Best of Tenkara Angler: Kebari & Fly Tying Mashup Issue

As winter sets in many anglers across the country hang up their rods and waders and take to their fly tying benches to replenish their season-ravaged fly boxes… But why tie the same old patterns when there are many new ones to explore and learn to fish?

I’m happy to present the Best of Tenkara Angler: Kebari & Fly Tying Mashup issue for your inspiration!

Best of Kebari Cover

I figured this would be an ideal time to publish this fly and fly tying companion piece. 32 individual entries re-visit interviews, fly tying recipes, fly swap photos, in-stream techniques, and more from the past four years in this 90+ page installment.

It certainly was a blast to re-read articles from a lot of great fly tyers and anglers, including, but not limited to: Robb Chunco, “Kiwi” Kuhlow, Chris Zimmer, Dr. Tom Davis, Anthony Naples, Jim Wright, Adam Rieger, Jason Sparks, Bart Lombardo, Rob Gonzalez, Michael McFarland, Stephen Myers, Jayson Singe, Sam Larson, Mark White, Kengo Shintaku, and Chris Stewart.

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As always, Tenkara Angler is best viewed through the Issuu e-reader or app. However, physical print copies or PDF downloads can be purchased in our Blurb store.

Some background: “Best Of” re-issues of the magazine combine similarly themed articles from prior releases into one consolidated issue. These allow newer readers to catch up on some previously published content without going through each and every back-issue, as well as let older readers re-discover some articles that may have new meaning.

One minor disclaimer, this issue consists of articles literally “ripped” from prior issues of Tenkara Angler, so it’s a bit less refined than a normal issue of the magazine. (Examples being the absence of a “From the Editor” section, the page numbers at the bottom of each page make absolutely no sense at all and, inconsistent fonts throughout).

Also, in the interest of reducing cost some, should you want to purchase physical copy of a “Best Of” issue, they will be printed on Standard stock, not the typical Premium stock. Still a great option, just not quite a thick a page or glossy photo.

I hope you enjoy the kebari and fly tying mashup issue of Tenkara Angler!

Winter 2019 Issue: Call For Submissions

I wanted to take the opportunity today to announce/remind everyone that the submission period for the Winter 2019 issue of Tenkara Angler is officially open!

TA Winter 2019 CFS

While the submission process never technically closed, I like to make these posts about a month prior to the deadline, in this case December 13th, 2019.

As always, this issue will reflect the interests of the tenkara community at large, so as long as the content – articles, photos, etc… – is tenkara, fixed-line, or conservation themed, all is fair game.

Also, the influx of reader photos not related to articles over the past few issues have been great. I’d love to receive more of those to highlight in their own section of the magazine.

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Submissions can be sent to mike@tenkaraangler.com, and more information on the submission process can be found HERE.

Water Problems In Washington

Brittany Aäe is a friend of Tenkara Angler magazine. She’s not only been a frequent contributor to prior issues, but is also one of the most rad outdoor athletes I’ve ever had the pleasure of interacting with.

She reached out to her friends, sponsors, and publications such as Tenkara Angler yesterday, desperately trying to get the word out about a water rights issue that has hit her close to home.

“…my neighbor thinks he has the legal right to sell the Chewuch River. This is my home river where I fish twice a day in the summer and in which my child learned to swim. I take solace here, I worship here, the Chewuch sings me to sleep at night with my windows open. This is my sacred place and nothing is more urgent to me than protecting its right to continue flowing without corporate ownership…”

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Water rights issues can certainly be difficult to navigate, the notion of public vs. private, recreation vs. utility vs. agriculture, it’s not particularly easy to understand. I can’t even pretend I do. Especially in a day when it seems like more and more of the lands we consider sacred are being prospected, developed, or sold to the highest bidder.

If you’d like to read more about this specific issue, there is an excellent article in The Seattle Times that outlines some of the finer points of debate, including about half way through, a deep dive into the Lundgren Limited Family Partnership who are at the root of the topic in the area Brittany calls home, the Methow Valley.

