August 31, 2014

Tenkara -- August 25, 2014

I'm too tired tonight to write much, but I had a wonderful few hours on one of my favorite streams the other day. I caught all cutthroats; that is what I love. Anyway, here is a video of some of the fish. I used the Kiyotaki 27, a 7 foot line and the venerable UKB. For my small stream this is a great combination. Arrows and ovals are provided to show you the drift and take point of the fly.

August 27, 2014

Tenkara Times 1st Step 360 tenkara rod -- review

I've had a little flurry rod rod reviews lately, and this has surprised me. The first the year saw my rod reviews decreasing mainly because I had pretty much reviewed every rod I wanted to. But I found a few more to test out and the Tenkara Times 1st Step 360 2014 edition is one of them.

I received the rod from Oleg Stryapunin. It came in the mail from the Czech Republic and arrived in great shape. The rod comes with a clear poly rod tube and a very nice rod sock. I like Tenkara Times rod socks better than most any other that I have used. It is plain black, but it is thick enough to protect the rod and it has no strings to tie. Just slip it over the rod and that's it!

The rod has the same very practical and highly functional dark charcoal flat finish that I have come to appreciate on all of Tenkara Times rods. The rod has the signature purple or mauve colored accents on all section but the tip and 2nd section. It has been toned down when compared to the first Tenkara Times rod editions. This is proof that Oleg listens to his customers' feedback.

The handle has very nice quality cork; I guess a CG2. This is much better than what you'd expect to see on an entry level rod. There is less filler than usual. The shape is a camel or double hump, with the proximal hump being smaller in diameter. The handle fills your hand really well and is a pleasure to hold. It is 28 cm in length. The winding check is black metal and the epoxy is smooth, without many bubbles. A short segment of cork composite are on the leading and tailing edges of the handle.

The tip plug is the typical wood with rubber insert that comes with most tenkara rods. It fits snugly into the handle section. The butt cap is black anodized metal. It has a very slightly knurled edge which is not useful in removing the cap, but there is a coin slot which is useful. No air/drainage hole is present but there is a rubber bumper on the inside of the cap. The cap has a curved surface which makes the butt of the handle fit comfortably in your hand.

The lilian is classic red and is long enough to comfortably tie a knot in, if that is your preference. It is attached to the tip section with glue. The glue point has been painted gold and is slightly rougher than some of the rods I've recently reviewed. The tip section can not be removed through the 2nd section for complete disassembly when a knot is in the lilian.

Here are some specifications: Collapsed, the rod is 56.5 cm. Extended it is 358 cm. The rod weighs 85.9 g without the tip plug. It has a Common Cents Systems score of 17 pennies. The Rod Flex Index is 4.7.  This places the rod at the softer end of the 6:4 flex range.

The rod feels pretty well balanced in the hand, but it does have some slight tip heaviness. Is guess this is to be expected since the rod is designed to have more robust sections than Tenkara Times' Try series of rods. It however has a very smooth casting action that is a pleasure feel. It loads and unloads sweetly with a #3 level line, yet it does not gripe when using a #4 line. I did not use a furled line with the rod, as I normally don't fish with furled lines. The rod dampens quickly at the end of each cast and there is no appreciable tip over shoot or oscillation. Casting accuracy is really good as well.

I sent the rod to my son-in-law for him to learn tenkara. He is a beginner, so we'll see if the 1st Step 360 works for those it is designed for. I'll report on his use of this rod in a later post.

Conclusion: I like the rod. For an economical (as of this writing, it sells for $89.00 USD on eBay) entry level rod this is as good as I have seen. Sure, its a little heavier and has a little tip heaviness when compared to some other entry level rods, but the rod has been designed to be more forgiving of abuse. It is design to be a tenkara fisher's first rod. The materials appear to be very good for it's price point. The action is softer and more forgiving than starter rods offered by many other tenkara suppliers. This may be one of its greatest strengths for those wanting to learn tenkara. Its flex action is very smooth and easy to control. I don't think you could go wrong choosing the Tenkara Times 1st Step to learn tenkara.

