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So, what do you do when a big one hits?

Discussion on tenkara rods

So, what do you do when a big one hits?

Postby rvrgzr » Sun Jul 12, 2009 6:45 am

Being familiar with the "Steelhead shuffle" where the fly fisher goes up and down the river in an attempt to avoid running out of backing, I've found this is often not possible in the freestone, plunge-pool streams of North Carolina. And since I'm tired of losing large trout popping off the 5x tippet (and 4x or stronger can cause rod damage) what are the suggestions? When a strong fish dives for the bottom of a deep hole, what do you do, because the present Tenkara rods will not stop a large fish from diving?

A. Pull back on the rod and pray to the Great Spirit? So far, the score is Fish 5, Me 0.
B. Toss your Yamame in with the fish and grab the rod when the fish tires?
C. Hold onto the rod and dive in to become one with the trout?

And if you've never lost a large trout or bass using the Tenkara system, you may wish to change fishing destinations.
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Re: So, what do you do when a big one hits?

Postby CM_Stewart » Sun Jul 12, 2009 8:18 pm

The really big ones are going to get away.

I've caught three trout between 17 and 18 inches on tenkara rods, one on an 11' Iwana and 5x, and two on a tenkara rod I had before TenkaraUSA opened, on 6x. I've lost three nice fish, size unknown. On one the hook pulled out (happens to everyone with any type of rod). One broke my 6x tippet when I tried to hand line it in because my line was too long (that's when I decided to limit my line length (plus tippet) to rod length plus 1'. One broke my Cabela's Panfish Pole - this was before you could buy a real tenkara rod (that's when I decided not to use 4x anymore).

All you can do is let the rod do its work. I try to keep the rod high so that it keeps the fish's head up so it expends a lot of its energy on the surface. (edited to add: After rereading Jeff Kreager's accoung of fighting his large grass carp, in which he said he never held his rod over 60 degrees - 11 o'clock for reference - I think that I'll keep the rod at that angle if a large fish is trying to run, and raise it only when the fish has tired a bit and I'm trying to get it into the net.) In his presentation in the Catskills, Dr. Ishigaki talked about angling the rod to one side or another to try to control its movements. I haven't hooked a fish large enough to require that (other than the rod-breaker), and I don't really know how to do it. Obviously, though, if a fish is big enough you can't keep its head up and you can't control it- it's going to go where it wants to go, and you can't stop it. You do have to make sure that your tippet will break before your rod does, though.

Everything is a compromise. With tenkara I get simplicity and great presentation. I catch more fish than before and I feel more directly connected to the ones I do catch. For that I willingly give up the chance to catch really big fish. Now that I've had the experience of hooking a fish I couldn't control, next time that happens I'll lower my rod in salute and let it pop the tippet.
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Re: So, what do you do when a big one hits?

Postby rsetina » Tue Jul 28, 2009 11:09 pm

Very interesting discussion. I bought my rod a few days ago and I'm heading to small stream Saturday for the first time where I wont have the problem of too big of a fish for the rod to handle. But sooner or later, I'll be in that situation, hopefully, and I hope to glean enough info here to know what to do. Is there any info on how big of a fish each rod will handle? That would be helpful.

My Tenkara Rods:
13' Ayu, 12' Yamame, 11' with a conversion handle, and an Ito.

My Wife's Tenkara Rods:
12' Ebisu and 13.5' Amago, 12' Iwana with a conversion handle, and an Ito.
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Location: La Crescenta, CA

Re: So, what do you do when a big one hits?

Postby pszy22 » Thu Aug 06, 2009 2:45 am

Granted, large fish (and small) present a challenge, but I personally think the challenge is what makes fishing fun. The one thing I like about Tenkara, I think it will make you a better fisher person. This is particularly true in the process of trying to control (and hopefully land) larger fish. THe challenge is certainly there, but I do think in most cases, all the odds aren't on the side of the fish.

There are alot of real nice conventional fly reels on the market today, and that has become a mixed blessing. It allows the conventional fly angler let the disk drag reel do the work in subduing larger fish. The angler strikes the "orvis pose" (rod high over head) and hangs on. When the fish runs, the reel supplies resistance (and about a mile of line), when the fish gets tired, the angler derricks in the prize.

The one thing to remember when fighting fish, the fish always follows his/her head. The fish can only go where it's head is pointing. A fish's head does not move up and down, so when you apply overhead pressure, it needs to be sufficient to lift the fish out of the water column, if not, it doesn't do much good. The fish feels pressure and responds by heading in the opposite direction. That's exactly what you don't want to happen in Tenkara. (It isn't all that great with conventional fly gear either, but that's where our old friend, Mr Fly reel comes in with several hundred yards of line and a disk drag that can slow down a Buick Park Avenue.)

A fish's head is made to move side to side. When a fish's head is side loaded, it has one of two choices, either follow the direction it's head is being pulled, or expend alot of energy trying to pull it's head in the opposite direction. Of course, things can get even more complicated for poor old Mr./Mrs. fish when that direction of pull suddenly changes from one side to the other. Once the fish starts getting turned, he/she must now also fight any current, which will tend to try to further spin the fish. (When pulling straight up and back on the fish, it takes off straight downsteam, so the current is working in the fishes favor)

Tenkara equipment is great for providing side pressure to the fish, and with the mere flip of the angler's wrist, suddenly that point of pressure moves 24' in the opposite direction from where it was just a second ago. Bottom line, in my opinion, Tenkara equipment can be a very effective fish fighting tool.

Of course, everything sounds easy in principle, and things don't always go exactly as planned. But that's the challenge and what makes it fun.
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