This report is for those readers who fear, after my last two keiryu reports, that I have permanently gone over to the dark side. Rest assured that is not the case. It is not a one way trip - just as our early conversion from bait to lures to flies need not be a one way trip. There is, please pardon the pun, a worm hole to bring you back.
With the season rapidly coming to a close, I went back to the stream on which I had tried keiryu fishing on the last two Fridays. This trip, though, was tenkara.
My two keiryu fishing trips were eye openers. Keiryu fishing is just incredibly productive. I wanted to go back to the same stream with a tenkara approach to see if it's the stream or if it's the method.
And the answer is....a little bit of both. I had a "many" day with lots of little wild browns coming to hand. There really are lots of fish in the stream. I didn't catch as many as on my keiryu days, though. In fairness, I didn't fish for as long a time on Sunday as I did on the two previous Fridays, but I would have to say that on a fish caught per hour basis, keiryu fishing does seem to be more productive.
To me it makes perfect sense. I am not a student of trout vision or feeding behavior, but my unscientific belief is that in a relatively infertile freestone stream trout will take whatever looks like food and spit out anything that doesn't feel or taste right. I am not sure that they'll take a worm more readily than a fly (perhaps if it is still wriggling, but it would take hours of study with scuba gear to be sure). However, I am convinced that they don't spit out worms unless there is enough tension on the line to make them not feel right. They spit out flies pretty quickly, tension or no tension.
If you can detect the take and tighten the line (and if the hook catches on the way out) you can hook most of the fish that hit either a fly or a worm. I strongly suspect that many of the takes on subsurface flies are never detected by the angler, though. Numerous reports by people who have used scuba gear suggest that trout can hit and then spit out a fly without making the line or indicator even twitch and without the angler even knowing that a fish had taken the fly. I have seen trout, bass and bluegills take in a fly and spit it out again without causing the line to so much as shiver, and do it so quickly that I couldn't possibly react in time.
That leads me to the belief that many (if not most) of the fish we catch are caught only because the point of the hook catches on the way out as the fish tries to spit out the fly. I suspect the ability of trout to hit and spit an artificial fly, either undetected or so fast the angler cannot respond in time, is the main difference between catch rates with flies and live bait.
As usual, I fished with more than one rod. Most of the time was spent with the Shimotsuke Ten. What a nice rod. It is one of those rods with which you have to slow your casting stroke and let the rod do the work, but it is a very smooth casting rod. We don't hear as much about Katsutoshi Amano as we do about Dr. Ishigaki or Masami Sakakibara, but he is one of the Japanese masters and this is the rod he uses.
The rest of the afternoon was spent fishing with the Suntech Suikei medium. It is very similar to the Suntech Field Master, but is just a bit softer. It was a good match for the fish I caught on Sunday, while the Field Master would have been a much better choice if the fish had been quite a bit larger. Sadly, the Suikei has been discontinued and is no longer available.
My supplier in Japan has a very good relationship with Suntech, though, and I have mentioned more than once how nice it would be if the Suikei medium could be brought back.
Watch this space.