mercredi 17 mai 2017

Tenkara in Focus

For six months now John Pearson and Paul Gaskell regularly offer us a program called "Tenkara in Focus" which is very interesting because its contents come from the best Japanese sources. There is no other way to learn anything serious about tenkara than to be interested in its authentic techniques.

If the Discover Tenkara channel offers a program that is in itself very interesting John and Paul also offer excellent quality download contents and genuine mines of information for those who want to learn even more.

The latest installment is fully dedicated to Masami Sakakibara.


I have had the pleasure and the privilege of being taught Oni tenkara by Masami san and if he is known in the west for his long line casting it it is necessary not to make the error of not understanding that it is only one of the many aspects of what constitutes his own technique called Oni tenkara.

As I wrote many times on this blog what makes an excellent fisherman a tenkara master is not only his casting technique, although in the case of Masami san he brought it to a level unknown until then, but also the fishing techniques that he has developed from a rational observation of fish and their environment. Masami san's teaching is based on mutual observation between the teacher and his pupil. Masami san does not speak any foreign language but he is a very pedagogue and his pedagogical technique is excellent and effective. I have often wondered how Masami San would transmit his tenkara to us westerners if he spoke one of our languages and I am convinced he would do it the same way because it is simply the best.
The 51 minute video is very rich in information and the combination of fishing scenes of Masami san and the comments of John and Paul is perfect. It deserves to be watched several times because it contains so much information that you are not going to assimilate everything from the first viewing and it puts into perspective all the aspects of the tenkara of Masami san.


In addition to the video John and Paul also edited a 18 page PDF which is very well done because it explains the content of the video and if both media are available individually I encourage you to have both as they are complementary.

This documentary and the PDF are in my opinion the best possible basis for learning one of the most advanced tenkara techniques that has proven its effectiveness everywhere Masami san has been fishing in his life. For a very good price you have the opportunity to have at your disposal the best information available at the moment about tenkara.






mercredi 3 mai 2017

Since the tenkara season opening

It has been six weeks now that the trout season is open and I have not been fishing a lot because of the lack of time to dedicate and because the spring has not really settled in the area. If hawthorns and cherry trees whiten while anemones and daffodils flourish temperatures have remained really low.



 
Since the season opening the weather has been particularly dry and the small creeks have seen the water level significantly drop but low temperatures and strong winds do not encourage trout to activity. Fishing has been difficult but very interesting and very technical. 
A few weeks ago my friend and teacher Masami Sakakibara wrote this brief sentence which I think is a perfect summary of tenkara as a sport fishing: "The important thing is not the number of fish I take but how I catch them."
I have seen, as every year, gatherings of fishermen on the most easily accessible areas of certain rivers where the fishing associations put a large number of trout, salmo trutta stockus to be precise, and as every year they already evaporated leaving the field free for the better days to come.
If I have not been fishing a lot so far I have taken great pleasure and these few exits also offered me to harvest many feathers that will be very useful to me. But I will not deal with fly tying before the season ends.
I had been waiting for the long weekend of May 1st hoping for a truly springtime weather which I would enjoy on the banks of a stream but as a storm passed over the region it was not possible, I contented myself with an excellent reading on which I shall return in due time.
I wish each of you my fellow tenkara anglers to have a great trout fishing season! 


jeudi 16 mars 2017

Season opening 2017

As every year the final preparations for the trout season opening were made without eagerness on Friday night, the last thing I do after tying the last kebari and checking the contents of my bag is to print  my license.


I had tied some sakasa kebari a few days ago but I had to complete my box with models more suited to small streams that I fish at the season opening. The patterns are in fact the same but smaller in size and suitable for fishing in shallow water.
I also took a little bit of advance by tying the kebari that will fish in larger rivers where I will go fishing when the water level has dropped. For now they will remain in my box but no one knows if the heavy rains of the last few weeks may not occur again.


