Archive for Tenkara Techniques

Book Review: Fly-Casting Finesse

Book Review: Fly-Casting Finesse . . .

Fly-Casting Finesse
by John L. Field

When a new hardcover book dedicated to some aspect of fly fishing reaches print, there should be a pause, as the production time and cost for such a lasting document indicates the publisher’s belief in the value of the information on the printed pages between the covers.

Skyhorse Publishing, no stranger to readers of angling literature, has just released such a book.

Fly-Casting-Finesse

by John L. Field

160 pp., Skyhorse Publishing. Hardcover, $29.99.

ISBN: 9781632204882

First impression of the cover is reaffirmed by the fact the same glossy color is sleeved in a matching dust jacket. A quick flip through reveals excellent illustrations, diagrams, and chapters than contain numerous subsections with page breaks, a format that gives the busy reader plenty of places to pause and pick up again, almost the way one works a fly line on and off the water.

Who is the author? His name may be new to those used to hearing Kreh, Krieger, Rajeff, and Wulff, all giants associated with the cast. Field, who lives in Connecticut, is a former president of the New York City Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the American Casting Association. His casting reputation is solidified by his status as an IFFF Certified Master Casting Instructor. Credentials enough to author a book on the fundamental mechanics of fly fishing.

Field writes in a clear, unadorned style; he is very good in composing phrases that in their succinct accuracy allow a caster to internalize and turn them into mantras:

“Presentation Scenarios”

“Currents and Cover”

“Line Control”

“J” and “L”

“Timing and Tempo”

I invite readers to explore the book for themselves for an elaboration of such phrases. Set aside some time outdoors as well to put into practice what Field has written on the page.

Tenkara is not given any featured place in this book. What may to some appear to be a shortcoming, or weakness, actually on reflection refocuses the fact that, tackle choice aside, it is the angler and the positions, angles, and motions used in the fishing process that matter. A chapter on the double haul has no practical value in the world of fixed line fly fishing, but so much else – line mending, casts in close quarters, the roll, the bow and arrow, et al, can all add to the skill set of those who fish the rod, line, and fly.

Fly-Casting Finesse is available at Urban Angler, Ltd. in Manhattan and, of course, online.

Good Reading.

– rPs 03 22 2017

Postscript: Read more about Fly-Casting Finesse on the Skyhorse Publishing website:  http://skyhorsepublishing.com/titles/6317-9781632204882-fly-casting-finesse

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Clean Slate

Clean Slate . . .

Nymphing with Ebisu in January (NYC 01 2017)

Nymphing with Ebisu in January
(NYC 01 2017)

New York City wore a thin sheet of powdered snow for a few days at the start of the year.  Sustained rains came to soak the five boroughs, misted, warm enough to keep the park ponds free of ice. The cleanest water of the year rests still and cold . . . and uncovered.

The season of slate water is here to mark the new year. Winds like change blow through in between days foggy and still. Stillwater tenkara may best be tried when the wind is low enough not to complicate a narrow cast over and around branches bare or covered with dry leaves, crisp, curled, almost eager to grab a traditional tapered line or 5x leader.

Nymphs (and streamers if you must try more than one fly), crawled just above the bottom build technique, but often seem not to lure interest. Fishes all seem to have vanished, perhaps in the deepest water bedded down in the same submerged leaves that give the New York City waters that wintertime tannic quality and stony dark color.

Combined, it almost reads like a sign.

“Do Not Disturb”

For now then, fishes, all right.

– rPs 01 22 2017

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Jetty Knight

Jetty Knight . . .

Jetty Knight by Maryann Amici (12 2016)

Jetty Knight
by Maryann Amici
(12 2016)

or Nothing, for the Birds . . .

Sometimes one takes tenkara to the ends of the Earth near the end of the year. Can one go father on running foot than the surf zone, North Atlantic Ocean, in December? Here you are.

The Birds

The Birds Family Scolopacidae (12 2016)

The Birds
Family Scolopacidae
(12 2016)

One picks fishing trips like slot machines. A line wins, sometime(s). Engaged in it on the fly is only a strategy. So is Tenkara. Wins are enjoyed, as are fishes, yet these come spaced enough for no exact science to be sure. Time and place judge. Conditions mix. Catches vary.

One day the water was calm, the breeze, barely, but very cold. The tenkara rod extended above surf and tolerated twitches tethered to a Clouser Kebari along the swells. Cormorants and other birds angled nearby. Hours passed. No takers.

