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Tenkara Tribe Poe Paddy Round-Up 2016: Day 2

Tenkara Tribe Poe Paddy Round-Up 2016: Day 2
By Rob Lepczyk

In the last episode, Day One of Poe Paddy Round-Up 2016, we arrived Friday morning, drank beer, got lost on dirt roads, fished, drank more beer, set up camp at Poe Paddy State Park on Penns Creek in Pennsylvania, then fished more, then we settled in and partied by the fire for hours.

The rain started at 4 am Saturday morning. It woke me up when it pitter-pattered on my camo, hammock tarp. When we all arose, it was still raining. Some of us woke up before others. Coffee was brewed, and plans were made. While avoiding the rain and nursing our hangovers, Charlie hatched the bright idea to go into town for breakfast. At first, we resisted but broke quickly.

We, Charlie, Navigator, JP and myself, drove out on the dirt roads around 9:30 am, in search of potatoes and eggs. It was still raining. We just sorta’ ended up in Millheim. But, success! We found good coffee and homemade English Muffins. Charlie got an extra treat, a favorite guitar player of his wandered in with the rest of the band to get breakfast. Charlie admitted he knew they lived there and was hoping he would see them.

This is also where the idea of the Ratskin Canoe was hatched. What was initially a caffeine-induced idea to clean up the cites of America of its rat problems, and we figured hipsters would buy the Ratskin Canoes due to the weirdness.

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Wandering down the street, we found what became a favorite of TeamRatskinCanoe, Penns Valley Meat Market. This was like stepping back in time, and we loved every minute of it. We bought them out of peppered jerky and smokey beef tips and headed back to camp.

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We got sidetracked on the way back. Little Poe Creek got in our way. We spent hours wandering the stream, I won’t try to describe it, I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story.

We got back to camp much later than anticipated, the party then began: Brookies and Beer for life!

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This article was originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine.

 

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What Do You Contribute to The Tenkara Community?

What Do You Contribute to The Tenkara Community?
By John Vetterli, Tenkara Guides LLC

Now that is a loaded question, isn’t it?

Back in 2009, Tenkara USA was launched and the beginning of a small yet humble revolution within the fly fishing industry was afoot.

Back then, there were no resources of any kind in English and the resources in Japanese were beyond our understanding because we had no experience base to draw from and make any sense out of the information that was available.  It was a difficult period in tenkara outside Japan, yet it was full of optimism, hope, and exploration.

There was a single internet forum page on Tenkara USA’s website where all of us were hanging out sharing ideas, experiences, asking questions, it was really cool.  Everyone involved was shaping a new sport, industry, and culture.

Now, 7 years later, tenkara is firmly established worldwide.  There is an actual industry outside of Japan consisting of multiple rod companies, vendors, accessories and gear makers, destination travel resources, and professional guides.  From its humble beginnings of a few fly fishing misfits to a complete industry is quite staggering when you look at how young this sport is outside of Japan.

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How did this happen?

It evolved because of the passion and excitement of everyone involved in the sport.

The use of various social media platforms in the past few years has made it explode.

There is a double-edged sword to this massive expansion in such a compressed time frame.

As our collective experience has grown, we are on the edge of falling into the pit of despair that has plagued western fly fishing for several decades.  It is called Elitism.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying, using, and thoroughly enjoying a quality built tenkara rod that costs $95.00.  Anyone that jumps on Facebook and belittles another angler’s choice in a moderately priced tenkara rod truly represents the worst character our community has to offer.

We all develop personal preferences as our experience grows and deepens.  I’ll be the first to admit I have an affinity for really high-performance tenkara rods.  My personal favorites are the Oni family of rods.  There are a few reasons for this.  Masami Sakakibara is my teacher, mentor, and a true friend.  I have had the honor of fishing with him a lot over the past few years.  My casting style developed in a vacuum just like everyone else’s has outside of Japan.  The first time Masami and I met, I realized that my casting style was very similar to his.  Learning from him was easy.  In fact, it was second nature for me to quickly adapt to his teaching.

So, since I have a natural affinity to my teacher’s style and method, using the rods he developed to match his style and methods really feels good to me.  And I’ll admit, these rods have a real sentimental value to me.  It’s something that came along with buying them out of the back of his car in a parking lot next to the river in Japan.

