July 28, 2013

Day 2: Backcountry hiking and a Catastrophic rod failure

On day number two I decided to go by compass, map and GPS through the woods, cross country, to fish a large river and then afterwards, a small stream. I have fished them both before but in totally different locations, many, many miles away. I thought it would be fun to test my compass/map skills as well as fish waters that I had never seen before.

I loaded my Zimmerbuilt day pack with the usuals for "off the trail" cross country hiking/fishing: Silva Ranger compass (the best wilderness compass IMHO), USGS 7.5 minute map corrected for declination, GPS (to tag my car's location as a precaution), survival pouch (small dry sack with essentials), Mora Companion MG (my favorite bushcraft knife), compact food, cameras, small self made first aid kit, hydration bladder, and waist high waders. On my belt were bear spray and bell. In small add-on pouches on the pack's straps: a few lines, tippet and flies. Since I was planning on fishing both large water and small water I took the 390 cm Tenkara Worlwide River Master and the Nissin Pro Spec 2-Way 7:3 rods.

The metal circular container is for a mosquito coil I was trying out.

After taking my bearing, I headed of into the woods. An hour later I ended up crossing a little creek, right where I wanted to be. Fifteen minutes later I got to the confluence of that little creek and the larger river.

The small creek
The confluence

The river is large, larger than the Hoback in width, and is beautiful in its backcountry setting. It has a series of riffle and runs, which is classic for many western rivers. After donning my waders I waded out into the current and began working my way upstream. To cover more water in the least amount of time I used a large fly/small fly dropper system. This is not my usual tenkara setup, but then again this was not usual tenkara water. To cast this setup you have to do large, open loop casts. Tight loops would tangle the flies. The River Master did well with this type of casting.

I immediately began catching fish. They were rainbows, small at 5-10 inches. They were taking both flies equally and at one point I had two fish on at once. I did hook a couple of really nice fish, I gage near 16-18 inches, but they came off during the fight. Arrgh! I guess its not that big of a deal since I release them anyway, but its nice to get a picture every once in a while.

After fighting one of these larger fish I hooked into another, more modest fish. Upon setting the hook the River Master had a catastrophic failure! Section 4 (the tip being section #1) broke in two places!! I didn't think I set the hook too hard, but I might have. So there I was, in the middle of a larger river with a broken rod and a fish still on the line! As soon as the pressure came off the line the fish stopped running. I started hand lining him in, but he got off about 8 feet from me. He looked to be about 10-12 inches.

Broken River Master

I had brought another rod with me, but it was the Pro Spec 2-Way to be used on that smaller creek I mentioned earlier. I put the River Master's carcass away and got out the Pro Spec. I fished with it for a while then not wanting another broken rod I headed for the small creek.


The small creek was about 6-8 feet across and strewn with round, polished granite boulders. The water was gin clear as it coursed its way through around these rocks. I started with a wool bodied kebari, but I only had a few visible refusals. I decided, that since this was such a small creek and that the water was so clear, I'd try a dry fly. I haven't used a dry fly in quite a while but I thought it was time. I removed the kebari and tied on a #14 Iris Caddis.

I have always liked this pattern. It is easy to tie, is a great floater, looks really "buggy", and is very durable. Sure enough, on about the fifth cast I hooked my first fish, a little rainbow. I went on to catch over two dozen little, 4-5 inch, rainbows. No monsters here, just pure small stream fun.

I worked my way upstream until I reached the point in which I had originally crossed this stream. I then went ashore, ate some pick-me-up snacks, got out of my waders, and got ready to head back to the car. Since I had not touched my compass since arriving at the creek I just reversed the bearing and started walking. An hour later, after walking though heavy lodgepole pine forest, I arrived spot on at my car. I was tired and hot (the high was 88 degrees, which is hot for around here) but pleased I could still work a compass and map, not needing a GPS.

In retrospect, I'm not sure why the River Master broke so dramatically. I'm a little sad as I liked the rod. It had a nice weight, flex profile, and very little tip heaviness. I'm not sure if I can get a section 4 but I'll try, as I'd like to use the rod again.

If you haven't had the horror of having one of your tenkara rods break then watch the video. It is quite dramatic. I also included some shots of the rest of the fishing as well.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed the report and pictures! To bad about the rod break.


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