Posts Tagged Fly Pattern

Flies in February

Flies in February . . .


There sits on one of my windowsills a squat glass jar capped in gold. February finds this once full glass filling again.


Interests and the path spreading like branches follows evolving passion even in the face of an other’s suggestions. I do incorporate experiments and techniques from and with friends, yet I avoid the net of orthodoxy by remaining as much as a lone cat as I can.


Two patterns from the vice beside the windowsill are small enough to fit a few on the cap of gold:


Partridge and Olive


Partridge and Olive Size 12 (2016)

Partridge and Olive
Size 12


Heerl and Deer


Herl and Deer Size 12 (2016)

Herl and Deer
Size 12


Tenkara Kebari all but for orientation of the hackle. As the remainder of the recipes fall in line with orthodox Tenkara Kebari I pause, side with majority rule in regards to the fundamental composition of each pattern, and I acknowledge there exists a kind of “Reformed Branch” of Tenkara, too. This branch I do practice with attention to balance.


Both kebari patterns fish well in my favorite waters; confidence driven by the constant elements: sparseness, natural speckled hackle, and body iridescence.


— rPs 02 05 2016

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Late Autumn Is December

Late Autumn Is December . . .


The Creek in Late Autumn 2015.

The Creek in Late Autumn 2015.


They are like memories, ghosts now, some of my friends living still in mind. I see them there when walking a floor of brown leaves over cold mud in misted woods. I see them as well along the gravel path beside a pond reflecting fluttering gold foliage beneath an international blue sky.

I go on, move on an impulse, a grip on the day for a run in the park, some park, somewhere. One time I went into the clear air, saw brown bark of trees, and a blue sky as it does remain bright at autumn’s end. Here, where the fall season is near to being spent, rests in December. The last annual living color breaks away on a breeze. Time shifts, accelerated states, dressed as the city in colors of stone and bark and cloudless sky. Wind more braced blasts through, some days, after a few drawn in mist quite still.

Fishing would present a passage of challenge as I waded along and into browning fields. Stands of trees, copses, work one’s way in patches to a bank worthy of a skater’s exercise. I followed animal’s trail in misted early light. I tracked hide and seek with a young buck of four points. My camera provided one blurred memory.

The stream banked in brown, tan. Stands of Teasel crowned at the end of their bloom offered regal spiked silhouettes drawn by rising sun. The pool stretched long and slow, a rare section of a creek running low at the base of a still hollow. I swung the Green Guarantee along the seam where drowned brown oak leaves met clean gravel and small stones. Water not too tannin, though low, far lower than in past years.

Fishing. A Fallfish struck with two shakes of the head above water. As silver as a tarpon and strong. Three runs up and down flashing copper fins and white belly. Drawn to the net, wet, for a fifteen second photo session before release.

Scales of the Fallfish reflect light as off an uncirculated silver coin. I once found a silver half dollar in the rain, on the lawn of a curb. John F Kennedy was the President pictured in bust profile. So, too, the Fallfish posed for a portrait in net in the cold flow of the creek:


Like Coinage. Green Guarantee. Late Autumn 2015

Like Coinage.
Green Guarantee.
Late Autumn 2015


Release your fish before they become jittery and you are even competitors.

The Fallfish, Semotilus corporalis, the native, authentic native fish of some American streams, the fish here before the men from the east who were subsumed by the invasive and immigrant people of the west. Another fish, the Cod, drew those same people who have become today’s Americans. The Fallfish welcomed my Green Guarantee, like money, that wonderful binding glue. We agreed, met in the middle, supported by a net. The symbolism was a lived occurrence too compelling not to share.

That’s as far as I go into politics.

Fallfish luster in the net. One learns, too, that down leaves, brown, rest like scales slippery upon a solid clay and gravel bank. Slip they make you do, like ice, but in a more creaking kind of way. The thin ice, of course, it already encrusts the layered leaves in the aged autumn cold. Stand back up, cast again.

I appreciate the utility of vibram soles in such environments.

Behold! A Fish. A photograph. One of Two. One Fallfish, the second and final of the day, fought off my Green Guarantee, weighted and swung, near the center of a long run hip high. “Bonefish set to scale!” I heard myself. “Tenkara! Fly Fishing. Green Guarantee.” Amazement continued.

— rPs 12 08 2015


Postscript: One last one for Ketan Ben Caesar. Rest In Stream. Graziare.

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Tenkara Art: Primary Kebari 2

Tenkara Art: Primary Kebari 2 . . .