In the early evening I was ready, I had enough kebari to make the opening, I had printed my license which was duly stowed in my strap pack, my bag contained everything I could need during the day to come.  I was not worried about the state in which I was going to find the creek where I had planned to go for this opening day because I had made several visits there during the previous days and I knew that like many others it was in flood.


The long-awaited saturday  I did arrive shortly after eight o'clock on the banks of this brook, where I open the trout season every year. The weather was nice, the light was soft and the water looked a little less gray than the previous days. However, I did not start fishing when I arrived, I preferred to walk up the river until the temperature rises a little bit. 

Having reached a spot where I considered to be good, I did put my rod into action and began to fish. The high and cold water was not very favorable and I had to control the drift of my kebari to have a chance to make it pass into the holes where the trout hide under such circumstances. I had to ignore many spots because of the high water level but my efforts of accurate casts and controlled drifts were rewarded.


The important thing for me anyway for the opening is simply to be near a stream even if the conditions are horrible, like last year, and I can not fish at all. Of course it's even better when fishing is possible. I did catch a couple of beautiful brownies in the morning of this opening day and that is enough for my happiness.



I collapsed my rod back a little before noon, satisfied with the opening morning.
As every year I took the time to lunch near the river before turning back.
The season is just beginning and it has started well!








lundi 6 mars 2017

Still a few days to be ready...

We are only a few days away from the opening of the fishing so it is still time to prepare for the trout fishing season. As always I approach the preparations with calm and without haste because I know that whatever happens I will be ready. 
It has been raining a lot these last few days and there is a chance that it will continue, so it is at the last minute that streams and rivers that did not have a flood during autumn or winter will see their water levels rise. It is therefore useless to rush, since the opening will undoubtedly be symbolic and the fishing in itself reduced to the congruent portion.


I do not devote the winter to tying hundreds of flies like some people do first because I usually take only a very limited number with me when I go fishing and also because this will of compulsive accumulation does not seem to be a good idea. I prefer to tie only few flies, use them then if necessary to tie a series again. In any case, the only box I carry with me to the fishing can contain little more than two dozen.


So I started this morning by tying the large sakasa kebari for which I used cock and ringneck pheasant feathers. I had not used feathers from farm roosters instead of "fishing" roosters fir very long time, but a blog reader offered to provide me on condition of sharing the tied flies with him and it was a pleasure to accept.
Feathers from farm cocks have longer fibers and really softer fibers than those of the genetically selected roosters but since I intended to use them to tie sakasa kebari this is no problem, quite the opposite in fact.
I use the Oni hooks that were designed by Masami Sakakibara and manufactured by a famous Japanese firm, it starts with a "G", which is the world leader in the market. They are excellent quality and the four different sizes, from 8 to 14, cover my needs.


I will also of course use feathers from ringneck pheasant wings.
The dubbing used this year will be only three: zenmai, squirrel tinted in black and washed squirrel. Natural materials, inexpensive or even free, and which make solid kebari.


I will not use these kebari at the season opening.They are not suitable, because of their large size, to fishing in small streams. If I started with these patterns it is only because that they are the fastest to tie fast.
The sakasa kebari, especially if tied on large hooks, are mainly interesting flies for fishing downstream because it is the current that gives life to their soft hackle.  Function determines shape.













vendredi 23 décembre 2016

Interview with Adam Klags

I have never met Adam in person but we have many common connections in the Japanese tenkara community and I have been following this tenkara passionate's blog since the beginning. Tenkara is becoming more and more popular in the West and some people such as Adam, who transmits through his blog what he learns from Japan, is taking part in this growth. I have had the same approach with Tenkara Enso since the very beginning. Good reading!

Christophe: Hello Adam! How are you doing? We are friends on social network like a lot of us are in the worldwide tenkara community but we have never met so can you please introduce yourself?

