing instead of calf tail.


So how do you use this fly? Well that’s the beauty of it – there’s no wrong way really. As long as it’s in the water you’ve got a good chance. You can fish it upstream on a dead drift when prospecting. Sink it deep and lift it or cast it to rising fish as a “damp” fly just in the surface film, let it hang downstream, pull it up and let it drop back… But lately my favorite method is a down and across stream swing.

The swing is the thing! It’s just too much fun.


I really don’t think there’s a more relaxing or more exciting way to fish a trout stream than the downstream swing. It’s relaxing because strike detection sort of takes care of itself; when swinging a fly downstream you’ll know when you have a hit because you’ll feel it (and often see it). It’s exciting because you’ll often get explosive jolting strike that can even startle you on a quiet stream. The fish will often get airborne too. The basics of the swing is to position yourself

a bit upstream of and across from your target area. In the case of a section of riffles or pockets as pictured to the left, you then cast to the head of the riffle or pocket, let the fly drift a bit downstream and then stop your rod to cause the fly to swing around and rise. Fish will hit sometimes as soon as the fly hits the water, or along the drift and very often just as the fly starts to swing across current and rise. The diagram shows a sweet section of perfect water for the Pass Lake wet fly using a downstream presentation. In a section like this with the broken surface you have the advantage that you are obscured from the fish a bit by the rough water. If you’re fishing a slower pool or clearer smooth water you may have to be more careful and stealthy to avoid spooking fish. The dotted lines show possible drifts and swings for the fly. Start close to you and work across the stream. In this figure the stream is good holding water all the way across to the far bank. So keep working the whole width of the stream, take a step or two

downstream and work it further downstream. When swinging the fly across current try to keep it slowly swinging – not ripping like a speed boat. Be creative. Let the fly hang in like likely spots – sometimes a fish will find this irresistible. Pull it upstream and let it drop back. Try different tactics until you find what the fish are looking for. And, of course it’s not just water like that pictured that is appropriate for the swing. Try it in any likely holding water that you find: deep pools, eddys, deep runs, under overhanging trees and down rhododendron tunnels, log jams, etc…

Tie a few Pass Lake wet flies and get out there. You won’t regret it.

And of course, if you’re not a tyer you can always come on over to the Three Rivers Tenkara shop to get a few: www.threeriverstenkara.com


Tenkara USA Forum 'Something New' Fly Swap

#14 Spider Robert Olsen

In March 2016 a small fly tying swap took place in the Tenkara USA forum. Hosted by Jay Swenberger, the theme was Something New, and all were encouraged to try a new patterns and/or materials they weren't familiar with. Needless to say, everyone went above & beyond, with the final results on display in this issue, as well as in the Tenkara USA forum. Photos: Dana Hager

#12 Hard Body Ant Dana Hager

#14 Teeny Nymph Robert Olsen #12 J:Son Style Mayfly Dana Hager

#12 Shuttlecock Midge Dana Hager


#10 Candy Cane Jay Swenberger

#12 Branding Iron Jay Swenberger

#14 Lemon Starburst Jay Swenberger

#12 Ice Flash Kebari Michael Agneta

#12 Zenmai Kebari Michael Agneta

#12 Road Kone Kebari Michael Agneta


Tailed Sakasa Kebari Robb Chunco

Being a "modern" tenkara fisherman in America is kind of a funny paradox. Here is a fishing style with origins hundreds of years old from the other side of the planet. Deeply rooted in tradition, but for the most part using technical, modern equipment like carbon fiber rods and fluorocarbon lines instead of the bamboo rods and horsehair lines of the style's originators.

I don't subscribe to the "One Fly" way of thinking. Sometimes you need a certain pattern to fish a particular stretch of water. I like to tie and fish tungsten nymphs, western dry flies, and the ubiquitous Sakasa Kebari. They all work, and they’re all fun to fish. To me, "fun" is a large part of why I fish.

Swordtail Kebari Unspecified NY creek Photo & Catch by Adam Klagsbrun


Clear your head, test your skill and have some fun - we don't need to make a living off of our catch the way the originators did. It's purely recreational for us.

The ancient Sakasa Kebari patterns of the different regions of Japan were, for the most part, tied simply. Usually just hackle, hook (homemade from a sewing needle) and some thread. Quick to tie and highly effective. Still are.

But since we are a recreational bunch these days, why not branch out and have some fun with our fly tying? Why not (GASP!!!) put a TAIL on a Sakasa Kebari? Surely the purists may balk, but what have you really got to lose? Nothing at all, that's what. Mix it up a bit and have fun! There are no recipes to be given for these flies. They're very simple ties. Hen pheasant or grizzly hackle, a dubbed body and some type

of tailing material. Just about anything can be used as a suitable tail. Saddle hackle in any color, golden pheasant tippets, wood duck, peacock sword, Antron - the list goes on. Just remember to keep the proportions in

check. A tail is usually no longer than the shank of your hook, but again - this is about having fun, so if it looks good to you then give it a shot!

And guess what? The best part is, that they will catch ďŹ sh. 47

"The River Valency, a trout stream in miniature."

A Tale of Three Rivers Tenkara Tales from the UK David West Beale

The stars have aligned in my favor. A visit to an old fishing buddy and a journey across country to a family wedding has given me the opportunity to fish three very different trouts streams, all in the same week.

The Wandle, Fowey, and Valency. Three contrasting rivers each with their own characteristics and challenges. This will be my first chance to fish for native brown trout with tenkara so I am hoping for some salmo action to christen my new esoteric zoom. At 8' to 6' 9" it's certainly a specialist little rod, and this is just the sort of water that Daniel Hall of Esoteric Tackle designed it for. I am keen to test it out, and I'm hoping for a trout from each river.. The Valency in Cornwall is a true freestone stream, lively, clear and bright and narrow enough to jump across in places. This is a


stream of plunge pools, riffles and pocket water, all in exquisite miniature. Another Cornish river, the Fowey, though still a small stream in its upper reaches, is by contrast heavier, faster and more powerful, with deeper pools and glides. Here it runs through shady woodland with a dense canopy, its banks are mossy and green and its water has the color tinge of old rust. But my first destination is a glorious contradiction in terms - an urban chalkstream. I am going to fish the River Wandle in London. (Yes, a trout stream in London!) This throws up an interesting set of challenges. I am fairly experienced with western style fly fishing but very much a newbie with tenkara, to the extent that my visit to the Wandle will be my first go at tenkara on running water. I'm pretty sure I will get the hang of it quickly enough, but the

real challenge of the Wandle will be to outwit the spookiest trout I am ever likely to fish for. The Wandle flows through south London, a hidden gem amidst the concrete jungle. This truly is a river reborn. As recently as the 1980's parts of the Wandle were classed as an open sewer. But today she has been cleaned up, restored and is now much cherished. Sure, there are the inevitable intrusions of the urban metropolis that surrounds, but look past this and you will discover a really charming little river. Its current state of health is thanks in no small part to the hard work of the Wandle Trust and its volunteers who work tirelessly to improve and safeguard the water and its wildlife habitats. My good fishing buddy and guide for the day is Paul Williams of Cannibal Flies. Paul has worked hard before my visit to scope out good marks for us to try, and we fish every likely spot but without even getting close to those super-spooky trout. My hopes are waining a little as reality bites. "My first tenkara salmo: a city trout."

