June 3, 2012

9 foot Iwana fun

After some yard work yesterday I was able to slip up to Pebble Creek for a few hours of fishing. Since run-off has been pretty mild this year, Pebble Creek is quite fishable. The water was a little off colored but really not that bad. Stream flows are good and not too difficult to negotiate.

Pebble Creek area above the canyon

Since Pebble Creek is quite small, 6-10 feet wide, and somewhat brushy I decided that I would use my Tenkara USA 9 foot Iwana handle replacement after finding out that the Ebisu was just too long for this water. This handle makes my 12 foot Iwana into a 9 foot 3 inch tenkara rod. This should be quite good on this small water.

The day was partly cloudy with passing rain showers. Even though it was Saturday I did not find any people on the section of creek that I wanted to fish. I drove up the canyon, by passing the Dogwood choked, higher gradient section of the creek and parked near the upper end of the canyon. This mid-section of Pebble Creek is a classical western willow lined creek. There are some areas of open casting, as long as you are in the mid-stream, and some areas of willow tunnels that make casting only a dream.

Looking upstream on an average mid-stream section. Willow tunnel ahead!

Looking downstream

I strung the 9 foot Iwana with 7 feet of Tenkara USA 3.5 HiVis flouro and used 2 feet of red Amnesia as a terminal sighter. This has become my standard line configuration for tenkara fishing, although I do vary the line length and weight depending on the conditions. For tippet I chose 4x fluoro since I knew I was going to snag willows a lot! I tied on two flies. I used a #12 redblack kebari as the dropper and a #10 Utah Killer Bug as the end fly. Amazingly enough, even though I snagged trees and underwater limbs frequently I kept the same two flies through the entire day.

Redblack kebari and the UKB
The Utah Killer Bug (UKB)
Redblack kebari

For most of the creek the Iwana 9 foot was perfect. Only in the more open sections did I wish I had a longer rod -- just 12 inches longer would have been nice. But even with that the Iwana 9 foot was pretty nice. It's 7:3 action made crisp, spot-on casts, but I found its action a little too brisk for my taste, especially when trying to throw a light line. Small streams often require a great deal of stealth and a very delicate cast. I had difficulty doing this with the Iwana 9 ft, and I think its brisk action contributed to this difficulty. But fighting fish was no problem since there was plenty of backbone to keep them out of the underwater snags. This was one thing about its action that was very nice.

I caught mainly native cutthroats (7 in 1.5 hours), but I did manage to hook one rainbow. I suspect he was a planter since he had some fin damage. The fish took the redblack kebari and the UKB equally. Both have been very good flies.

Rainbow on the UKB

Cutthroat on the UKB

Another cutthroat on the redblack kebari

Next trip up Pebble Creek I will try the canyon section for some good old, full contact, rock crawling tenkara but as for today, it was nice and relaxing wading among the willows.

An updated impression of this rod, and other rods I have used can be read HERE.


  1. Pebble could be a twin of my favorite western trout stream, in Utah. That creek gets a lot of beavers. I'm always stumped fishing beaver ponds with conventional fly tackle. How do you approach them with tenkara, both in terms of rods and of tactics?

  2. Nice report and beautiful trout. A killer bug and a sakasa kebari are a great combo. If one doesn't get 'em, the other will (or both).

    1. Thanks Kiwi. Yes, they are a great combo!


  3. Great report. Those waters look perfect for tenkara.


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