May 24 2013
A quick, 1 minute video of today’s outing with my wife and our dog.
Watch in HD, click the gear icon and select 1080!
A quick, 1 minute video of today’s outing with my wife and our dog.
Watch in HD, click the gear icon and select 1080!
It has just been discovered that some fish use a kind of sign language to help others hunt. So, I decided to investigate the footage I have been capturing over the last couple of weeks for the Tenkara Diaries videos to see if trout displayed any tendencies to use sign language – after all, one of the fish they discovered uses sign language is the coral trout. I’ll keep my eyes open in the future to see how they tell each other, “Hey, look at that tenkara fly; it looks yummy!”
A frying pan and a tenkara Grand Slam in Colorado… Armed with a tenkara rod (I was using the Tenkara USA Ito), tenkara line and tenkara flies I went fishing near Aspen, Colorado yesterday. Caught some pretty good fish, a couple in the 20 inch range. You’ll see a tweak I did to my tenkara fly, the Amano kebari during the video, which seemed to produce results.
Had a fun day of fishing yesterday on the Big Thompson, outside of Estes Park. One of the highlights of the day was a group of rams butting heads on the side of the road.
All we needed was a tenkara rod, tenkara line, and tenkara fly.
Our search for tenkara continues in this video, which documents a 3-day backpacking trip in the backcountry of Colorado with tenkara guide Paul Vertrees, owner of Kifaru Patrick Smith, and Daniel Galhardo.
If you missed “In Search of Tenkara, part 1″, here it is:
Thanks to Mike from Troutrageous, the “The Secret To Tenkara’s Fish Catching Superiority” has not been a secret for about a year. He spilled the beans on the fact that we put unicorn mane hair inside our rods, and that allows people to catch many, many fish when they go out. But, there is something else that I have noticed over the last several weeks of attending Fly Fishing Shows.
Tenkara is the unicorn of fly-fishing. Most people have heard about it by now, but only a select few have seen it in person. You may have noticed that when you tell a friend, “hey, I have this rod that is 12ft long, but it collapses down to only 20 inches and weighs only 3 oz…ah, and it uses no reel, doesn’t even have guides…” They will immediately respond with a “get out of here…I’m calling the psych ward.” They become incredulous and your reputation as a truth-telling angler goes down the drain. But you know it exists. You have seen it. You have touched it. It feels unreal, and “magical”. Every time you see it, you approach it slowly with a sense of wonderment; you touch it, then you tame it, and you use it. But, you’re one of a select group of people who can see it.
Our job is to show the unicorn to more people. That’s the reason we’ve attended 6 shows in the last month and half. Every time a new person sees the unicorn, they come away believing in magic and wonder. It’s one of the coolest things to witness, a person’s first encounter with the unicorn. It exists.
As a good follow up to the post I wrote yesterday, the Denver Post is featuring a story on tenkara in today’s paper. It is a well-written piece by Scott Willoughby. Check it out: http://www.denverpost.com/outdoors/ci_22576834/simplicity-is-sacred-japanese-tenkara-technique-fly-fishing
The year is coming to an end, and we’re looking forward to all 2013 will bring. Thought it would be fun to recap the top posts of 2012:
1) “Tenkara is a fad and it won’t last long. – Lefty Kreh“. Said at the beginning of 2012′s fly fishing show season by the main face of TFO, this was by far the most popular post in our blog and we could even say it went a bit viral on the rest of the web.
2) “How to choose the right tenkara rod”. A video and chart we put together to assist people in choosing the best rod for their fishing.
3) Not my our favorite, as it caused a lot of angry discussions but it had to be written, the post on “What is a tenkara rod?” is one of the top 3 most viewed for the year. Lots of other blogs have subsequently written about this.
4) “Orvis to Sell Tenkara Rods” – this was our big announcement of the year. Orvis came to us with a belief that tenkara will last long and they wanted to partner with the best tenkara company out there. Expect to see more in 2013.
5) “How to Fish with One Fly Pattern – Tenkara Techniques” – I’m glad this was one of our most popular posts in 2012 as it does give a good foundation to anyone wanting to learn how to simplify their fly choice.
6) “Yoshida Kebari, using the alula feather” - Yoshida-san showed us how to tie a fly using the rarely used alula feather of the pheasant. This post got lots of hits this year.
7) Jason Klass’ post “Using Contrast in Sakasa Kebari Design” was another very popular post in 2012 with great examples of tenkara flies that use contrast. It has a good number of comments and the number of hits was super close to the Yoshida Kebari post.
8) My wife will probably hate to learn that the video I took of her landing a nice football-size trout on tenkara and then hooking a second larger one and falling when the fish let go of the hook was in the top 10. This is probably my favorite post and one of my favorite memories of the year.
9) I had a post about visiting a fishing store in Japan, that evening we had several comments of people wanting to learn more about the rods found in the shop. The next day I returned to the shop and made this video on the numerous types of telescopic rods found in the store. We receive lots of questions still about the different types of rods and usually refer folks to this post.
10) ”Who is Tenkara USA?” got a very good number of views, and I’m happy that many people now know we’re not a huge coorporation. Jason Klass, who became a dad in 2012, had to leave us and focus on raising his daughter, and we added a new team member John Geer.
Happy 2013 everyone! Thank you for reading our posts this year and thank you for the inspiration you have provided so we could create new content.
Story written by Paul Vertrees,
Photos by Randall Haynes
Driving up an asphalt artery in the dark of a Friday evening, I was trying to shake off the hectic pace and content of a full work week. This artery was leading me, as it had countless times before, to the very heart of Colorado, and ultimately to that home away from home I call The Stomping Grounds. I’ve memorized every twist and turn of the road, the locations of the rare and lonely homes along it, and the rhythm and pace as familiar landmarks fly by. In the dark, all I had to lead me north were road signs, distant ranch house lights, and the topography I knew by heart.
