Editor’s Note: Tenkara can be wonderfully simple – a rod, a line, and a fly – however, it doesn’t mean it has to be boring or spartan. In this article originally published in the Summer 2016 issue of Tenkara Angler, Robb Chunco of Creekside Kebari + Fly Co. puts a twist on what we might otherwise recognize as a “classic” sakasa kebari.
Tailed Sakasa Kebari by Robb Chunco
Being a “modern” tenkara fisherman in America is kind of a funny paradox. Here is a fishing style with origins hundreds of years old from the other side of the planet.
Deeply rooted in tradition, but for the most part using technical, modern equipment like carbon fiber rods and fluorocarbon lines instead of the bamboo rods and horsehair lines of the style’s originators.
I don’t subscribe to the “One Fly” way of thinking. Sometimes you need a certain pattern to fish a particular stretch of water.
I like to tie and fish tungsten nymphs, western dry flies, and the ubiquitous Sakasa Kebari. They all work, and they’re all fun to fish. To me, “fun” is a large part of why I fish.
Clear your head, test your skill and have some fun – we don’t need to make a living off of our catch the way the originators did. It’s purely recreational for us.
The ancient Sakasa Kebari patterns of the different regions of Japan were, for the most part, tied simply. Usually just hackle, hook (homemade from a sewing needle) and some thread. Quick to tie and highly effective. Still are.
But since we are a recreational bunch these days, why not branch out and have some fun with our fly tying? Why not (GASP!!!) put a TAIL on a Sakasa Kebari?
Surely the purists may balk, but what have you really got to lose? Nothing at all, that’s what.
Mix it up a bit and have fun!
There are no recipes to be given for these flies. They’re very simple ties. Hen pheasant or grizzly hackle, a dubbed body and some type of tailing material.
Just about anything can be used as a suitable tail. Saddle hackle in any color, golden pheasant tippets, wood duck, peacock sword, Antron – the list goes on.
Just remember to keep the proportions in check. A tail is usually no longer than the shank of your hook, but again – this is about having fun, so if it looks good to you then give it a shot!
And guess what? The best part is, that they will catch fish.
Editor’s Note: Who doesn’t want to take better fish photos? “Picture or it didn’t happen!”… ever hear that before? But if you’re guilty like me of taking too many of the standard “fish in hand” photos, Jason Sparks wrote this wonderful tips and tricks post for the Winter 2015-16 issue of Tenkara Angler. Follow it closely, and you could become an Instagram rock star in no time…
Three Tips for Better [Fish] Photographs By Jason Sparks
There has never been an easier time in history than now for learning to capture better images of the things in life you want to remember. The photographs almost take themselves these days with auto-focus, auto-shutter, auto-aperture and other “auto-fantastical” settings. So why is it that we still see people disappointed by their photographs? Here are a few pointers that should lead you in the right direction for better images of that fish you worked so hard to catch… then release.
We don’t deal with film, chemicals or processing times anymore. We no longer need camera bodies and multiple lenses weighing in at eleven pounds and costing a few thousand dollars. We have instant capture, instant review and instant satisfaction capabilities at our finger tips these days. High definition digital cameras with a highly capable lens can go from taking amazing macro shots to offering some serious telephoto zoom on distances. The modern digital cameras ranging from $100 up to $300 are more than capable for most peoples everyday photography and use on social media. Let’s not forget about the digital devices welded to our palms either. These mini computers are much more than a replacement for old school telephones, they carry entire music collections, a lifelong Rolodex of contacts and our daily planners. These “phones” have also become the primary camera for many people.
It has been several years since I carried my camera bag around with me when I head out to the Blue Ridge Parkway, a family vacation or even a birthday party. Since I am not making fine art prints for sale anymore, I use my hand-sized smart phone for 99% of my photography. The last two generations of phones on the market have seen significant technology increases in the lens they have installed. The 1.3-megapixel lens that we had for nearly a decade has been blown out of the water with amazing replacements like 12MP and 16MP lens of current models. The trick for me was to get good enough with my “phone” that I felt comfortable that I was not giving up quality versus the DSLR rig now sitting in a closet. Where did I start and what did I learn?
