Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Took the Tenkara Plunge


This summer I've been learning about, and learning to, fish. I have only caught a handful of them, and I've spent more time reading than fishing. Still, it's been fun diving into it - and over the next few days I'll having finished setting up my entry level spinning, tenkara, and western fly kits. I've posted previously about my spinning setup, and it is what I used to catch a few small trout up in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness a few weeks ago

This post is about the Tenkara kit I just put together. Tenkara is a simplified form of fly fishing that relies on a rod without a reel (line is tied to the end of the rod). Tenkara has roots in rural Japanese fishing culture, though I'm taking a pragmatic approach to it, hoping to make good use of the kit when backpacking or fishing small streams. I first heard about Tenkara earlier this year on backpackinglight.com, reading trip reports where folks caught dinner each night in high lakes with a lightweight setup. In fact, if you're a member, the just published a two-part article on Tenkara gear. 

From there, I started reading all there was to read on TenkaraBum, TenkaraUSA, and TenkaraTalk. All three of these sites are the accumulation of a wealth of knowledge experts in the Tenkara game in the U.S. It took me quite a while to decide how to approach Tenkara, whether to buy the top of the line gear and forget about the western fly kit, or to go entry-level on both. I chose the latter. Here's what I ended up with:



The rod I chose is a Fountain Head StoneFly 330, and 11ft rod with a 5:5 action. It is also one of the least expensive rods out there, but still received a solid review on TenkaraBum. At 2.7oz, the rod is slight, and telescopes down to about 20 inches and comes with a soft carrying case.

For the line, I purchased some hi-viz size 3.5 fluorocarbon "level" line, which unlike western fly line, is a constant diameter throughout its length. I also picked up some 5X tippet.

In terms of accessories, I added the EZ Keepers to make it possible to carry a pre-rigged line on the rod, meaning I could be ready to fish in as long as it takes to tie the line onto the end of the rod. I also picked up a couple of line holders, and variety pack of foam dry flies from Reddington, all of which are shown in the photo. 

I've read a couple places that people end up disliking the EZ Keepers because they kink the line, and the spools kink them less. Still the EZ Keepers allow a more compact storage solution for the line and lets me put the whole rod and line into the soft carrying case. 

I spent a couple hours on the Green River near Flaming Geyser State Park practice casting with the Tenkara setup. I really liked the feel of casting, and it didn't take long for me to at least make the casts look acceptable, which is a big deal considering I'm completely new to fly fishing. Where I was on the Green River is mostly fished for bigger fish than I was after with the Tenkara rod, so I found some shallow riffles and practiced casting a foam dry caddis. I didn't see any fish, much less get a bite, but I had loads of fun on my first ever outing with a fly rod. Next time, maybe this weekend, I'll head for some waters actually known to house a few trout. 

I'll discuss my western kit in the next fishing post. Thanks for reading.

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