Adam: Sure Christophe, thanks for having me for an interview! My name is Adam, but many people just call me Klags, my last name shortened. I have been an outdoor enthusiast since my first childhood memories. Currently I am a wholesale wine salesman in New York City for a fantastic importer/distributor of fine wines. I really love wine, but my passion is mostly the outdoors. While most people identify me by my job and career, I prefer to identify myself through my passions in life, like fishing, backpacking and beyond.

When I discovered tenkara thanks to Masami Sakakibara's videos and blog I decided to experiment tenkara first and it was so cool to finally discover the exact technique I had been waiting for so long that I decided to start a blog to share this experience and help other anglers to discover tenkara. You have been editing the "Of rock & riffle" blog since the end of 2014, how did you discover tenkara fishing? What is your background as an angler? Have you ever edited a blog before "Of rock & riffle"?

My background as an angler is mostly based on fly fishing. Of course as a young child I started fishing with a regular spin-casting setup. My first rod was a fisher price plastic kid's rod that I used to catch catfish and bass in our little country house pond in upstate New York. Soon I graduated to a nicer small stream and reel, but it wasn't long before I got into fly fishing.
I discovered fly fishing when I was about 12. The local shop wanted me to try it out, and I was immediately intrigued. My father bought me a beginner's fly fishing kit from Redington and a very basic fly tying kit from Orvis, and I was hooked!
I spent a few years exploring the Croton watershed in New York by bike as a young teenager, and began to bring my fly rod along more and more often. Soon I managed to get a pair of waders gifted to me, and then I was truly able to embrace fly fishing...But it wasn't until I started worrying about my pack weight for backpacking that I found tenkara. I was looking at Backpackinglight.com for information on gear and ways to reduce the weight of my pack. I had a knee injury that was never really properly looked at and "fixed" and it had been bothering me on longer hikes. During one of those conversations, someone recommended I trade my western fly rod and reel for an ultralight backpacking "Hane" rod. I later found out that this rod was a sort of one-off collaboration between a newly minted Tenkara USA and Backpackinglight.com. 
I navigated to the TUSA website and bought an Iwana immediately. From then on I began to fish only tenkara, using it to truly learn how to fish, where I had never really quite understood it this way before. Tenkara became my portal into the world of successful fly fishing. Before tenkara I never understood why a floating line or sinking line mattered, why my tippet and leader were a certain length, what the strengths of a short and long rod were, where the fish were living and eating, and most importantly, how to catch them!
I realized that instead of throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what stuck, I could just cast to specific places and drift my fly in certains ways, and then catch fish!
Since then I have tried many styles of rods, learned about Keiryu fishing and finally re-focused in on Japanese style tenkara, or tenkara by its actual definition. What a fun trip it's been getting to this point!
Around 2012 I discovered a blog called "Small Streams Reflections" which was (and still is) published by Alan Petrucci of Connecticut, USA. In many ways, he is my inspiration for my blog. In 2013 I started engaging with the blog and in 2014 I decided to start my own "tenkara version" of a small stream fishing blog, and "Of rock & riffle" was born.

Originally I just wanted a place to keep an electronic journal for myself, organizing my photos and experiences online instead of on paper. However it appeared that people found the blog and began to read it, so I kept going. Its a lot of fun writing and posting about these adventures, but it is even better to be able to share them this way with other people. This was my first experience blogging or editing a blog, and it felt really natural to me from day one.

When most non-American people think about fishing in the United States they think about Colorado, Utah, or Montana but only a handful would think about New-York but it seems to be an error as a kind of tenors community has emerged in the New-York state. Can you please introduce us to the the New-York tenkara community?