I spent the last thirty years working on and developing the techniques that Mr. Baldwin preached in my Photo 101 class. I have tried and tested every technique that has ever interested me and have focused on the final few that have become “my style”. This is going to be an attempt to nutshell all of that into a few nuggets that you can digest. You need to be most aware of lighting, composition and focal point because the camera’s “auto-fantastic” features will hold your hand through much of the rest of it. Truth be told, if you don’t handle your three basic parts then you will find yourself in salvage mode trying to get something from nothing. No problem here, I’m sure that we can make a difference by concentrating on these areas.
Be very aware of your cameras ability to take photos in harsh and low light situations. Many times when we are out fishing the sun is wicked bright creating significant contrast with the shadows. That is hard for the sensor to compute and you will end up with “washed out” areas that are too bright and hold very little detail. Conversely, low light situations in the shadows or at dusk can create grainy images that lose all the detail and color at the other end of the spectrum.
TIP: Be aware of where your body/arm shadow is when you are holding the fish. Choose to position the fish either completely in the sun or in the shade. Don’t straddle the line.
We’ve all seen pics where the camera is too far away from the angler showing us what is effectively a landscape instead of the catch. Haven’t we also seen those trophy shots where the fish is held at arms length with the head thrust into the lens? It makes for pictures of the smallest anglers ever. Also, be cognizant of what is happening in the background. Is it something you want to include for some nice value added depth or do you want to exclude it? How about adding some creativity and art to your fish. Do something different.
TIP: Change up the angle in which you take the photograph. Consider taking a few shots of portions of the fish like only the head, tail or dorsal area. Include the felled tree in the background that you pulled him from under.
All of us are using our digital cameras on auto-focus because it is just so easy. Do you know how to override where it is focusing? By default, the settings have it focusing in the center of the frame. Once you start becoming aware of the lighting and framing your shots the focus area may not be right in the middle anymore. Most photographs of fish have a pinpoint focus on the eyeball of the fish. So how do you achieve this?
You could work on changing the camera settings, but the easiest way on a “point & shoot” camera is to aim the camera at exactly where you want the focal point to be. Now press half way down on the shutter release to set the focus. Then while holding the button half depressed, reframe the image to how you want the composition to be. Then finish depressing the shutter release. Now you can have the focus in the upper left corner or the lower middle of the frame by doing this procedure.
TIP: On your smart phone, use a free fingertip to touch the screen where you want the focal point to be. The camera will reset the focus to that point. Wait for the small subject/focus box to turn green, now shoot your photograph.
BONUS: Look into using some photo enhancing Apps like BeFunky, Photoshop Express or Instagram. These are typically free or low cost and offer a wide range of advanced features that can help you show off your stuff. The combination of filters, twists, and tweaks that you can impart onto the image can really make it stand out when you are showing off your catch with friends via email or social media.
There is no need for humdrum images from you anymore. Take control of your device and step up your game. You will be surprised at how quickly you can start producing images at a whole new level. Take a lot of pictures. Be aware of the areas we just went over. Practice these things until they become second nature. I’m sure with a little practice you too will develop and perfect your style.
Editor’s Note: While the summer season is winding down for many, it’s still a great opportunity to get out on the water. Adam Klagsbrun wrote this great piece for Tenkara Angler (Winter 2015-16) that provides some different wading options for those looking to enter a small stream fishery.
Wading Small Streams: Making A Case For Wet Wading By Adam Klagsbrun
Fishing small streams with a Tenkara rod takes specific form for some, as the “long rod and short line” approach allows for the less-glamorous casting methods needed to present flies to small targets and in tight quarters when there’s no room to backcast at all.
But beyond presenting a fly, there is an issue at hand that many anglers don’t seem to consider quite as readily… that there’s a better way to present themselves on these streams – one that promotes a more comfortable and versatile approach to crawling around the banks and walking through the water.
There are two main reasons to consider a wet wading setup. The first relates to the reality that you are not going to be stepping in water much higher than your knees in a small stream because you don’t need to.
