Tutorial by Amanda Hoffner
I started my tying journey around the time I purchased a HMH Spartan vise in the Fall of 2020, although I didn’t start tying consistently until February of 2021. I hadn’t realized that it has been such a short time until I went back through the pictures in my phone and noticed I only dove in at the beginning of the year… And what a year it has been!
I mostly tie what I personally enjoy fishing with, which is a simple sakasa kebari consisting of a hook, thread, and feather. I also dabble in futsu and dry flies and have been known to tie a few nymphs/beadheads as well. Because I have begun tying more kebari than I can fish, in the past few months I opened my Etsy shop and have made over 80 total sales so far, a good number of those from a fly I dubbed the “Flashy Ass-y Sakasa Kebari”.
I haven’t questioned my buyers on what draws them to this fly, and I tied it for myself before I went on my weeklong excursion to the Sierra mountains in California in August of this year. I was so smitten with it, as it brought many wild and native trout to the net, that it is now a staple in my fly box.
As for the recipe, many of you know that I am an avid size 14 hook fly tier and love my sakasa. I enjoy tying and fishing it with both stiff and soft hackle and tend to use oversized soft hackle, though have used shorter hackle as well. When I got my hands on some crystal flash to tie pink squirrels, I knew I had to add some flash and sparkle to my traditional sakasa in some way. This pattern uses a number 14 pupa hook with a burnt orange thread body. The flash on the tail end comes from “pearl” krystal flash wrapped to the eye where it meets a peacock herl collar behind the sakasa’s reverse soft hackle. The hackle is sourced from Foxfire Game Farm gamefowl, which I often use for my flies.
Let me introduce the “Flashy Ass-y Sakasa Kebari” with pictures for easy reference to tie it yourself.
The hook I used for these photos is a Firehole style 316 size 14 and I tie on the Danville’s 6/0 burnt orange flymaster waxed thread near the eye of the hook to make a “head.”
I then choose a soft hackle feather from Foxfire Game Farm and remove the downy and softer afterfeathers from the shaft. This allows me to separate the top of the feather and create a space to tie the feather onto the hook and to use as a grip for tying on the hackle.
For this kebari, I like to tie the feather onto the hook near the eye with the shiny side of the feather facing up. I tie the feather onto the hook at the junction of where I have separated the barbs of the feather, and then snip off the top of the feather.
I take the thicker end of the shaft of the feather and gently bring the feather around the hook making sure to keep the head of the fly I made in step one to the right of the turns. I keep preening the feathers to stay in the reverse hackle fashion that is a sakasa kebari and continue to circle the hook with every new turn being further away from the head/eye of the hook.
I then tie off the shaft of the feather and clip the shaft off leaving only thread. This allows me to make one single layer of thread down the hook to the eye.
Next, I take the “pearl” krystal flash and tie it into the end of the thread and wrap the thread in one layer all the way back up to the hackle.
This is where I wrap the flash up to where I can tie it off behind the hackle. I like to give 2-3 wraps on just the hook before starting to wrap the flash onto the actual thread. This gives some extra “flash” to the fly. Because I kept the thread behind the hackle, I can now tie the flash onto the hook and add the collar.
Peacock herl is added to the back of the soft hackle by tying it where the thread was landed in step six. I like to use peacock herl, but you can also use dubbing or whatever else you have on hand.
This is the final product!
My philosophy of tenkara matches my fly tying habits in terms of its simplicity and intuition. I like to keep things simple and not cumbersome by using minimal, high-quality supplies and methods. These steps are literally how I tie all of my flies, plus or minus some materials. I tend to fish the same size 14 sakasa year-round in all streams, just with varying colors. This is one reason I have started to tie other kebari and flies, in addition to challenging myself not only at the vise but on the stream.
I hope this simple sakasa kebari tutorial inspires you to create your own kebari, and can even be translated into tying different patterns or with different materials.
I look forward to seeing anything you make yourself! If you have any questions, or if you don’t tie and want some of these or other flies of mine, feel free to search “Ladytenkarabum” and contact me on Instagram, Facebook and/or Etsy.
Amanda Hoffner, a half Japanese angler from Pennsylvania, began her tenkara passion when researching fly fishing methods from Japan. She can be found deep on a blue line in the East coast/Appalachian Mountains fishing for native brook trout. Her Instagram name is @ladytenkarabum.
This article originally appeared in the 2022-23 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine.
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