samedi 29 octobre 2016

Discovering Tenkara Vol.3: Japanese Kebari. Practical Fishing Applications

I had written about the first volume a couple of years ago and the second one last year of the documentaries released by John Pearson and Paul Gaskell and today I will be dealing with the third volume that I have been watching several times since its release in last July. 

This 90 minute documentary consists in thirteen chapters dealing with, as the DVD title suggests, the practical fishing applications of the kebari used by a fine selection of Japanese tenkara anglers.

The first interviewee is Shoichi Saito, an angler who still fishes with traditional gear. It is interesting to listen to an experienced tenkara angler explaining why he still uses traditional tenkara gear and traditional kebari and the different techniques he uses. If traditional tenkara was practised in Japan with efficiency and profitability in mind as it was commercial fishing it is nowadays only sport fishing, a hobby, and tenkara anglers just like fishing with the techniques they have developed on their own. 
Saito-san fishes with only one kebari pattern declined in two sizes and three colours. This may seem to be little but Saito-san explains very well why he made that choice and it is rational and as often as the result of a reasoned observation of fish behaviour, stream habitat and environment. 
Like most long experienced tenkara anglers Saito-san's fishing is based on technique and skill and not on gear and it is a pleasure to listen to him introduce his three favorite tenkara techniques.

Saito-san is not only a fisherman but also a tireless promoter of tenkara and take and release. He has been teaching fly tying and fly fishing to the children of Itoshiro primary school and he is a tireless promoter of catch and release. 

The second protagonist of the documentary is a tenkara angler I had the pleasure to meet and fish with during my stay in Japan. Kazuo Kurahashi, who is nicknamed Kura-san in the tenkara community, ties his favorite kebari and explains why this pattern has his preference. His kebari pattern is based on his observation of salmonids fishing behaviour and the different insects hatching on the streams he is used to fish during the season. Kura-san is also a catch and release angler and that is why he does not used super small sized hooks for his kebari as it avoids long and harmful manipulation of fish. 

The next interview is with Go Ishii, who is the interpreter of the interviews, and meanwhile he ties his favorite kebari. The dialogue between Ishii-san and John is very interesting as Go's perspective on tenkara is not common, his favorite thing in tenkara is pretty much unique I think.
There is one sentence said by Ishii-san that in my opinion perfectly sums up the Japanese tenkara state of mind of today: "This is a hobby so if you are not having fun, why do it?".
The documentary includes next a kebari tying sequence and interview with an excellent tenkara angler in the person of Kazumi "Ajari" Saigo. He is tying a couple of kebari, different by  the materials used, their design and of course their function since a fisherman tenkara does not the kebari he ties to his tippet because of its appearance but depending on how he wants to fish.
As a former bass high level competition fisherman of Kazumi-san was seduced by the tenkara because of its gear simplicity and technical efficiency.
The last but not least interview is with Tasahi Otani who is tying a pretty typical kebari of his style. As Otani-san explains he tries to tie kebari that can dive at different speed and therefore adapt his fishing to the fish position in the current.  He does not usually use materials from fly shop but prefers original materials from craft stores. As he says with a smile: "I think that perhaps fishes do not want to always eat the same thing!".

Between each of these sequences we find John and Paul briefly summarizing the facts exposed in the interviews of the tenkara anglers interviewed. As it was also the case with the first volumes this documentary is very pleasant to watch and features very rich in first hand informations as John and Paul have made the praiseworthy choice since the beginning of the Discovering Tenkara adventure to look for the right informations at the source ie Japan. 
I now expect for the fourth volume to be released soon as there is no doubt that it will be as interesting as the first three released to date.

If you want to purchase this great DVD please click here for USA and Canada residents or here for the rest of the world. 

samedi 24 septembre 2016

A trout season ends

The canicular month of August was long to me as I did not go fishing any single time but hopefully September has started with rain and this was good news for the streams and their inhabitants. I did go back fishing last sunday which was the day of the trout season end in most of streams. The sky was overcast and the air mild. 

The few rains of the previous days have obviously not had much effect on the water level, but a supply of water makes a lower temperature and brings the fish back in feeding activity. So I prepared myself quietly. My gear was a Nissin Zero Sum Oni Honryu 395 rod, six meters of  line 2.5 号level line, a meter of  号0.8  fluorocarbon  to which was tied a Yamato kebari.

I did fish all the fish spots downstream. After casting I did give my rod an oscillating movement to make my kebari drift erratically up and down just like does a real nymph trying to swim to the surface but carried away by the current. I successfully tested this technique last summer with Masami "Tenkara Oni-no" Sakakibara and as I had already experienced the techniques developed in Japan by true tenkara experts are effective on any stream because they are based on rational observation of the salmonids behavior and on long experience of tenkara fishing.

