February 29, 2012

My converted kebari(s)

I have yet to embrace the "one fly method" of Tenkara -- but I am still very new to Tenkara. I must admit, I am an Tenkara mutant. I love the simplicity, and effectiveness of Tenkara tools, but fishing only one fly or style of fly seems to make me scratch my head. Now that said, I have not yet fished any freestone streams with more opportunistic trout. All those streams are still frozen -- they will not be fishable until May or June, depending on the run-off. So far, the rivers that I have fished have pretty hatch-selective trout. I still feel the call of "match the hatch" to oblige them.

I am trying to be a better Tenkara-jedi, however. So, with that in mind, I decided to convert some classical western wet flies to the kebari style. That way I can feel better that I am on my way to Tenkara nirvana. BTW, I have caught plenty of fish on the western cousins of these flies.

The Cased Caddis kebari

Cased Caddis kebari

My grandfather always fished the upper stretch of the Provo River with "rock rollers". His were the real thing impaled on a hook, but I have caught plenty of freestone stream trout on the feather version. This fly is my sakasa kebari version designed to mimic a cased caddis larvae, still in its case, tumbling helplessly in the stream after being dislodged. If you sample the stomach of freestone trout they contain these sand/stick cases in plenty. The cream-colored dubbing is the larvae reaching out of the case grasping for an anchor. The starling hackle are its legs.

So this fly is for my grandfather. I still tie with some of his tools. He has been gone for many years, but tying flies brings me a little closer to him.

Hook: what ever you like, 12-16
Thread: black 8/0
Case: peacock herl reinforced in a dubbing loop
Rib: small gold wire
Larvae: PMD yellow dubbing
Hackle: starling

The Diving Caddis kebari

Diving Caddis kebari
I first met Gary LaFontaine while fishing the Job Corp ponds near Deer Lodge, Montana. It was a typical Montana summer evening, just cool enough to need a light jacket. I was wading up to my chest and casting a large brown leech pattern in hopes of hooking one of the huge trout that lurked in the pond. As I cast a truck drove up and out got a dark haired man with two German sherpards. As I splashed around he rigged up and them came over and watched me. I had the distinct feeling that his dogs were laughing at me. After a while I got out and started to head back to my car wet, cold and humiliated. As I passed the man we mutally said hello. He asked how I did and I told him I had failed. He them taught me that I didn't fail, I had just not caught any fish. We talked for a while and then we went our separate ways. It was only later did I realise I had been talking to that famous flyfisher from western Montana. Two year later Gary was diagnosed with ALS and was gone all too fast.

Gary had a special way of inventing flies. He often would don snorkle gear and go underwater to see what insects really looked like to trout. From this and other methods, Gary came up with some of the most succesful patterns for catching trout. One of these is his famous Diving Caddis. This fly mimics a swimming ovapositing caddis with its folded wings and trailing bubbles. Here is my olive kerbari version in honor of that gentleman flyfisher from Deer Lodge.

Hook: what ever you like, 12-18
Thread: olive 8/0
Body: Brown-olive dubbing
Underwing: grey mallard wing quill
Overwing: white antron
Hackle: Starling

The Brown Bomber (Soft Hackle Grey) kebari

Brown Bomber kebari
The Brown Bomber wet fly has been around since, oh I'd say, the beginning of time. OK, not really, but it has in one form or another been around since the 40's. Sometimes the pattern is tied with two or even three hackles evenly spread over the body (as in Herter's Professional Fly Tying and Spinning Lure Making Manual, 1969); sometimes it is tied with only one hackle. Likely these are different patterns going by the same name. Also, it should not be confused with the dry fly of the same name, in fact this old Brown Bomber wet pattern looks more like a Soft Hackle Grey since it is grey not brown!  Nonetheless, this is a general searching pattern that has caught a many deceived fish. Here is my kebari variant of this foundation fly. This old time pattern uses beaver for the body but other dubbing ranging from grey to brown may be used. Also, instead of tinsel, wire of various thickness may be substituted.

Hook: straight or curved, 10-14
Thread: grey 8/0
Body: beaver without guard hairs
Rib: flat gold tinsel
Hackle: Brown partridge

The Brook's Stone Ishigaki-style kebari

Charlie Brook's Stone ishigaki kebari
Stoneflies are steaks to trout. None of this light dainty morsel stuff, stonefly nymphs are a real mouth full to a hungry trout. These nymphs are in the freestone river year round, but at various stages of maturity. In June and early July western rivers shores are adorned with thier molted husks as the most mature of these bugs transform into huge adults. Every western fly fisher awaits the stonefly hatch with giddy anticipation.

A successful impressionistic pattern for the large dark stonefly nymph is Charles Brook's Stone. It is easy to tie and bullet-proof on the river. It was one of the first "tied in the round" flies; it was introduced well before rotary vises were common place. Its "not to specific or detailed" appearance is why it is so successful.

Converting this fly to a kebari was easy in that is already is pretty kebari-like. Instead of trying for a sakasa kebari-style I opted for a ishigaki kebari-style. In this style the hackle is more perpendicular to the hook shaft instead of being angled forwards over the hook eye.

Unlike the original which uses both brown and grizzly hackle, I used only brown hackle. I also minimized the amount of hackle. I kept the ostrich gill for contrast however. I did wrap fine lead wire on the hook shaft at first so to make this fly heavier than typical kebari. Stoneflies are bottom dwellers. They don't float.

Hook: generally straight, 8-14
Thread: black 6/0
Tail: black stripped goose biots
Body: black wool yarn
Rib: medium silver wire (copper is also common)
Hackle: brown palmered over thorax
Gills: white ostrich herl palmered over thorax

So, these are some of my converted kebari flies. I am sure they will all catch fish, as thier western cousins have been time tested. Give them a try and let me know how they work for you.