Yamame Yama-MAY: A Tenkara Rod Review . . .
Yamame and Bluegill (photo taken 05 21 2014)
Discourse on my equipment folds into most of my written accounts of tenkara fly fishing. One has seen new water, new species of fishes, and why not, now a new written form on an important subject: the tenkara rod: a review.
12 ft; 360 cm
The Yamame provided my fishing with three new doors to open and explore beyond:
One, the grip of cork
Two, the 7/3 flex
Three, the matte finish
The third of the three is my preferred place to begin. The amateur photographer I am has come to prefer prints on matte paper. Softer, impressionistic: depth is felt as well as perceived. The similar texture of this rod, along the grain of sanded wood or smooth limestone, breaks up the light, softens the reflection. Yamame appears much like a curved branch overhanging the water. I am convinced the glint from a gloss finish meeting direct sunlight creates an attention target for at least the alpha fish, focused forward on alert, often already because of insect hatches. This telescoping graphite fishing tool has the color of a dark olive; a limber summer stalk, one attached to a string.
The Lillian on the Yamame is dark brown, unlike the Ebisu, the red Lillian of which resembles a San Juan Worm. To it I use traditional tapered line in all but the most challenging situations, such as line shy trout on a low and clear freestone creek. The simple girth hitch, a knot that knots itself, connects this woven line to the Lillian. The color of the Tenkara USA brand I use casts the same color field as many trout lines by RIO or Royal Wulff. The additional few feet of 5x, 6x, or 7x tippet I use is slip knotted to a short butt of end knotted 12 lb. Trilene. This line and leader formula provides casting and connection capable of reaching and holding strong fish, an insight collected during some tests of the rod’s stiffer flex.
The 7/3 on this 12 ft. rod conveys feel comparable to a fast conventional nine-foot 4-weight of your choice. A noteworthy bluegill can give the PhD defense in landing a strong fish on this tackle. You can also feel a spirited pumpkinseed sunfish holding in its corner of the water. Two visits to my regional heavyweight sunfish lake revealed the extent of the Yamame’s action. I have come to call this time . . .
The lake, like most, really, does not give up bigger sunfish except during one period, the pugnacious before and after the spawning time when sunfish’s redds dot the still shallows like polka dots.
My kebari connected first in conjunction with the Yamame is one I call a silver tinsel and natural deer hair simple bucktail. Tied on a Mustad size 12 or 14 streamer hook, dressed sparingly; I use two batches of deer hair, one less than a classic Mickey Finn recipe; my initial role model.
The concept of mini (and micro) streamers includes the Mickey Finn, an idea documented previously at The Global FlyFisher for one example, which involves only a reduction in the standard fly recipe’s size of hook. Streamer meets nymph in scale and looks to match the tightly schooled fish fry that appear like tiny dark squiggles in the shallows.
The simple bucktail kebari knotted to the end of my Yamame rig riled one large female bluegill. The lady sprinted thirty feet three times in three directions like a permit scaled to a farm pond. My left arm high, left palm upturned, in this position began the arm wrestling. I did note the bend of the rod reached a shallower root, not because of the fish, which fought strongly; it’s just the final flex of the Yamame does fall along the third section rather than near the grip as on the 5/5 Ebisu.
Several sunfish added their opinion, many coaxed by a green caddis pupa featuring a sparse soft hackle paired with a bead. This one came courtesy of my colleague, Edwin Valentin: a tyer known more for his saltwater patterns, yet just as adept on the artificial fly for trout.
Mature males (brick red and moss green in hue with strong shoulders) and females (somewhat pale and barred with bellies full of eggs) reached my little Brodin net and lengths adjacent to a foot. Some were two–and-a-half inches (6.5 cm) broad. Pumpkinseed sunfish, smaller, still engaged well in the fray. The catches were released vigorous from my grasp.
Pumpkinseed Sunfish, Lepomis gibbosus. (Photo taken 05 29 2014)
The grip of the Yamame features sanded cork at the length consistent with the current standard. Cork is new to my tenkara experience. My own fishing in this style has centered on more of a one-off piece: the short, pine handle and 5/5 wisp of the Tenkara USA Ebisu used exclusively between April of 2012 and April of 2014.
Consistency. Simplicity. Each is the other.
Less pressure resistance from the cork in hand brought the matter of the grip up less than when I used the harder knocking pine of the Ebisu. There is as much, if not a little more, cork in play with the Yamame grip, shaped in a kind of extended yet slightly off-center manner, like a variation on the full wells familiar to conventional salmon and saltwater fly fishers. The shallow concave off-center sits in a sweet spot. Fishing in hand makes easy; I even forgot the difference in grip as an issue before my first outing with the hugegills was over.
Tenkara Impressionism, May
– rPs 06 06 2014
Postscript. Read about min (and micro) streamers and the Mickey Finn at The Global FlyFisher by following one of these two links:
Mini (or Micro) Streamer