All trout caught during this matinee took my kebari when ascending, when it was going  towards the surface. This technique gives very good results for the focused angler on its fishing because the constantly tension in the line helps very effective strike detection and hook setting.

Finally towards the end of the morning the sky cleared and I did take a break for lunch by the river as I like to do as soon as the weather allows. The place is usually much frequented but I did not see anyone which is pretty unusual for a season closing day.

I took during this last visit many trout revived by recent rains. I do not go through a long distance during  the morning but I did fish every potential fish spot within cast reach. 

After about three hours of fishing I collapsed my rod back and disconnected the line that I put up on a spool and turned back to my house. Autumn starts well for trout, rain so beneficial to the rivers after a very hot summer is back, and fishermen will have the next six months to prepare for next season.
This morning I was driving near that river, having some time I stopped my car on the side of the road to observe; trout rising to the surface in the fog disappearing under the sun.

mercredi 31 août 2016

Nissin Zerosum Oni Honryu 395 rod

Masami Sakakibara has surprised us last year with Zerosum Oni Honryu 450 released by Nissin and this time they strike again with the rod this post will deal with: the Zerousm Oni Honryu 395.

Theoretical specifications of this rod are:

Length: 3,95 m
Pieces: 8
Collapsed length: 64 cm
Weight: 85 g
Tip diameter: 0.65 mm
Butt diameter: 11.7 mm
Tippet: from 号 0,8 to 号 1,5 
Blank: 96% graphite

The length of my rod is 3.98 m to which adds the lilian; its weight without the tip cap is 82.5 grams. The handle is made of very high quality cork and its subtile camel gourd shaped handle is very comfortable and provides, in my opinion, a better handling of the rod than the curvy handle that can be seen on the Royal Stage or Zerosum rods. 

The Zerosum Oni Honryu 395 is aesthetically similar to its big sister released last year the Zerosum Oni Honryu 450 and the quality is of the same level and that means one of a kind.
Clearly this duet of tenkara rods stand out from the majority of current productions by a great work in design as well a rarely attained production quality level.

In fishing action this tenkara rod is perfectly balanced. Thanks to its balance this tenkara rod can with great ease adapt to any kind of tenkara line one light use and be as performant with any type of line.
I think that the person who best described this tenkara rod is John Vetterli, one of the founding member of Tenkara Guides LLC: "
The new Nissin Zerosum Oni Honryu 395. This rod pushes the maximum performance limits into uncharted territory. Light weight, superb balance, massive power in reserve. This rod and its big brother the Nissin Zerosum Oni Honryu 450 are the tenkara equivalent to today's hyper cars like the Porsche 918, or Koenigsegg One:1."

mercredi 3 août 2016

July tenkara

The month of August has just started, so it is time to publish a brief summary of my fishing in July. After a month of June and its bad weather July was very hot which ultimately has been good because it has helped reduce water level in most rivers in the area.

I have been keeping throughout July the same strategy used in June: multiplying short fishing sessions (2 hours maximum) to adapt to temperatures so by fishing only early morning or late evening .

I fished the full month with the same gear : Nissin ZeroSum Oni 450 rod,  Nissin Ony-ryu 号 2.5 level line and my faithful Yamato kebari. Running out of rabbit dubbing I received by chance some samples of hare dubbing from a fly-tying materials company. Of course this does not alter the effectiveness of my Yamato kebari nor its function, it just changes a little its appearance. Trout, blind as bat, do not make the difference. 

August is starting with gray and rainy days, fishing is perhaps going to be less easy...wait and see!

jeudi 30 juin 2016

Tenkara during a sunny spell

The month of June comes to an end as it has been full of gray days, rain and storms; one must not let a single opportunity to go tenkara fishing because it is difficult to make forecasts as these weather conditions are unstable. A few sunny hours can be followed by a full day of rain or a storm. Rivers bear the scars of these recurrent rains, they remained stained as they were in April.

But as soon as there is a sunny spell trout show some activity. Eventually these frequent rains that keep the water at a low temperature is good for them, at least allows them to be quieter than usual because many anglers have decided to put the rods to rest. Personally I have chosen to fish but only for brief sessions of thirty minutes to an hour, it saves me the risk of being caught in the rain or the storm before you have at least a trout. 

I fish with my Yamato kebari and I must say it is a pleasure to see the trout rishing out of their shelters to pick it up. I would not trade a single kebari of this pattern for the whole word weighted nymphs because that would deprive me of seeing those little yellow and gray beasts rise to the surface.

Fishing a river that I do not visit often I think I have chosen the good stretch of it because the trout density is interesting and trout in question are very cooperative despite a rather dark water and the very few insects to emerge or drift dead on the surface.

