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TENKARA COMANDO FISHING
by Karl K
Just what on earth is Commando Tenkara fly Fishing? A Tenkara Commando is an angler who fishes the very smallest of tight, brushy streams, where the casting distances are very short if a real cast can be made at all, and with the bow-and-arrow cast becoming the most often used casting technique. The trout are also usually as small as the streams they live in, but every now and again some big fish are hooked and, hopefully, landed and released. Commando anglers usually take no prisoners.
Commando Tenkara Fishing Rods:
This kind of angling usually involves using the shortest and lightest of fixed line rods. The Shimotsuke Kiyotaki 18 & 24 rods, at 5' 10" and 7' 10" in length and 0.6 to 1 ounces in weight respectively are my current favorites. These rods have relatively fast actions and considerable backbone that's needed to stop fish quickly from running in tight quarters with lots of snags, and to adequately handle those big surprises that come along from time to time.
Tenkara Commando Lines:
The tight, brushy little streams we are talking about here fish best with light lines that are a match for the short rods being used in their length. The rods should be about as long as the stream's average width. The lines I am presently using are 5, 6, 8, 11 & 13 feet in length, excluding the tippet. The two longest lines are reserved for longer rods, used on more open streams with fewer to no overhead branches.
Commando Tenkara Fly Patterns:
Because these kinds of streams are usually quite shallow and the fish are looking up after the snow runoff has subsided, the only fly patterns listed here are dry flies, which are also the easiest kinds of flies to fish on these kinds of streams.
I carry only one small fly box (the C&F Design Light Weight model), with the lid carrying 8 of #17 Halloween down wings, 8 of #13 Green Butt down wings, 8 of #11 Orange Down Wings, 8 of #12 High Country Hopper patterns and 8 of #15 Pink Butt down wing fly patterns.
The bottom of the fly box carries only Terrestrial fly patterns in its foam slits, which are made up of the following: 8 of #18 Two-Toned Foam Beetle patterns, 6 of #12 Two-Toned Foam Beetle patterns, 6 of #13 Well Hung Foam Spider patterns, 8 of #12 Two-Toned X-Rated Ant patterns and 8 of #16 Two-Toned X-Rated Ant patterns patterns.
Commando Tenkara Tackle Packing:
Both of the rods are carried in their rod socks in the K-model Ebira rod quiver, which is only about 16 and 1/2 inches or so long, to which I have added two light lengths of nylon cord - one length on the shoulder strap so I now have two shoulder straps, and the other to the plastic tab opposite the bottom shoulder strap attachment point, at the bottom of the rod quiver to form an adjustable waist strap, with an added snap/hook/clamp to clip into the existing snap/hook. There is a small attached zippered pouch on the back of the K-model Ebira, and it holds the rod Sock for the rod being fished, my forceps while in transit, my Flip Focus Magnifiers, and a small bottle of insect repellent.
A BW Sports Tippet Fly Pouch carries all the rest of my Commando fly fishing tackle, which includes my fly box, my fly floatant puck, my nippers and a Hackle Grabber knot tying aid, attached to a Gear Keeper Zinger, hung from the D-ring for the neck strap attachment on the chest pack, which I find to be more comfortable when it is use as an over the shoulder pouch instead of being used as a chest pack.
The fly box has its own dedicated compartment, right up front on the Tippet Pouch chest pack's front, with the lines being carried inside of the pouch in their own attached Zip-Lock plastic bags, in a bellows fold out compartment work station, with the tippet spool and a Tip-Grip Pad going into an internal pocket, all held in place and closed by a Velcro strap that can be tucked in behind the line holding Zip-Lock bags to keep it out of the way while you are doing other things. There are also a couple of external pockets on the back of the pouch as well, in one of which the floatant goes when I pack things up to travel. The zinger and attached tools go inside of the bellows compartment for transport so they can't get hung up on stuff.
I added a hat clip clamp and a short length of nylon cord through the tunnel space below the bellows storage compartment, so I can clip the shoulder strap in place for transport and to keep the pouch from moving and swinging around and swinging out while climbing, hiking and fishing. I carry the pouch behind my back most of the time when its not needed, then I swing it around to the front when I need to get into it. The pouch only measures about 6.25 X 5.25 X 2 inches fully loaded with all the lines and the fly box in place. Its really light weight, compact and comfortable to wear. Its really all you need for carrying all the fishing tackle you will need while fighting your way through the riparian jungles to be found along these little creeks.
Commando Tenkara Fly Fishing Conclusions:
Commando Tenkara anglers usually fish with fixed line rods that most Tenkara anglers would not consider to be "true Tenkara rods". Be that as it may, the rewards of doing this kind of fishing are all out of proportion to the size of the tackle being used, and the size of the fish usually being caught, and sometimes with big surprises thrown in for good measure. And one of the best things about all this is that you will usually have these little streams and their fish all to yourself because the more traditional Tenkara anglers would find it impossible to fish these tiny creeks with their longer more traditional tackle.
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin
"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." Col. Robert Venables 1662
As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.
The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.
Beware of the Dogma