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Some Tenkara Trip Thoughts

by Brandon
(Phoenix, AZ)

Last week we took a family vacation and spent a week at a house right on a section of Oak Creek in northern Arizona. Throughout the week I had a chance to fish three mornings, and one afternoon. Oak Creek has crystal clear water that moves fairly slow, and it is fished heavily since Hwy 89A runs right along its entire length. The fish there are spooky, even the stocked rainbows, which are fairly easy to catch on any other stream in Arizona. I fished for about 8 hours total over those 4 trips, and ended up landing 13 trout; 7 browns and 6 rainbows. I was pretty happy with that considering where I was fishing. I won't go into long details about the trip, but during the week I kept some mental notes, and wanted to write down some thoughts I had about tenkara fishing.

- The first three days I fished with the TenkaraBum Hi Vis Hand Tied Mono line attached to my 12' Iwana. Compared to the 12# Stren fluorocarbon I normally use, it casts like a dream, and is much easier to see. The third day we fished in the afternoon, and we fished until almost dark. I accidently untied the line from the lillian before winding it on to my spool, and the line slipped out of my hands and went downstream. I tried following it for a few feet, but couldn't catch up and lost it. Casting the Hand Tied Line was nice, but landing a fish was trickier than I was used to. The TenkaraBum line was 14' plus tippet, the Stren I always cut to 12' plus tippet. The extra two feet makes a difference when trying to net a fish. The last day of fishing I went back to my Stren level line, and while it cast fine, I missed the visibility of the TenkaraBum line.

- All summer I have fished the sakasa kebari exclusively (except for one day trying various flies), and up until this trip have tied them on a Mustad 3906 size 14. I got some Daiichi 1120 size 14, and this trip used flies tied on those hooks. I feel like I landed more fish that hit my flies on the Daiichi hooks, but they don't sink as fast as the Mustad, and at times I was wishing for my fly to sink faster/deeper. I think a good compromise would be to have both in my fly box (altoids tin), and use the Mustad flies for deeper, slower pools. The Daiichi hooks worked great in faster water. I also caught all my trout on the flies I tied using darker, more natural colored thread. Olive brown, dark green, pale yellow. The brighter ones like red didn't catch any fish. As for hackle, I bought a Metz variety pack of assorted hackle, and it's enough to last a very long time. I just pick a feather at random from the 20 or so patches in the bag, just for variety. The fish didn't seem to care what hackle was on the fly, only the color of the thread.

- My dad bought a Fountainhead Stone Fly tenkara rod, the 12' 6:4 model before our trip. He has never fly fished before in his life, and within about 30 minutes or so of casting in a pool near the house we were staying in, he caught his first trout. I had a chance to fish with the rod for a little bit, and I really like it. To me it is equal to my 12' Iwana in terms of quality. Holding the two side by side I really can't tell a difference, but when casting them, to me the Fountainhead feels a little bit faster. Not much of a difference, but it is noticeable. For the money ($83.50 shipped, ordered Monday and received Wednesday) it was a great deal.

I'm sorry I don't have any exciting fishing stories to tell about the trip. Well, there was the 4" brown on the second day, that when I set the hook, went flying through the air directly at me and landed in my net that I was holding in my left hand, fly already out of his mouth, but that's it.

Comments for Some Tenkara Trip Thoughts

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Oct 19, 2010
Sorry you lost your line
by: TenkaraBum

Sorry to hear that you lost your line. I think I've lost three lines now doing just the same thing! Hopefully in a couple weeks I'll have the right diameters of the hi-vis fluorocarbon to do a hand tied line in it, and it should be much nicer than the mono lines.

I guess I should have been more clear on the description of the hand tied lines! The last two feet are clear fluorocarbon so you can use a tippet that is two feet shorter. With a level line, I use 4' of tippet, but with the hand tied lines I only use 2'. The total length from rod to fly is the same. (I've edited the page to try to clarify that point.)

If you want a heavier hook, you could try the Mustad R90 - it is really heavy! I know you tie your own, but if you ever want some flies tied on them I could do it for you.

Nice catch on the 4" brown! I've seen videos of Japanese anglers fishing for Ayu do that, but I've never seen it with a tenkara rod!

Oct 19, 2010
tippet length
by: Anonymous

I should have said that with the level line I cut it to 12', and to that I only add 2' of tippet. It makes for less reach, but it's easier to land the fish. That's just what I was used to, and when I added 2' of tippet to the hand tied line, it made the whole thing 2' longer than my usual setup. The extra reach with the hand tied line was useful, though. Enough to make me want to add 4' of tippet to my level line, until you get some hi vis fluorocarbon in, that is. I love casting the hand tied tapered line.

Oct 20, 2010
Red flies...
by: tnitz

It's been awhile since I've tied my own flies, so before settling on one pattern or style, I've been experimenting with maybe 8 different patterns this past season.

All of them worked similarly with two interesting exceptions:
1) I used a reverse hackle, red-butted peacock herl body fly that simply was unproductive. Ironically, it was the closest to the fly I had imagined myself tying up (something of a royal coachman derivative) so it was good that I tried it before tying a bunch up! Your comment about red flies sounds similar.

2) I've never fished an invicta (a classic Irish winged wet fly) so thought I'd give it a go. I've used the standard invicta and silver invincta. Both are great flies but interestingly the trout here locally ONLY took it as it was breaching. Not on the drift, not on the swing, only as it was breaching the surface. And every time. I found it too predictable and limited to be my go-to fly, but it was interesting in its specificity (no other wet fly I've used - mostly soft hackle rounds - acted that way).

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