The Pattern

Clouser Kebari (rPs 12 2016)

Clouser Kebari
(rPs 12 2016)

The Bait

The Bait (12 2016)

The Bait
(12 2016)

The Waves

The Waves (12 2016)

The Waves
(12 2016)

Next time swells capped white even an 8-weight could only surf high, water bucking the weighted pattern like a reveler on a casino’s mechanical bull. One hour made an epic casting lesson schooled by wind and water as fishes below hugged into boulder rock crevices unreachable.

Sometimes one fishes and catches nothing but a contemplative time, an athletic time, spent in a surf wave of sporting happiness.

Nothing, for the birds?

Slumbering Shell (12 2016)

Slumbering Shell
(12 2016)

— rPs 12 20 2016

Postscript: In memory of Louis J. Amici, Jr. (1947-2016) and Jeff Feldmeier (1966-2016). They always met the train on time.

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Olympian Gymnasts

Olympian Gymnasts . . .

Tenkara fishing a smallmouth stream in summer. (07 2016)

Smallmouth Stream in Summer
(07 2016)

 

The jumps of the smallmouth bass are spectacular feats of athleticism. You could jump from the lawn to the tip of the gable in one hop if your legs were so strengthened to scale.

Smallmouth Season.  Small Creeks. The smaller waters where smallmouth reside, if only for the warmer months, offer slow runs over submerged logs rooted in silt, or stretches of swifter, shallower water where the shoulders of boulders break the clean current.

The small stream smallmouth is a seasonal fish. Bass swim upstream into these tributaries of larger flows in search of secluded spawning areas, cooler water, more relaxed currents. One may find only a half dozen such stretches of several hundred feet along one or two miles as the map reads.

Here plenty of creatures forage and become forage for the bass. Summer is also a time when large caddis dry fly patterns can coax fish rising to such naturals.

I have used the Deer and White, size 12, on streams where a smallmouth one foot in length was the average. The standard of measure I use is The Jump. Most bass of this size are Olympian Gymnasts above the water. Vertical jumps of several feet numbering as many as six, the smallmouth has both height and number!

Winded in The Net (07 2016)

Winded in The Net
(07 2016)

 

The rare use of the exclamation point is earned. Smallmouth bass are that exciting to seek out with rod, line, and fly. In between, the encounter with the redbreast sunfish gives added weight to the pull I feel for small bass streams in summer. And redbreasts do pull; they fill the role of permit here.

Fooled by a Soft Hackle: Redbreast Sunfish (07 2016)

Fooled by a Soft Hackle: Redbreast Sunfish
(07 2016)

 

The occasional stream bluegill may pop up, too.

Stream Bluegill (07 2016)

Stream Bluegill
(07 2016)

 

As may the fallfish take the place of tarpon. Large adults of twenty inches, silvered and strong, match the profile and can porpoise in defiance of any standard or tenkara fly tackle.

Fallfish and TUSA Ebisu (07 2016)

Fallfish and TUSA Ebisu
(07 2016)

 

Grand Slam! Yes, there is even more, that much more, to love about Smallmouth Season. Go find out! (hint-hint: that exclamation point again and again)

 

–  rPs 08 03 2016

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Tenkara Reigns

Tenkara Reigns . . .

Tenkara Reigns Here (05 2016)

Tenkara Reigns Here
(05 2016)

Several thousand words may be contained in photographs from two days in May. Tenkara reigns at such times in such places as this average freestone trout stream fished first under full sun and bluebird sky, followed the next day by a bright gray ceiling of cloud shedding passing short showers.

Ben Feezer from R.D.O. Marketing, Inc. had earlier in the season dropped off a Fisherman’s Combo forcep-nipper-zinger-retractor set that found itself stream tested on the bank besides small glades of blooming Mayapple and in the steady stream somewhat higher than felt over the past few seasons of more feeble flows. The T-Reign nippers came into frequent use during fly pattern tests. Both 6x and 7x tippet require a tight, precise bite, which the T-Reign provided in a baker’s dozen hours on the water.

T-REIGN Pinned In Place (05 2016)

T-REIGN Pinned In Place
(05 2016)

T-REIGN nipper and small retractor (carabiner) clipped the tag end of the knot attached to this size 14 Partridge and Olive. (05 2016)

T-REIGN nipper and small retractor (carabiner) along with size 14 Partridge and Olive.
(05 2016)

The first day, bright, clear, just a bit bit breezy, still allowed dry fly fishing as three different mayfly emerged. The March Brown, what looked to be a Hendrickson best matched by a size 18 Adams, and a very few large Sulphers.