I also really like Nissin rods.  For some reason, I just like them.  I can’t put a finger on the exact reason.  I just do.

I also like some more moderately priced rods from domestic vendors such as Dragontail, Tanuki, Badger Tenkara, and the Tenkara Bum Suikei 36.  There are really high-quality rods that are available.  You don’t have to own a top end Japanese rod to truly enjoy tenkara.

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So, knowing myself and my love for things that perform at the highest levels, I try to be cognizant of the audience I might address when it comes to certain questions.

Being one of the owners of the first professional tenkara guide company in the world carries with it another level of responsibility.  That is to nurture and grow new tenkara anglers into experienced tenkara anglers.  That comes along with the territory.  We get clients all the time that bring their shiny new entry-level rod for their guided trip and they are so excited to learn how to use it.  The worst thing I could do is tell them that the rod they purchased is a piece of crap.

Just because the rod they have is not something I personally might not use, it does not make their choice wrong or irrelevant. The first rule of being a professional tenkara fly fishing guide is “don’t be a dick.”

Being members of not only a community but a culture, we all share a similar obligation.

Elitism is the poison that has the potential to consume not only an individual tenkara angler but also the entire community.  There is the form of elitism regarding the gear you use, the types of waters you fish, or the places you travel to. And the elitism of “tenkara is so much more effective than western fly fishing.” Mix those things together and you have a really volatile cocktail of arrogance, ignorance, and division.

Through our business Tenkara Guides LLC, I spend a lot of my time interacting with the much wider audience of the fly fishing industry.  That includes both tenkara and western fly fishing.

Here is a revelation I want to share.

There has always been a rift between western fly fishing and tenkara.  In the early days of tenkara, there was a lot of criticism and hostility tenkara anglers faced from fly fishing anglers on the water and from local tackle shops.  You mentioned the word tenkara and you were pretty much openly ridiculed on the spot.

That made our little fledgling community pretty punchy and hostile.  There were a lot of social media posts put out there on both sides that drove that wedge deep and wide.

We were really good ambassadors within our own community and not necessarily the best outside our community.

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The western fly fishing world is now reeling from the tenkara community’s version of tenkara vs. western fly fishing elitism.  Believe me, this is real, it’s damaging, and it does nothing but hurt both groups.

This is the chasm that currently exists.  The western fly fishing world is on the verge of openly accepting tenkara.  The only thing holding it back right now is us.

It’s no secret that fly fishing has been on a steady decline for the past 15 or so years.  Tenkara is the shot in the arm this sport needs.  It’s relatively easy to learn the basics, the cost of entry is typically less, and it’s fun.

The same thing happened in the ski industry back in the early 1980s. I grew up in Park City Utah, one of the premier ski destination resort towns in the world.  I was a part of this ski revolution that occurred in the 80s.

Skiing had become a sport of the wealthy.  The gear was expensive, the nice clothing was really expensive, lift tickets are prohibitively expensive, and it’s difficult to learn.

The ski industry was “eliting” itself out of existence.

Then came the snowboarders.

We were a bunch of kids that were not constrained by the rules of civilized ski society.  We started out in the backcountry snowboarding big mountains, deep powder, and having a blast on a snowboard that cost $150.00 and a pair of Sorel winter boots with old ski boot liners in them.  Quite a contrast to the $900.00 skis, $300.00 bindings, $600.00 boots, $125.00 ski poles, $1,200.00 Bogner one-piece ski suits, and $75.00 lift tickets.

Snowboarding took about 10 years to be openly accepted as a part of the ski industry and sport.  In the early days, snowboarders had to have a “chairlift certification” card to buy a lift ticket.  A lot has changed in the past 30 years.  Snowboarding started as a fringe sport that ended up bringing skiing back from its inevitable decline.  It wasn’t an easy road but now people enjoy both disciplines.  The most difficult decision for many skiers is “Do I take the snowboard out today or the skis?”

Fast forward a couple of years and tenkara has proven it belongs in the spectrum of fly fishing.  It has carved its place and it is here to stay.

Now more than ever, we as a culture of tenkara anglers must be aware that now we have a place within this wider fly fishing culture, and we must learn how to better integrate ourselves and our sport with the longstanding traditions of western fly fishing. Many western fly anglers want to try tenkara but they are hesitant to jump in because they fear a backlash from the tenkara community because they came from the “other” discipline.