2019-10-27 20_40_35-Wall Street spends millions to buy up Washington state water _ The Seattle Times

After reading the article, you’d like to take action, I’d recommend contacting your local Representative and/or Senator. Even should you live outside of Washington State, letting your local government know your stance on water and natural-resource related topics is of great importance, particularly before those issues arise. Believe me, I know, I live in Florida… 

Fall 2019 Photo Dump

One of the more popular posts following the release of the Summer 2019 issue was the one that contained all of the photo contest participants in one entry. While there was not a photo contest for the Fall 2019 issue, there was a lot of stellar photography. So I figured I’d do the same here, pulling all of the wonderful shots (plus a few extras) from the magazine.

Enjoy!

The Fall 2019 Issue of Tenkara Angler is Now Live!

It’s here, the Fall 2019 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine has been published and is ready for review.

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While the submissions came in at a bit of a slower pace, I was really happy with the end result. I think you will be too.

There are some really strong tenkara-themed articles from the 3-headed Adam (Klagsbrun, Rieger, and Trahan) as well as new author, Brian Lindsay. Plus, Jim Tignor returned with some new digital art.

On the essay side, Dennis Vander Houwen, Andy Vinnes, and Mark Phillips each contributed entries that touch on tenkara, but also hit on more important, largely personal narratives.

There’s some fixed-line goodies too! Rory Glennie explains how to fish an estuary, Brad Trumbo successfully targets salmon, and Bob Long once again tackles smallmouth bass!

Finally, we had a few reader submitted images that sort of stood alone, so I created a special section just to feature them. I think this might become a recurring section, so don’t be shy about sending in your photos for the winter issue!

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As usual, the Summer issue will be available as an e-magazine over at Issuu, HERE.

And also available for sale as a physical magazine and PDF download in the Blurb bookstore, HERE.

Enjoy!

Tenkara Today: A Book by Morgan Lyle

It’s great when new print material on tenkara becomes available… and I’ve been waiting for this one for quite some time.

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Tenkara Today (by Morgan Lyle via Stackpole Books), is not your typical tenkara paperback. Yes, it’ll give you the basics of tenkara’s Japanese origins and pointers of how to use your tenkara equipment, but it also digs much deeper into the personalities that have molded tenkara’s introduction into the west. Some familiar names appear, such as Daniel Galhardo and Chris Stewart, but some others that may not be quite as well-known do as well. It’s much more of a biography of the last ten years of tenkara as it is an instructional manual. And as a history buff, it’s great that this has been documented.

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Per the publisher’s website:
“Since tenkara was introduced to the United States in 2009, it has become a rapidly growing trend, and many anglers have adapted the traditional Japanese techniques for waters in the United States. This comprehensive book covers the current state of tenkara—the best flies, the equipment, and essential techniques. It also tells the stories of the people who brought tenkara to America, and examines this eastern method’s place in the western sport-fishing world. Non-anglers and experts alike will find it fascinating, informative, and fun.”

In any event, I’d highly recommend giving it a read. I was forwarded a preview copy a few months back and enjoyed it immensely. It’ll be nice to now be able to order a print copy to add to my tenkara & fly fishing book library.

Plus, if you do enjoy this book, be sure to check out Morgan Lyle’s Simple Flies: 52 Easy-to-Tie Patterns That Catch Fisha book that not only has great application for fixed line fly anglers, but was also highlighted through an interview in the Winter 2015-16 issue of this magazine.

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Morgan Lyle speaking at the 2019 Tenkara Summit

Idaho Gold: Prospecting the Overlooked & Underrated for Backcountry Cutthroat

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Idaho Gold:
Prospecting the Overlooked &
Underrated for Backcountry Cutthroat
by Brad Trumbo

As gray dust billowed in the wake of my Tundra, my mood immediately began to lift. I never look forward to the five-hour drive, but forty miles beyond pavement’s end is a quiet campsite alongside a river flowing rich with Idaho gold. Each year, (baring extreme wildfire danger) my fishing buddy Chas Kyger and I head into the Idaho backcountry to fish a Blue-Ribbon stream for west-slope cutthroat. Pulling into camp alongside his Tundra, I rolled out of mine with renewed eagerness to wet a fly. (Yes, we both have Tundras. Cute, eh?) Upon the requisite stretch and post-drive small-talk, I hastily popped up my tent, made a rudimentary bed, and set out to fish into darkness.