I had two outcomes in mind for today. Firstly to catch my first tenkara salmo. Secondly to realise my ambition to catch a native brown trout within London. This is my first trip to running water with my tenkara rod, and fish or no, I am enjoying the experience of drifting my nymph along the margins of the emerald green weed rafts. I am really loving my new esoteric rod which is so light in the hand it feels as if all I need to do is think and the fly lands where I wish it. The presentation that tenkara allows is so delicate and precise, I just know I can catch one of these fish if I can get close enough... Paul is keen to show me an industrial looking pound that marks the uppermost reach of this stretch of the river. Upstream from here the river was covered over long ago and now runs beneath factories before tumbling out into the basin beneath us. The water slides over a concrete sill to boil and swirl like a cauldron below us. As my eyes becomes accustomed to the patterns on the surface I can see the fish Paul is pointing out. There are some roach, some chub - and yes trout! I can see by the posture of the trout that they are 'on the fin' - alert and on station just outside of the heavier flow, ready to intercept food items that pass within reach. I think the turbulent surface could help to mask our presence and I can at last creep up and select fish to cast to. The current is chaotic and it is purely by perseverance that my brass head PTN eventually passes in front of one of the trout I can see deep below. There is a butter coloured flash as the trout darts at my fly but fails to connect as the current swings the fly out of its window. I can see the fish is agitated and aggressive and I manage to get another drift past. This time it connects, briefly, only to come


"Upper Fowey, inside the green cathedral."

"Hawthorn y"


unstuck a second later. I feel the bump through the rod and fancy I can feel the bead rattle as I floss his teeth with my fly. Third time lucky though and this time he is properly on. The little esoteric zoom rod handles him well and has some surprising backbone lower down the blank. But he is using the heavy water to his advantage and bringing him successfully to the net is not a forgone conclusion. After a some frantic moments and some brisk netsmanship from Paul though I have my prize. A quick photo' and back in he goes, swimming off with attitude, to appear back on station a few minutes later.

My first native trout on tenkara and caught within London! So, a few days back at work then it's a 230 mile trip out west to Cornwall, destination the upper River Fowey. It's hard to believe that this lively little river tumbling down off Bodmin Moor soon becomes an estuary big enough for container ships to hold up in. I'm on my own now, no local knowledge from here on in. I don't think I could have chosen a location less like the Wandle where often the only obstacle to a back cast may be a passerby. Here it is the trees that seem to jostle and crowd you in. There is a mystical atmosphere to this place. The deep, cool silence of the woodland soaks up the white noise of the rushing water. It's easy to imagine that as I fish that I am the subject of watchful eyes behind me... This water has the kind of braided currents that the tenkara approach is ideally suited to. As I am not wading though the overhanging branches make it difficult to fish an upstream fly. Here the option to shorten the zoom to just 6' 9" is invaluable and lets me fish under the canopy in places denied to a longer rod.

Even so I can only flick out a fly and track it with my rod for short a distance so I resort to letting my fly swing wet fly style at the end of the drift. I am trying my version of a terrestrial pattern the hawthorn fly which swarms around hedgerows and river banks in May. Lifting the rod induces some taps from the tiny resident trout and in the low light I find that the red lillian is useful in highlighting the most subtle takes as the rod tip twitches round. I get some more taps. But time is very short and I manage only to hook up briefly with a couple of fish before it's time to leave for our hotel. My final destination is the smallest of the three rivers - the Valency, bright and airy, a beautiful little freestone trout stream in perfect miniature.

I have a few brief visits planned in and around the wedding preparations, and so time is of the essence if I am to catch a Valency trout! I find those mischievous Cornish pixies have other ideas though..

The bankside offers little cover save the odd alder and the water is gin clear so I don't want to risk spooking the trout here. My plan is to keep low and sneak upstream along the tiny shoreline to each little pool and get within casting distance. There are few casting restrictions here so I am using 6 1/2 ft of titanium leader plus a purpose matched french style indicator, then 8ft of 6X tippet. I first used the titanium leader on the Wandle when 40mph gusts had been forecast and I was impressed with its wind beating performance. It is virtually invisible though and the indicator is essential. The whole shooting match turns over nicely and is very easy to cast. With the rod extended to 8ft


I have a reach of about 17ft when I hold the level line off of the water. This seems a good compromise between manageability and being able to fish 'far and fine'. I try a little brass head PTN at the first pool I come to, and from a sitting position I can make a cast to the head of the pool. Nothing, but on the second cast I get a solid pluck before the line goes limp again. I know this pool is blown now for a while but suitably encouraged I fish on up the river. It is a hot sunny day and clouds of small pale colored midges gather over the water. There is distant rumble that sounds like thunder, then another louder one, and then a definite thunderclap over head which tells me I am not welcome here today. I have been fishing for perhaps only twenty minutes. After getting skunked on the Fowey I am keen to salvage some honour and catch something from this river, so I sneak back again early the

"River Valency"


next morning and retrace my steps. Again I flick out a PTN in that first pool and this time it gets hit straight away. The fish stays on long enough to tell me it is above average size for this river where 6 inchers are the norm. But once again the line goes limp so I move on to the next pool. Here at last my luck changes. A lovely and lively little brownie takes my fly with gusto. It skitters and jumps around the pool before I hand line it to the net. Such a beautiful fish, but just as I am getting my camera ready it leaps clear out of my net and is gone. Those pesky pixies again.. time to go but I have one last chance to fish the Valency, early tomorrow. It is the morning of the wedding and I have risen at 5am to sneak out of the hotel room, trying very hard not to wake the rest of my family as I leave. I wouldn't normally hit the water this early as I prefer to let the day warm up and the trout wake up. This is my only

"I was keen to try out some of my first attempts at kebari."

remaining chance though so here I am back at that pool. The trout in these pocket waters are very territorial so I am expecting the oversize trout to be home and waiting for my one last try. Today I will do it properly, with a small pale colored sakasa kebari I have tied, a good suggestion I think of those pale midges I saw here earlier. I am in position, sitting comfortably on a flat rock, just in range of the head of the pool where the water slides in from a tiny fall. I cast, letting the fly fall lightly onto the water where it swirl and sinks. Although the surface boils, underneath the current is surprisingly slack and my fly just leisurely wafts around. My mind drifts too, and all I can hear is the music of birdsong and of water. I'm not actually sure how long I have sat here

when the indicator slides across and the line tightens. I lift into a weight that instantly transforms into the wildest of trout. I am sure this is that same fish I have hooked twice before. Quicker than thought it streaks upstream to the head of the pool away from me. I am rising from my seat as it rockets up through the spray like a tiny salmon and leaps the fall. I catch just the briefest of glimpses as it leaps clear of the water shaking its head. It is indeed a big fish but the hook falls free and it is gone. It is the most emphatic of denials, but somehow I feel honored to have touched the wild heart of nature, if only for a few seconds. It's time to go now, but as I leave I reflect that this most memorable moment of my whole expedition occurred when I was the most relaxed, unhurried and trying the least. Perhaps there is a lesson here.


White Bass on Tenkara Russell Husted

April showers bring May’s flowers. In Texas, April showers also bring white bass, or as we call "sand bass." With the hopeful spring rains, the creeks and rivers get swollen from the fresh runoff, which warms the lakes and triggers ideal spawning conditions for white bass. The bass sense the changes in the water and group up to begin their annual run into the creeks and rivers. They come by the thousands, and can be found in large numbers during these conditions. If you find a large pod of white bass, and use the right technique, catches of over 100 bass a day are very common. And can be done easily if conditions are right.