Primary Kebari 2: a partridge and white warm season soft hackle. (image copyright 2015 by ron P. swegman. All rights reserved.)

Primary Kebari 2: a partridge and white warm season soft hackle.
(image copyright 2015 by ron P. swegman. All rights reserved.)

Partridge and White

The Partridge and White Rabbit kebari is another pale pattern for warm day hatch matches of light mayfly and caddisfly species in sizes 12 to 18. Note the traditional tenkara orientation of the feather hackle. Ribbed or not, the texture of angora rabbit adds extra body. Drift from upstream with the intent on guiding the float back to the angler’s waist or free hand unless the lure of the little trout or panfish intercedes first.

The illustration uses primary colors rendered in an abstract expressionist manner to contrast with the subaqueous white.

— rPs 03 30 2015

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Tenkara Art: Deer and Green

Tenkara Art: Deer and Green . . .

Deer and Green: an American kebari (image copyright 2015 by ron P. swegman. All rights reserved.)

Deer and Green: an American kebari
(image copyright 2015 by ron P. swegman. All rights reserved.)

The Deer Hair and Green is a soft hackle kebari tied with an American or Western oriented hackle. The recipe includes four-strand floss, French tinsel, and deer hair. Eastern brook trout are attracted to this pattern in size 14 through 18.

A large portrait of a small kebari lends an illustrative slant with a faded, marbled, impressionistic effect, the way the eyes perceive the soft blur of a pattern set in clear stream water. Colored and other pencils on acid-free paper in natural light remain my medium and process.

— rPs 03 23 2015

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A Tenkara Fly Code

A Tenkara Fly Code . . .

A tenkara fly code selection, including, row one: Light Cahill, Elk Hair Caddis; Deer Hair and White, Grey Wool and White; Amano Kebari, Royal Coachman; row two: E-Z Pheasant Tail Nymph, Pheasant and Orange; Muddler Minnow, Silver Tinsel Bucktail. (photo taken 04 30 2012)

One of the most influential artificial fly theorists of the last century was Vincent Marinaro. He was born, raised, and fly fished in the same western and central Pennsylvania region where I lived the first forty years of my own life. Limestone spring creeks and their rich insect hatches fascinated him and his approach, which he documented in two major works: A Modern Dry Fly Code (1950) and In the Ring of the Rise (1976).

Marinaro’s theory of the fly as related in his Code centered on two premises: the first was that small patterns were more effective; the second was the wing was the thing, the part of the fly that really mattered given the upward perspective of a feeding trout. What has risen from his opinion, as well as those of Halford and Skues, Flick and Meck, and a long line of others, is a cornucopia of patterns that imitate a world of fish food items that live somewhere within the water column and the calendar year.

Tenkara has come in recent years to the forward perspective of some western anglers, carrying with it a more simplified overall approach. This philosophy applies as well to the fly pattern. Imitation in the tenkara code goes only as far as tying a fly that matches the general silhouette of “insect” or, even more generically, “forage’ . . .  The rest of the game is the fishing process, placing and manipulating a pattern to provide it life-giving allure. Thus, it is not surprising to find a tenkara angler who carries just one pattern in the box. Different sizes of the fly, perhaps or for sure, but still only one pattern.

I have contemplated the western match-the-hatch tradition and the tenkara one-fly philosophy and have settled on my personal compromise: A Tenkara Fly Code.

The basics are simple: a fly pattern that imitates an insect can be large or small, floating or sinking, light or dark. That stated, my fly box will hold eight (8) flies to imitate insects plus an additional two (2), a large and a small streamer, to imitate minnows and crayfish. Here is the breakdown:

2 light floating (one large, size 12; one small, size 16)

2 light sinking (one large, size 12; one small, size 16)

2 dark floating (one large, size 12; one small, size 16)

2 dark sinking (one large, size 12; one small, size 16)

2 streamers (one large, size 8; one small, size 12)

This approach assembles a manageable assortment of ten (10) flies total, which can be realized in a single large and small example of five basic patterns, or ten separate patterns, each individual fitting into one of the ten specific slots in the size department. This second approach offers a little more variety, thus flexibility, especially in the streamer category, which has a wider range of organisms to cover. A trip to a freestone stream could include a large Muddler Minnow to imitate sculpin and crayfish; a small tinsel bucktail to imitate shiners and other silvery minnows. A trip to a pond might require a Black Woolly Bugger to represent a leech; a Gray Ghost to simulate a smelt.

That’s a whip finish for me, for now. The fun part, applied fly pattern theory practiced along a stream or around a pond, comes next.

– rPs 04 30 2012

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