Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Loop to Loop connection

I like to use a loop to loop connection wherever appropriate.  It's fast and easy, secure, and easily reversible.

There is a right and wrong way to make the connection.  You want the knot to look like this -


not like this


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tenkara as a teaching tool


I recently read a short article about the use of a fixed length line system as a fly fishing teaching tool. I agree with much of what the author said about how it simplifies things for the beginner. The article stressed that it eliminated the need to shoot line and mend line.

I don't agree that it eliminates the need to mend/manage line on the water.  I will say that having a long rod and very light line makes it alot easier.  This allows the student to learn to recognize what happens when line meets water, to see the effect, and to be able to figure out what needs to be done in order to make the fly behave as the angler intends.

A fixed lenght line system certainly eliminates shooting line, but it does even more in terms of simplify the process.  What I've found really helps a beginner is eliminating the need to coordinate two hands in order to successfully cast (even when you aren't shooting line). When folks are first getting started, it is indeed a pat head/rub stomach type of exercise trying to coordinate the movement of both hands. Eliminating the line hand allows a person to focus on using just the rod hand to make a cast.  


I've lost count of how many times I've watched a newbie fly fisher spend an evening trying to flail away with a reeled rod.  After a while it’s hard to miss the level of frustration that overcomes even the most determined new learner.

My approach is typically to wade over and ask him/her if they'd like to give my rod a try.  I don’t typically provide any other instruction or suggestion.

 So far I've yet to see a person within no more than a cast attempt or two, be able to deliver the fly and start fishing. More often than not, the fishing gods seem to be smiling because it seems like beginners luck kicks in.   The person soon catches their first fish.  It's very rewarding experience to both the student and myself, everyone goes home happy.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Myth Busters - Dead Drift

There are at least a couple of widely held and accepted fly fishing related “truisms” , that at least from my perspective, aren’t so true.

One I think many of us have heard – It’s isn’t fly fishing unless your rod is equipped with snake guides.

I think most of you who may be reading this may have a slightly different opinion.

Another one I often hear – You need to present your fly with a dead drift in order to catch fish.

I personally disagree with this one with as much vigor as with the snake guide axiom. Dead drift is certainly a popular and effective presentation, but it certainly not the only presentation that works well. Not everything that a fish may eat floats along lifelessly in the current. A lot of things move, whether it be in the form of a struggle, or purposeful means of propulsion. Don't be afraid to twitch, skate, skitter, swing, flutter, lift …. your fly.

Anytime one is engaged in a discussion, it’s always nice to know at least a few other folks share your opinion. When it comes to fishing alternative presentations to dead drift, I think I am in good company. If I ask you to close your eyes and picture what is commonly referred to as a “tenkara” fly, chances are you envision something that looks like this

So ask yourself, why tie the hackle forward? I probably don’t need to tell you it’s designed to add movement to the fly as it is twitched during the presentation. It’s to make the fly look alive via the movement imparted by the angler, and the resulting pulsation of the hackle. These flies are specifically designed NOT to be fished using a dead drift presentation.

As least for me, another fly fishing truism bites the dust.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

But another validity discussion

Another day, another it ain't really fly fishing discussion in a fly fishing forum. I find it interesting that if you do a google search on a guy named Izaak Walton, you'll find several hundred clubs, organizations and other miscellaneous stuff named in his honor.

Guess what? He didn't use a reel either.

As you spend some time looking into things, you'll find the development of fly fishing in both East and West is remarkably similar in terms of time frames and the types of equipment used.

I personally don't think there is anything mystical or zen about using a fixed-length line set up to fly fish. It's a simple and effective way that some folks choose to fish.

Quite honestly, the vast majority of good old boys and bubbas can't help but smirk when they see somebody standing in rubber pants, waving a stick around as they zoom by in their bass boats. It's all just a matter of where you happen to find your interest along the curve.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

It's not fly fishing if it doesn't use snake guides

I recently saw another of the seemingly endless proclamations in a sub-forum targeted to tenkara - It ain't fly fishing. My initial inclination was to enter into the fray, but after second thought, decided not to participate. Of course there was the requisite attempt to post a "humorous" photo to hammer home their point
The one thing I tried to figure out - Why is it folks who claim to hate/detest fishing without snake guides actively seek out tenkara focused forums and discussion groups? I personally don't like brussel sprouts, I feel no need to seek out brussel sprouts recipe pages to tell other folks they shouldn't eat them. I guess maybe doing so somehow strokes these folks egos, making them feel some how superior that they are indeed true fly fishers. You know, the folks who tie on a strike indicator, clamp on a few split shot, and fish the "traditional" way. Out of the blue, I saw a quote which I think answered my question - Hanlon's razor is an adage, most commonly attributed to Robert J. Hanlon which is generally stated as: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Listen to the Music

There recently was a seemingly endless conversation on one of the fly fishing forums regarding what’s more important to catch fish - fly or presentation.

The consensus results can be summarized:

- develop a repertoire of many different presentations - or - always use the same one (dead drift (it’s the perfect presentation for dead caddis flies))

- shake the bushes and be prepared with a vest full of fly patterns for whatever you see - or – one generic fly properly presented will almost always work

- all the possible combinations and permutations of the above

What I find most interesting, the exact same conversations take place in the other forum topic I follow.

I want to start playing guitar, what should I do?

- learn to play scales - or - never study scales, just play songs

- start out playing classical, pop, jazz, bluegrass, finger style, with a pick, the blues

- buy a Martin/Gibson/Custom built - or – buy a $100 Epiphone/Yamaha

And at the end, the exact same answer results for both -

Go out and fish / listen to the music that is inside you.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Tenkara using a Crappie Pole

One fairly common question - Can I fish tenkara style with a telescoping crappie pole? Up until now, I’ve been answering - Yes.

It’s how I got started. When I first heard about fly fishing with a fixed length line system several years ago, I decided I wanted to give it a try. I started with a South Bend Black Beauty composite rod/pole I bought at Wal-Mart for $12. Other than being heavier in weight than might be ideal (I could only fish with it for a couple of hours before I got too tired), it cast and fished without problems, I caught a ton of fish using this set up. I will always have a soft spot for this set up, it's what got me started having a great time fly fishing with a then new technique to me.

As I think about it, a truer answer would be – Yes, with the right line. And that might be easier said than done for some folks. I found you needed to use a line that was considerable heavier than a line you might use on an actual tenkara rod. Since I furl my own lines, other than a bit of trial and error, once I find the right combination, the set up was certainly more than capable of delivering and fishing a fly.

I found that a permanent connection to the rod tip worked best for me -

I think the question actually being asked is – Is using a crappie pole the cheapest way to fish a fixed length line system? If it requires the purchase of a custom tapered line, which may or may not work, maybe it’s actually cheaper to buy a $50 - $60 true tenkara rod. Coupled with a couple dollars worth of single strand fluorocarbon line, a real tenkara rod may be just as economical. It’s definitely a demonstrably better solution at close to the same price.