For as long as I can remember, we would target white bass with a 3 to 5 weight rod, and use small clousers, or minnow imitations to catch white bass. This technique has always been the


combination that works best. Over the years, we discovered that the smaller the fly, or even the sparser fly, they would work so much better. So we started tying smaller flies using less materials. Next we discovered a pattern that was made famous by the late Andy Moreau. Andy tied simple, small jig flies that white bass could not resist. The flies were just strands of floss tied on a very small jig hook. They only took about 1 minute to tie one up, and we called them fast and ugly flies!!! But boy did they work. The experiment continues.

Then I found some jig head hooks my friend David Crawford made. These jigs were tiny. 1/125th of an ounce. We made some Andy Moreau jig flies with these new hooks, and it totally changed the way we fished for white bass. The jigs were so light, they would never sink to the bottom of the creek or river if there

was current. So when your line slightly moved when drifting these flies in the river, you knew you had a strike. Another thing we found out was that these small jig flies were actually indestructible, and would last all day, while catching as many white bass as you could handle.

Then I was introduced to Tenkara. Fascinated by this new technique, I quickly used an Ito in Colorado for trout fishing. It was awesome, and I immediately fell in love with how easy it was to control a drift using a high stick technique. After a very successful trout trip, we return home and I started creek fishing for sunfish, perch, gills, or anything that would hit a fly in my favorite summer creeks. The seasons change, and the Ito gets stored away till spring. Then it hits me.

Why not use a Tenkara rod for white bass? So the story unfolds. The Ito is loaded up with a handful if micro jigs, and it’s off to the favorite spring time river for white bass. I locate a large pod of sandies, so we call them, and it’s not long to see if the experiment works. A simple cast, and let the small micro jig swing down stream, and I feel a hard take. I swing the Ito downstream, and the micro jig is set into a very nice sandie. The sandie made some several hard runs, and it felt so good on the Ito.

today that was the case. In the next hour, an additional twenty something sandies fall prey to the micro jig on the Ito rod. The story ends with a new, successful arsenal for my favorite style of fishing. Many more trips were had this spring, with similar results. But as the world turns and the seasons change, I am back to creek fishing for gills and perch, and soon to Colorado for trout.

Tenkara is definitely a year round way of fishing.

A quick release, and I am back at it. The next cast, another nice sandie. As I mentioned earlier, if you find a pod, and conditions are right, numbers can be had rather quickly, and


Tenkara Multi-Species Contest Rob Gonzalez

Starting in March and running until our Holiday party in December, the Austin Fly Fishers kicked off their second multi-species contest with both Conventional and Tenkara divisions with prizes awarded in each division for the most species caught regardless of size.

All fish are submitted through photos listing location, fly, and species then released. If the species isn't known, a panel of judges help. Fish must be caught in Texas waters both fresh and salt (out to the 16-mile international border).

The winner of our last contest had 24 different species! Anglers can fish both divisions, but can only place in one. The Austin Fly Fishers have had a Tenkara rod loaner program in place the last few years to encourage its members to try Tenkara without any commitments.

If you're a member of a local fly fishing club, I encourage you to try and incorporate Tenkara into its contests and gear/casting education programs. I look forward to increasing my species count from the last contest now that we have a break from the deluge of flooding in Texas recently.

This fun contest is not only a challenge in catching fish, but also learning where certain species might be located, what flies to use, identifying new species, and learning what presentations might be needed.

For more information regarding tenkara fly fishing in Texas, visit the excellent "Tenkara Texas" Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TenkaraTexas/ 56


Tenkara for BIG Fish! Danièle Beaulieu

Tenkara was made to fish small streams for trout in Japan and still is to this day.

casts with a streamer on the swing, and then it happened... the HIT!

It is my favorite type of fishing, but on my second year of full time fishing tenkara for small trout, I decided I wanted to try to catch some big ones.

My rod was pointed at the fish (like we're used to doing in Western style fly fishing) and the worst thing happened as the fish ran. My lillian (the red cord at the end of the rod) broke clean off! I lost the lillian, the line, and the fish! Too scared to repeat that with another "Keiryu" rod, I took the Western rod that I had with me just in case and fished with it for the rest of the trip. Needless to say, I came back disappointed with my adventure.

Who thought you can capture big fish with a telescopic rod with...NO REEL!

My experience started in spring 2014, I wanted to buy some fixed line rods to handle large fish from Japan but since I do not read or speak Japanese and I did not have any prior knowledge about Keiryu and Seiryu rods, it was difficult to make good correspondence with a distributor about those kind of rods. I bought what I thought were Keiryu rods intended for big fish, but in fact I bought Seiryu rods that are made for small fish, fish that only range from 2'' to 8'' long. I went to fish for Steelhead without knowing what I had in my hands.

I arrived at the Salmon River in Pulaski, NY super excited to fish my new rod. I threw my fly in the water and waited. Tried a couple more


Time passed and a client of mine told me he wanted to buy a Keiryu rod so I sold him one of mine. A few hours later the phone rang and it was him informing me that the rod I had sold to him was in fact a Seiryu rod not a Keiryu rod...what?!? I immediately wrote back to my distributor and explained in the best way I could what happened. His response was, "Yes, I bought some Seiryu, not Keiryu rods, haaaaaaaaaa!!!" I placed another order to get real Keiryu rods and once they arrived decided to try again for some big fish.

I traveled to the Saranac river in Plattsburgh, NY in search of landlocked salmon. It didn't take long to find them. I happened to be with a friend and when I hooked the first one on the line, I screamed like crazy asking what to do? He slyly responded, "you're the tenkara expert!" The landlocked salmon was giving me a nice fight and after a few minutes I told my friend to help me with the net because it was my first one on tenkara. He assisted by netting the fish with a big smile. After fishing some more and hooking another fish, my friend told me to land this one by myself, which I did by beaching it close to the shore.

Hooked on targeting big fish with tenkara, I wanted to experiment some more by fishing for smallmouth or largemouth bass in a float tube. I took my camper and went out to a small lake near the village of Paul Smiths in NY. Casting a black woolly bugger, I let it drop a bit by counting for 20 seconds to reach the proper depth. The sensation of a big bite overpowered the rod all the way into my arm and then I knew I had a big one at the end of my line. I paddled my float tube to have a steady tension on the line as not to lose him, looking where I could beach that monster. The fish did a couple of jumps out of the water during the fight, what a show! Big Mama (or Papa) was not happy as I was steering her toward the shore. I caught a few more large fish this past Autumn, so now I know what to do to successfully catch and land them. With the additional experience, I do not need to beach the fish any longer.


Danièle's Tips For Big Fish Tenkara

• First you need to have a good quality rod that can take the bite! For my part I take my Nissin Tenkara Prosquare 8:2, Keiryu Zerosum, and Keiryu Mini pocket V3.

• For the line I use 15' of 30-pound backing with about 7' of 10-pound tippet (If you are not sure of the quality of your rod do not put this on). #3.5 level line will work as well. • Start with smaller tippet and size up once you know the rod can take it. Better to be safe than sorry. • I use the same method as Western style putting all the line in the water except for when fishing dry flies.

• You can use any flies you like; streamers, woolly buggers, dry, wet...

• If you "swing streamers" do not point the tip of the rod in front of you. If a big fish takes your fly you probably have a chance of losing your fly, or worse, losing your lillian or jamming your rod sections.

• When you hook a big fish always fight the fish with your rod at an angle (on the side).

• Let the rod do its job, meaning when hooked just let the fish run and hold on, tenkara rods are excellent shock absorbers.

• Follow the fish with the rod to always have tension and let the fish run by lowering down your rod and raise it up almost immediately. Do that multiple times to tire the fish, however do not play the fish too long if you are like me and prefer to catch and release.