Dry Fly Fished Upstream (05 2016)

Dry Fly Fished Upstream
(05 2016)

Deer and Herl unweighted met many sips from fallfish feeding in the surface film of the flow. The Green Guarantee and one of Ira Hainick’s Killer Bug variations met with steady interest from the same school.

This fallfish fell for this variation of Ira Hainick's Killer Bug. (05 2016)

Ira Hainick’s Killer Bug: This fallfish fell for it.
(05 2016)

Some attentive observations prove to happen in repetition in enough frequency to be at least called a pattern. One of my own: selectivity imbues the few scattered trout pods surviving the year’s spring stocking. Such hardy fish may take just two or three positions along a mile’s length of suitable stream. Deep runs or pools may be just as well as the deceptive, flat, moderate runs that get overlooked by angler’s seeking obvious honey holes. This handful of pooled spots  and riffled runs may hold one to several rainbow, brook, or brown trout, but usually rainbow. Fish acclimated to the conditions and natural forage of the given creek, fish able to survive the predator angler in stream as well as  the heron and the hawk spiraling, almost as if wrestling, in the open air above.

One of those naturals is the mayfly. March Brown hatch in May as does the Gray Fox, a variation now lumped in with the former by more formal entomology. To my impression the Gray Fox is the smaller, size 16 March Brown mayfly somewhat translucent of wing sustaining a body tan trending toward the grey.

The Hatch (05 2016)

The Hatch
March Brown
(05 2016)

The Hatch Black Tadpoles (05 2016)

The Hatch
Black Tadpoles
(05 2016)

The Hatch Fish Fry Bait Ball (05 2016)

The Hatch
Fish Fry Bait Ball
(05 2016)

The Muddy Moreblack matched some aspects of the natural(s) encountered. The body color of the March Brown, the overall black of the tadpoles bunched up in still stream side puddles, and the silvered profiles of fish fry gathered in balls as tight as is seen in the salt.

The Match Muddy Moreblack (05 2016)

The Match
Muddy Moreblack
(05 2016)

The wet fly pattern, worked with slow rise and fall motions by the limber Ebisu rod, resulted in two strikes at different times and one trout in net. I attribute this catch to the location, the deep run of the trout’s holding lie beside a submerged boulder and a knot of tree roots in combination along the bank, for it was in just this one place I netted a selective arco iris this time out.

The Trout (05 2016)

The Trout
(05 2016)

Yes, that is a crack in my hardwood Brodin net. Another, out of view, is already bound in duct tape.

Good gear gets used. The Tenkara USA Ebisu continues to be my chief tenkara tool. The Brodin net weathers well and endures to hold humanely the struggles of the fish I have been able to catch. Redington Palix River pant waders and Korkers Greenback boots make my moderate thigh high wades easier, and The T-REIGN nipper with carabiner, new and proven, is attached even now to a vest owned and operated by my wife, Maryann. Happy marriage allows us to take such sharing turns.

“Tenkara Reigns.” The sentence of two words popped into my mind as precise as the bite of of the T-REIGN nipper, the casting action of the TUSA Ebisu tenkara rod, the decisive take of the holdover rainbow trout. There, the pun is left not to be avoided, if I “May” now that it is June.

— rPs 06 03 2016

Postscript: Learn more about T-REIGN Retractable Outdoor Products here:  http://t-reignoutdoor.com/

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Bass at First Light

Bass at First Light . . .

 

Earth Day: Bullfrog and Boulder (NYC 04 2016)

Earth Day: Dawn, Bullfrog and Boulder
(NYC 04 2016)

 

Spring’s risen sun seems to hover just above the tree line when positioned beside the freshwater in Central Park. The Hudson River’s brackish waters on the West Side of Manhattan and The Bronx are still flowing under full shadow at this early daytime.

Trees just beginning to sprout leaves offer a canopy as fine as a newborn’s hair. Lots of sunlight filters through the bright green around the water. Slight haze of pollen catches sun as it suspends over large frogs and the occasional turtle that surfaces to swim by. One woodpecker provides the beat of nature’s jackhammer, a mellow sound on wood set a few decibels below that of steel on asphalt no doubt going on deeper in the city.

The water stirs by the early riser. The bass are active.

When, in spring, the pond weed returns in its first growth to just below the surface, a predatory zone forms. Below sits a few openings, a few here and there holding depressions, and the flat roof top of golden green weed.