It all boils down to basic human decency and respect for all anglers that want to enjoy time on the water.  It doesn’t matter if you like fishing for bluegills, bass, trout, whatever.  It doesn’t matter if you use a spinning reel, a bait casting reel, a fly reel, or no reel.  What matters is that we as a tenkara community take a big bold step and be personable, friendly, and accepting of every fishing discipline we encounter.

Everyone deserves the right to enjoy their fishing.  It’s not up to you or me to dictate to them which method is superior or what gear is superior.

We are not all that different.  When you break it all down into its most basic components.  It’s just trying to catch a fish with a stick, a hook, and a string.

We need to be the best ambassadors of our sport to both those within the tenkara community and those in the greater fly fishing community.

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This article was originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine.

A Niche Within a Niche, Within a Niche, Within a Niche

A Niche Within a Niche, Within a Niche, Within a Niche
By Chris Stewart

I almost entitled this article “The Next Big Thing is Little” but calling micro fishing the next big thing may be a bit of a stretch.  Micro fishing is still small. Fly fishing for micros – micro tenkara – is smaller yet.

Still, interest is increasing, as witnessed by the recently established Tenkara Micro Fishing Facebook page.

Fishing for little fish is not new. Dame Juliana  Berners wrote in 1486 that you should fish “for the Menowe with a lyne of one heare” [one horsehair].  I am sure it is older than that, though. People have been fishing for little fish ever since they realized that a little fish on a hook could catch a big fish.

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Tanago

Fishing for little fish solely for sport isn’t new either. Tanago fishing in Japan dates back at least as far as the Edo period (1603-1868). For that matter, even fly fishing for little fish (which really is the niche within a niche within a niche) is not new.  While the first written record of what is now called tenkara was in 1877, the first written record of Japanese fishing with artificial flies was two hundred years earlier! One could argue that it wasn’t tenkara because the fish were chubs and dace rather than trout and it wasn’t in a mountain stream.

I have no desire to argue about what is and what isn’t tenkara. My point is that fly fishing for micros is not new. A micro, by the way, according to the two guys who coined the term “micro fishing,” is a fish that fully grown does not reach a pound in weight; but I have no desire to argue about that, either. There’s a guy I know, although only online, who as near as I can tell fishes only for little sunfish.

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Bluegill sunfish

A Bluegill Sunfish can reach well over a pound, so according to the purists, it isn’t a micro. I’m not a purist and to me, a little fish is a little fish. Whether it is a micro or a baby macro, I don’t really care (and neither does he). However, I will freely admit that catching micros other than sunfish is more interesting – unless you catch very rare sunfish, like perhaps a mud sunfish or banded sunfish, which in New Jersey you can’t legally fish for and in New York if you happen to catch by accident you can’t legally photograph.

There is one term that I would define pretty narrowly, though. If you happen to catch a micro while fishing for trout or bass or other big fish, it’s not microfishing. Microfishing, to my way of thinking, is specifically trying to catch micros. Thus, Coach’s splendid common shiner in full breeding colors doesn’t qualify as microfishing. He was fishing for trout at the time.

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Common shiner

Although Coach’s common shiner was caught on a size 12 fly, and I have caught several micros on size 12 and 14 flies, if you want to catch micros I would strongly suggest a smaller fly. Although I have caught baby smallmouth bass with a size 32 Stewart Black Spider, I would guess I’ve had my best luck with a size 20 bead head Black Killer Bugger. It is about the right size to represent any small nymph and the bead helps to get it down to where the fish are. If you are sight fishing, which I often do with micros, the gold bead allows you to watch the fly, and to watch it disappear as a fish takes it.

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Size 26 blue Killer Bug

I have done quite well with size 26 Killer Bugs also (even if they are blue, as is the one shown in the photo, taken by a creek chub during my Blue Fly Challenge in 2013). Really, just about any really small fly will work for many micros, and will take much larger fish as well.

The chance for larger than expected fish can be a potential problem for micro fishers. On the one hand, you would want to use a rod that is soft enough and delicate enough to allow you to feel the fight of a 3” fish.  On the other hand, though, you would want to use a rod that will not break if you hook a fish that is larger than you expect. I truly thought my Shimotsuke Miyako tanago rod would break when I hooked a six-inch brookie.

