A Sortable Teton Tenkara Rod Flex Index Chart

From its introduction to the West, Tenkara has thrived in a mostly online eco-system. As such, unless you’re one of the lucky few who live near a fly shop or outdoor retailer that carries tenkara rods, you probably never got to try out a particular rod model prior to purchase.

One of the more valuable (and underrated) tools when it comes to evaluating the “feel” of a tenkara rod (without handling it) is the Rod Flex Index Chart compiled by Dr. Tom Davis of the Teton Tenkara blog.

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Tom has handled, tested, and fished probably (or very close to) the most rods of anybody I’m familiar with. In doing such he compiled quite the chart, calculating the rod flex index (RFI) of each. According to Tom, the rod flex index is a simple rating that gives a person an estimate of how a rod’s character and flex might feel in comparison to other rods of any given length.

It’s also an offshoot of the common cents system “penny rating” he took from Chris Stewart and ran with (who also happened to borrow it from somebody else), so hopefully I’m spreading all the credit around where it’s due. For a heck of a lot more info on what goes into all this, Tom wrote the following “Treatise on Static Rod Testing” for those that really want to geek out.

Anyway…

Generally speaking, the smaller the rod flex index, the slower and more “full flex” the rod. Conversely, the higher the rod flex index, the faster and more “tip flex” the rod. This rating is becoming more and more helpful as companies are moving away from the often inaccurate 5:5, 6:4, 7:3, designations many have grown accustomed to.

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As Tom has evaluated more and more rods over the years, the chart has become a bit more difficult to read, especially if you’re trying to locate one specific rod from the over 150 categorized. So this past weekend I took the liberty of compiling all of that data into a simple Google Sheet that can be sorted or manipulated online, or can be downloaded for personal use.

It is available here:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1LeYYeDxRJD1W_mIGgBSkcjr62DQxqZjFPANKdt9MXcw/edit?usp=sharing

And looks sort of like this:

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Natively, the chart is set up in alphabetical order by brand, but if you want to sort/filter the info within to narrow down what you are looking for, you simply need to click on cell A6 and then apply a temporary filter from the tool bar drop down as follows:

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And then you’ll be able to sort by any of the headers as you see fit…

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I’m not 100% done updating the chart, (I’d still like to add all of the Manufacturer’s ratings as well as links to either Tom’s review and/or the manufacturer’s website), but it’s a start. And with Tom taking a bit of a hiatus from tenkara rod testing, I probably have a little more time to make these updates.

In the meantime, I hope you find this helpful, and if you have any comments on how to make this Google Doc better, feel free to reply in the comment section of this post.

Note: The translation of this chart to a Google Sheet was an unsolicited and quirky little side project I brainstormed at an odd hour of the night, much like the idea of this magazine itself. It is presented in goodwill to the tenkara community without any commercial interest to Tenkara Angler magazine. All data contained in the chart should be attributed and credited with great appreciation to the extensive work and research of Tom Davis & Teton Tenkara. 

Kickstarter – DRAGONtail MIZUCHI zx340 Small Stream Zoom Tenkara Rod

The eagerly anticipated DRAGONtail Mizuchi tenkara rod Kickstarter is finally here.

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Ever since Teton Tenkara‘s Tom Davis teased an upcoming small stream rod he co-designed with Brent Auger of DRAGONtail Tenkara, many fans of “bluelining” for trout have just been waiting for the day to pull the trigger on a new tenkara rod purchase.

Well, wait no longer. The Mizuchi zx340 zoom rod is now available for pre-sale. This rod is unique in the fact that it is a 3-way zoom rod that in explanation, not only addresses three small stream lengths (240cm, 290cm, and 340cm), but also fishes with an appropriate flex profile at each.

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If you act quickly, you can get one of these rods at an “Early Bird” price well below the eventual retail price of $160. As of writing this article, this rod had raised more than $3000 toward the $8000 funding goal, so it appears it’s well on it’s way to production.

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To read Tom Davis’ post regarding the design and development of this rod, check out this link HERE.

Or, if small stream is not your thing, but you want to check out the full range of DRAGONtail tenkara products – including rods, lines, line holders, and nets, check out this link HERE.

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.

Tom Davis Featured in JH News & Guide

A wonderful article was published yesterday in the Jackson Hole News & Guide about Tom Davis, author of the popular blog Teton Tenkara, as well as a prior contributor to Tenkara Angler magazine.

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While it’s a basic “introduction to tenkara” article, it also gleans a bit of knowledge from Tom’s personal experiences with tenkara both on water and online.

Tom’s contribution to the Spring 2016 issue of Tenkara Angler can be found HERE.

 

Teton Tenkara: San Ron Worm Variant

The San Ron Worm. What a lightning rod.

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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!