The sun sets early in the deep canyons of the Idaho wilderness; the opulent evening glow casting an amber hue upon the considerable granite outcrops and emerald pools below. Rugged ridges and peaks reach skyward looming over the river, defying its brazen attempts to break free of their control. Diminutive yellow stoneflies flitter sparsely through the cooling evening air. The evergreen scent of western cedar and grand fir hung pleasantly.

The angling pressure was picking up as it was late in the week and the fish were feeling it. I typically fish western fly gear here, but my suspicions of the angling pressure led me to reach for my tenkara rod right off the bat. I wanted the ability to present a flawless drift in the hard-to-reach waters overlooked by others. The rod I brought was one I “built” for steelhead at twelve feet, rated 8:2. The build consisted of the graphite tenkara blank, a cork grip, a winding check on the front end of the grip, all from Tenkara Customs. I added some simple, decorative red wrap to the winding check and slapped a Silver Creek Outfitter logo on it. Much simpler than a western rod with guides, but also less room for frills like feather inlays. Anyhow, I wanted to get a feel for the rod’s capabilities before trying some tactical nymphing for big fish this coming winter.

My first rise came on a voluptuous, blonde elk hair caddis. A scrappy fourteen-inch cutty pounced with conviction, almost with vengeance, and put a sweet bend in the top third of the heavy tenkara. As the evening wore on and rises became few, we scoured the drainage in search of sunlit reaches. The bite tends to wane as the mountains force the river into the evening shadows. East-west oriented carry daylight and fish activity a little longer into the evening.

Our final reach of the evening was a boulder-strewn field of pocket water with a few small runs that have produced well for us in the past. I switched to a behemoth of a foam bug called a “Chubby Chernobyl” to draw some attention. Sizing up a large eddy formed behind a car-sized boulder melding into a soft run with deep, swift flanks, I could envision where the fish were lying. Gently laying the Chubby along the flow seam between the eddy and the sweep around the river-right side of the boulder invoked an explosion of ferocity resulting in a firm hookset deep in the corner of a sixteen-inch cutthroat maxillary. Playing the fish to net, my admiration of the profound lateral reddening painted against the thick gold, speckled body and the blaze orange under-jaw cuts lit a fire of anxiety in anticipation of the next catch. The fish returned softly from the net into the cold, clear water. I volleyed another cast in the same general vicinity, the size-8 Chubby immediately met with a repeat performance. It simply couldn’t get any better than this before dark. Completely at peace, I broke down the rod and slogged for the rig.

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Back at camp, we roasted brats and zucchini from the garden in a foil pack over the fire, shared a beer or two, and laid plans for the next day. We hit the sack hard. Sleep came quickly with the care-free satisfaction of being immersed in the cutthroat fishery of my dreams. The dull roar of the river lulling in the background and temperatures cooling into the low 50s, Fahrenheit. But good slumber can never last and I found myself startled awake in the wee hours by the crash of a beer bottle against the ground. An odd rustling followed. Aluminum foil against rock; a scavenger having its way with our discarded zucchini packet. Raking my hands across my tent wall sent the critter fleeing hurriedly; thus, relinquishing its identity as a whitetail deer, blowing alarmed in the distance. A scavenging deer was a first for me, and apparently a good omen.

The following morning, we awoke to find the fishing pressure was double what we expected. The tempting holes and seductive runs enticed all wielding a fly rod. We managed to find our way into some choice reaches, but with lackluster results. We quickly learned to judge the skills of fellow anglers as we inevitably fished our way up behind others at every bend. When the fishing seemed slow, our predecessors had merely flogged the water into submission with little to show. When there were no fish to be had, we knew we were either right on their heels or following a fly fishing veteran. We gave it our best dawn to dusk and managed to do ok, but far from the epic potential the river has lived up to in the past. Regardless, all findings supported my initial hypothesis: seek unpressured habitat.

Marginal water has ambiguous meaning in reference to the river margins or edges, as well as in reference to what some would call insignificant habitat. Those areas less than optimal in which to wet a fly, but not necessarily for fish. Anglers are always drawn to optimal habitat because they know fish are there, and likely a lot of them. You don’t need to be a scientist or greatly experienced to look at a river and want to fish the “good” water. But what many fail to comprehend is the quality of what literally occurs on or appears to be marginal habitat.