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Miyako brookie

It didn’t break but I know of a guy who broke his twice, once when he hooked a potential state record warmouth and again when a 12” bullhead ate the micro he had hooked before he had a chance to get it in. I no longer carry the Miyako although I do still carry a Nissin Gokoro tanago rod.  Many new micro fishers choose a Nissin Sasuke or Shimotsuke Kiyotaki, either of which may be overkill for a 2 incher, but they should survive the unexpected 12 incher. I often suggest a Suntech Kurenai, which to me is the nicest rod that can be used for both micros and trout. That said, you can use your current tenkara rod, and I would much rather you start micro fishing with the rod you have than not start because you think you have to buy a new one.

One nice feature of the Kurenai is that it can cast a very light line. The lighter the line, the more likely the strike of a micro will register. I am pretty sure that hits that would cause a size 2.5 line to twitch wouldn’t even show with a heavy furled line. I would also go with a light tippet. The flies are small and the rod is delicate. You might hook a much larger than expected fish. When fishing for micros, my heaviest tippet is 7X and I often use 8X.

Micro tenkara has been on the fringes for some time now, but it is coming into the mainstream. It is fun, it is challenging and it is convenient. There are micros (or at least “little fish”) in just about every body of water that doesn’t dry up in the summer or freeze solid in the winter. You almost certainly have places to fish close enough that you don’t have to plan a weekend or even a full day just to wet a line. All you have to do is use your most sensitive rod, your lightest line, your smallest flies, and be satisfied catching your smallest fish.

Do it very much and you will almost certainly catch fish you’ve never caught before. You’ll almost certainly catch fish you’ve never heard of before! That’s part of the fun of it. I won’t say trout are boring, but catching something you’ve never caught before and then trying to figure out what you’ve just caught is intriguing and is a large part of the attraction of micro tenkara. As with tenkara in the early days, the guys who pooh-pooh it are the guys who haven’t tried it.

This article was originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine.

Lunch Break Tenkara

Lunch Break Tenkara
By Adam Rieger

I started Tenkara fishing only two seasons ago and came to it with almost zero western fly fishing experience.  Needless to say, the addiction took hold very quickly!  It is now all-consuming… I am not sure if it requires a 12 step program or it is healthy.

One of the first signs of the ”addiction” was, during office hours, my constant studying of Google Maps in terrain mode to find small “blue lines” to hunt brook trout.  I would find potential places and desperately want to check them out, but family obligations (wife and two young children 6 and 3) gave me very few weekends free and well working for a living was ANOTHER big time suck away from fishing!

Then it struck me – an epiphany! – with Tenkara’s telescoping rods, a minimal set of tools and flies AND one hand free to eat a sandwich – I should just go fishing during lunch break.  After all, I had an hour break – so if I could find options within a 15-minute drive I could easily fish for 30 minutes!

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To maximize time, the fishing would not include any wading…all shore casting…and a strategic use of shoes that could both pass as “business casual” and good in the dirt.  Also carrying a stiff brush in your car and one of those shoe sponges helps clean you up super-fast!

So it was time to go back to Google!  I studied the maps and isolated first the “circumference” of the search area based on time to drive there.  I then looked online to see if there were any “stocking” reports in any of these zones to get an idea of what species if any were there.  I also checked various fishing chat groups to see what people were talking about.

I am somewhat fortunate that I live in the suburbs of NYC in what is called the Croton River watershed.  Almost the entire river network (which flows into the Hudson) has been dammed to form reservoirs for drinking water for NYC.   The State of NY stocks the tailwaters and the reservoirs extensively with fish.  On the “unfortunate” side the “prime spots” are not within the 15-minute drive circumference, but I was able to find a few – B or C level spots to fish for trout.