Want one? You can get it from Tenkara Times.

August 24, 2014

Rain and Lightning, but I had to go Fishing!

We have had persistent afternoon thunderstorms the past two weeks. My rain gauge has over two inches of water in it from the recent storms. That may not sound like much to you folks from the Midwest or the South, but I live in a desert so two inches of rain is a lot.

Most all of the rain has come from afternoon monsoon thunderstorms. These, of course, bring lightning. Rain I don't mind, but lightning kills, so I have been avoiding fishing. But yesterday I just had to get out.

I planned on going to a local creek for a few hours, but lightning drove me further away in search of safer waters. I found a creek out of the lightning zone but it was still raining.

The creek has small fish in it -- a 12 incher in huge! But I needed a tenkara fix so fish I must, even for little guys.

I used two different rods, depending on the limitations imparted by the riparian foliage. I used the Shimotsuke Kiyotaki 24 and the Allfishingbuy Shibasu 3010. I've used the former rod a lot on small streams; it is one of my favorites. The later rod is new to me. I'll formally review it soon. I rotated flies after every few fish -- why, just because I felt like it. I've been mainly using these flies this summer on small streams:

I caught a lot of trout. They were either rainbows or browns and most were 6-8 inches. The most fun found on this size of creek is not the fish size, but the challenge in getting close to the fish and placing the fly into the tight pockets in which they hold. The majority of perfect lies are impossible to fish, since they are under fallen trees. They act as a safe haven for the larger trout, who in turn repopulate the stream every year with fry. Even the worm fishermen can't get to these nice lies.

The largest fish I took was between ten and eleven inches. That's a nice one for this creek. It was a brown.

I fished only about two and a half hours then drove home. It was very refreshing to get back outside.

Here is a video of the fish, rods, and flies. Nothing spectacular.

August 20, 2014

Smith Creek Rig Keeper

In tenkara, simple is purported to be best. In fact, the quest for simple is a passion with some tenkara fishers and they measure their tenkara purity by how simple they can get. You know the saying, "a rod, line and fly" -- that's all you need. So some think that if you have two rods, some lines and a box of flies you are not worthy of being a tenkara fisher. If you can't fit everything you need into an Altoids tin then you too are not worthy.

I recently received a new fly fishing item from Wayne Smith of Smith Creek that may appeal to the minimalists out there. It is called the Rig Keeper. It is designed to be a holder for pre-tied dropper systems, and I dare say it works great for this. But it may also have a dual purpose for those that want to have the lightest, most minimalistic way to carry flies and lines.

The Rig Keeper is a foam attachment 10.5 cm X 5 cm (4.1 X 2 inches) that hangs from your pocket by a provided cable ring. It weighs 20.7 g (0.7 oz). There are three black plastic ribs that keep the foam from hitting your shirt helping to greatly reduce the chance that your flies get rubbed off. The foam is high quality. It is pre-cut to allow flies to be anchored securely and allow their attached tippet to wound around -- ready to go! Both sides of the Rig Keeper can be used.

Internet photo -- not my flies
Side view 
Slits for flies and line.

In minimalistic tenkara, you could use it for holding flies and lines. Put some flies on one part of the foam and then wind your line(s) around the other part. Flies can be put on both sides of the foam if you want more than one fly.

Another use could be for holding pre-tied keiryu rigs. Or, for you older, visually challenged fishers, flies tied to a certain length of tippet that has a terminal loop. Then when you can't see due to the dark, just unroll your tippet-fly and loop it onto your line with a loop-to-loop connection. Pretty slick.

I love Smith Creek products. They are innovative and very well made. I use the Net Holster and Trash Fish almost every outing.

So if you are looking for something simple to hold your flies and line think of the Rig Keeper by Smith Creek.