The next morning, Chas and I parted ways. I embarked on a long run winding through a boulder field with a high volume of randomly scattered, deep pocket water. It was deep and fast enough with small enough pockets to deter 99% of other anglers. Jackpot! Using the length advantage of the tenkara rod, I began with Chubby, reaching out and dead-drifting or hovering the fly over pockets the size of a living room coffee table. Nearly every pocket produced a small to medium-sized rainbow or cutthroat, leaping, cartwheeling to capture such a fulfilling meal.

Based on the eagerness of the fish to accost the fly, the run had clearly not been fished. I continued for hours hopping from pocket to pocket, fishing up to a glorious hole cut beneath a solid granite protrusion. The river widened, trickling in at the head of the pool with a perfectly sloped substrate and a variety of flow seams. I was certain someone had been there before me, but the tenkara rod again gave me an advantage.

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Working to the head of the pool, I dropped the Chubby into the riffle and dead-drifted it back into deep water; the long rod allowing me to avoid line drag from conflicting flows. The sun was now high, shining intensely on the water. Blinding glints erupted from the broken surface. The Chubby cast a large, black shadow on the shallow substrate, no doubt flaunting with audacity overhead the cutthroat lying in wait. Two sixteen-inch fish fought over the fly on the first drift. When one of them finally won the tussle, I broke it off clean. Realizing that I was using 6X tippet and was fresh out of Chubbies, I tied on a length of 5X tippet and returned to the size-8 golden-body, blonde elk hair caddis.

The next drift was identical. The caddis bobbed ever deeper into the head of the pool. As the depth increased and water color depend from seafoam to emerald green, the fly was promptly engulfed. A respectable seventeen-inch cutty porpoised up behind the fly, taking it deeply. Although a heavy rod, the seventeen-inch cutthroat bent deeper into the backbone than I anticipated. I was cautious, nursing the fish in, sure not to over-pressure the tippet. Playing bigger fish with a tenkara rod is surreal. As if frozen in time and space, the cutthroat thrashed against the rod to the rhythm of the flow. It hung and throbbed in place for what seemed an eternity before finally relinquishing to the shallows where it reluctantly slithered into the net and lay softly cradled.

This particular fish both peaked and satisfied my cutthroat desires. Marveling at the firm musculature and delicately flaked scaling inspired awe and I released the beauty to hopefully grow through another season. Either no one had been at this particular pool that morning, or they were unable to present the fly acceptably. Either way, it was to my advantage.

Pressing forth, working the fast water across the head of the pool produced several more fish in the mid-teens before collectively becoming educated. With smug satisfaction, I turned upstream in search of pocket water yet again. Another dead-drift through a massive boulder eddy flanked by whitewater turned up another cutthroat, only this fish likely broke twenty inches. Alas, my smugness melted with a smile as I whiffed on the biggest fish of the trip, pulling the fly promptly from its clasp before it had an opportunity to turn into the hook. Vanishing into the green slick, it never took a second look.

By this time the air temperature was creeping into the high 90s, and again, fishing simply couldn’t get any better. Deciding to call a siesta, I turned back for camp. Fishing the pockets tenkara style presented the most effective way to cover the tumultuous habitat, particularly in the presence of what I would call significant angling pressure. I used the tenkara rod to its full advantage, extending the fly into the mid-channel pockets and dead-drifting big dries across flow seams with cool control. For summer and fall cutthroat fly patterns, go big or go home. Who doesn’t love to fish a big dry?

Fishing pressure be damned, I got what I came for. Solitary fishing on a gorgeous river filthy with cutthroat and laying waste to them on the fly. Fighting my desire to follow in the other angler’s footsteps by falling victim to the temptation of prime waters led me to far better fishing with the tenkara rod than was possible otherwise. This was my first trip to this river with a tenkara rod, which ended one of the best in memory.

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This article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine.

Do you have a story to tell, a photo to share, or a fly recipe that’s too good to keep secret? If you would like to contribute content to our next issue, click HERE for more details.