Category Archives: General


IMG_0581A few weeks ago I bought my first set of camo in preparation for a spring turkey hunt and I started thinking that this could be a good addition to tenkara fishing.   I typically wear a sky blue SPF 50 sun shirt during warm weather season thinking that probably blends in well even though I’m not standing on a flats boat chasing bonefish against the tropical blue sky.   With tenkara, especially here in the PNW,  I’m often surrounded by trees as a backdrop and that sky blue shirt could indeed stick out like a big blue flag amongst the trees.    So this year I’m going to try something different and go with camo, we’ll see if it makes any difference.

I ended up going with First Lite camo since they use merino wool on most of their layers from base layer up to a heavy outer layer and with wool you stay warm when it gets cold and you stay amazingly cool when it gets warm.   I run a lot in wool tops and love them for their ability to regulate temperature and keep you warm even if it starts raining a cold nasty rain on me.    I decided to try their new Fusion pattern, it looks like it should do the trick with turkeys and deer and actually has quite a bit of science behind it.

At least today for my first trip out it was perfect since the long sleeve mid-weight merino wool top was plenty warm enough.   No fish today but the water was still high and cold but things are falling into shape, we just had a decent day and I had to get out and it sure felt good to be back on the water after months of really high water.  I  was wearing the same top a few weeks ago on the Yakima and caught trout almost at my feet so maybe it does indeed work.   We will see as the season progresses.


Tenkara season summary

I think that tenkara season is over for the most part at this point, I may get in a few more days but I’m betting this colder weather and the recent rains have shut down the Middle Fork by now.   Given the drought conditions we had all summer I’m amazed to look back at my statistics and see that I fished a LOT.  So far this season as a whole I’ve been out fly fishing 131 days and 80 of those were days spent with tenkara.    I fished one fly all season, my GRHE Sakasa Kebari, with one exception up at a high lake where the trout were on midges and I used a small #18 black Takayma Midge Kebari instead.   I think I only got skunked a few days early into the season but otherwise caught or at least played fish each outing.

Best tenkara fish – an 18-19″ rainbow out of Freestone Lake.  I also got a Tiger of about 17-18″ from that lake on the same day, the Amago came in handy that day.  Mostly I fished my Sato or Rhodo all season except on Freestone Lake and one day on the Yakima where I used the Amago.   Location wise, the Middle Fork was my river of choice this year given it usually had water, followed by the Tolt which ran the closest to normal of any river around, I spent very little time on the South and North Forks.   I also did some tenkara while backpacking this season which was great, it is what got me started in tenkara in the first place.   Here are my stats for the year:

Middle Fork         38 days
Tolt                21 days
South Fork           6 days
Rattlesnake Lake     5 days
Freestone Lake       3 days
Ohanapecosh          2 days
Other alpine streams 2 days
Alpine lakes         2 days
North Fork           1 day


Rivers still dropping

I reported last week when the rivers were low, now they are getting really low and warming up to boot.  I was out the last two days on different sections of the Middle Fork and the river was no longer cold, even at 8 a.m.   Here are the current flows:

Middle Fork         159    18% of normal
South Fork           97    30% of normal
North Fork           40    15% of normal
Tolt                124    50% of normal
Cedar               377    89% of normal

Still the Tolt and Cedar with reservoirs are doing the best of the local rivers and still feel cold.  Both are even up a bit from last weekend.  The South Fork amazingly is up from last week too by quite a bit, it went from 53 to 97 so this must be the last of the snow melt up the pass.  The Middle Fork and North Fork are down from last week.

I read this week that our warm trend is expected to last through September of 2016!  Yes, you read that right, 15 months from now.  We are also expected to be drier than normal for most of this time.   Going to be rough for the fish in the area for sure.



Oops, they did accept the proposal!

I made a mistake this morning, the DFW did indeed accept the proposal as is they just did not modify the rules.  Looking at the Proposal Page you can see the Final Rule Actions as:

Final Rule Actions

Staff Recommendation
Adopt as proposed.

Commission Action
Adopted as proposed.

Rule Modifications

So, we can indeed fish tenkara at Rocky Ford, Chopaka and a few of the other Fly Fishing Only waters.  I had only read the “What’s New” section in the new booklet and the definitions section where they hadn’t yet changed the wording of Fly Fishing Only.    Tenkara IS legal in Washington! 



Fly Fishing Only still does not allow Tenkara

After the whole campaign last year to get Fly Fishing Only regulations changed in Washington State to allow tenkara it appears that the proposal got rejected at some level, the wording is still the same in the 2015 regulations:

Fly Fishing Only In “Fly Fishing Only” waters, an angler may use only the following tackle: up to 2 flies, each with a barbless single-point hook, not to exceed 1⁄2″ from point to shank, and a conventional fly line (other line may be used for backing or leader if attached to at least 25 feet of fly line). Anglers may not use fixed spool reels, bait, or weight attached to the leader or line. Only knotless nets may be used to land fish.