Second, instead of using your expensive waterproof waders that will get torn, poked with thorns, scuffed on rocks, and generally abused while sweating profusely as you get a real work out navigating the stream; rejoice in the knowledge that you now have shin and knee protection, thorn protection, and will generally just experience less discomfort.
Enter the Japanese-inspired idea of wearing a neoprene gaiter on top of a high neoprene sock. This system has a few advantages over wearing waders and is something you’ll encounter if you fish in Japan.
First off, your body regulates the temperature automatically. It works like a wetsuit. Summary: water soaks through, you get wet. Your body heats up the water between your skin and the neoprene, and you are in the comfort zone.
Additionally, you don’t have to be sweaty in your waders. On a hot day, the cool water keeps you much more comfortable than your waders ever could. On a cold day, your body temperature kicks in and keeps you warm.
Sure, there will be moments when you step into some fast water and the warm water gets displaced. Fear not! Your body will remedy the situation quickly. This system works even when temps are down into the 40’s. It becomes more important for you to bring extra layers when it’s colder out, such as a jacket and insulating layer like a fleece in case the cold water begins to sap heat from your core.
The rest of the outfit consists of quick-drying outdoor pants or ¾ length pants. Roll the legs up to your knee, and in the summer you might want to wear shorts. When it gets cold, use a cooler-weather soft shell hiking pant that has a little more thickness and some wind resistance. I can’t say enough great things about the versatility of the setup. If you’d like to try it out, I’ll include a list of some current options. Wet wading socks can be purchased online or at most fly fishing stores around the country. Use your existing wading boots, or size down if you go for the thinner summer wet wading socks.
Daiwa Neo NG-400 Gaiter – a black, knee-high gaiter with a padded knee and Velcro closure. This gaiter is designed to be used alone, or with a neoprene wading sock (preferable.) It is not wide enough to fit around most waders.
Little Presents Wader Gaiters – These are thicker neoprene, wider circumference and have longer Velcro straps so they are well suited to be used on top of waders – but can also be used alone. If you have extremely skinny legs, these might not be the best option for you, but they work.
Tiemco Foxfire Airista Gaiters & High Socks – These are the ones I’ve been using. They are similar to the Daiwa Neo Gaiters but are a different color and a slightly different cut. They are also not designed to fit over waders, they can be used alone, or with the Airista thigh-high wet wading sock. I highly recommend this combination.
If you enjoyed this article by Adam, you can read more of his work at his blog, Of Rock & Riffle.
I hope everybody is enjoying their Summer. I honestly can’t believe it went by so fast. Here in Florida we start school early (& end early) so my daughter actually goes back on Thursday… crazy.
With Fall on the horizon, I wanted to officially extend the “call for submissions” for the Fall issue of Tenkara Angler magazine. I’m certain everybody’s done some fishing, tied some flies, or wiggled a new rod over the past few months, now’s the time to spill the beans on your adventures! Personally, I plan on writing up a short piece on the Tenkara Bug Out in Oakridge, Oregon.
Actually, any and all topics are fair game – fishing reports, gear reviews, destination travel, essays, poetry, fiction, photography, art, whatever – as long as it’s tenkara or conservation related. Similar to prior issues, the tenkara community will craft the contents of the issue.
(And don’t forget, if you are a company that submits content, please don’t hesitate to also submit an ad for your services, inclusion is the least I can do).
If you are interested in contributing, I’ve outlined some simple parameters for content submission HERE.
The deadline for content submission will be September 8th, 2017, with the target publishing date toward the end of that same month (as long as a trip to the Tenkara Summit doesn’t get in the way!)
Editor’s Note: It’s atypical to take articles from Tenkara Angler magazine and re-post them here on the blog. That said, this article is so informative (and topical in these summer months), it probably deserves to be caught up in things like Google search for all to find. It was written by Rob Worthing for the Summer 2017 issue of Tenkara Angler. I hope you find it helpful, I know I did.