• You will lose a few fish in the beginning because you going to test the power of your rod and the size of your tippet. Don't be discourage, it is part of learning. • Have Fun!

Danièle's YouTube channel Tenkara Canada also features some videos of her fighting BIG fish. Click HERE or Search "Tenkara Canada" on YouTube to find them easily.


Midwest Tenkara Fest 2016 was an outstanding weekend for the Tenkara community. Experienced anglers and new enthusiasts from all over the country came together to enjoy presentations, meet friends, and explore one of the most extensive collections of Tenkara gear in the United States. The event also served as fundraiser for Project Healing Waters, a great charity that helps to rehabilitate injured veterans through the experience of fly fishing. Thanks to a great turn out and a bucket raffle packed with exciting prizes, Midwest Tenkara Fest raised a $2,000 donation!

We’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge everyone who helped make this event a success. First of all, to the participants who came from as far away as California, Florida, and New York; Thank you to the experienced anglers who came to share their knowledge and visit old friends, and to the new anglers who came to learn. You are the heart and soul of the Tenkara community!

To our guest presenters – Anthony Naples, Paul Vertrees, Mark Bolson, Paul Gaskell & John Pearson, and Isaac Tait; thank you for sharing your knowledge and ideas with us. Your programs each brought a unique and valuable viewpoint to the community. Thanks to all of our vendors for putting together a Tenkara super-store!

Our gratitude goes out to those who generously donated items for the bucket raffle. Mark Bolson, Ken Jacobs (I Dream of Flies), Tenkara USA, Dale Hewitt, David Noll, Greg Bennett (Headwaters Landing Nets), Luong Tam (Tenkara Tanuki), Anthony Naples (Three Rivers Tenkara), and Mike Moline (Streamside Furled Leaders). Special thanks to Zoan Kulinski for donating the amazing Kebari Fly Collection and display cases! Finally, our sincere thanks to those who stepped up to sponsor this year’s event - TenkaraBum, Laura Beck Neilson Farmers Insurance Agency, TroutBuddy Driftless Guides, Three Rivers Tenkara, and Dragontail Tenkara. Your direct support was instrumental in helping make this year’s event visible and accessible to new anglers. Kudos! We are already looking forward to next year’s event. Plan to join us in Coon Valley, Wisconsin for Midwest Tenkara Fest 2017 on May 20-21st. See you there!

Matt Sment & Mike Lutes of Badger Tenkara


Mike Lutes (Badger Tenkara) Opening Remarks

Anthony Naples (Three Rivers Tenkara) Presentation Small Sampling of TenkaraBum's Rod Offering

Matt Sment (Badger Tenkara) On-Stream Demo

Mark Bolson (Tenkara USA) Tying Flies



Andrew M. Wayment The other day I read a good article in The Huffington Post by Blair Smith entitled, “Tenkara on Small Streams: Teaching Kids Fly Fishing, Respect for Conservation, and a Mother’s Love.” In this article, the author asserted that “[tenkara] is the yoga of fly fishing.” While I kind of get what she means, I don’t fully comprehend because I do not do yoga. I have a hard time relating tenkara to Downward Facing Dog or other tortuous, stretchy moves. However, if by this metaphor she means that tenkara is similar to the more meditative aspects of yoga, I would tend to agree. When I first started fishing tenkara a year and a half ago, I read every book I could find on the subject in hopes of finding some spiritual truth or some secret technique. But I found the literature to be pretty basic and—if I am honest —a little boring. I was a bit disappointed. Since then, I realized that I was missing the point. Despite the lack-luster appeal of the literature, I enjoyed tenkara fishing and found it to be effective on the small streams in my neck of the woods. I have since come to understand that the beauty of tenkara is its simplicity.


In our materialistic world (which has clearly poured over into the outdoor industry) tenkara is fly fishing stripped down to the bare necessities. Tenkara makes the clear statement that sometimes we don’t need all this stuff to catch a fish. Some opponents call it nothing more than cane pole fishing, but coming from someone who has traditionally fly fished for over twenty years (and will continue to do so), tenkara is still fly fishing. More importantly, I’ve found that there is no better way to teach kids the fundamentals of fly fishing. For me, and my six kids, that is reason enough to promote and fish tenkara. After reading Smith’s article, since the yoga metaphor didn’t quite fit my experience, I started to contemplate how I would describe tenkara. In the online Free Dictionary I found that, in addition to its specific religious connotations, the word “Zen” also generally means: “An approach to an activity, skill, or subject that emphasizes simplicity and intuition rather than conventional thinking or fixation on goals.” This definition perfectly captures for me the essence of tenkara; it is the zen of fly fishing.

Eden and her friend Rebecca ďŹ ght a trout they hooked all by themselves on tenkara

This is what tenkara is all about, fun and smiles

Jenness shows off a nice trout

Lily helps Ben land a trout


A Survival Guide to Fishing With Your Significant Other Michael McFarland

As many of us have discovered, fly fishing can quickly become more than just something we do to fill our time while enjoying the outdoors. It can become an obsession, a religion for some. It starts out small. We buy our first rod and the few various accessories we need to get started. We proceed to the river’s edge not really knowing what may be in store for us as we make that first cast. We get the hit. At that point, an array of emotions begin to take place. A dance commences between you and the fish, awkward at first, but a dance nonetheless, as you draw the fish closer and closer to your net. You land the fish. As you look at this accomplishment and snap your pictures, you also understand that this is a defining moment. It’s the moment that you realize you are going to become a fly fisherman.

outdoor endeavors or will it be an annoyance to them as you attempt to plan all of your vacations around water availability? This was the concern I had as fly fishing became part of my daily life. As I structured my limited vacation time, weekends, and any daylight I could harness during the week, I wanted to be sure to include my girlfriend, wife today, as I didn’t want fly fishing to be the reason we were not spending time together.

With all of this said, how do you think it will impact the significant other in your life? Will this be a well-received addition to your

It may not seem like a big deal at the time, but as with all seasoned fly fishermen, we are continually after the next big thing. Whether


What I have put together here is a guide. It’s a survival guide to help anyone interested in sharing this obsession with their significant other in a way that compliments the relationship, and hopefully forges the same appreciation for the sport that you may have.

Start Small

that is a certain species of trout, a new location, or just the search for a big fish, we often can’t contain our enthusiasm. However, we also cannot ignore how this approach will impact our mates. I have found that focusing on a local trip and planning to spend just a few hours fishing tends to come across better than a marathon trip on the Miracle Mile, even as tempting as that may seem. A slower introduction will always prove to be better in the long run.

Avoid “Teachable Moments”

I know it seems like a good idea to share every piece of knowledge you have acquired about fly fishing with your significant other right out of the gate. It actually can be, if you also like arguing on the water and spending a great deal of time in the car on the way home in total silence. Think about your journey and how developing skills on your own contributed to your appreciation of the sport. Provide guidance, but let them experience fly fishing without the addition of your voice in their ear. Help with knots, basic casting, and reading water, but then walk a short distance away. Let

them ask for help, rather than assuming they need it.

Follow Instead of Leading

As a fly fisherman, the sheer presence of a stream excites us to the point that we forget about everything except the steps needed to gear up and get out onto the water. We can visualize the best runs, how we would approach them, and often become pretty obsessed with the whole process. Put that aside! Don’t let your excitement overshadow the fact that your loved one will need some assistance getting setup, will likely want to walk with you down toward the stream, and might even want to spend the day with you rather than alone with the fish. Adding to this, I know we have all been frustrated at watching a rookie fisherman step where they should fish and fish where they should step. Don’t forget, that was us at one time and it is not as big of a deal as it would seem. Take your time, fish the edges that you would normally ignore, and don’t forget, this person is more important than a tight line, at


least for today! Allowing them to lead will also keep you closer together and help you avoid the “you just left me out there” conversation you will likely have in the next few hours when you realize that they are nowhere to be found.


