September 22, 2017

My Favorite Gloves

Catch as release has been around for a long time and, I suspect, is practiced by most of us. Catch and release recommendations over this time have sometimes changed as new data come to light and studies review old recommendations. One of these newer recommendations is the use of gloves.

While many promote wetting your hands before touching the fish, it has only been relatively recently that using gloves has been found to be better at keeping the fish wet. The material of gloves, as long as it's not terry cloth, can stay wet longer and protect the slime layer next to the fish's scales. They also help you hold the trout more securely with less overall pressure. This harms the fish less.

That said, I wear gloves mainly as sun protection. I have worn a few different sun gloves over the years and have found ones I like and others I don't as much.

Kast Inferno UPF Glove

This is my favorite glove. They fit well and are made well. And I really like the silicone palm. For me they just work better than the other gloves I have used. They are easy to get on and to get off, even when wet. They have also held up over time really well.

Buff Pro Angler 3 Gloves

These are my second favorite gloves. They fit well when new, but the synthetic leather palms tend to get stiff after repeated use. To get them less stiff you have to get them wet (that's the point anyway, so it's not that big of a deal).

Aqua Design Fly Fishing Fingerless Camo Gloves

I like these least. The design of these gloves make them hard to get off and the sewing is very poorly done. Mine (two different pairs) unraveled after just a few uses.

As always, it is best not to handle the trout unless you have to. If you do, try to minimize harm to the fish. Keep it out of the water less than 10 seconds, use gentle pressure in holding it around the belly, and keep it wet. I've not always been the best at these recommendations but I've gotten better over the years. These gloves have helped me in this goal.

Hint: Gloves can get pretty smelly after just a few fishing trips. You can wash them, but they will still stink. This is due to bacteria in the fibers. To fix this, soak them in plain Listerine for 10-15 minutes before washing. This kills the bacteria in the synthetic material that is creating the stink. Don't use chlorine bleach, as it will break down the synthetic fibers and bleach out that really cool camo pattern!

September 13, 2017

Oni School 2017

This was the third year that I was able to attend the Tenkara Guides, LLC Oni School near Salt Lake City, Utah. As with years past, I was unable to stay all three days, due to my work schedule. But I did have a great time and learned a lot from Masami Sakakibara, as well as others.  And I was able meet and fish with many new and old friends from the tenkara world.

We fished the Provo --  upper part of the middle and lower canyon sections on the days I was there.

We first met at the Fly Fishing shop at Sundance Resort. After registration we had casting lessons on the grass field followed by casting demonstrations by Oni at the Sundance pond.

Eric and John of Tenkara Guides, LLC introducing the curriculum. 

Chris Hendriks, a tenkara guide from Norway, practicing a specialized side cast. 

We then drove to the middle Provo, just below Jordanelle Dam, and fished it for the better part of the day. As in other years, each participant had the chance to fish with Oni and as to shadow him as he worked his kebari through various spots. 

On stream instruction.

Some fun at lunch.

What you can't see here is the 20 mph wind. Despite this, Oni placed the fly where ever he wanted.

Hooking a large brown in fast, shallow water.

The fish of the day!

This is his method of teaching. The translation is mostly clear but not always. I found it easier to learn new techniques by just watching him fish and work various sections of the stream.

Oni sketching how he approaches a certain part of the river.

The second day we met at Sundance again and then quickly relocated to lower Provo canyon for more fishing and one on one instruction.  

As with past years, this year was excellent! The Tenkara Guides, LLC put together another fantastic program full of didactic and practical instruction. I plan on attending as many years as they keep offering this amazing tenkara school.

September 2, 2017

Some Changes and a Big Thank You

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. - John F. Kennedy. 

It's time for some changes at Teton Tenkara. I started this blog in January 2012 with the goal of sharing my journey into the world of tenkara fishing. I discovered tenkara in 2011 and found that it reinvigorated my passion for fly fishing. I was excited about what I had experienced in starting tenkara-style fishing and, being taught by my parents to give back and share what knowledge I had with others, I decided to enter the blogoshere.