AN ANGLER’S GUIDE TO INSECT REPELLANTS AND OTHER WAYS TO PREVENT INSECT BITES By Rob Worthing, MD FAWM
I’ve always wanted to write something about biting insects for anglers. But, the inevitable distractions – like actually fishing – always got in the way. Today, I find myself in a position where I have no excuse. Instead, I appear to have a tick borne illness. I got lazy, didn’t protect myself, and I got bit. As I sit at home, using up my sick days from work, enjoying a screaming fever, fatigue, malaise, headache, and one crazy bull’s eye rash, it only seems fitting that I write this article. So read up and arm yourself with some knowledge, because you don’t want what I got!
Each summer across fly fishing rags, forums, blogs, and social media outlets the debate over the best line of defense from mosquitoes, ticks, and other biting insects erupts. Why? Two reasons. First, these little blood suckers are annoying. Second, they carry diseases that we really don’t want. Diseases like Lyme, West Nile, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Tick Borne Paralysis to name a few. Throw in Zika and a few news reports on Powassan virus this summer, and things get bonkers.
The difficult part for most of us fisherpersons is trying to figure out the good information from the bad. What really works, and what doesn’t work so well? What’s safe, and what’s not so safe to use? Many of us have a particular product that works well for us around our home waters. Such experience can be very helpful. To further help us make an educated choice, this article will summarize the best evidence on the subject of insect bite prevention that science has provided us to date. Only here the info is geared for real-world use by anglers, not so much the scientists.
A fly fisherperson can control biting insects in two ways. First, using physical barriers. Second, using chemical barriers like insect repellants. There’s also the not-so-effective, sometimes dangerous stuff out there that we ought to address. That gives this article a total of three parts – physical barriers, chemical barriers, and not-so-effective/dangerous stuff. And since the chemicals are what seem to be debated the most, we’ll subdivide a few to try and provide everyone with an evidence-based plan to prevent bites they can feel good about.
Physical barriers are your primary protection from biting insects. A physical barrier is anything that minimizes access of biting insects to your body, whether limiting exposed skin to flying insects, or entry points for crawling insects.
Light colors. Light colors are less attractive to mosquitoes and certain biting flies and make it easy to spot crawling insects for removal.
Layers. Tuck in your shirt and pants. Button sleeves and collars. Overlap base layers, socks, outer garments, and accessories like gloves. This eliminates entry points for crawling insects like ticks.
Loose fit. This deters thru-bites from mosquitoes and certain biting flies.
Long sleeves and pants.Limiting skin exposure minimizes access for biting insects. Popular sun protection items like fishing gloves, glasses, and neck gaiters help, too.
A wide brimmed hat. Black flies and midges avoid the area under the brim. That’s right, somebody actually published a study on wide brimmed hats.
Mesh. If you want to use a mesh head net, or looking at a mesh tent/bivy, get one that is 27 mesh/inch or finer to keep the smallest biting flies away.
Choosing and using chemical insecticides and repellants can be intimidating, even scary. But if you want the most effective prevention strategies, you need chemical barriers. Here are the important facts about three different effective chemical strategies.
1. Permethrin + DEET
This is the most effective combo known, and it has the longest track record of safe use. Permethrin is a clothing treatment. DEET goes on the exposed skin. These products should be used in combination. Together, they can prevent 99.9% of mosquito bites (1 vs. 1888 bites/hour in one Alaskan study).
A synthetic version of a natural chemical found in chrysanthemums.
It works by repelling insects and killing some on contact.
Resulted in 100% tick death after contact with treated cloth.
Also effective against chiggers, fleas, lice, mosquitoes, and biting flies.
Poor absorption and rapid inactivation in mammals, but you can still make yourself sick if you don’t use it right
Meant for treating clothing only, NOT SKIN!
Be sure the clothing is completely DRY before using
Don’t treat underwear, base layers or the inside of hats. Socks are okay, though.
It is also really toxic to aquatic life. Luckily, once dry it is water insoluble, which means you can wear them fishing without any worry. Just don’t treat your clothes around any water sources, and (repeat) make sure clothing is completely DRY before using.
Not only is it water insoluble once dry, but resistant to UV degradation, too. It will still repel insects after as many as 50 washes, but its ability to kill flies on contact wears out faster.
It binds to cotton and nylon really well.
It does not bind to DWR treated fabric like your rain jacket and tent fly. A lot of outdoor shirts and pants have a DWR coating, too. So check before treating.
