Tenkara Trip Reports Trout & Char Video

Matt’s Personal Best Driftless Brown Trout*

It had been a tough morning. I was fishing with Jared Willadsen of Tenkara Genki – and we had limited success on the two streams we hit before lunch. Summer heat was in full swing, and the streamside vegetation is five feet tall and fairly hostile this time of year. We were having a great time hanging out, but just hadn’t moved a lot of fish. Jared suggested we hit a well shaded tributary creek he knew nearby, and once there, we both started getting into some decent trout. Neither one of us had bothered to take pictures or film so far, the vibe seemed complete just fishing with a friend.

The stream wandered through the classic, woodland-adjacent-to-fields land typical of the Driftless. We reached a section where the far bank gave way to a long, slow run along a grey sandstone bluff, which sat at the base of a lush green pine relict covering the hill above. As I took in the view, Jared asked, “Mind if I film you fishing through here? The scenery is too good to pass up.” Sure thing man! It’s a very cool view.

I worked my way along the near bank, staying close and using the high vegetation to mute my profile. A gentle rise under an overhanging branch along the rockwall caught my eye, and I put the fly a few feet upstream of it, expecting to pull a strike from a TDB (Typical Driftless Brown, 10ish inches or so). Instead…

Watch Matt’s Personal Best Driftless Brown Trout? on YouTube


  • It was one of those beautiful, lazy, confident takes where the fish shows no urgency.
  • You can see how often and how quickly I changed my mind about tactics while landing the fish.
  • I am happy with the line control I maintained during the landing process, but I am not so happy with my line control post-catch. 😉
  • I’m fairly certain this is my personal best for Driftless Brown Trout! (*So far).
  • This was a catch that will stick with me. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. Big thanks to Jared for capturing the action!

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  1. Thank you for sharing Matt!

    I trust you are well. I have 2 questions when you have a moment.

    …Do you ever employ ‘side pressure’ when fighting fish? I notice that you hold your rod pretty much straight up during the fight. Do you feel that’s always the best approach when using a Tenkara rod?

    The following question pertains to when you’re hand-lining and the fish feels too strong to land: Do you do anything special to prevent giving the fish slack line when you go from hand-lining to no longer hand-lining? In other words, do you have a technique for releasing the line from your left hand without introducing slack into the proverbial ‘system’?



    1. Great questions!

      1: I find I use side pressure more often in stronger currents. Well observed that I held the rod high on THIS fight, but I do usually fight the fish with my elbow tucked tight against my body, closer to waist level. In this situation I held the rod high center because I wanted to keep the fish on the surface, it had plenty of room and several feet of depth to use against me and I couldn’t easily adjust my position to create an elevation advantage. Tried to not raise my arms past shoulder level so I did not run out of range-of-motion.

      2: “Think positive” 😉 Serious though – Its a feel to develop. If I’m having to fight back “too much” vs being able to hold the fish in place with reasonable pressure, I’ll let it slip. The goal is to transfer back onto the line as smoothly as you can. You can adjust rod tip position to maintain line tension as the weight shifts.

  2. Congratulations Matt! Beautiful Brown. Couple of questions – 1. What rod was that? 2. It looks like you were wet wading. I’ve always wanted to do more wet wading, but with waders I worry that I won’t have enough protection from the stinging nettle and the cow parsnips. What do you use to protect your legs when wet wading.

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