March 4, 2012

This is not Tenkara but.....

...... it may be of some use to a few of you.

I have a hard time seeing very small dry flies, emergers, or small soft hackles greased in the surface film. I even have a hard time seeing where my line is so I can keep it tight to a kebari or subsurface soft hackle.  I frequently use highly visible lines such as Chris Stewart's Hi-Vis hand tied lines, which are marvelous, but there are occasions when I can't see my fly. I typically use 6-7x fluorocarbon tippets of 3-6 feet which can complicate the problem. I am not old and I am not blind, but I am not as young as I used to be either!

When I fish a very small dry fly or multiple small flies I will often use a small piece of an orange foam indicator a couple of feet above the fly(s). It is so small and light that it does not affect casting and it does not splash down hard has some indicators may do. I occasionally use a larger fly, say a #16 Klinkhammer with an orange/yellow post, as an indicator but when the fish are taking small midges or mayflies (#20-24) I like to optimize my catch rate by having all flies of the right size.  The indicator is easy for me to see as soon as the tippet lands on the water, and if there is a riseform within a few feet of the indicator I lift the rod tip. More often than not I will then have a fish on!

The indicator that I like to use is Rio Kahuna LT. It is a very small diameter brightly orange foam cylinder loaded on a large monofilament core. It can be frustrating to use at the stream side but it is easy to use with a little preparation.

I like to use lengths between 1/8th inch to 1 inch. I most commonly use 1/4 inch length however. This seems to be optimal for size and visibility.  Cut the material to your desired length and remove the mono core.

To make it easy to use at the stream side, even with gloves on, I preload the the sections onto monofilament loops at home (2x tippet material works great) then place them in a small clear plastic bag. This bag then goes in my Tenkara fishing kit. It takes up no space at all.

To make getting the foam onto the mono loop easier I use a wire bobbin threader. Slide the foam onto the bobbin threader, slip the mono loop through the wire loop and then slide the foam section onto the mono loop. I make different lengths so to be prepared for any situation.

Loaded onto bobbin threader

Preloaded sections ready to go into my small Tenkara kit (Left to right, 1 inch to 1/8th inch)
To use at the stream side, just thread your tippet through the mono loop and slide the indicator onto you tippet. It's just that simple. I then slide the foam up to the loop-to-loop connection between my line and tippet or to a double surgeon's knot between tippet segments. Move the indicator over a small knot and it will stay there due to its minuscule mass. That's it!  I have even used two or three 1/8th inch segments on the same tippet, but each placed 1 foot apart. In very difficult fishing situations, like at dusk when the water surface is covered in PMD spinners, this trick can help "point the way" to your fly making a hook up much easier to see.

1/8th size positioned over a small knot just upline from a loop-to-loop connection

If I am fishing subsurface I will hold the rod tip high enough to just keep the foam indicator off the water, thus making it an excellent sighter. Because it has essentially no weight or wind resistance it does not interfere with line control. This method keeps the line tight for an effective kebari technique but makes it easy for me to see the line position as well. If later I want to change to small dry flies then I have an indicator or dry fly sighter already in place. I just change the flies and go right back to fishing.  It is very efficient and has minimal down time. Remember, if the fly isn't on (or in) the water then you can't catch a fish! Also, I often will just leave the indicator on the line when I put the line away.

I hope this helps those of you, who like me, have trouble seeing small flies and thus miss fish when they take. My hook up rate when using small dries or emergers has easily doubled since I began using this small foam "sighter".

I know this is not a traditional Tenkara technique, but sometimes you have to give the fish what they want. If they are taking micro-Beatis then give it to them. Though not Tenkara, now I can use a long rod, light tippet, Tenkara perfect feather-like targeted presentation, and the ultimate in drag-free drifts and still see when that elusive spring creek rainbow takes my #22 BWO dry or #24 midge emerger! Nice!!!!!!!!!

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