Wool Bodied Flies

Wool Bodied Flies
by Tom Davis

Everybody has their favorite flies. Some are traditional patterns, some are new designs. Some use time tested materials, while others incorporate the newest in synthetic or UV offerings. Some catch a lot of fish; others catch more fishermen than fish! But whatever their characteristics, we all have our favorite flies.

The one fly style that seems to epitomize or is iconic to tenkara is the sakasa kebari. This reverse hackle pattern seems to fly in the face of western patterns that attempt to “match the hatch”. With its forward facing hackle, the sakasa kebari is more of an attractor or impressionistic pattern, and relies on movement to entice the fish into striking. While relatively easy to tie, there are some nuances that, if followed, can make the tying process a little easier.

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In my part of the western United States streams originating in the Rocky Mountains tend to be of moderate to high gradient and freestone in type. These streams and creeks all tend to hold trout species, whether introduced, like brook, rainbow and brown trout, or native, like cutthroat trout. Since the waters are fast moving, these fish have only a split second to decide if a fly pattern represents food or flotsam. Therefore, in these waters, the forward angled soft hackle adds life-like movement and seems to fool the fish more frequently than stiff, realistic fly patterns.

Some of my favorite sakasa kebari patterns involve wool. Wool helps build the body up, making the fly easy to see in turbulent mountain streams. Wool, once washed of its protective lanolin, absorbs water readily, making the fly sink quickly and thus getting it down into the pockets where the fish lie. Wool is also easy to work with and very robust.

When tying these flies, always start by tying the thread in at the eye and working backwards towards the bend of the hook. This is generally opposite of traditional fly tying, where you start near the hook bend and tie forward towards the eye. Tie the head first, then add the hackle. Make sure that the curve of the hackle faces forward towards the eye of the hook, then wrap the hackle two to three times around the shaft. Tie off the hackle on the body side of the fly and then wrap your thread back to the end of the hook shaft. Tie in the body material and ribbing. Wrap the body material forwards, tying it off just behind the hackle. Wrap the rib forwards, again tying it off just behind the hackle. Dub the thorax and wrap it from the hackle backwards over the first part of the body. Whip finish just behind the thorax. It’s that easy.

Here I present four of my favorite wool bodied flies.

1) Grave Digger

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The Grave Digger is a fly originated by the Tenkara Guides, LLC of Salt Lake City, Utah. This fly is a real producer for me and often is found on the end of my line. I made some substitutions in materials, since one of the original materials for this fly is fur from a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. I don’t have this fur readily available. Also, I tend to make my fly body thicker and more prominent than the original.

  • Hook: Barbless competition curved pupa hook, size 10-12
  • Thread: 8/0 chartreuse
  • Hackle: partridge
  • Body: Shetland Spindrift, Purple Haze (1270)
  • Rib (my version): silver wire, small
  • Thorax: Hare-tron Seal, brown

2) Red-assed Monkey

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This fly, like the Grave Digger, originated with Tenkara Guides, LLC and was originally tied as a jig fly. It works great when tied as such, but it also works very well as a more traditional sakasa kebari pattern. Once again, I’ve substituted material for the thorax as the original pattern also uses dog fur.

  • Hook: Barbless competition curved pupa hook, sizes 10-12
  • Thread: 8/0 black
  • Hackle: partridge
  • Body: Shetland Spindrift, Sunset (186)
  • Thorax: Hare-tron Seal, brown

3) Oxford wool kebari

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This is one of my patterns, as you can tell by the boring name. When the water is low and the sun bright, like on an autumn day, this pattern really produces.

  • Hook: Barbless competition curved pupa hook, sizes 10-12
  • Thread: 8/0 red
  • Hackle: partridge
  • Body: Shetland Spindrift Oxford (123)
  • Rib: red wire, BR or medium
  • Thorax: Hare-tron, black

4) Soft Hackle Grey kebari

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This is my variation on the classic soft hackle wet fly that has been around for decades. It is a top producer, particularly when caddis are active. I tie this pattern in two variations, one with grey thread and the other with red. I’m a believer in hot spots on sub-surface flies and the red head seems to induce takes when other flies will not.

  • Hook: Barbless competition curved pupa hook, size 10-14
  • Thread: 8/0 grey or red
  • Hackle: partridge
  • Body: Shetland Spindrift, Sholmit/Mooskit (119)
  • Rib: gold or copper wire, BR or medium
  • Thorax: Hare-tron, grey

So there you have it, four of my most favorite wool bodied flies. I tend to use these from spring to autumn; I don’t find them to be as effective in winter, except in jig form with tungsten beads. I hope you also find them to be useful and that they find a place in your fly box!

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2016 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.