A picture from one of my first blog posts in January 2012

Here on Teton Tenkara I have tried to take you with me on many of my fishing outings via the written word and through video clips. I have tried to review rods, lines, nets, and other tenkara related items in a detailed and systematic fashion, mainly so that you might have some idea if that item might work for you. I have periodically shared some of the tips and techniques that I have found on my tenkara path. I'm certainly not an important tenkara knowledge bank, but I felt that some of the mistakes I made or successes I had might enhance your experience on your journey. And, I have tried to maintain some posting volume regarding tenkara -- you know, keeping the blog alive. I know that others have done this better than me (Troutrageous, for example), but I wanted to play my part in sharing and giving back.

From my first "real" rod review -- February 2012. I measured rods, and did not take what was advertised at face value.

But now I'm getting tired. I'm not sure if I have anything of value left to share.

I have steered away from the philosophies and controversies regarding tenkara the past few years, mostly because others like Jason Klass of Tenkara Talk approach these topics so much better than I do. His questions are insightful and his answers are always thought provoking. I haven't shared many techniques lately because who am I to give advise. I have been told by many (mostly online, but occasionally to my face) that because I am not a guide nor run a tenkara equipment business nor have written a book nor have been to Japan that I shouldn't be giving tenkara advise. I have always (at least I have tried to) clearly communicate that I am not an expert, just some guy with a blog.

I even reviewed the guides -- this is (Erik O.) from my Tenkara Guide LLC trip in March 2012. 

So where does that leave the blog? Mostly acting as a travel journal and recording rod reviews.

There are some really good blogs out there that are basically travel journals. Small Stream Reflections and Tenkara Rising blogs record their outings much better than I do. Their blogs are such a pleasure to read. I have tried to journal my outings too, but I fear that that gets too boring for most readers. To avoid that boredom I've tried to be creative in my journaling, such as taking video in 3rd person view, like the video below:

Now we come to the reviews. I started doing reviews, especially rod reviews, because I couldn't find much reliable information regarding the rods. By reliable, I mean quantifiable data. Most all rod reviews use very subjective words to describe any given rod. In my reviews I too use those words, but I also tried not to take anything at face value, so I weighed, measured, compared rods in an objective manner. Chris Stewart does the best reviews, in my opinion, and I have often felt that my reviews are redundant to his. At one point there were few options for good quality tenkara rods outside of Japan, but now, as John Vetterli of Tenkara Guides LLC says, "it's hard to buy anything that's sh*t". You have to go really out of your way to buy a bad rod nowadays -- you can still achieve that goal, but you have to pretty much have to work at it. Because of this, I feel that my rod reviews are becoming less and less of value to the tenkara community.

So, Teton Tenkara is going though the change -- tenkaropause, so to speak. I'll post when I feel like it and not feel compelled to post something just to keep things up. I've removed the paid advertising (their contracts were up anyway) and "Donate" button from the blog. That way I won't feel guilty about not having frequently published material.

If a rod maker wants my opinion regarding a rod I'll be happy to do a formal review as I've done in the past. If I want to share a fishing outing or video, then I'll post it. But as for high volume sharing and information, that will be left to you guys on the newer platforms of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Most of the traffic goes there nowadays anyway.

With that, thank you for all your support over the past many years. Thank you for being loyal readers and contributing financially to the blog.  And thank you for your comments and criticisms. This blog's not going away, just changing -- taking a deep breath; a sigh. Thank you for being part of that change.

Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future. - Walt Disney

August 31, 2017

Tenkara Tanuki XL-1 -- review

A few weeks ago I received a new rod from Tenkara Tanuki. Labeled the XL-1, it is a rod that has been anticipated by the tenkara community for some time. Luong Tam, owner of Tenkara Tanuki, is not shy about letting us know what he's up to, and because of this, his projects are followed with excitement.