It is flammable in liquid form, but dry clothes are fine. So treat your clothes before you travel – don’t try to bring a bottle on the plane.
Works by vaporizing, forming a barrier of vapor over your skin.
Effective against mosquitos, biting flies, fleas, ticks, chiggers, and mites. But less effective against certain species of biting midges.
200 million users worldwide, less than 50 cases of significant toxicity in over 50 years of use. It has the longest track record of safety of any insect repellant, as long as you FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS.
Use on exposed skin only. No need to put it on under your clothes.
Don’t put it around cuts and scrapes or mucus membranes like your eyes, nose, mouth, or genitals.
Don’t rub it on your head. A little swipe on the back of the neck is fine.
100% DEET is BAD. It is less effective, and increase the risk of making yourself sick.
Look for a 20-40% concentration of DEET. Less than 20%, and you loose duration of effect. There is zero added benefit to concentrations above 40%.
Also look for a polymerized DEET. Polymerization slows the vaporization process. This stuff is controlled release, lasting 12 hours.
It still repels if you sequentially apply it with sunscreen, only the SPF of the sunscreen might be reduced.
DEET is a plasticizer. It melts plastic. Keep it away from your gear.
For all of the above reasons, wash your hands really good right after putting it on, before you touch your gear or go fishing.
3M Ultrathon and Sawyer Controlled Release are good. These are around 33% DEET in a polymerized form.
2. Permethrin + Picaridin
A great alternative for anglers. We already covered Permethrin. Picaridin is a skin repellant like DEET, only with some bonus features.
Used on exposed skin similar to DEET.
Effective against mosquitos, biting flies, and ticks.
20% concentration offers 8-hour protection.
Not greasy like polymerized DEET.
It won’t melt plastics, and won’t hurt your gear.
It’s a newer product, so it doesn’t have the long track record like DEET does. But studies so far suggest it is as effective and safe.
Nutrapel makes a great 20% picaridin option.
3. Oil of Citronella
For those who want an effective all-natural option.
The most effective botanical repellant.
EPA registered in 1948, so it has a long track record of safe use, too.
But you still have to FOLLOW DIRECTIONS to avoid getting sick.
Used on exposed skin like DEET and Picaridin.
The downside is a really short duration of effect. The recommendation is for reapplication every hour to maintain its efficacy.
Not So Effective/Dangerous Stuff
Area Repellants. Candles, coils, butane burners, vermiculite, etc. Their efficacy under ideal conditions varies widely. Wind, humidity, and other environmental factors impact the effective area. In Japan, incense coils burn regularly around the dinner table after a long day of fishing. If you’re going to fork out the dough, just know that the evidence is kind of weak and that their ability to deter insects is dependent on a lot of other things.
For Wear Devices.Bracelets, pins, and the like. Their efficacy is limited to the immediate vicinity around the device. In other words, the skin right around the bracelet on your wrist. Might be enough if you’re covered up, but there is likely a better option out there for you.
Animal Products. Flea and tick collars, cattle tags, and the like. These contain a variety of pesticides not cleared for human use. Adverse local and systemic effects are associated with use in humans. For example, more than one Marine or Soldier has suffered chemical burns on their legs from using flea collars as anklets. Leave the animal products to the animals.
Ingested Products. Garlic, vitamin B1, and more. There just isn’t any evidence to support their use. Some can be harmful. For example, eating match heads to prevent chigger bites. Sulfur products used on the skin are, in fact, effective against chiggers. But eating match heads doesn’t work. Neither does getting drunk. In fact, the metabolites that leak out of our skin after a heavy night of drinking might attract certain flying insects.
It’s my pleasure to announce that the Summer 2017 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine is now live! It was quite the issue to assemble, ready just in time for your Summer adventures.
This issue covers many topics, included but not limited to – wild trout, the Wisconsin Driftless, fly tying tips, an interview, and gear previews. Quite a bit of real quality content I know you are going to enjoy.
As usual, it will be available as a free e-magazine over at Issuu, HERE.
And also available for sale as a physical magazine in both Premium or Standard formats and PDF download in the Blurb bookstore, HERE.