Monthly Archives: September 2013

My Trout Season Without a Reel

noreelThis year when I decided to take up tenkara I quickly made the decision to give up my western rods and reels for the trout season.  For saltwater and steelhead my switch rod and reel were fine but for trout the year had to be reel-less.   Trout season  rapidly came to an end here in the Pacific Northwest with unusually heavy late September rains but it was an amazing one to say the least.  We had the best summer I’ve seen in 23 years living in the Seattle area and fishing was small streams in the Cascades was off the charts from early June until a few days ago at the end of September.   Granted the season isn’t all the way over and I may eek a few days in on the Yakima at this point but will be focusing on steelhead and moving back into saltwater now that the rivers are either closed or rising from the rains.

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Big Fish Rods


Big fish rods – Yamame (top) and Amago (bottom)

When I first learned of tenkara I decided it would be great for hiking into small streams so my first rod was an 11′ Iwana.  After I started fishing tenkara on the South Fork and some other small creeks I wanted to fish the Cedar but didn’t want to use a western rod.   The problem with the Cedar is that there are some big trout in there, I’ve gotten them up to 20″ and figured that the little Iwana would not be able to handle it at all.   Thus, I started looking for a big fish tenkara rod.

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Tying the Adams Ishigaki Kebari

The kebari I use second to the GRHE Sakasa Kebari is the Adams Ishigaki Kebari, a fly that combines the ever popular Adams dry fly with the Ishigaki Kebari.   It is a very simple kebari to tie that uses very few materials.   The fly fishes great on the surface even without floatant but also is very effective as a damp swinging pattern.

Materials list is minimal, just like tenkara:

Hook:    Dry fly hook #14-16
Thread:  Gray 6/0
Hackle:  Grizzly dry fly hackle, one size larger than hook
Body:    Muskrat dubbing

Here is the video that I shot as  part of the Tenkara Tie-A-Thon for the Colorado flood victims:

Tenkara, the New Bamboo

Chris Fahrenbruch on the South Fork - photo by Lex Story

Chris Fahrenbruch on the South Fork – photo by Lex Story

Fly fishing began in both the west and east with a long supple rod, a fixed line, a leader and a fly.  This is how Dame Juliana Berners, Issac Walton and Japanese commercial fisherman fished.   Time went by and man created the reel and split bamboo rods which were shorter and lighter than the old greenheart long rods.   Fiberglass and then graphite replaced split bamboo and modern fly fishing as we know it came into being.

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Tying the GRHE Sakasa Kebari

The first in a series of fly tying videos showing how to tie the GRHE Sakasa Kebari.  This is my favorite fly and I usually start the day with it unless fish are actively rising.   It is  a simple reverse hackle fly that only uses a few materials.

Hook:   Umpqua C300BL  #12-14
Threat: Tan 6/0
Hackle: Pheasant Rump
Body:   Hare's Ear dubbing
Rib:    Fine Gold Oval Tinsel

Here are the video instructions on tying the kebari:

A Season on the South Fork

The South Fork with the water I fished this season highlighted

The South Fork with the water I fished this season highlighted

After discovering tenkara at the Seattle Fly Fishing Show in February I had two goals in mind for the upcoming trout season.

  1. Put away my western fly rods for trout fishing and only use tenkara
  2. Explore and fish as much of the 36-mile length of the Snoqualmie South Fork as I could

Both, it turns out, were pretty easy to achieve given that we had a perfect summer with a lot of opportunity to get on the water and the South Fork happens to be a pretty ideal tenkara river.  I ended up spending over two dozen days fishing the South Fork this summer and covered quite a bit of river miles as shown the map above.

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Simms StreamTread Sandal Review

simms-shoes-1Much of the year I like to wade wet.  Something about being in cold flowing water on a 75-90 degree day, it just makes me feel more part of the river than having my legs separated by several laminated sheets of GoreTex fabric.   This season my very old Orvis wading shoes finally bit the dust, they were literally falling apart and needed replacement.  Over the last few years I’ve waded in Keens, Vibram FiveFingers, even my Luna Leadvilles but found all of these to be a bit lacking in either traction or protection so I decided to look for something built for the job.  Since I’m pretty loyal to Simms for waders and wading boots I decided to give their StreamTread Sandals a shot.

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One Kebari, Two Kebari, Three Kebari (more?)

When I first learned about tenkara at the Fly Fishing Show I was intrigued by Daniel explaining the one-fly philosophy.   Coming from western fly fishing where my box is full of patterns to match the hatch it just seemed improbable that one fly could be used in most situations and catch fish.   I started tying some kebari for fishing and, like with western fly fishing, tied a few flies in about a dozen different patterns to start with.   As I read more though about tenkara philosophy and thought about it I realized that I had caught most of my small stream fish on a few patterns and decided to adapt these patterns to tenkara.   I scrapped the dozen or so different kebari I had tied originally and settled into two basic patterns which I have used 95% of the time with success.   For a few weeks I thought I might be able to get down to one of these then hit a situation where I absolutely needed a small fly to catch fish so instead of going from two to one pattern I now carry three patterns of kebari with me but have not felt the need for any more.   Right now I can live with three patterns and I have found these to be effective in every creek, river and lake that I have fished over this season.

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ZimmerBuilt Strap Pack Review

strap-pack-1A month ago I went looking for a day pack for longer fishing days and bought a ZimmerBuilt DeadDrift Pack and Micro Pack for the strap.   I was immediately impressed with the quality and thought out design of the pack and ordered a Tenkara Strap Pack a few days later, deciding it would replace my lanyard system for short fishing excursions when I didn’t need to carry water, a jacket and a lunch.   This past week I got to use it a lot when we were on our family vacation and my fishing time was usually a quick jaunt to the lake in the backyard or to a small creek close by to fish anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or so.   All I needed was my basic gear and the pack worked perfectly.

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