One happy discovery came when I least expected it…I was on a play date with some fellow friends with kids at this playground park that had a pond.  We decided to walk around the pond.  On that walk, I clearly saw tons of panfish and some largemouth bass.  I then bumped into a fisherman with his son who told me that the town stocks the pond every Spring with 12-inch Rainbow trout for a “Kids Fishing Derby” in early May.  The pond is off limits for fishing the few weeks prior to the derby but after it opens up.  To my amazement this May I caught several even larger rainbows in this pond so either they stock some larger or there are some holdovers.  Anyhow…the moral of this story is keep your eyes peeled!  Be open to it all…

Continuing with this theme of keeping your eyes peeled…recently TenkaraBum issued a “streamer” challenge where one winning spot was based on the most species caught on a streamer with a fixed line rod…and so I decided to combine that challenge with my lunch fishing outings.  After getting the easy species in my regular spots I came to realize if I was going to really compete I would have to go small…this opened the door to micro fishing…and a ton more water!

With micro fishing in the mix, I started to look at every little puddle and every tiny creek as potential water…and sure enough in many of these places, there were tiny fish.  Catching them was certainly not the “battle” of your life but they are indeed very challenging to hook.

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Adam’s Checklist for Lunch Break Tenkara

Car Gear:
In the center armrest compartment:  Zimmerbuilt Strap pack with tippet, nippers, forceps, a small tin of flies.  3 line spools.  15-foot floating line (my popper friend), level line (2 spools – short and long).

Tamo:
I only started to carry this for the Streamer challenge as I have to take a photo…otherwise, I would just release waterside.  Optional.

Rods:
I bring 2 – Tenkara USA Iwana 12 foot – good all round rod that I bought used when I first started – we are good friends.  The rod has enough backbone for warm water larger fish if I get lucky!

I also carry a Kyotaki 18 which is a very small short rod that I use for tighter spots and for those small fish in very small water “puddles”.

Of course, as an “addict” I have other more “cherished” rods that I don’t bring because I do not want to leave them in my car with the sun getting the car really hot in the parking lot…I am not sure if that is a risk or not – but I don’t want to find out so I mention it for those looking to try out some of my tactics.

 

This article was originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine.

Fall 2018 Issue: Call For Submissions

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Admittedly, the Tenkara Angler blog has been a little bit quiet since the Summer issue went to print. We’ve just been enjoying the summer so much, who has had time to write?

So, today we’ll “officially” open up the Fall 2018 issue for submissions (although it’s really never officially closed).

Personally, I’d really love to see some more long-form essays, as I’m certain you’ve all had a lot of great Spring & Summer adventures, tenkara rods in-hand. Maybe it was that long camping weekend with family & friends… perhaps you did a fish & bike trip… caught a new species of trout… or even visited one of our National Parks.

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As always, any and all topics are fair game – fishing reports, gear reviews or releases, destination travel, essays, poetry, fiction, photography, art, whatever – as long as it’s tenkara, fixed-line fly fishing, 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 7th, 2018 (give or take a few days), with the target publishing date toward the end of that same month.

EDITORS NOTE:
Since things have been a little slow on the website, I’m going to begin to re-publish all of the great articles from the Fall 2016 issue of Tenkara Angler to the blog as standalone posts. Not only will they be a great opportunity to revisit some top notch content from two years ago, but they may also serve as inspiration for future articles as well.

Make sure to subscribe by email (check the left-hand side of the page for the box to enter your address) to be notified of new posts and content.

The Summer 2018 Issue of Tenkara Angler Is Now Live!

It’s my pleasure to announce that the Summer 2018 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine is now live!

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Since this magazine is crowd-sourced, it’s always interesting to see what folks decide to send in, and the content compilation for this issue was no different.

While the backbone of the magazine is still solidly based in tenkara & trout, it was fascinating to see the amount of (warm water) fixed line fly fishing articles that came in this time around. There was an interesting read on chasing carp with a tenkara rod, two separate (but related) articles on catfish, bass, & bluegill, and finally, an awesome “destination” piece that takes us to Alabama for “‘Bama brookies.” You’ll have to read it to see what that’s all about…

It’s also worth noting that about 3/4 of the authors were new to Tenkara Angler with this issue. While you’ll get to “meet” them in the pages, I did want to give a shout out to returning authors Adam Klagsbrun, John-Paul Povilaitis, Brad Trumbo, Robb Chunco, Jack Harford, & Anthony Naples. The magazine wouldn’t be where it is without your dedication.

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As usual, it will be available as a free e-magazine over at Issuu, HERE.

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

Enjoy!