I cannot stress this point enough. I know how I feel about food when on the river. When the fish are on, I couldn’t care less about eating anything, often forgetting about it all together. Failing to have adequate snacks and water while fishing throughout the day is a mistake and will escalate quickly. Don’t ask questions or attempt to come up with exceptions to this rule. You have been warned!

Have a Backup Plan

As difficult as this may be to accept, fly fishing isn’t everything. When you are fishing with your significant other, be sure to plan trips in


areas that offer other avenues of entertainment. Have options like hiking through a beautiful mountain trail or taking a canoe out on a lake at the ready in the event that your fishing trip isn’t coming off as fantastic as you had hoped. Having plans like this prepared in advance will help avoid wasted trips and will prove that you care more about them than the fish you hunt. You can always return on your own and catch the trout you missed the first time. Overall, fishing with our significant others can be a lot of fun and highly rewarding. Sharing our experiences and hopefully fostering a respect for the sport together will, if nothing more, strengthen the bonds that you share, especially if they start to develop the same obsession you experience. Even if this doesn’t occur, you are still spending time together in the outdoors. How can that be a bad thing?

Photo: Adam Klagsbrun


Shenandoah National Park A Photo Essay by Mike Kotowski



Finding My Tenkara with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Steve Davis

“Are you a veteran?”

The question came from above as I was walking into my hotel room in Estes Park, Colorado in preparation for the 2015 Tenkara Summit. I looked up to see a man in his mid-60s standing on the balcony waiting for my reply. I responded, “No sir; why do you ask?” “Your Project Healing Waters Hat. I saw it and thought maybe you were a veteran.” I reached up and touched the hat unconsciously, almost as if I had forgotten which hat I was wearing. “I am a volunteer tenkara instructor at my local Healing Waters Chapter in Madison, WI. Since I didn’t serve I wanted to give back to our vets for all they have done for us.” He took a moment before saying, “I learned to fly fish from the local Healing Waters chapter back in Mississippi. They saved my life. I want


to thank you for being a volunteer, you guys are heroes.” His words hit me like a freight train. “You guys are heroes…” I had never been called a hero and felt tears begin to well up. I chose not to serve my country and here was a veteran of the Vietnam conflict calling me a hero.

He continued, “I wouldn’t be standing here right now had I not taken a chance and gotten involved with my local chapter. I have suffered with PTSD since I returned from Vietnam and was at the end of my rope. Several years ago, Project Healing Waters changed that.”

Earlier that year, before heading to the local TU ‘Icebreaker’ (that inspires people to break out the rods after a long cold winter, to practice casts and tying techniques) I came across an article about tenkara. I have always been fascinated about Japan and their culture so to learn that the Japanese had their own ‘style’ of fly-fishing got me super excited to

check it out.

One of the fly shops there had a few tenkara rods on display. After 20 minutes of speaking with them, I had my first tenkara rod and line set and was anxious for the snow to melt so I could get out on the streams. During that cold, lingering month, I became obsessed with tenkara. I read books and blogs and watched countless videos to help guide me once in the field. The cast would be different; there were no mending lines, and no line management. Line management is one of my weak areas when it comes to fly-fishing and it has cost me many fish.

In the course of my research and web based tenkara training, I came across Project Healing Water Fly Fishing, I was instantly attracted to their mission and message: “Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. ™ is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings.”

I saw images of vets learning to fly fish and instantly thought that tenkara would be perfect for veterans who might have trouble dealing with a fly rod, reel and line. I contacted the PHWFF national headquarters, explained I was new to tenkara and wanted to volunteer to share my newfound passion with the people who deserve it most, our Veterans. Within about 30 minutes I had an email response connecting me with the local director of the Madison, WI chapter and after a quick email to him, I was on my way to becoming a volunteer.

I learned that another member of the Madison chapter was fishing tenkara and I knew I had made the right choice by reaching out.

A week later, I was at my first class. There were a dozen or so veterans and as many volunteers. We converged on a local pond that had wheelchair access, fed by Black Earth Creek, one of the better-known trout streams in the Driftless Region of southwestern Wisconsin. It was a great mix of folks all there with one passion in mind, fly-fishing. In the short year that has passed, I have met many veterans who are using both western and tenkara fly-fishing as a means to cope with the psychological stress and physical trauma resulting from their time in the service. Hearing their stories and having knowledge and skills that I can share to help them heal has changed who I am as a person and my outlook on life.

They say that everyone who practices tenkara will ‘find their tenkara.’ Although I still have a lot to learn about tenkara and have yet to perfect my technique, my decision to share it with our Veterans has been one of the most rewarding choices in my life. I have found MY tenkara.

For more information on Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing and how you can help, visit www.projecthealingwaters.org www.projecthealingwaters.org or contact your local Trout Unlimited Chapter for more information.


Surrender to Solitude Dennis Coppock

"God loves a man that smells of trout water and mountain meadows." "God loves a man that smells of trout water and mountain meadows." -Harry Middleton -Harry Middleton Trout.

The word itself is music, it quickens the pulse, brings memories long forgotten and left to the dust of time to the forefront of the mind to be lived again, over and over. It feeds our soul during the times when we can not be in the places they call home, the streams and rivers, mountains and canyons, aspen groves and flower blanketed meadows. It conjures up images of high country tarns glistening under a false dawn, the horizon glowing faintly with the promise of a new day, of streams born from snow melt, tiny rivulets seeping from every pore of the fragile alpine tundra, coming together with other tiny rivulets to form that life giving water that trout require to survive. These waters are small but the trout are here, often times unmolested, unfished except by the rare intrepid individual who is willing to go the extra mile or five for the sake of solitude, regardless the size of the fish. Absorb these places through every pore, through every sense until you are unable to tell where you stop and the mountains start, absorbed by the wild.



All trout have spots, from the sun dog looking fiery orange of German Browns to the delicate red and pastel colored spots of the mis-named Brook Trout, dark oblong flakes on heavily spotted Cutthroats give way to the liquid like rainbow hues of the aptly named Rainbow Trout. But there are other types of spots also, spots of time where perhaps a certain fish stands out in your minds eye, held hostage in your thoughts for you to relive over and over when the need for solace arises when life's challenges are proving to much to bear. There are also spots held close to the heart, those places where you can go back to, time and again, and be renewed, where your soul is filled and your mind is put at ease, the gentle sounds of water flowing over the dark stones like the voice of a river Naiad speaking a language, that while unknown and unintelligible brings comfort and joy. Yet another type of spot, one spoken of to



other anglers in hushed, secretive tones while sitting around a campfire, a map hastily sketched in the dirt, committed to memory and then smudged out, are about places that are nearly ethereal in nature, almost to wonderful to be real and to few in number to support much pressure so the handful of people that know it only reveal its presence to those deemed worthy of such a gift.


Many places I go in search of trout are far down in the canyons, great fissures in the earth leftover from the beginning of time, flowing with the life giving liquid that not only sustains me physically but also mentally, for without it there would be no trout and without trout there would be no me, for I am of them and they are of me. When I go for a time without going into these canyons, into my secret places I can feel the loss, feel the loneliness, others around me can also sense it because it affects my moods and mental well being. These places have something that is so hard to find in today's world so full of noise and that is quiet, fathomless and incorruptible. There's magic here also, deep magic from when the world was new that can be felt best on those still nights when the earths breath is nothing more than a whisper through the aspen leaves, the animals are quiet and the only thing howling is the moon as it silently slides across the night sky.


