Monthly Archives: August 2013

Lake Tenkara

1175486_10151709433067530_998173809_nOur annual family vacation is held in a lakeside house at the Wilson Ranch in Mazama where it is only steps to a small private lake that holds rainbow, brown and tiger trout.   I’ve fished this lake for the last decade with a western rod and this year I did pack a 4-weight but also packed my Amago for the lake and an Iwana for the small creeks in the vicinity.   I vowed to use tenkara and only pull out the western rod if I wasn’t catching fish.   I never had to pull out the western rod.

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Going Small

What I normally fish and what I had to fish today

What I normally fish and what I had to fish today

Today I took a friend out to a spot that a few weeks ago had quite a few trout and quite a bit more water than it did today.   We hit a couple of runs and had a few fish on but for the most part I was seeing fish flashing at my kebari but not really taking it.   I decided to switch to the smallest thing I had in my box, a #16 Takayama Sakasa Kebari that I bought when I originally got my tenkara gear but never used since my usual #12 and #14 kebari always caught fish.

Almost instantly I had a fish actually grab the small fly though it came off on a jump.  We moved up to the next run and I was catching fish pretty quickly with the tiny fly.   My friend had been getting some tugs on a #14 but not hooking up and switched to the #16 and hooked up.

Looking at the situation everything pointed to the small fly.  The water was lower than normal, the fish seemed a bit smaller than the ones I was getting in the same area a few weeks ago (one fish I landed may have been the smallest trout I’ve ever landed on a fly) and there were a hatch of small midges going on and fish were rising to them.

After getting home I tied up another half dozen of the small flies so I’m ready next time.   This was the first time I’ve had to veer away from the two flies I’ve been fishing all season long and stick on something different in order to catch fish.   I guess my two flies have increased to three flies, still not bad compared to the dozens of patterns I had in my Western fly box.

Fishing a Long Line

Swinging kebari on a long line

Swinging kebari on a long line

A few days ago I went out to check a local steelhead river and hit the upper part of my favorite run with my 11’6″ switch rod and a pretty small steelhead fly since the water was so low.   About three steps down the run I hooked into a fish which turned out to be a nice 14″ rainbow instead of a steelhead but hey, I hadn’t got skunked.   I had a few more trouty grabs on the way through the run so went back to the car, dumped the switch rod and grabbed my 13′ 6″ Amago.  I only had my 13′ line with me but I waded out a bit further and worked the run with a kebari and managed to get 2 trout and had about 5 hits, better than with the switch rod.

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ZimmerBuilt DeadDrift & Micro Pack Review


On the SVT heading to the S. Fork

For years my small stream setup consisted of a chest pack then few years ago I swapped out the chest pack for a lanyard system which worked pretty well.  I could carry a small fly box, a scissor/plier, tippet and floatant easily and it seemed most of what I needed.  This year I found myself going out for longer days and doing some hiking to access points so I wanted to be able to carry water, a snack or lunch and maybe a rain jacket along with me.  Carrying multiple rods was also desirable since I sometimes will fish a small tributary and a larger river or a creek and a lake in the same day.  I also knew my mileage to stream would only increase as my leg heals so I decided to start looking for a fishing pack to carry my tenkara gear for a full day in the mountains.

I looked at most of the options out there and came down to two to choose from – either the DeadDrift Pack or the Tenkara Sling Lite from ZimmerBuilt.   They had similar carrying capacity, cost and features so it came down to one strap or two.  I opted for the two strap DeadDrift Pack just to keep weight evenly distributed on my shoulders.   I also purchased a Tenkara Micro Pack to attach to the shoulder strap so I could carry a fly box and tippet there.

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Iwana Rod Family Review

The Iwana rods from TenkaraUSA are named after the Iwana, or White Spotted Char, found in Japan.   These small char are probably the perfect target for the Iwana series of tenkara rods which are made for small to medium streams with smaller average sized fish.

Iwana Rod Handles - 12', 11' and 9'3" from top to bottom
Iwana Rod Handles – 12′, 11′ and 9’3″ from top to bottom

TenkaraUSA sells two versions of the Iwana rod – an 11′ and 12′ model and also a conversion handle that will turn either rod into a 9’3″ rod.  The rods share most of the segments and just use different handle sections and a reduced number of sections as they are made shorter.   This is a nice feature, especially if you own several Iwana rods and break a section on one.  I recently broke the tip on my 11′ rod and when I was heading to very small water just turned the 12′ rod into an 11′ rod and went fishing.

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Fishing in Bathtubs

OK, not really fishing in a bathtub but fishing bathtub sized pools in rivers.  After taking up Tenkara this year I began searching out smaller waters and smaller sections of bigger waters looking for trout and have been pleasantly surprised by what I have found.

Today was a great example.  I was on the Middle Fork and the really nice corner run I wanted to fish was just so windy that I couldn’t control my line well with the wind blowing straight upstream on me.  I managed a few fish but was getting frustrated so I moved downstream to check out the next spot where a long riffle ended and dropped into a pool.  What I found was that the riffle did drop well but on my side the current was pushing into the bank and got deep fast so I really needed to fish from the other side to fish it well but didn’t want to cross into someones back yard to fish.  Looking at the shore from where I was in the riffle I found a spot about the size of a bathtub that had some good rocks and depth, I figured there was probably one fish there.  A few casts and I had a grab but missed.  Next cast another grab and I was into what turned out to be my biggest Middle Fork cutthroat of the year so far, a nice 14″ fish.  I sort of figured he was king of the little pool but made a few more casts.  Wham, another grab and another nice 11-12″ cutt to hand.   A few more casts, wham, another fish.  What the heck.  By the time I was done I had landed four, lost two and missed another two in this little run.

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Welcome to Northwest Tenkara

Welcome to the Northwest Tenkara site.  I had been writing tenkara-related posts on my personal blog and decided that it would be better to create a site just dedicated to my tenkara journey.  You can find out more about me at the very well named About Me page.  I hope you enjoy following my tenkara adventures and learn something about tenkara and the trout waters of the northwest.