I will of course not complain! Fishing even with difficult weather conditions, temperatures really below seasonal averages, and I can at any time be surprised by a downpour, is a thousand times more interesting and meaningful than thinking about fishing without being there.

Casting a fifteen feet tenkara rod into the river that is about thirty feet wide I easily get "natural" drifts, my short and light tippet makes my kebari drift in a way that must be very convincing because trout decide to come and bite it very quickly.

After fishing the straight part I arrived in a bend where the stream is very shallow, the water is a little clearer. Satisfied with this outing I was feeling that the time of the last cast had arrived but there is a quiet small area on the right side of the bend behind a big rock. It would be surprising that there is not a trout in that spot. I cast my Yamato kebari who barely has not time to start drifting before a trout takes it.  This is a big trout! I am  surprised but my hook setting is instinctively made in a very wide move.  The stream being very shallow that trout can not even try to swim to anywhere. I let it struggle on the wet gravel.

This is not a native brown trout, its dress betrays its origin but I noticed that its fins were in excellent condition so it is definitely a trout that survived its introduction in the river and did grow big in there.
I did raise it gently and released it exactly where I had just got it from. I did spend a few minutes to observe it in its shleter as it was catching its breath quietly. I did collapse my rod back and put back my line on a spool, it was time to go back home. Until the next sunny spell.

samedi 18 juin 2016

Tenkara Fest 2016

After the first edition of Tenkara Fest we were determined, Eric Robert and myself, to organize this event annually and this year we did chose Lozère for the meeting. Like many tenkara anglers we are members of various social networks and forums, but we share the opinion that nothing will ever be better than meeting other enthusiasts, or novices, in real life and share some good times together.

After an about five hundreds and thirty miles drive I arrived in Lozère on the banks of the Alignon stream where I was to meet a young man who had contacted me through this blog and asked me to introduce him to tenkara as he wanted to discover it because as he did tell me it was exactly the image he had of fly fishing. 

It was a pleasure for me to advise that angler who quickly showed good casting skills and also quickly got his first trout with tenkara.

Then I did join my friends in a cottage located in a place where we had a really spectacular view. My comrades were returning from a great session of successful fishing on a stream stretch located in the nearby village and so we were all in excellent mood and glad to meet each other after a year.

We spend a great evening in a spirit of sharing and exchange. After this first day we were tired and not long resisted the urge to jump into the arms of Morpheus. Personally after nine hours of driving and two hours of fishing I was literally washed away. The next morning we did wake up at dawn with the singing of a cuckoo, took a quick breakfast before heading down to the banks of the Tarn.

On this stretch the banks are very steep, the stream is narrow and it was for me a great time to discover it in tandem with my friend Edouard while Guilhem, Eric and Jean-Marc did fish an area downstream. The area we did explore is populated by wild and very discreet brown trout and it was a pleasure to make them bite some of our lures, seeing these trout rush to what they believe to be an insect landing on the water is a lot of fun. When two hours later we walked back towards our starting point we realized that we had not gone about three hundred meters upstream despite our climbing sessions. It was also an opportunity to observe under the bridge from where we observed a beautiful big trout in the tail of a current waiting for food from the upstream.

Back to our starting point we did find our friends who had also spent some time fishing on a downstream portion and we decided to have lunch before going to the Tarn river gorges.

The fishing in the early afternoon was difficult because of the wind rushing into the gorge, it was difficult to keep control of our lines, which is essential to success in tenkara but we had the chance to practice in beautiful surroundings and had no doubt about our ability to counter the difficulties. Edward was the first of us to deceive a trout.

The wind went down about four o'clock offering us two hours during which we will take a lot of trout.

We did fish successfully as we did take altitude. The latest waterfalls offered us a great show and then we arrived on the plateau where the Tarn flows between meadows and forests.

Arrived on the plateau we did fish a little bit and it was with surprise that I realized how much the trout differed from those caught in the gorges.

Delighted by this afternoon of fishing we decide to collapse  the rods and we were joined by Eric and Jean-Marc, who had fished earlier upstream on the plateau.

After this great day of fishing we returned to the cottage where we did spend a memorable evening.
The next day we went fishing a few miles away, on the Lot river, but the morning was very cold and very windy, making fishing very difficult although we had the opportunity to observe many trout on the spot where we were.

The sky cleared in the late morning and it is in the shade of a plane tree that we had lunch before being joined by several people with whom we did go fishing a few miles downstream on a beautiful catch and release area. We did make a tenkara fishing session there punctuated with nice catches. I will come back in a few weeks to tell more about this tenkara fishing session.

After three days spent together we separate, all happy to have shared our passion for tenkara we said: "See you next year!"