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Tenkara: Sawtooth mountains trip report

On June 27, 2020
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Tenkara Sawtooth range
Hi I’m Jen, I help manage the social media for Tenkara USA. I usually hang back behind the scenes, but Daniel has asked me to come on here and give you guys an idea about what it’s like to tenkara in my neck of the woods, in Idaho, where I live. I will write a couple of posts for you this summer, but for now we’ll start with tenkara in the Sawtooth Mountains.

A few years ago we decided to sell our home in Colorado and relocated to rural southeast Idaho for a number of reasons, but mainly the fishing opportunities are what caught our eye. Not that Colorado doesn’t have great fisheries, but after living there for a couple of decades we were excited to explore new waters.

Idaho creek fishing with Hane

World class fishing is literally in every direction from us. The South Fork of the Snake River is our “home water” and flows south. Just north we have Harriman, Henry’s Fork and Yellowstone (and Montana). To our east the Tetons (and Wyoming), and to our west the Sawtooths. We had not explored central Idaho and done tenkara in the Sawtooth Range yet, so we set out to change that.

Since we were trying to keep the packing simple, I chose to only take my Tenkara USA Hane this time. At only 15″ closed and extending out to a length of 10′ 10″, it’s a great option for an all-around adventure rod.

Driving west into the center of Idaho doesn’t initially look very promising. First we had to get through the high desert and home of Idaho National Laboratory (nuclear facilities), so believe me when I say it’s pretty bleak. But as soon as we got to the foothills of the Sawtooths the landscape changed rather quickly from short desert sage shrubs and grasslands, to tall pines and flowing crystal water. You instantly know you’re in the right place, and it’s perfect tenkara water.

While the larger rivers in the foothills are muddy from runoff this time of the year, it’s the little creeks and streams that we were looking for. The higher you go, the smaller and clearer the water becomes. It’s also where the trout are spookiest, so we had to be clever and really watch our approach.

It was really helpful to have the white colored Hane in the open pockets, blending in with the backdrop of the sky instead of looking like a spooky shadow above the water. Our tenacious efforts were rewarded with a few smaller cutthroat gems from skinnier water and a some beefier beauties from the deeper pockets. It turns out the Hane was a terrific rod for tenkara in the Sawtooth mountains, especially as we focused on some of the smaller waters this time.

We only touched a small fraction of the water up there, but it was a great inaugural trip and we will definitely be returning for more. Plus, I didn’t catch a golden trout yet – I know they’re in there!

(If you want to learn more about tenkara fishing in Idaho and tenkara in the Sawtooths, listen to Daniel’s podcast episode on tenkara fishing in Idaho with Chris Hunt.)

Tenkara fishing Sawtooths with Hane rod

Sawtooth Idaho cutthroat trout

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2 Responses to Tenkara: Sawtooth mountains trip report

  1. Gregg Martin says:

    I just started tenkara, but have been microfishing fishing with bamboo and since I could cast a fly. My favorite fly rod was the light yellow 7 foot 6 inch models. I felt I had more control over the tip section and my casts were more delicate. Which is the whole point with fly fishing. Tenkara rods and the tackle seem like second nature to me. I was already used to ayu fishing and keiryu which helped me evolve to a tenkara angler. The Hane looks like it would be just right for me I can’t wait to get one. Not in the market for one yet as I got a rod that is more disposable than one of your masterpieces. And I’m not brought on my gear intentionally but… stuff happens. You end up getting chased by a bear clear into the next county and fall into a gravel pit surrounded by angry gun shooting hunters. Long story, don’t ask. Anyway I hope the Hane would be up to the challenge!

  2. Dan is Van Buskirk says:

    This is on my bucket list!

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