March 30, 2019

What I Carry in my Car

As you might expect, I have a lot of tenkara rods. Most are Japanese, made with higher end materials. Therefore, I generally don't leave them just lying around. But I have in the past found myself at times on a drive, with no intension of fishing, and coming suddenly upon a creek that looks pretty good. In those moments I would often think, "man, I wish I had my stuff with me".

So a few years ago I started leaving a rod, a few lines, one spool of fluorocarbon tippet and a small box of flies in the back of my car. I've changed the rod out a few times, but many times I have used those items for a spur of the moment fishing adventure.

One of these impromptu adventures happened just the other day. I had finished work earlier and not wanting to drive home to get my stuff I thought I'd just drive up one of the nearby canyons to "check out" the water. After I parked, I got out my "car rod", put a spool of #3 line and tippet in my pocket along with the small box of flies. I stuck the rod into my back pocket and started up the trail.

Wow! Not a flattering silhouette! 

The sky was sunny and the air was a delightful 64 degrees F. There was just a little breeze. I quickly saw that the water levels were good and the clarity was excellent. I was on-call to the hospital so I couldn't go very far, but as long as I stayed within cell reception I thought I'd venture to do a little spontaneous fishing.

As I did some boulder hopping along the bank, trying not to get my shoes wet, I caught fish after fish. Most were browns, but a did take few rainbow and one cutthroat. I exchanged flies a few times - usually after catching 2-3 trout with the fly. I started with a Killer kebari, then changed to a Grave Digger jun kebari, then a black Takayama sakasa kebari, and finally ended with a black Oxford wool futsuu kebari. All were size #10, as is my usual modus operandi.

I took fish in pocket water, pools, riffles and flats. It was great! If I hadn't had my gear with me I would have had a nice walk, but I would have missed out on this wonderful fishing.

I currently carry a DRAGONtail Hydra ZX390 in my car. Although there may be some concern with summertime high temperatures in the car damaging the rod, I have not seen any adverse affects to date. No, I won't be leaving my Oni rods in my car; the Hydra is a very robust rod, yet inexpensive enough for my "experiment".  I also carry a Dr Slick Mitten Clamp on a lanyard. On the lanyard I have my tippet spool and a nipper.

Also in my car I have one of my wading staffs, but I have at times just carried a trekking pole, as it is more compact. Either way, with this minimal gear I can have an enjoyable outing fishing even when I wasn't planning on fishing at all.

If you carry gear in your car I'd love to hear what you carry and how that's turned out for you.


  1. Thank you for another informative post Tom.

    I usually use smaller wet flies than size #10 in the small driftless region streams I fish.

    I am curious, do you use a 10 because:
    (a) it seems to be the most appealing size to the fish
    (b) it is easier to see than smaller flies
    (c) both, or...
    (d) some other reason?

    Many thanks!

    Charlie Phelps

    1. Hi Charlie. My streams and creeks are moderate to high gradient and have relatively non selective trout in them. Over the years I have found that a size #10 fly is seen and taken my those trout more reliably than a size #12 or smaller fly. I still fish smaller flies on occasion, but it's in certain waters or under specific conditions. Size #10 subsurface kebari just seem to work for me really well!

    2. I carried #14's as my standard size fly. As the eyes changed so did the fly size. 12's are the new standard...besides the small stream trout don't mind.

  2. Appreciate the info. Now I know I am not the only one who travels with rods "Just in case". If you ever get a chance I would appreciate some info on the various wading staffs you may use. Always seem to get something out of those discussions. Thanks


    I have written about the convenience of having a rod with me wherever I go, the Pocket Mini being that rod.

    But I’m still making huge decisions in my fishing, my tenkara. I am committed to it. I got rid of all my rods except one, the Furaibo zoom, my one rod still. And then I added in a 5m rod as I’m developing my Honryu technique and that rod suits a further need in urban #untenkara.

    I feel the need for one more rod, the Nissin Pocket Mini V3 390cm yet the Furaibo zoom is only slightly larger but far more robust.

    I think I did well choosing it.

    Every time I think of getting a third rod, I don’t.

    I don’t need much more.

    Two rods and they are so different but they cover it so well.

    I enjoyed reading your experience.

    Mine is similar in a small way but I only own two rods after owning many dozens of rods.

    I’m more happy about it than I have ever been.