Tenkara Symphony
Sep14

Tenkara Symphony

Imagine listening to a symphony where the conductor put their baton back on the podium in between every motion they made with it. With the music stopping each time the baton is laid down, it would be painful to sit through. There would be no flow and the piece would probably take twice as long to play. When I look back on my early days of fly fishing, I now see that I was that conductor–conducting a terribly disjointed and...

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Tenkara Minus
Sep05

Tenkara Minus

You’ve probably seen the meme “Tenkara +” going around social media. It’s the idea that tenkara compliments other outdoor hobbies such as “tenkara + hiking”, “tenkara + mushroom hunting”, “tenkara + mountain biking”, etc. While the portability of tenkara gear certainly lends itself well to being combined with other activities, it got me to thinking about the concept of...

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4 Reasons to Fatten up your Flies
Aug22

4 Reasons to Fatten up your Flies

When I first started tying soft hackle flies, the conventional wisdom was that you should make the body as slender as possible. I practiced a lot to achieve perfectly smooth, anorexic bodies that were literally no more than a few silk strands thicker in diameter than the hook shank. They definitely worked great and were beautiful ties. But something seemed amiss. If “thinner was better”, why did more robust flies like the...

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Perseverance
Jul06

Perseverance

This weekend, my family and I rented a condo in Estes Park that’s right on the Fall River. It was really a family trip, not a fishing trip, but I took my tenkara gear anyway. I’ve been caught off guard too many times without a rod after stumbling on to easy fishing opportunities. So now, I take at least some gear with me wherever I go. This particular stretch of river by the condo isn’t exactly blue-ribbon water....

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My Take on Zoom Rods
Jun26

My Take on Zoom Rods

Today, a reader requested that I do a post about my opinion on zoom rods. For those of you who don’t know what zoom rods are, they’re rods that can be extended to different lengths with sections that lock into position. I’m no expert on zoom rods and I’ve only tried a few, but as with many topics, not being an expert doesn’t stop me from having an opinion. At a superficial level, it would seem the main...

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One-fly Focus
May05

One-fly Focus

  I’m not one of those tenkara anglers that only fishes one pattern. But I do only fish one fly at a time. There’s no idealogical reason behind it and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with fishing a dropper or even a cast of flies. In fact, I fished droppers for years before I started tenkara fishing and was a huge advocate of it. The reason I stopped is practical, not philosophical. I think there were...

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Stream Cred
Apr14

Stream Cred

More years ago than I care to admit, I worked in a fly shop that catered to a pretty mixed bag of characters. On any given day, anyone from Barbour-clad Bogdan reel collectors, to redneck bait chuckers could walk through the door. It was during a time I consider to be the pinnacle of fly fishing snobbery (even more so than today), so you can imagine that there was a bit of a “caste system” among our clientele. It was still...

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Mismatching the Hatch
Mar27

Mismatching the Hatch

As a beginning fly tier, one concept was thoroughly drilled into my brain by the cronies at the local fly shop: match the hatch. The “goal” of fly tying was to imitate specific species of insects and the more realistic the fly was, the better it was. It made perfect sense. The trout are eating something that is this particular color, is this certain size, and has this many tails. Why wouldn’t I want to imitate it if...

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Tenkara Isn’t Good Because It’s Simple
Jan08

Tenkara Isn’t Good Because It’s Simple

“It’s simple.” Ask most anglers why they like tenkara and that’s probably the answer you’ll get. That was my stock answer too for a long time. But the overthinker in me started to wonder why does “simple” = “good”? After all, “simple” isn’t intrinsically good. If my doctor tells me I need a simple surgery, that’s good. But if I’m told the surgeon who...

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Where are the Purple Cows?
Oct29

Where are the Purple Cows?

In his book Purple Cow, Seth Godin wrote the following: While driving through France a few years ago, my family and I were enchanted by the hundreds of storybook cows grazing in lovely pastures right next to the road. For dozens of kilometers, we all gazed out the window, marveling at the beauty. Then, within a few minutes, we started ignoring the cows. The new cows were just like the old cows, and what was once amazing was now...

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Any Rod, Any Line, & Any Fly?
Sep13

Any Rod, Any Line, & Any Fly?

