The Ugly Tenkara Fly

The Ugly Tenkara Fly
By Adam Rieger

I first heard of Ishimaru Shotaro through Daniel Galhardo’s Tenkara USA blog post…

http://www.tenkarausa.com/meeting-one-of-the-old-tenkara-masters-ishimaru-shotaro/

It is a great post. One of the things that struck me was the simplicity of the fly and the “ugliness” of the fly. My tenkara mentor, Adam Klagsbrun, instilled in me the idea that trout like ugly and buggy flies… many of his favorites are Fran Better’s ties like the Ausable bomber or the Usual… both hairy buggy flies… and another of his favorites is the Ausable Ugly tied by Rich Garfield – guide extraordinaire in the Adirondacks.

So having said that my leaning, especially as a new tier and new to the sport, was for ugly and simple flies…so off to work to try and figure out how to tie the Ugly Tenkara fly!

In my search, I noticed a post by the Discover Tenkara guys Paul and John about Shotaro and the fly and voila they had already done the research and had made a very good replica so I got in contact with John Pearson to learn his thoughts on the method…

Here is what I understood him saying to do 🙂

Recipe:

Hook: Eyeless or you can use your favorite wet fly/nymph standard hook
Eye: Red silk – I used beading silk
Thread: Black sewing thread – Coats and Clark black
Hackle: Grizzly rooster hackle

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Tie in a loop of red silk to form the eye. If you would like you can coat the loop with head cement, Hard as Nails or other adhesive to stiffen the loop.
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Use the tags of the silk to form a taper in the body and wrap your thread to the bend and then back to near the loop eye. Cut any excess red silk and cover with black thread.
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Select a grizzly rooster hackle and tie in the tip of the feather so it extends up and over the eye at a 45 degree angle. Bind down the hackle to the hook shank with open wraps to the bend.
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Twist the hackle around your thread and flair out the barbules. Wrap the feather and thread “rope” up the hook shank and tie off near the eye the feather and clip excess.
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Wind thread through hackle with zig-zagging motion (to not tie down barbules) if you want to build up the body more or further secure the feather. Alternatively you can skip that and just simply whip finish at that point or when you are satisfied with the body.

The fly on first casting or when blot dried will fish in the surface film like a low riding dry or Griffith Gnat… and then quickly sink as the thread absorbs water.

I oversize the hackle and keep it sparse… I also do not use top grade hackle which I think helps the fly as the feather is less “stiff” and has more action in the water.

Could be its mystical powers but my first cast with this fly yielded a very aggressive strike from a small stream brown!

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This article originally appeared in the Winter 2016-17 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine.

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Michael Agneta

Husband, dad, angler, and e-commerce lifer. Especially fond of Philadelphia sports teams, Sasquatch, Star Wars, brown trout, & tenkara fly fishing.

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