Peeping Caddis Kebari

Peeping Caddis Kebari
By Stephen Myers

Originated from Ralph D’Andrea’s Peeping Caddis Nymph Pattern

The peeping caddis is meant to imitate many of the cased caddis that we see in our local waters, with the added bonus of having a “peeping” larvae (chartreuse chenille) exposed at the rear of the fly. This is a great pattern for any stream or river with populations of caddis flies. Add some wraps of non-lead wire and fish it along the bottom or tie it unweighted and let it roll across the riffles. It’s up to you.

Materials:
– Hends Barbless BL 254 Nymph/Wet Fly Hook – Size 8
– 6/0 Thread (Green, Black, or Grey)
– Small Chartreuse Chenille
– India Hen Soft Hackle (Speckled Grey)
– Masterblend XB English Hares Ear Dubbing

Step 1: Wrap the thread down to the bend of the hook and back just behind the eye.

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Step 2: Tie in the chenille just behind the eye and make securing wraps back to the bend of the hook.

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Step 3: Form a dubbing noodle on your thread with the hares ear dubbing.

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Step 4: Make wraps forward with the dubbed thread. Try to keep an even taper up to just behind the hook eye.

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Step 5: Build a tapered thread base behind the hook eye to tie in your soft hackle feather.

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Step 6: Stroke back the fibers of the soft hackle feather to get an easy tie in portion, then tie in the feather with the bowl shape of the feather facing upward.

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Step 7: Make one wrap of the soft hackle feather around the hook and secure the feather with a few wraps of thread. Add some super glue to the thread and take two or three more wraps around the hook.

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Step 8: Add some hares ear dubbing to the thread and take a three turn whip finish around the hook to secure the thread. Cut or clip the thread. You’re finished!

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This article originally appeared in the Spring 2017 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.

The Ugly Tenkara Fly

The Ugly Tenkara Fly
By Adam Rieger

I first heard of Ishimaru Shotaro through Daniel Galhardo’s Tenkara USA blog post…

http://www.tenkarausa.com/meeting-one-of-the-old-tenkara-masters-ishimaru-shotaro/

It is a great post. One of the things that struck me was the simplicity of the fly and the “ugliness” of the fly. My tenkara mentor, Adam Klagsbrun, instilled in me the idea that trout like ugly and buggy flies… many of his favorites are Fran Better’s ties like the Ausable bomber or the Usual… both hairy buggy flies… and another of his favorites is the Ausable Ugly tied by Rich Garfield – guide extraordinaire in the Adirondacks.

So having said that my leaning, especially as a new tier and new to the sport, was for ugly and simple flies…so off to work to try and figure out how to tie the Ugly Tenkara fly!

In my search, I noticed a post by the Discover Tenkara guys Paul and John about Shotaro and the fly and voila they had already done the research and had made a very good replica so I got in contact with John Pearson to learn his thoughts on the method…

Here is what I understood him saying to do 🙂

Recipe:

Hook: Eyeless or you can use your favorite wet fly/nymph standard hook
Eye: Red silk – I used beading silk
Thread: Black sewing thread – Coats and Clark black
Hackle: Grizzly rooster hackle

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Tie in a loop of red silk to form the eye. If you would like you can coat the loop with head cement, Hard as Nails or other adhesive to stiffen the loop.
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Use the tags of the silk to form a taper in the body and wrap your thread to the bend and then back to near the loop eye. Cut any excess red silk and cover with black thread.
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Select a grizzly rooster hackle and tie in the tip of the feather so it extends up and over the eye at a 45 degree angle. Bind down the hackle to the hook shank with open wraps to the bend.
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Twist the hackle around your thread and flair out the barbules. Wrap the feather and thread “rope” up the hook shank and tie off near the eye the feather and clip excess.
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Wind thread through hackle with zig-zagging motion (to not tie down barbules) if you want to build up the body more or further secure the feather. Alternatively you can skip that and just simply whip finish at that point or when you are satisfied with the body.

The fly on first casting or when blot dried will fish in the surface film like a low riding dry or Griffith Gnat… and then quickly sink as the thread absorbs water.

I oversize the hackle and keep it sparse… I also do not use top grade hackle which I think helps the fly as the feather is less “stiff” and has more action in the water.

Could be its mystical powers but my first cast with this fly yielded a very aggressive strike from a small stream brown!

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This article originally appeared in the Winter 2016-17 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine.

Tailed Sakasa Kebari

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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If you enjoyed this article by Robb, you can check out more of his flies at Creekside Kebari + Fly Co.

Teton Tenkara: San Ron Worm Variant

The San Ron Worm. What a lightning rod.

San Ron Worm, tungsten
Photo: Tom Davis

Anglers either seem to love the deadly effectiveness of this pattern – or despise it, on the basis that the only thing it seems to have in common with a typical fly is the hook.

Either way, it definitely catches fish, particularly trout, and Tom Davis shared a recipe and video of his variant of the controversial pattern over on his Teton Tenkara blog yesterday.

Click on over and check it out!