October 16, 2014

What I've Been Fishing Lately

I recently fished a favorite autumn creek of mine. I usually fish this creek when I don't have a lot of time, or when I don't feel like driving a long way.  The last couple of times on the creek were less than stellar and so I approached it with a little trepidation, not knowing if this would be a catching day or not.

As I entered the water and worked my way upstream I was not getting into any fish. This was disappointing, but I persevered. The water was beautiful, the temperatures were right in the target zone and the sky was not too bright, all of which should have put me into fish right away.

About 2 PM I saw a few caddis on the water and started to take notice. Since starting tenkara, I have not been matching the hatch in any way, except on a few occasions during midwinter when the baetis where coming off. But this time I noticed. There were no fish rising, but I thought, "this has to be a sign" and I changed my fly.

Because the caddis were brown/grey, I change to a Soft Hackle Grey kebari. I used to use this fly all the time, but in the past year it has seen little water time. Way? I don't know. It's a good fly. I went with a #10 and started to work the undercuts that hug the banks of the creek.

Sure enough, even though I had just worked the same area, a deep undercut protected by a willow, with a white Takayama variant kebari, I hooked into my first fish. It was a nice 12 inch cutthroat. A few minutes later I had taken 3 cutthroats of the same size, and three smaller brookies from the same undercut.

As I worked my way upstream I took more fish, even in places where I had not taken fish before. Was it the fly? Was it the time of day? Was it my presentation and being in the right place at the right time? Probably all had something to do with it.

I tie this fly differently now than I had in the past. Now I use wool for the body. It uses less dubbing and it is more durable. The wool also absorbs water quickly and lets the fly sink. I still use a dubbed collar, mainly to hide the whip finish, but the fly looks and performs the same.

It's a nice fly. If you haven't used it before, give it a try...especially if there are caddis around!

Hook: #10-12 of whatever caddis pupa or scud hook you want.
Thread: 8/0 grey
Hackle: Partridge
Body: Shetland Sholmit/Mooskit 119
Dubbing collar: Grey Hare-Tron
Ribbing: Copper wire. Thin gauge for a lighter fly; heavy for a fly that sinks fast.

October 12, 2014

Tenkara Rod Wrap, AKA, a Rod Burrito

One of the joys I receive from tenkara is the ability to fish different rods on any given outing. Some  tenkara fishers think this is heresy, holding tightly to the "simplicity is best" model. I too like the simplicity of tenkara, but I am also a gear head and therefore like to explore different rods, with different lines on any given outing.

On most outing I'll usually carry two rods. But sometimes, when I'm exploring new waters, I'll try to carry a few rods, just to have all of my bases covered. In carrying these rods I don't generally use the original rod sleeve or tubes, as these must remain in excellent condition in case I decide to sell the rod. Therefore I needed a way to carry more than one rod, of varying collapsed length, and yet keep them protected.

Talking to my wife, and reviewing a prototype from another angler, I bought some inexpensive duck cloth, 1 inch webbing, some plastic buckles and such. I came up with a wrap that can hold up to eight rods. These rods can be the same collapsed length, or varying lengths. They are held in place by elastic straps, and are held tightly. I designed the wrap to allow the fisher to orient the rods in two different configurations depending on preference. One way is traditional, with all the handles oriented the same way. The other, my prefer method, is with the handles alternating with the tips. This second way reduces the bulk on one side of the wrap, created by handles.

The rods are slipped into the elastic holders, the ends of the wrap are clipped together, then the wrap is rolled and tied. I prefer ties to a buckle since the tie length is easily modified depending on how many rods are in the wrap.

The wrap can then be used as is, or slid into a 4" rod tube for more protection.

It's very nice and easy to make. I'm sure there would be many different variations but this design works well for me.

October 7, 2014

Tenkara -- October 1, 2014

I fished a small mountain stream this past week that had gin clear water and numerous small rainbow trout. The largest rainbow was 10 inches, but many had fat bellies and all were very energetic.

The air was crisp at 54 degrees F; the water was 48 degrees F. There was new snow on the hill tops and the leaves were changing color, into their autumn splendor.  Best of all, I was the only one on the water.