Here is what Luong says about his new rod: "Tanuki XL-1 Project - From US to Italy

Tanuki XL-1 is considered to be a long tenkara rod with the length of 405 cm (13’4”). The main benefits of Tanuki XL-1 are it casts like a good 360 (12’ rod) and fish-on is like Tanuki 325. The main challenges of making long tenkara rod are better ergonomics, casting accuracy and handling the fish like a shorter rod.

Using a lighter and softer rod would put less pressure on fisher’s wrist. In order to build a light rod, I need to use higher module carbon fiber. Higher module carbon fiber is lighter and stiffer than lower module one. The challenge is to make it softer with higher module carbon fiber. I asked myself, “Can I have a softer feeling rod with higher module carbon?”. I want to push the boundary a little bit on Tanuki XL-1. I took the initial Tanuki XL (395 cm) to the Oni School in summer, 2016. I have received mostly negative feedbacks like, “It is too soft and lacks Tanuki characteristics”.

I built several new prototypes that are a notch softer than Tanuki 425 rods and extended the length of 395 cm to 405 cm, then took those rods on the road with me to the Tenkara Jam in North Carolina. After months of endless testing on fly fishing trade shows and other fishing related events here in the US and Italy. The results were overwhelming positive. I am surprised to learn that European fishers like a little softer prototype than US fishers."

Luong loaned me the black version of the XL-1 and I was able to put it to the test.

The rod came in a clear plastic rod tube along with a red fabric sleeve. The rod is very handsome. It is dark charcoal in color, with the rod designation a rich, deep red. The finish is glossy. There are a couple of red color accents and gold bands on some, but not all of the segments, as well.

The handle is EVA foam; red "camo" pattern on this rod. It has a subtle camel shape and is very comfortable to hold. The handle is 28.5 cm long.

The tip plug is anodized metal, has the Tanuki "swimming fish" logo on it, and has a length of extra lilian material to discourage it from being lost so easily. The insert is plastic and fits snuggly into the rod blank. The butt cap is gold anodized metal. It has a coin slot and knurling to aid in its removal. It also has a small air hole.

The lilian is red, and is moderately thick. It is attached to the tip segment with a perfectly executed glue joint. The rod can be completely disassembled for cleaning and drying.

Here are some measurements:

Fully extended: 402 cm
Fully nested: 63.5 cm
Weight (without tip plug): 72.4 g
CCS: 16 pennies
RFI: 3.9
Rotational moment: 5.6

Casting the rod is a real pleasure. The rod is so light and well balanced, with such an impressive rotational moment for a 400+ cm rod, that it feels as if there is no swing weight at all. The action is relaxed and smooth. There is no appreciable tip over shoot or oscillation noticed. Both linear and rotational dampening are excellent.

I fished the rod a number of times. I mainly used a 390 cm #2.5 fluorocarbon level line with 3 feet of tippet. I could place the fly anywhere I wanted it to go, and place the fly first on the water on every cast. That right there is a testament to the quality of this rod. The fish I caught were "standard" sized western trout -- 8-12 inches.

The only issues I had with the rod was due to its "soft" RFI I did loose a few fish when they jumped. I think this was due to the soft hook set. This was pretty infrequent, however.

Here is a brief video of me fishing the rod. The first scene has the sun angle just right so you can see the cast in its full arc, as well as seeing the flight of the line. Notice that the line never touches the water; the fly lands first on each cast.

Conclusion: I really like this rod!  The Tanuki XL-1 is a beautiful rod and performs wonderfully. It is a joy to fish and would be a prized addition to any tenkara anglers rod quiver. With its light weight and perfect balance, it can be fished for hours without arm fatigue, or without even noticing it's there! It feels like a natural extension of your casting arm.  I just might have to pick one up for myself!

Disclaimer: My opinion regarding this rod is just that, my opinion. Your opinion may differ.  Also, your rod may not have the same length, issues, or functionality as my rod. There are variations between rods, even in the same production run. No description can fully tell you how a rod feels or fishes. For this, you must personally hold, cast, and fish the rod then make up your own mind. 
I was loaned this rod by Tenkara Tanuki  but liking it so much, I purchased it after the review.