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Catfish Is Cool Now

Back in the Day

There sure has been a lot said about tenkara since way back in 2009 when it got started in the U.S. Sometimes I wonder if too much has been said, or maybe not enough. We heard about the simplicity of it all. Some professed about char and high gradient streams. There was the marketing angle suggesting all it took was one fly. Then warm water species starting kicking up some interest and that turned into bonefish, baby sharks and piranha. Yeah, piranha. Well, at least that is what I heard anyway. There was one other that really struck my fancy though.

The City Sucks

It has been a few years since I moved away from the Blue Ridge Mountains and the High Country of North Carolina. Boy how I miss those hills. Now I’m inbetwixt the Piedmont to the rural flatlands at the edge of Hade’s armpit. It is just too damn hot and humid here for 5 months of the year. I’ve been needing to find more time up “On The Mountain” to fish in my favorite cold waters, and can’t. It’s just hard to find the 2.5 hours to drive up, fish for a while, and make that return trip. Dang that’s a long day. I’ve reported some of my fish outings for scrawny panfish while trudging through my dank urban creek close to home. Waders and boots are required because the water is far from clean. It is exhausting to gear up and heavy step though the soft sandy mucky bottoms. It makes me just wanna give up.

Catfish Tenkara - Catfish is Cool Now - Jason Sparks
McAlpine Creek, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina

Don’t Work So Hard

I began scouting locations around the city. Then I turned to some of the local fishing groups to data mine fresh intel. I needed a way to not work so hard when I was trying to play. Luckily, the answers were in front of me and I was aware enough to see them. This doesn’t need to be about changing the spots on a dog. I just need to revert back to some old school tactics better suited for my surroundings. I (re)took-up the century old traditions that has been passed down across generations all across the mighty South. I think now is the time to just give in to it all and start to enjoy my time on the stank waters I have available to me. Besides, telescopic rods are all the same, right? Fancy-ass cane poles.

Catfish Tenkara - Catfish is Cool Now - Jason Sparks - Tackle

The Big Guns

I’ve parsed through my quarry of rods and sorted out the big guns. All the other rods for piss-ass little fish are going in the closet. I set out my biggest strongest rods like the Tenkara USA Amago and the Wasatch Daikyu T-Hunter. I need to get my hands on the Zen Kyojin and probably whatever that rod is the guy on the bridge jumps up and down and then swings the propane tank around his head with. Yeah, that one too. (Bonus points if you can locate that video and post it into comments somewhere.)

The Real One Fly

I’ve put all my fly boxes in a zipper bag and stored on a top shelf in the closet. For this adventure I needed to start fresh and I knew just where to begin. For those that have been around awhile, you may remember this one. The sweet tangy love affair that came with the yellow jig head kebari. B. Lindsay waxed poetic about the strength and prowess of this coloration. That fly is possibly the “one fly” to rule them all. He brought Acoustic Vibrations to us as well.

Catfish Tenkara - Catfish is Cool Now - Jason Sparks - Yellow Jighead Kebari
Yellow Jig head Kebari – B. Lindsay (circa 2013)

I tie from inspiration and had to do a little American Idol to it to “make it my own”. With that, I present the yellow/black HydroCoustic GnarlyFly in the necessary Size #2. This looks like a Winner, Winner, Big Catfish Dinner!

Catfish Tenkara - Catfish is Cool Now - Jason Sparks - HydroCoustic Gnarly Fly
#2 Yellow/Black HydroCoustic GnarlyFly – Jason Sparks

The Target

Catfish. Big ole fat, soft-bellied, whiskered, spike your hand if you aren’t careful catfish. A staple target in these opaque warm waters. Get it on! I headed to the neighborhood pond and got all set up. Dang it was easy. I drove my fancy handcrafted natural wood fiber rod holders into the ground. I tied on the “Carolina Catfish Carbari” to every line and swung them out there. The little BB shot I added took them straight to the bottom. I took a step back and admired the handy work. Now all that was left to do was sit down with an ice cold sweet tea and daydream while the flies did all the busywork.

Catfish Tenkara - Catfish is Cool Now - Jason Sparks - Rod Spread
Sit back and enjoy an afternoon of fishing.

Breathing On It

There I was sitting on the king’s throne just relaxing. My straw hat was keeping my big head cool. My Carolina adventure boots were keeping my toes dust free. Things were pretty good that afternoon and were about to get better like cheesy grits and a slab of hot Neese’s premium with some cornbread. The tips of these sensitive catfish rigs dance a jig when the fish get near enough to breath on the C3 fly. When that starts to happen you gotta jump on it son! There is no time to waste. If the rods tips over the fork of your stick it’s gone. Git ‘R Done!!

Ya Gotta Be Quick On Your Feet. Catfishkara is the real deal. Two at a time here!

Get Over Yourself

Some may wonder how targeting catfish could ever be tenkara. Geez, get over yourself already. These days nobody cares to differentiate between Salvelinus and Siluriformes (Yeah, you better look that up Jethro). Nobody cares about high gradient versus stagnant drainage ponds. It doesn’t matter if a rod is $8 and designed for carp ball bait. Get with it slowpoke, it’s like music over the years from Elvis to Hall & Oates to Tupac… Times Change Humpty Truckers. The younger ones come in full force and change the game plan. I have teenagers, I get it. They know everything. Maybe I’m with them now? “Catfishkara” has a sweet ring to it.

Catfishkara with the Carolina Catfish Carbari For The Win!

That is a good header up there. Who in the heck am I to always be trying to push definitions, explain tactics, clarify statements, offer guidance, explain rod characteristics, resolve casting problems, share fly tying philosophies, dictate presentation styles and promote any aspect of tenkara and fixed-line fishing. Look it, I’m just a guy putting his pants on one leg at a time like everybody else, nothing special. Maybe I’m over-doing it trying to develop, culture, mentor and train everybody. There is always a new crew ready to tell everyone that “tenkara means telescopic”, “I got my tenkara”, “cheap stiff rods are legit” or “micro-spoons on a 6M 7.2oz 9:1 rod with a 2M #5 line doing figure eights in a golf course pond” is the real deal. If there is no differentiation between tenkara and fixed line fly fishing anymore then phooey. I’m going to start chiming in with catfish tactics if everything else if fair game.

If y’all wanna get in on this action let me know. We prolly can plan up a dandy “CatfishkaraCamp” later in the year.

BTW: Check Out The Sweet Catches

Catfish Tenkara - Catfish is Cool Now - Jason Sparks - Catfishkara 1
CatfishKara #1
Catfish Tenkara - Catfish is Cool Now - Jason Sparks - Catfishkara 2
CatfishKara 2
Catfish Tenkara - Catfish is Cool Now - Jason Sparks - Catfishkara 3
CatfishKara 3


My neighbor met up with me for an outing earlier in the week for a few hours just before dusk, He scored this giant catfish. He made me double dog dare promise not to reveal his identify because he was skipping out early on an afternoon shift at the local tenkara store. He’s no fool, but I think he may be a believer in Catfishkara now though…

Catfish Tenkara - Catfish is Cool Now - Jason Sparks - Catfishkara Biggun

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1 comment

  1. Wait, I’m confused. Is there a current that keeps the fly up and gives it action as the pole sits in the holder? Does it naturally float up off the bottom a bit? The cats really take the fly with no bait? The hackle gives out enough “sound?” Wow. I’m VERY interested.

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