All in all, it was a great outing. This was new water to me and I'd say it was pretty successful. I'll be back next year; it was that fun.

Here is a short video of the trip:

October 3, 2014

Nissin Pocket Mini rod -- review

I recently posted a review about a the Allfishingbuy Shibasu-3010, which I had purchased due to its compact collapsed length. I made a remark in that review that finding ultra compact rods with anything but a stiff action was difficult and that they may not actually exist. I soon found out, however, that Nissin had a series of fixed line rods that were amazingly compact and had a pleasant, relaxed action. I just had to try them out!

The Nissin Pocket Mini series are fixed line rods that will literally fit in your pocket. I received the 270 and 360 cm version. For this review I will be talking about the 360 cm version. The 270 cm version is very similar, just narrower and lighter.

The Pocket Mini 360 comes in a standard Japanese plastic carton with a small rod sleeve. Looking at the carton it's hard to believe that there is actually a rod in there! The coloration of the rod is black and the finish is glossy. The "handle" section has gold paint with metallic flecks, making a handsome looking rod.

The "handle" is without cork but there is a very nice non-slip coating that is effective both wet and dry.

The tip plug is large, compared to other rods. Because this rod is so short when collapsed each section does not taper very much. Therefore the tip plug has to be large in diameter. It is black plastic  and fits snugly into the tip of the handle section. The butt cap is also black plastic and screws into the butt.  There is some knurling on the butt cap as well as a small drainage hole.

Tip plug

Butt cap

Butt cap

The lilian is red and is attached to the tip section with a micro swivel. It is the smallest micro swivel I have seen! The glue joint is perfectly done allowing the tip section to be fully withdrawn through the second segment for complete rod disassembly.

When I said that this rod is compact, I meant that it is really, really compact! It is so compact that it will literally fit in your pocket, hence the name. When placed along side other more conventional rods it looks just plain tiny!

It fits in your pocket!
The Pocket Mini compared to other rods.

In the Tenkara Centre UK rod holder

Here are some rod specifications: Collapsed, it is a mere 24.5 cm. Fully extended it is 361 cm. The rods weighs 47 g, without the tip plug. It is rated as a 17 penny rod on the Common Cents System. This gives the rod a Rod Flex Index of 4.7.

Rod Flex Index comparison chart

The action is the rod is very smooth and relaxed. Unlike other "compact" rods, this rod has a much more pleasing action. It is not so stiff as to be a challenge when casting, yet the rod does have plenty of backbone for fighting fish of reasonable size. I used the Pocket Mini 360 on a freestone stream with moderately high gradient and took fish from 6 inches to 14 inches. The rod handled all of them easily. I used a 10-12' #3.5 level line. I did not use a furled line, as I normally do not fish furled lines.

As you would imaging by having a Rod Flex Index of 4.7, then rod loads very easily and yet casts with very good accuracy. Compared to other 360 cm rods that I have the Pocket Mini 360 is just a slight tip heavy, but not by much. If you didn't fish a wide variety of rods like I do I bet you wouldn't even be able to tell.

Here are some of the fish I caught:

One thing to be aware of: the walls of the carbon tubing of this rod are very thin and flexible.  I have used a lot of rods and this rod has the most flexible walls of any I've used. I don't have a micrometer but if you take a lower section of this rod (not the handle section but one above it) and gently squeeze it between your thumb and fingers the tubing deforms easily. This is not the case with any other rod I have, excepting the Kiyotaki series. What does this mean? I don't exactly know, but with lightweight rods you may increase your chance of rod breakage due to thin carbon tubing. There is a fine balance between rod weight and rod durability.  I'm sure this rod has good durability, but it's just a reminder to be careful with your equipment.

Conclusion: I like this rod.  This rod would be perfect for anyone backpacking or day hiking where there would be a chance to fish. The rod is very lightweight and ubber compact, making it the perfect travel rod as well -- put this in your luggage with a line and a few flies and you've got the ultimate play time package! I doubt I'll use this rod as my primary fishing rod, but it sure makes a very compact and convenient take anywhere back up!

Want one? You can get one from Chris at Tenkara Bum.

Here is the video of some of the fish: