September 21, 2014

Smith Creek Middle Fork Fly Patch

I recently posted a review on a new product from Smith Creek, the Rig Keeper. As I stated in that review, I like products from Smith Creek. I think they are very well thought out, made with quality materials, and are very functional. Today, I introduce another winner -- the Middle Fork Fly Patch.

The Middle Fork Fly Patch is a lightweight foam patch that is attached to your shirt, or pack, or vest with a pin zinger. It however, is light enough that you could just attach it to a lanyard. The foam is quality closed cell with numerous slots cut into both sides. There are two plastic ribs that protect the flies from getting rubbed off.

An aggressive pin to prevent loss. Great quality zinger, also.

Load up both sides. You can see that the ribs would keep flies from rubbing off.

 This could be an excellent product for tenkara minimalists. Just load up the Middle Fork Fly Patch with a few of your favorite flies -- say, subsurface on one side and dries on the other -- and leave your fly box at home. Now that's minimalist!

Like all Smith Creek products, the Middle Fork Fly Patch is well designed and highly functional. If you're into carrying the least amount of gear with you when you hit the stream, then this fly patch could be just what you're looking for!

September 18, 2014

On the water for one hour

My wife and I went for a drive last week. The Mountain Maples are turning and we wanted to see them while their color was good. We live is such a beautiful place, and Autumn is my favorite time to enjoy the beauty.

While driving into the mountains we just so happened* to drive by a beautiful mountain stream. After viewing the leaves I suggested that we park along the stream; she could then read one of her textbooks that she had brought along and I could fish. She just rolled her eyes at me and said OK.

I found a good place, secluded in the trees, parked and got out to check out the water. I had fished this stream before but not this far up. It looked like good water. I geared up.

The blue thing in the lower right corner is one of my fingers, contained in a blue nitrile glove.

I walked a little downstream then entered the water. The water was cold and clear; 52 degrees F as a matter of fact. I tied on a #10 UKB and targeted a likely eddy just across and slightly upstream from me. On my second cast I was into a trout. It was a healthy 10 inch cutthroat. Such a beautiful fish!

This angle makes him look like a micro!

The stream has heavy riparian tree growth which makes some stretches impossible to fish. I suppose this is good as these areas are havens allowing the trout to be undisturbed. These areas are interposed with stretches of fairly open water. Because of this pattern I chose to use my Nissin Pro Spec 2-Way 7:3 rod. It proved to be an excellent choice.

Am open section.


I decided not to use my video camera, as I'm trying to force myself to video less and enjoy fishing more. But I did take some still pictures. Earlier in the week I had contrived to cut my fingers off while doing the dishes, so I didn't hold the fish with my right hand; most of the pictures were taken while the trout were in the net. This makes them look foreshortened and funny, but still, you get to see what I took.

I only fished for one hour -- I was feeling guilty that my wife was sitting in the car. Still, in that time I took 12 trout -- two cutthroats and the rest were browns. It was a wonderful, yet brief, get away. I'll definitely be back!

Nissin Pro Spec 2-Way 7:3

* my wife knows that us driving by the stream was no haphazard event. She knew I was actually wanting to go for a drive so I could find a place to fish!

September 14, 2014

Hike and Fish -- September 8, 2014

I haven't had time to post for a while, due to some changes in my life. This will likely be the new me for a while. Sorry.

I did get a chance to hike into some pretty country recently. The water is much larger than I normally fish. There were fish everywhere. Most were in the 8-10 inch range. Almost all were rainbows; there were one or two brook trout and the rare small cutthroat. I did land a 14 inch rainbow; doesn't sound like much but I hooked him near rapids and he shot downstream. It was a fight to keep him out of the fastest water and get him into some calmer waters.

I did hook a larger trout, I'd guess near the 20 inch range, but I could not keep him out of the rapids and the fly pulled out -- bummer!

I cooked lunch on the side of the river and thoroughly enjoyed the day. Here is a video of the hike, lunch and some of the fish.

Again, due to some changes in my life my blog post volume will not be as it has in the past. But I'll stay with you; just stay with me!

September 6, 2014

Allfishingbuy Shibasu 3010 -- review

I have owned three different Allfishingbuy tenkara rods, and although they are not fancy I find them to all be quite good rods. Of the three, I like the Hirame-ML-3909 the best. I still have this rod and use it frequently.

Recently, while perusing the Allfishingbuy website my attention was drawn to the Shibasu line of tenkara rods. These are advertised as 7:3 rod that collapse to a very compact length for travel. I have a couple of very compact rods, the Shimotsuke Kiyotaki and the Shimano Kozuka being the most compact. These rods are only 37 cm long when fully collapsed and thus make excellent rods for travel or day hiking. They are both quite stiff; the Kiyotaki 27 having a Rod Flex Index (RFI) of 7.4 and the Kozuka 33NT a RFI of 8.5. I was curious if the Shibasu was just as stiff or not so I purchased a 300 cm version -- right between the Kiyotaki 27 and Kozuka 33NT.

The Shibasu-3010 comes in a short rod tube with black sleeve.  These are good quality and would protect the rod well during travel. The rod is dark charcoal with a flat matte finish. It has dark blue accents on the tips of the sections (except the tipward two). The package is $84.10 USD.

The handle is a reverse half wells type, although the curves are more pronounced. The cork quality is good but not great. The handle is 28 cm long. The winding check is blue anodized metal and fits tightly against the cork.

The tip plug is the standard wood with rubber insert and fits tightly into the handle section. The butt cap is black plastic and like most of the Allfishingbuy rods I have owned screws onto, not into, the butt of the handle. There is a rubber bumper and a drainage hole.

The lilian is dark brown and is attached to the tip section with a micro-swivel. This attachment is well executed with the micro-swivel being straight in line with the tip section. The tip section can not be retracted through the second section.

Rod specifications: Collasped, the rod is 41 cm (16 inches). Fully extended it is 298 cm. The Shibasu weighs 73 g. Its Common Cents System (CCS) rating is 23 pennies. Therefore its RFI is 7.6. This is in the 7:3 range (as advertised) and puts it between the Kiyotaki 27 and Kozuka 33NT in stiffness.

As I stated above, I was curious about this rod mainly because of how short is collapses. Although it is the most compact tenkara rod I have used, it is not as compact as the Sakura Kongo 30, which comes in at an amazing 14.17 inches (36 cm).  Interestingly enough, the Kongo 30 is also a very stiff rod with a CCS of 27 pennies and a RFI of 9. There must be something about short rods being so stiff -- maybe it's all those joints between sections as well as the blank taper that makes them stiff.  I have yet to see a fixed line rod that is both compact and highly flexible -- say an RFI of 5.

RFI comparison chart
Top to bottom: Oni type III, TUSA Rhodo, Daiwa LT36SF, AFB Shibasu-3010, Kiyotaki 27

As far the rod's portability, it sure is portable! It fits very well in any day pack. Heck, it will fit in your glove box of your car or truck, I bet! The action is stiff, as you would expect from its RFI score. This, as a characteristic, is a two edged sword. Firstly, it is an excellent rod for holding larger trout out of the snags inherent to small, tight streams and creeks. When you hook a larger than average trout in these streams you quickly find out that there is very little room to fight the fish. Also, you have less than one second to control the fish and keep it out of the snags. In one second the fish can easily traverse the entire width of the stream. It panics and wants dense cover fast! A rod with good "backbone" is needed to control the run. Too much flex in the rod, and you loose the fish to the snags. Rod power is great but there is a downside.

With that power comes loss of rod loading and "fun" in fighting small fish. One of the finest feelings that comes with using a tenkara rod is the feeling of the rod loading and unloading as the line hurls through space over your head. Also, catching small fish is awfully fun with a 5:5 tenkara rod -- you know it is. This is not the feeling you get catching a small fish on a 7:3 or 8:2 rod. Sorry, but that's just the way it is. Apparently you can't have it all. Compact, flexible, powerful, light weight; they seem to be somewhat mutually exclusive. The Soyokaze 27 is about the best small stream rod I've found. It is very light weight, has plenty of power for bigger fish and has a very nice, flexible tip. It's just not that compact (but not that bad either).

Still, this is a fun rod. It casts well but there is some oscillation of the tip -- it doesn't dampen as quickly as other rods I have. All this means is that you must not force for forward casting stroke. Even though it's a 7:3 I use a #3 or 3.5 line. It does just fine with these lines. If you used a #4.5 level line or a furled line it might not have the tendency to gripe as much.

Here is something you need to be aware of. Although the replacement tip sections for this rod are inexpensive they are not the same as the originals that come with the rod. I bought the three top sections and found them to be stiffer and without the micro-swivel. I contacted AFB and the initial response I received was that they were the same but the micro-swivel was left off to reduce cost. I remeasured the CCS with the replacements in place and it is definitely a stiffer rod. Listen, if you're going to use a stiff rod you at least need to have a flexible tip section or you will not be able to throw a level line very easily.

I contacted them again with my findings and let them know that most every one I was aware of would like replacement parts that were OEM to the rod itself. I also made it aware that I would inform the readers of my rod review that the parts currently offered were not the same as OEM. I received a reply that they had contacted their rod manufacturer and they would now make available OEM replacement parts as well as the less expensive ones. So now you have two choices.

Here is a video of a few fish I recently caught with the Shibasu-3010. Nothing fancy, just a quick outing.

Conclusion: I mostly like this rod. The price is nice, the materials seem good and the action is what I would have expected by its CCS and RFI numbers -- I wish it had a slightly more flexible tip though. It really shines in its compact size; a great back up or travel rod. It doesn't dampen quite as quickly as other rods I have but it's not that bad either. I don't know how the longer versions of the rod handle as I only purchased the 300 cm version. I'll leave that the one of you to find that out and then give us a report.

Want a tenkara rod that is very short when collapsed? Then this rod may just fit your bill.