Poppers and other surface gurglers draw strikes on top as does a Green Guarantee, unweighted, pulsing in the emergent column. The deer belly hair of the green pattern’s wing adds buoyancy as it pushes water when pulled to simulate a pulse.

Largemouth bass, bigger pickles in the green trout class, make up the bulk of the dominant Centrarchidae in the Five Borough’s still waters. Such bass are bright, alert, and frisky, able jumpers worthy of 4x tippet.

First Bass Of 2016 (NYC Spring 2016)

First Bass of 2016
(NYC Spring 2016)

 

Urban Angler alum, Christopher Chang, worked a selection of poppers on a conventional 3-weight floating line and landed several respectable bass of the first size class. Such fish range two to four pounds and are breeding females. Each one caught quickly and humanely released. Action enough to satisfy a busy world traveler set to serve the Peace Corp. in Peru for the next two years.

Christopher Chang holds a bass lured by a popper. (NYC 04 2016)

Christopher Chang holds a bass lured by a popper.
(NYC 04 2016)

 

Ebisu’s lillian slip-knotted onto the traditional tapered line of tenkara matched with a sporting 6X tippet again continued to produce good numbers in variety as well:

The Obligatory Bluegill (NYC Spring 2016)

The Obligatory Bluegill
(NYC Spring 2016)

 

The Obligatory Bluegill . . .

And,

Bass Above The Weed (NYC 04 2016)

Bass Above The Weed.
(NYC 04 2016)

 

Second Bass of 2016 . . .

 

– rPs 05 12 2016

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Minted in March

Minted in March . . .

 

Two for a Cent (NYC 03 2016)

Two for a Cent
(NYC 03 2016)

“Two for a Cent” is an early short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The author describes with a mannered eloquence the ember at the end of a lit cigarette. That scene from a mellow night remains one of my favorite descriptive passages in American Literature.

My essential pattern, the “one fly” for the tenkara fishing I most often do, begins with The Green Guarantee, two of which are pictured above with a wheatie from Fitzgerald’s era. Coins and fly patterns model well together and give me a chance to combine two of my interests in a single frame. As for the pattern, its universal color and shape viewed from a fish’s underneath perspective, dressed in fur and feather activated by motion though water, attracts all of the pond’s residents at some various points in the season, including season’s start.

 

Fifty Cents for a Quarter Dozen? (03 2016)

Half Dollar for a Quarter Dozen?
(03 2016)

 

“Half Dollar for a Quarter Dozen” is a possible title of three Muddy Moreblack arranged with an American half dollar to scale. The Muddy Moreblack continues the use of the double consonant and offers a pun on the mirrored famous last name of an acclaimed guitarist whose band’s music I hear played on fly shop playlists all the time.

This pattern matches tan and black on a size 6 or 8 streamer hook and, being weighted, smokes under the water. The effect conveys the colors of late winter, something waking, emerging from the water bottom’s silt and leaf litter. The dobsonfly nymph, hellgrammite, crayfish, and stonefly all the Muddy Moreblack may be. The pattern worked along banks, within the sticks that dropped those bottom leaves, can produce the one earned fish of a day when sudden sun chases the fishes from more open areas.

Freshwater fishes may suspend in tough spots as a defense mechanism. The clustering of various species of Centrarchidae also brings to mind an expression of conscious social interaction. May such gatherings be a fishes’ summit to plan the following growing season? Perhaps territories within the pond’s perimeter are hashed out here with the whiskered bullhead given free reign along the bottom and the entirety patrolled by a few scattered schools of carp prone to basking just out of conventional and fly casting distance.

Carp have been nowhere to be seen during the Ides of March. Sudden sun and warmth during the winter to spring transition has pushed New York’s sunfishes down or into what dense shaded cover may exist so early in the season. Fallen trees and a nest of limber overhangs then present the long fly rod throwing a line a more complex scenario. The fishes, still hovering, appear to challenge:

“Catch us if you can!”

 

"Catch Us if You Can!" (NYC 03 2016)

“Catch Us if You Can!”
(NYC 03 2016)

 

I did.

 

Bluegill (NYC 03 2016)

Bluegill
(NYC 03 2016)

 

Minted in March Black Crappie (NYC 03 2016)

Black Crappie
(NYC 03 2016)

 

Sunfish the color of a penny nestled in the sticks. Black crappie as iridescent as a silver coin.

Minted in March: Season’s Start

– rPs 03 18 2016

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