It's a requirement of trout, they need it to survive, to thrive and it's getting harder to find in this modernized world so full of gadgets, smart this and smart that, the growing sprawl of humanity that must happen to support the

ever expanding human population. Truly wild fish are pushed to the fringes, away from the toxicity of modern man so it gets harder to find them, harder to find native trout on the waters we fish, harder to find solitude with the ever increasing crush of civilization. All trout, in their native ranges are relics, remnants whose lineage traces back to the time of sabers, when glaciers covered the land and mankind lived in caves and left their stories on the walls as a silent testament for the following generations. It's this wildness that draws me to these places. You can see a bygone era in a Cutthroats eyes, reflections of millennia long past are visible on the flank of a Brown Trout, Rainbows remind me of a great flood that covered the whole earth and the promise that there will never be another, Brookies with their intricately vermiculated backs weave a map of the ages and hopefully of the future.

When one is hooked and finally brought to hand, I admire it quickly and let it go, the water that lands on my face from its splashing tail feels as though I've just been baptized, baptized by trout, baptized into the wildness, and as it slips back into its home, it's memory is already locked away waiting for the moment when I pull it out again, waiting for the time when I need to Surrender to Solitude... 77

Tenkara & Ultra-light Backpacking in the Adirondack High Peaks of New York Adam Klagsbrun


For many years of my life I’ve been backpacking the Adirondack High Peaks Region. There’s something magical about the ageing exposed rock, the alpine tundra above tree-line and the warm light of the afternoon, when juxtaposed against the whispering and howling of the wind on a ridge between any of the 46 high peaks, at over 4,000 feet. No wonder people travel from around the world to visit this place.

In the process of hiking many these peaks myself and with friends, I’ve discovered that in select streams and a few key areas within the high peaks wilderness, native strains of brook trout are making a solid comeback. This article is meant to serve as a guide in how an ultralight backpacker might approach hiking, camping and fishing in the high peaks wilderness areas in order to catch (and hopefully then release) these small and unique symbols of a recovering, healthy-again ecosystem that was recently in need of serious help.


For most people, a trip to the Adirondacks is no “walk in the park” even though you actually will be walking in the largest national park in the United States. It’s a unique place in that its “public/private” land - meaning that a confusingly complex (and sometimes hotly contested) set of laws determine what can and can’t be done with land that is supposed to remain forever wild. But don’t underestimate these woods. Travel-to, in and around this region requires at least a basic set of skills and knowledge about backpacking, camping and wilderness etiquette, as well as map-reading skills and a strong will.


In order to catch fish in the high peaks, you have to be ready to cover ground. The streams

near trailheads are mostly either fished out, on private land or in an inaccessible swamp that would take a beaver to find and navigate. Therefore, you must be ready to make the long drive, move fast and light on the trail, forgo long nights of sleep, and generally stay focused on finding where the fish are. This is work, like hunting, and is nothing like a leisurely day close to your car on familiar water. But that makes it all that much more fun…

Some History

Unlike the small streams of the Rockies that I fished last year, not all of these streams are teeming with fish. Not long ago a significant portion of lakes and streams in the Adirondacks were so acidic that they could not support fish life or other aquatic life at all. In 1988 the NY Times wrote an article confirming that a study had found this to be true, and around the same time, it was determined that pollution in the form or acid rain, from Industrial activity concentrated in PA, IL, OH and IN was blowing in with the weather and being deposited right over the Adirondack region of NY. The area is particularly susceptible to such pollution because of the thin, delicate soils that can’t absorb or process pollutants or filter them fast enough from the atmosphere.

In 1990 the clean air act helped to turn the tide on the acid rain and the pollutants that make it a problem, but it took many years for the smog to truly fade and for the region to filter and process the acidic soils and return to a healthy state. The smog has noticeably decreased over the years, and one can now see significantly farther into the distance than just a decade ago. Its impressive. We are rounding a corner pretty much as I write this, and according to some recent reading I’ve done, the health of the area is on the rebound –and


so I have started to poke around and see where the brookies are making their comeback now.

Planning your Destination

Choosing an area to fish takes a bit of guess work, but you will have tons of thin blue lines and small, still bodies of water to explore. I am most interested in the steeper tumbling streams higher up in the mountains, what looks a lot like the Genryu trips we see and hear so much about in Japan. Using the maps from National Geographic or the ADK mountain club will allow you to find the gorges and figure out where to access them. The latter has both campsites and shelters marked on the map as well, and I recommend purchasing one if you plan to hike and fish in the area. There is no central resource for fishing these streams, and the only really good info comes from word of mouth and the few anglers that have spent time exploring the area recently.

likely to take a fly. Its almost comical sometimes the places you’ll find trout – the low water spots in small streams that you think are empty may actually be home to a beautiful fish. But you do want to go when the water is a bit higher, so late spring and early summer tend to be great times… just after melt out when it is still a bit chilly, muddy, and before the crowds descend on the region for “peak bagging season.”

Make sure to leave enough time to hike to your destination, as the high peaks are known for gnarly trails, big rocks, slippery roots, and boot-swallowing mud. You want to have a good amount of time to fish, because you will definitely have to cover some significant distance while fishing in order to find the limited pockets of fish.

Tackle & Fishing Gear

Choose an area with a few streams that you can scout because some of them will be too small or have too many steep waterfalls to hold any fish. It helps if these streams run into or out of a lake or pond where the fish may be able to hold in deep water during the winter freeze. Be aware that not all of the streams hold trout, and you’ll have to pay attention to where you are fishing them… at some point in the ascent of a mountain stream, you will not find any more fish above a certain point, mostly due to lack of unfrozen winter hiding spots and steep waterfalls that prevent upward migration during the warmer months after the freeze is over.

First thing to say here… absolutely NO WADERS, NO VEST! Leave this stuff at home. You don’t need to wade in a stream that you can rock-hop across. The idea here is to be fast and light, and you certainly don’t want to weigh yourself down. All you need is a small pouch or pocket to put your tippet and flies in, as well as a spare spool of line. I bring a Zimmerbuilt Strap pack and rod quiver that I can detach from the main pack while fishing. A separate day-pack might be useful, but usually is not necessary at all. Think like a hiker… you shouldn’t look anything like a fly fishermen to passers-by. You don’t want to give up your “secret” streams, nor do you need to risk damaging your waders on the rocks and sharp sticks you’ll be navigating while bushwhacking between prime pools or waterfalls.

Additionally, rain is really important. Sometimes these streams dry up a good bit during the warmer months, making trout much more wary of your presence, but not any less

You will want to carry more than one rod with you, and you should probably use some kind of rod tube to protect the rods while they are strapped to your pack. Rods break, especially in


the backcountry when you’re far away from a backup. So bring a backup, silly! This isn’t a contest for who can carry less gear for the sake of proving minimalism… this is about being light, but not leaving what you actually need at home.

Chances are you’ll want or need this backup rod, and it would help if it were a different size from the first rod you are carrying – especially for the sake of versatility. I like to take one long zoom rod, like a Suntech GM Kieryu Special 39, which will be effective on most of the water you find, and will have the reach to get your fly under the waterfalls in those bathtub pools that can only be accessed from downstream at a distance. The second rod I take is always shorter, sometimes an Oni III, even more likely a Nissin Pocket Mini 270, or another similarly short rod for the really small streams.