I drove until I found the camp my good friends, Patrick, Randall, and Ori, had set up along a road at the top of a high pass. Inside the glowing tipi were good friends, good food, and a huge bottle of the very best small batch Kentucky bourbon. Patrick always knows how to make a friend feel welcome!
The next morning we hiked down from 11,600’ for several miles, stopping frequently to soak in the stunning view.
Reaching the first brook trout in the stream, we deployed our tenkara rods and quickly caught fish. A former tenkara client of mine, Ori had really caught the tenkara bug since I guided him this past summer. His casting skills had improved considerably, and he was letting his Ayu put his self-tied sakasa kebari right where he wanted it. I was working a modified killer bug with my 11’ Iwana. I had recently started tying my killer bugs with a different colored yarn on heavy scud hooks. They were working like a charm.
We fished our way down to an old outfitter’s camp, one that Patrick and I had been using for quite some time. That night we celebrated the autumnal equinox with a feast of grilled brookies and rice. We topped off the evening with a kotsuzake ceremony, paying tribute to those orange-bellied brook trout and the rare cutthroat that the tiny stream has offered up to us over the years. Sipping trout-infused sake from a titanium cup at eleven-thousand feet, in the company of your closest friends, is truly a gift. We talked deep into the night until the campfire died down to coals.
Brookies over a campfire:
Kotsuzake, fish-bone-infused sake. A tribute to the fish, the idea of not wasting any of it. It is better than it looks:
Hanging out by the fire at night:
The next morning was dedicated solely to fishing our way back upstream for two miles. It had been two years since I’d caught a cutthroat out of this stream, and I was ready for the next one. I’m always cautiously optimistic, because it took many, many years for me to ever catch the first one here. Thousands of brookies, just a handful of cutts. What I didn’t count on was an encounter with my first golden trout in a stream I’ve been fishing since the late 1970s. There’s plenty of gold in the Stomping Grounds…gold in the trees, gold in the willows, gold along the banks of the stream, and one finned flash of gold in the water.
After reaching the top of the fishable water, we decided to bushwhack a mile of deep, dark timber, full of steep blowdown. We were still unsuccessfully hunting dusky grouse. We knew that ptarmigan were being taken up top on the tundra, and we had feathers on the brain. After all, I still wanted to tie a kebari with the soft hackle from a nice grouse. After a mile of deep timber gymnastics with full backpacks, we emerged from the ridge birdless.
It was cold and windy when we finally reached our trucks. After snacks and beers on the tailgate, we shook up, made promises to get back out soon, and parted ways. Heading down off the pass, I knew this had been the best celebration of the equinox I’d ever had. There’s always a certain sadness when I leave the backcountry, like I’m going to miss something important by leaving. Pointing my truck south into the evening, I followed that same familiar black artery back home in the dark.
Paul Vertrees is an avid outdoorsman who spends much of his time in the backcountry of Colorado. Paul is a Tenkara USA Certified Tenkara Guide who guides for RIGS Adventures, out of Ridgway, CO.
Tenkara has opened the doors to fly-fishing for a lot of people, and it has proved to be a great conduit for plain old fun, no matter the ability of the user. It is moments like this (and like these other trips) that make me very proud to promote a simple method of fly-fishing. And, it makes me very proud to know and work with the Tenkara Guides, Erik, John and Rob, as they pursue introducing more people with disabilities to fishing with a fly. The video was shot and edited by Sam, “The No Handed Bandit”.
The Tenkara Guides (based in Salt Lake City, Utah) are really eliminating any limitations people with disabilities may have felt when it comes to fishing. They bring an interesting mix to the table as Rob is a doctor who focuses on rehabilitation therapy through recreational opportunities and John and Erik are great tenkara guides with extensive experience in engineering. All I can say is, “nicely done guydes!”
Written by Daniel
Ishimaru Shotaro, an 89 year old tenkara angler in Japan, offered to give me some of his tenkara flies. He opened the box and out came an unexpected tenkara fly pattern. Why unexpected? For most of my fly-fishing life I had come to somewhat expect the look of a fly to improve in proportion with the time an angler had been tying it. Mr. Shotaro has been tenkara fishing for over 77 years and is the longest practitioner of the method I have met. Yet, his flies were, for lack of a better term, the sloppiest I have ever seen.
This is a tenkara fly Mr. Shotaro gave me
Read the rest of this entry »
Some very exciting news and a huge milestone for the introduction of tenkara outside of Japan: Orvis, the 156-year old fly-fishing company starts carrying our equipment today! That’s an incredible nod of approval to the method and irrefutable evidence that tenkara is here to stay. Needless to say I’m thrilled.
Orvis approached us earlier this year, and while initially a bit reluctant I was delighted that every single person there - from their retail stores as well as the corporate office - just got tenkara. They not only understood the potential for introducing new people to fly-fishing through tenkara, but they were excited about the technique and how it worked on streams. They were also interested in promoting the method, which totally sold me on working with them. I recently visited with Tom Rosenbauer (yes, that’s the answer to this question) and we recorded a podcast together that should be up sometime soon (likely this week).
The press release below just went out:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Orvis to Sell Tenkara USA Products
San Francisco, California
Today, San Francisco based company Tenkara USA announced that Orvis, industry leader in fly-fishing equipment, will start carrying Tenkara USA’s rods, line and flies and helping promote the Japanese method of fly-fishing called tenkara.