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.

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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.