In tenkara, a fairly esoteric group of anglers subscribe to the “one fly” approach where they strictly fish only one specific pattern (or slight variations of the same pattern).  A  larger group adheres to the more liberal “any fly” approach, meaning that they don’t necessarily restrict themselves to one particular pattern, but feel that any fly they pull out of their box at random will work.  Both...

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One Fly is Better than Two
Sep02

One Fly is Better than Two

I just had an interesting exchange with a friend who is heading down to the San Juan River soon.  He told me about how he was planning to fish a tandem rig with the river’s namesake pattern (the San Juan Worm) and a beadhead dropper.  I relayed the story of how when I fished the San Juan years ago, everyone told me how I absolutely had to fish San Juan Worms.  Literally everyone.  So before the trip, I tied about three dozen of...

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3 Reasons to Fish Barbless
Jul20

3 Reasons to Fish Barbless

For over 20 years, I’ve been fishing exclusively with barbless flies.  And not just for trout–for bass, panfish, steelhead, salmon, and even saltwater fish.  In fact, even before I started fly fishing, I used to crimp down the barbs on my spoons, spinners, and crankbaits too.  Why?  3 simple reasons…   1.  Better Hooksets   A barb creates resistance that makes it harder for the hook point to penetrate....

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Confidence in Fly Selection
Jul11

Confidence in Fly Selection

I just got back from a trip to Mexico where I had a chance to do a little bonefishing.  You might be wondering why I’m posting about bonefishing on my tenkara blog but strangely enough, even though fishing for bones with a saltwater rig seems like a world apart, I had an experience that is directly related to tenkara. In tenkara, some anglers choose the one fly approach.  I don’t, just because I love tying flies and tying...

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Why I don’t Support My Local Fly Shop
Apr29

Why I don’t Support My Local Fly Shop

It’s not that I don’t want to. Believe me, I used to work in a fly shop and understand the value of having a place to gather to talk shop, exchange info on conditions and tell some good old fashioned fish stories. And, I do want to support local businesses. But unfortunately, most of the shops in my area carry a mediocre (at best) inventory. They have a very pedestrian selection of fly tying materials and anything beyond...

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Attractor Flies:  Imitators in Disguise
Mar18

Attractor Flies: Imitators in Disguise

“It doesn’t imitate anything”. That’s the response the 15-year old me got from a fly shop guy when I asked what a Royal Wulff was supposed to imitate. As a young fly angler, I was slowly learning entomology and trying to match up the different insect species with their feathered doppelgangers. Some patterns (like the Royal Wulff) just didn’t add up. They didn’t look like anything in nature. So what...

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How Traditional is Modern Tenkara?
Feb28

How Traditional is Modern Tenkara?

“Traditional Japanese Fly Fishing”. That’s the tag line of this site. But lately, I’ve been wondering how accurate that line really is. In terms of the tackle we use, there seems to be nothing that is really “traditional” about it. Early tenkara anglers fished with bamboo rods, lines, and hooks fashioned from needles. Today, we fish with high tech carbon rods, fluorocarbon lines, and chemically sharpened hooks. Perhaps our flies are...

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10 Things to Do When you Can’t Go Fishing
Feb25

10 Things to Do When you Can’t Go Fishing

As I sit here looking at the aftermath of the recent snowstorm through my office window, I’m reminded of the cruel joke nature sometimes plays on anglers:  the thwarting of fishing plans.  You know, those days where you could go fishing, but the rivers are frozen over, or blown out.  It’s a bitter irony and can be really depressing.  Fortunately, there are some things you can do to keep your sanity on those days when...

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A Better Tenkara Rod Rating System
Feb12

A Better Tenkara Rod Rating System

For as long as I can remember, describing fly rod action has always been problematic. The typical adjectives used such as “fast”, “medium” and “slow” are not only inadequate, but also subjective. What does “fast” mean? And does it mean the same thing to you as it does to me? At some point, there was a push to further parse the meanings of these adjectives by combining them (eg....

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Why Tenkara Should be Legal on “Flyfishing Only” Waters
Feb08

Why Tenkara Should be Legal on “Flyfishing Only” Waters

  Ever since tenkara was introduced to the U.S., there has been quite a bit of discussion on whether or not it is legal on designated “fly fishing only” waters.  There seems to be quite a bit of confusion over interpretation of the law–even among govenrment officials since the legal definition often includes language dictating that a reel must be used.  But if you look at the spirit of the law and the basic...

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