In addition, you’ll want one fly box with a

selection of different flies – some beads, some soft hackles, and some dries. Most patterns work, so don’t get too wrapped up in having the right flies. The key is to have different hook sizes and keep it between size 12 and size 18. I usually bring nippers and mini forceps, but I leave the floatant and all the other “gadgets” at home. Don’t forget the extra spool of line and some tippet, and a way to carry your water bottle (and water filter) in you’re going off trail and away from camp all day. That’s all you really need.

Camping Gear

Backpacking trips like this are always easier and more fun if your pack is light. Nobody likes trekking with a heavy pack… mile after mile of slogging through mud and climbing over rocks is not fun if your pack is too full, so focus on this and you’ll be rewarded.

There are a few ways to do this. First, lay out all your gear on the floor. Start questioning




Photo: Adam Klagsbrun

why you need each item and begin to take things away from the pile that may be unnecessary. Instead of thinking “I can bring item x, it only weighs a few ounces…” think “I really don’t need item x, it weighs a whopping few ounces!” Just that simple shift will help you take pounds out of your pack. Do you really need an extra lantern if you already have a headlamp? Are you going to have time to read that book after hiking and fishing all day? Is the extra bit of rope you keep on you really going to come in handy or just sit unused in the pack? Do you need a huge knife or will a small pocket sized knife work? These little things really add up.

Another great way to lighten up is to get ultralight gear. This doesn’t always mean spending a lot of money, but it can. For example, you can use a cheap flat tarp instead of a tent and be completely happy and dry all weekend. Weight saved! I use a number of Cuben Fiber gear items. Cuben fiber is the lightest and most incredible material available for backpacking


gear these days. It is expensive stuff to make gear with, but it is ultra-light and completely waterproof, more waterproof than pretty much any other material aside from solid rubber. My pack and tent are made out of it, and weigh just over a pound each. And there’s no compromising. I have more space, more waterproofing and more comfort than setups that weigh 4-5 times as much. You don’t have to sacrifice comfort to go lite, but you may have to make other sacrifices to afford Cuben gear. Its all about choices - but its worth it if you backpack regularly!

You’ll need a few basics, which I’ll list here:

-Tent or Tarp -Backpack to hold your gear -Water Bottle & Water Filter -Fishing Tackle -Bear Barrel -Backcountry food -Camping stove -Wet Wading socks (mountain water is cold!) -Sleeping bag or quilt rated down to about 30 degrees -Quick dry shirt & pants – NO COTTON! -Long underwear -Extra warm layer – NO COTTON! -Raingear -A small pot or pan to cook your camping food -Bio-degradable soap & mini sponge to clean your pot/pan/cup -TP & Cat trowel -Garbage bag to keep stuff dry if it rains -Camera -Map -Bug headnet (you’ll thank me for this later.) -Headlamp with extra batteries -Extra set of heavy sleeping socks -Flask & Cup (optional but leave the heavy beers at home!)


What to Expect?

Small, wild trout in great abundance in cold, clean water is what you should expect to find. There are stories of trophy brook trout coming out of the Adirondacks, but mostly those stories are from before the pollution destroyed the area.

Many of the streams you will encounter will be small enough to jump across in just a couple of moves, but you can be assured that there are wild brook trout in many of them. Unlike out west, you won’t see quite as much water running down in those streams… we don’t have the glacial melt to keep the water levels high all year, and to add to the size of the streams. However, we do have the same cold, clean, totally gin-clear water. And the fish are hungry all the time!

You should be prepared to get a serious workout, and don’t expect to have the kind of day you get walking 100 yards to the river from the car. Hiking this region is difficult and most of the trails are rocky, steep and muddy at any altitude. Be prepared to have limited time to fish each stream and try to make a plan of where you want to fish before you arrive. Its easy to underestimate the time it takes to hike to your campsite or to the streams and back.

The High Peaks region is absolutely breathtaking and you should try to fit in some summits along your route if you can. This is often made easier by carrying your pack along the way and camping wherever you find a place to fish or sleep that suits your needs. You can also set up base camp and just head out for the day, leaving your stuff in your tent.

Rules & Regulations

The rules and regulations in the Adirondacks are simple and easy to understand. They


involve limiting group size or registering as an official group, camping either in designated areas or a pre-specified distance away from trails and water, depending on the sub-region you are going to be exploring, and using bear barrels in most cases to keep your food out of the mouths of bears and other hungry critters. Its also important to remember that you need to dig a deep hole to bury any human waste, and to cover it and prevent ground-water contamination and a negative experience for other campers in the area.

Finally, the fishing is covered by a basic NY state fishing license, and there may be slightly different rules based on where you’ll be, so read up! Generally speaking, NY permits

keeping trout of any size with a daily limit of 5. I’m not so sure how great that is, but that’s the general regulation. Other areas have rules by county or specific to the river you might fish. For example, the Ausable west branch has a few nice sections of catch & release, and there are also rules specific to the county. Essex County, for example, holds a number of these Adirondack regions and adds some minimum length to the fish you may keep. However, I would gently ask the if you read this article and plan to take a trip up to the Adirondacks, that you read up on all the rules, and please - practice catch & release fishing there! Chances are that the fish you catch will be smaller than the ideal 8-12” that make the

best meals on average. Beyond that, the region really needs to continue its recovery and isn’t ready for any real pressure from catch & keep anglers just yet.

Go get out there!

I hope this inspires some people to get out there and try some backpacking & fishing with Tenkara tackle in the Adirondacks. You’ll be pleased out how light and small the setup is, and how you may be able to catch fish where you think there aren’t any at all. Soak in the sun, bathe in the cold water, and just enjoy this spectacular piece of nature for what it offers… you may be sore and tired by the time you get out of the woods, but I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!


After being featured in the Spring 2016 issue, it's a pleasure to have Jim Tignor back for an additional showcase in this issue of Tenkara Angler.

Above: "A Little Fellow" Right (Clockwise from Top): "Tenkara Day" | "Giving Thanks" "Morgan Creek" | "Pheasant Tail" | "Hooked On Tapenkara" Back Cover: "Stalking Trout!"



Thick laurels in the East Tennessee Mountains prove to be a difficult task for any fisher in pursuit of wild trout, and for a tenkara angler, these laurels are a minefield waiting to snag flies and line. However, the Nathaniel Skaggs cold streams of Roan Mountain State Park hold some nice fish if you know where to look, the only problem is the overgrowth of vegetation on the banks. Along with the hanging limbs with greedy fingers, the streams are narrow, almost too narrow for any false cast. This is when a tenkara rod is the best choice for these rugged mountain streams.

Mystical Mountainscapes

On an overcast day in early May, the sulphurs and caddis hatch in regular intervals in both the morning and the late afternoon. During these hatches, the wild trout in southern Appalachia aggressively feed almost any fly that closely resembles the hatch; this includes sulphurs, caddis, and even a compara dun, #12-#18. Typically, dry fly fishing only catches about a third of the fish in these streams, and the size of the fish range from fingerling to the rare nine-inch fish. Understandably, a tailing zebra midge, or even a nymph set-up will yield bigger fish in the deep pockets.


So why does the tenkara rod outshine the conventional fly rod on these narrow waters?

Precision presentation is one reason, and the other is the ability to high-stick the faster runs. Having fished the waters of Roan Mountain with a nine foot Redington 5 Weight, switching to an eight-foot tenkara rod aided in better placement of the flies with a delicate presentation. Even using a double nymph rig with a #14 beadheaded stonefly with a #16 black zebra midge dropper, the tenkara reached the deep pocket waters with a natural, drag-free drift. As the temperature continues to rise during the summer, terrestrial patterns will drive these fish crazy.


