June 28, 2016

The Beauty of Freestone Streams

My favorite type of stream to fish is the mountain freestone stream. I love how the water courses its way around rocks and boulders making pockets and channels for trout to lie in. Although they can be the least fertile type of trout water, they are some of the most beautiful. The trout are frequently small, but fighting them in the current makes up their lack of size.

Today I fished a beautiful freestone stream. After walking cross country a little ways I descended into the canyon and worked my way downstream before entering the water. The water was crystal clear and still a little high from the melting high mountain snows.

I worked my way upstream, casting to the large variety of pockets, as the water tumbled and churned around my legs. I caught rainbows and cutthroats from 8 inches to 13 inches. The fast water makes fighting the fish the main challenge. Having to guide the fish to where you want it to go is most of the battle.

I generally fish this stream later in the year when the water is a little lower, but it was a beautiful day in a beautiful place.  I fished for my usual two hours, taking 15 trout and having a wonderful time.

June 26, 2016

Two Streams, Different Days -- Vlog

I've been fishing a couple of different streams lately. Both are low elevation mountain streams and are done with snow melt run off. They are just clearing up and dropping water levels. Also, the water temperatures are rising. One of the streams is large enough to be fished all summer, but the other one gets too low and warm, so I avoid it after July 1st.

One stream has browns and the other cutthroats.

There's really not much else to say. I'm am doing log term testing of a few products but that will be for another post.

Here is a video log of the two trips -- compressed into one video:

June 19, 2016

Zen Fly Fishing Suzume review - part 2

I described the Zen Fly Fishing Suzume in part 1 of the review, but now I'll describe how it worked for me on stream.

As previously mentioned, this rod is designed for small creeks and streams. On these waters there are often very tight and closed in canopies, making casting a challenge. For these sections a short rod, often shorter than 270 cm, is required. The Suzume really shines here, as it is around 247 cm in its shortest configuration.

But occasionally, on the same small waters there might be more open areas, like beaver ponds. When these areas are encountered a long rod is desired. Again, the Suzume shines in these situations, because it can be extended to around 328 cm.

So one thing that I really like about this rod is its versatility. If you fish small streams, like I do, this rod does away with needing to carry more than one rod. It covers most all situations.

I tend to fish all sorts of flies on these small waters, even bead heads when needed. The Suzume has very flexible tip (1st section) and second sections which make casting bead heads more difficult. I didn't care for this characteristic but it does cast an unweighted fly quite nicely.

But fortunately I found out, with some experimentation, that the tip and second sections of the Tenkara USA Iwana fit and replace perfectly those same sections of the Suzume. The Iwana sections are just a little more stiff and make the Suzume cast even better, at least in my hands. You can get these sections from TUSA for about $17.00 USD. Like I said, these sections are just a little more stiff, but not by much, However, that little bit makes a big difference in the casting and fish fighting dynamics of the rod. In the Suzume's shortest configuration, with it's supplied sections, it has a Rod Flex Index of 5.2.  With the TUSA replacement segments in place, it's 5.6. Like I said, not by much, but that little bit helps cast heavier flies and fight fish in tight quarters better. Also, the TUSA Iwana tip section doesn't have that silly micro-swivel and can be fully removed through the second segment.

Another thing I don't really care for is the inability to fully disassemble the rod. The tip section will not come through the second section, but the zoom sections will not come through the handle, due to their design. Here in the arid west where humidity is low, drying a rod after use is not an issue. But in areas of the country where the humidity is high, disassembling the rod is pretty much necessary or the finish will bubble and blister. Not being able to disassemble the rod completely may be an issue in those humid geographic regions.

Also, not being able to disassemble the rod makes it harder to clean. Little bits of dirt and sand, which adhere to the rod by water tension, can scratch the rod and weaken the carbon fibers. This happens when the rod is collapsed and then re-extended. Personally, I like to keep my rods clean and scratch free.

Here's a video of me fishing a typical small stream with the Suzume for small wild, native cutthroat trout:

Conclusion:  In general, I like the rod. I like it enough that I will continue to use it on my small streams. I like how it casts and how it fights fish, even more with some slight modifications. I really like its versatility of lengths. There are a few things I'd change in its design, but that's just me and what I look for in a rod. I'd like to see it cost less as well.

I bought my rod from Zen (full price) and therefore I feel that I can modify the rod anyway that I like, with no apologies. I owe nothing to Zen, and expect nothing from them, but in this rod I think they have a good solid start to an all around great small stream rod.

June 16, 2016

Jackson Hole News and Guide

I was recently interviewed by a reporter for the Jackson Hole News and Guide. The JHN&G is the news magazine that details everything that's happening in Jackson, WY and the surrounding communities. The reporter, Clark Foster, had heard about tenkara but didn't know what it entailed. He was directed to my blog by someone, I'm not really sure who, and then he contacted me.

We had a nice interview on a bright blue western Wyoming day, the kind that makes the Tetons oh so beautiful! He asked me questions and true to form, I talked too much. After the interview we went out in the parking lot and within minutes of seeing a tenkara rod he was casting one -- and pretty well, I might add!

Anyway, you can see the article at the JHN&G website.