Trip Report 3-8-14

This will be a short report - almost a continuation of last week's. It was another day with no fish but it was an enjoyable and instructive day. For most of the day I fished with the long rods - 5.3 to 6.3 meters.

There were two surprises or revelations. The first was that the rods are capable of casting lighter lines than I had expected. I'd mentioned in last week's report that the Daiwa Kiyose 43MF did quite nicely with a size 3 line. It turns out that the Daiwa Kiyose 53MF, Nissin 2Way 540ZX medium and the Suntech Kaname 63 do, too. (The Kaname's a great rod, but I'm not sure the market is quite ready for 6.3 meter rods yet).

I started out with my standard line length equal to the rod's length, to which I added about a meter of tippet. After a little bit I cut the line back to the point that the line plus the tippet was equal to the rod length. It reminded me of the day that prompted my long rod, short line  essay. With even longer rods, though, I could still get great drifts with absolutely no line on the water - and get them further away.

There was one big difference, of course. On the long rod, short line day, I was catching fish left and right and Saturday I wasn't. I attribute that to two things: time of year and wild trout vs. stocked trout. Wild trout are in the stream all year long. Stocked trout start to disappear right away, and ten months after the last stocking, there aren't all that many left to catch. Not one of the other anglers I spoke with this weekend or last weekend had caught a fish.

The second revelation should not have been any surprise. I've kind of talked around it before without really addressing it head on. If you want to get the same fabulous drifts you get fishing close in when you are fishing further away, you can't do it by just lengthening your line. You need a longer rod as well. It is the relationship between rod length and line length (plus line weight) that gives you the great drifts. Lengthen the line without lengthening the rod and the relationship changes. So do the drifts.

I've seen Dr. Ishigaki and Tenkara no Oni fishing long lines. I think in every case they were fishing straight across or across and down. I think in every case when they fished a long line they pulsed their fly. Fishing a long line and pulsing your fly is fine - unless what you really want in that situation is a drag-free drift.

I had initially thought that people would be interested in longer keiryu rods for fishing weighted nymphs in larger rivers for larger fish. Realizing how well they cast a light line, though, opens up other possibilities. Unweighted wets - standard tenkara fare - or even dry flies, are much more reasonable choices than I had anticipated. For dries especially, the drag free drift - particularly in streams with eddies and seams and cross currents, is critical. Tenkara anglers have all found spots were they could effectively fish but where guys with a fly rod and reel couldn't. The longer keiryu rods will open up places where even tenkara anglers can't effectively fish.

So what would we call it? It's not keiryu fishing, and I'm not sure it's still tenkara. What I am pretty sure of is that the label doesn't matter. I think it will be a fun way to fish. And if you can get drag free drifts in spots where no one else can, I am sure it will be a very productive way to fish, too.


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