Friends of Tenkara Angler











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

Chris Stewart

Started fly fishing in 2000 and after seeing tenkara at fly fishing show in Quebec, Canada in 2014, she bought 3 rods and never stopped. Fishing in rivers all across Canada & New England, she started a business selling Tenkara rods and accessories called Tenkara Canada.net.

(aka) the TenkaraBum) grew up in Colorado and learned to fly fish on the small mountain streams that are ideal tenkara water. Now living in NYC, he is the owner, CEO, & shipping clerk of TenkaraBum LLC. He usually can't be found because he's wearing camo.

Adam Klagsbrun

Robb Chunco

Adam Klagsbrun is an avid lightweight backpacker from NYC and fishes small streams in the Northeast USA. He authors a blog named "Of Rock & Riffle" rockandriffle.blogspot.com

Robb Chunco is a husband, a father and a that's pretty passionate about tying flies of all kinds. If you’d like to see his work you can check it out on Etsy or Instagram.

Sam Larson

Mike Kotowski

Sam Larson lives, fishes, and writes in Colorado’s Front Range. In addition to Tenkara Angler, his work has appeared in Tenkara magazine. He is a co-founder and contributing author at Blue Lines (www.bluelinesfly.com).

is a fledgling tenkara angler stationed in Virginia who spends most of his time chasing beautiful brook trout in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He now often wonders why he only took up fishing in his late 30s.

Anthony Naples

Rob Lepczyk

Based in Western Pennsylvania, Anthony has been a voice in the tenkara community since 2009. His blog, Casting Around, features tenkara themed stories, poetry, and original art. He is the proprietor of Three Rivers Tenkara, US seller of Oni & Tenkara Times rods

is a Tenkara USA Guide, is endorsed by Orvis, and works at Great Feathers fly shop. Born and raised in Baltimore County, MD, Rob fishes the Gunpowder River watershed for its wild browns and native brookies. Give him a call if you want to check out some local trout water. 410-472-6799.

Andrew M. Wayment

David West Beale

(Andy) is an attorney by profession and an outdoorsman by passion. Andy’s family includes his beautiful wife Kristin, four daughters, two sons, and two bird dogs. In his free time, Andy is a freelance writer and also writes for two blogs, Upland Ways and Tenkara Wandering. His first book; Heaven on Earth: Stories of Fly Fishing, Fun & Faith received numerous positive reviews and is available in Kindle and Nook.


lives in England, UK, where he fishes for anything that swims with his fly rod. A recent convert, he enjoys exploring the finesse presentations made possible with tenkara. "I love fishing for wild brown trout in wild places. By contrast I am also interested in tenkara for other coarse species too, especially in often overlooked urban locations." Follow his adventures at www.tenkaratales.blogspot.co.uk

Nathaniel Skaggs

Steve Cobb

Based in the mountains of East Tennessee, Nathaniel is a Master's Candidate in Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University. When not on the river hunting for native trout, he is actively trying to protect stream management. Nathaniel has also been published in the Red Mud Review.

Resides in the St. Lawrence valley in Northern New York State. He fishes nearby waters in the valley, and extensively in the Adirondack Park. He recently picked up the paint brush again after many years of “painting in his mind”. You might also recognize him for his “Holiday Fly” collection. quietraquette.com

John-Paul Povilaitis

Rob Gonzalez

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

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

Steve Davis

Dennis Coppock

is an IT guy by trade and lifelong fishing enthusiast by choice. He now spends most of his fishing time on the streams in the Driftless region of southwestern Wisconsin and in and around RMNP, Colorado.

lives and fishes in the Rockies of Colorado. His idea of nirvana is a cutthroat filled stream at 11,000 ft with no one else around. backcountrytenkara.blogspot.com

enjoys exploring the outdoors with friends and family. He believes that Tenkara simplicity can be effectively adapted for almost any fishing, almost anywhere! badgertenkara.com

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

Daniel Galhardo

Russell Husted

Matt Sment

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

John Vetterli

John Vetterli is one of the founders of Tenkara Guides LLC. My story? I like to fish with my friends Erik and Rob. Yea, that's about it.

Michael McFarland

has been an avid fly fisherman for 10 years. It’s a passion that started shortly after a day trip to RMNP that quickly turned this historically saltwater angler into someone that has made high altitude fly fishing part of his daily life. Michael has showcased his hybrid kebari patterns at several Trout Unlimited tying clinics, the Denver Fly Fishing Show, and the Int'l Sportsmen’s Expo.

Jim Tignor

Russell Husted is the current President of the Texas Council IFFF. Russell is an avid fly fisher who spends most of his time on Texas Rivers, from North to Central Texas and on into the Hill Country. But has recently discovered the joys of fishing urban waters near his home in Arlington and in Fort Worth. He really enjoys catching river bass, in the city limits as it is a true testament to the conservation efforts of so many to make this fishery happen.

Paul Gaskell

Paul admits to being obsessed with finding the simplest rules that explain the most complexity in fishing. As well as creating a free online tuition course to teach you the building blocks of all the world’s best river fly fishing methods – including tenkara (Click here to sign up) – Paul will explore the sets of principles that are important to fish in future books like “A Fly Fisher’s Natural History” and the current ebook “Discovering Kebari: Choosing & Using Flies That Catch Fish” (which also features John Pearson’s fantastic photography and tying guidance).




"Tiny Treasure" Photo: Adam Klagsbrun

TenkaraCalendar.com is a simple community-driven resource to organize, keep track, and promote tenkara-based events, get-togethers, "takeovers," meet ups, and seminars. The current events through the beginning of September 2016 are listed below, however please feel free to visit the website to submit and publicize your upcoming tenkara or conservation themed initiatives, or simply learn more. Tenkara Wednesday; A Weekly Gathering Wednesdays through October 2016, 4:30pm Shades Creek, Homewood, AL Oni Tenkara School USA Thursday July 7th - Saturday July 9th, 2016 Sundance Mountain Resort, near Salt Lake City, UT REI Austin: Introduction to Tenkara Fly Fishing Wednesday July 13th, 2016 - 6:30 PM 9901 N. Capital of Texas Highway, Austin, TX Tenkara Anglers of N. California & Nevada Streamside Scramble Saturday July 16th, 2016 - 9:00 AM South Fork of the American River - 38°45'59"N, 120°28'57"W Intro to Tenkara with the University of Utah & Tenkara Guides LLC Wednesday July 27th 2016, 6:00 PM University of Utah Annex 1210, Salt Lake City, UT Destination Texas Fly Fishing Expo Friday September 9th - Saturday September 10th, 2016 Grapevine Convention Center, Grapevine, TX


"Somewhere In the Driftless" Photo: Michael Agneta



News & Notes From Around Social Media "Trout Bum VA" Al Alborn continued his streamside tributes to fallen soldiers across the waters of Shenandoah NP...

Jason Klass broke the news of Tenkara USA"s new tapered line in a June 12th post on his Tenkara Talk blog... Vedavoo's Scott Hunter published "Back Roads & Killer Bows" to Vimeo, featuring some phenomenal dry y tenkara...

Adam Trahan took a look at how much gear different anglers carry on the water in an article written for Tenkara-Fisher... Christophe Laurent took us on a ďŹ shing outing with friends during the 2016 Tenkara Fest (France)...

News (& outcry) began to spread on Facebook that the Oni Type III rod will swap out the camo handle for black...


Summer 2016

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