An angler with a disability, who has been issued a special use disability permit and has it in
their possession, may fish in “Fly Fishing Only” waters with spin casting gear, with a casting bubble, and may use an electric motor while fishing on “Fly Fishing Only” lakes where fishing from a boat is allowed. All other restrictions listed above still apply.

I never heard a word back from DFW about this decision, even from the biologist who assured me that this would probably go through with no problem.   It really doesn’t impact much water at the moment since Selective Fisheries waters are open to tenkara but still, it is the principle of the matter.


New line to try

IMG_5688I was in Portland the last few days and we stopped in to the Patagonia store to look at jackets on sale.  I also took a look at the fly fishing gear and their tenkara kiosk.  Granted, I’m not convinced what Yvon Chouinard is selling is really tenkara but I’m intrigued by the use of a thin level floating fly line as a line in tenkara.  I decided to pick one up and we’ll see how it works when the season opens up this year.  Has anyone tried this line?  Any comments?

Did tenkara make me a better steelheader?

Snoqualmie winter hen

Snoqualmie winter hen

I’ve been steelhead fishing for most of the time I lived in the PNW but it took me a LONG time to catch that first steelhead on the fly and then I “cheated” by getting it on a nymph on the Deschutes.  In fact, I got 4 steelhead one afternoon from the same run nymphing which is crazy.  After I got that out of my system I went to only swinging flies on spey and switch rods and I’ve never gone back.   I used to get out a lot when our local rive still had a summer run and would get 2-3 summer fish per season there along with usually getting fish on the Deschutes whenever I went and often summer fish on the Methow or Wenatchee once these opened.

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My year of tenkara

IMG_4591What a year, while I was sick most of the year and could only get out briefly on any given day, once I was able to get out I did a lot of it and it helped a lot with my healing.   I spent 86 days fishing tenkara on the small streams and rivers within about 10 minutes of my house – the Snoqualmie Forks, the Tolt, the Raging and a few small tributaries of these.   I never once picked up Western fly rod to fish trout on these streams and I did all my fishing with one fly, my GRHE Sakasa Kebari.    The Tolt ended up being my most fished river with 24 days, followed by the Middle Fork with 22 and the South Fork with 21.   I learned a lot of the Tolt this year thanks to having friends who live along it and thus getting access to some of the water that would be a long wade otherwise.   I fished mostly two rods all year too, the Sato and the Rhodo, but did bring out the Amago once or twice during higher water.   I also hopefully helped get tenkara legal in Washington’s Fly Fishing Only Waters, we’ll see how the public comments went and what the regs look like next year.

So what’s up for 2015?   Hopefully by the time the season really opens up I’m over this infection and will be able to do some tenkara workshops and a bit of guiding.  I’m also thinking of sticking with one fly but even simplifying that to a plain old tan Amano Sakasa Kebari.  The trout don’t seem to care much for my dubbed body and tinsel rib as I found out fishing nearly destroyed kebari and still catching fish on them.   I’d also like to be able to make the Tenkara Summit in 2015, this year was just out of the cards due to my health.   I also want to get back up to the North Cascades to fish more, this year I never really left my home waters in the Snoqualmie Valley.

Let’s make tenkara legal

Last winter I discovered that tenkara wasn’t legal on Fly Fishing Only waters in Washington and put forth a proposal to get that rule changed.   The proposal got brought up at the Board of Director’s meeting and was basically put off until the standard rule change procedure that happens every summer.   So, now is the time for that procedure.

From now until Oct 16 the proposal is up for public comment.  Here is the text of the proposal:

Rule Change Recommendation Short Title
# 4. Tenkara fly fishing gear

Rules Category
Not region specific

Type of Rule Change Proposal

Short Description
Modify the definition of “Fly Fishing only” waters to include Tenkara fly fishing gear.

Tenkara fly fishing uses a long limber rod with a braided Tenkara fly line permanently attached to the tip of the rod. Tenkara fly lines vary in length from 12 to 25 feet with an additional leader attached. This technique is gaining in popularity and is not legal to use under the current “fly fishing only” rules. It is disqualified from use because of the term “conventional fly line”. Using the term Tenkara in the rule will clearly define the type of fly line is required to comply with the rule change.

So, what can you do to help make this proposal pass?  Go to the Sportfishing Rule Adoption Process page and make your comment on why tenkara should be allowed on Fly Fishing Only Waters in Washington State.   If enough of us get on board with the proposal we should be allowed to legally fish our Amagos and Yamames on Rocky Ford in 2015.



Tenkara for healing

All my gear ready to go

All my gear ready to go

As some of you know I’ve been dealing with an illness all year long that has my activity levels lowered significantly and put an end to my ability to teach tenkara and guide this season.   It is a GI infection called SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth) that is turning out to be very hard to eradicate so I am having to stay on a very restricted diet and limit my movement to under a few miles each day to stem the weight loss from the disease.  I’m very used to going out and running many miles most days and being able to spend an entire day on the water, hiking to various locations and fishing many hours so this has been a very tough adjustment.

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