You really hit an interesting point here, Christophe! Its true. Most people think of these expansive states out West, like Wyoming, Montana or Colorado. And for good reason! The number of fish per mile in those rivers, and the abundance of clean, clear, high-mountain, glacial-melt water creates an extremely ideal food supply and healthy living situation for cuntless numbers of fish...and many big ones too!
However, New York is the birth place of dry fly fishing. The Catskill mountains , just a couple of hours from almost any location within NYC is a true fly fishing gem. While there are no glaciers or snow-cappedpeaks to melt out year-round, there are many springs and aquifers that bring cold, clean water to the surface, creating an abondance of both hidden overgrown spring-creeks, and tumbling mountain creeks that hold wild brook trout, as well as some brown and rainbow trout where the State stocks them. The key here is the brook trout, which are native of the East Coast, and which are in such danger of being wiped off the earth from modern development, pollution and careless actions on our behalf.
These creeks, as well as a few main rivers like the Beaverkill, both branches of the Delaware, the Willowemoc, and others help to boster the scene here with opportunities of bigger fish, deeper water, and more lively insect hatch cycles. These rivers have helped to define not just fly fishing in New York, but fly fishing around the world. There's a lot of history to learn about the region, but the Catskill's claim to fame is that the dry fly fishing was created here. I won't waste pages of text here telling these stories but I recommend you read one of the many books published about the topic. What you will discover is that essentially the East coast, not the West Coast, is where fly fishing took off, and NY is where it was born.
Beyond the Catskills, NY state has tons of great fishing that is both overlooked, and over-crowded! The Adirondack mountains were once populated with more trout than the Catskills but we quickly destroyed their environment with the industrial revolution. It wasn't until well after 1990 and the "clean air act" that we finally were to help bring fish back. Today there is finally the first stages of recovery under way. Meanwhile, the large rivers of that region are stocked and full of holdover brown trout of 12-21 inches, as well as some wild brookies, and stocked rainbows.
Additionally, NY state has a large population of salmon that swim up from the lakes and into the rivers in the nothwest of the state each fall and spring. These rivers are mostly not textbook tenkara water, although there are a few of those mixed in too. The salmon run is extremely popular fishing, and is often way too crowded for me to want to partake. I have tried this a few times and it really is fun but its not the kind of fishing I enjoy.
Basically what you will find in NY is many of the same things you find in those other states...just shorter mountains, less wilderness, more population of people, and less fish. I wouldn't trade it for anything else though, there's something special about NY that these other states don't have. Or maybe that's just the New Yorker in my talking? ;)


Thank you for making this portrait of the New York area as a potentially great tenkara fishing area. It is really more interesting than the usual cliché such as the average "Big Apple", "concrete jungle" and the likes! Your passion for tenkara has brought you, like some of us in the West, to travel abroad and meet foreign tenkara communities. You have visited some tenkara tribes in Italy and Japan so my question is this one: Have you ever imagined traveling so far to meet other anglers? And most importantly, how is it important for you to involve in this kind of experience?
That's a good question...first off, no I never imagined I would travel to meet other anglers around the world like I've done over the last few years. I actuelly didn't used to like traveling. I found it to be exhausting, expensive and time consuming. The real issue was that I just didn't like traveling on other people's time restrictions and plans. I'm not very good at pretending to enjoy things I don't really like to do...and for many years I just ignored traveling because my first impressions were not really helping to make travel appealing. However, more recently, I discovered some better motion sickness medications and began to travel on my own. Making my own choices about where to go and when was really the key...it changed the entire experience from feeling dragged around tourist attractions and never really experiencing anything on personal level, to being able to immerise myself in the travel experience and really enjoy it. I realized that I liked fishing, why the heck would I travel to Paris and walk around museums when all I would be thinking about is the river and the mountains? A lightbulb lit up in my mind and I realized I just needed to do the things I do here in other countries. After that I just started doing it...its not really hard. I connected with the people I found and in some cases already knew online, and plans came together. I wrote about this for an article in Tenkara Angler magazine in more detail, and I think that might do a better job of really getting into the details. To summarize...just go do it. You won't regret it.
In terms of how it affected my tenkara exprience, well, that may be even harder to sum up in an interview but I will say this: perspective is everything. It's one thing to sit in front of a computer and see people's comments online, read their articles, watch their videos and try to make decisions about rods, how to fish, what fly to use, which line, etc. But that is totally without value if you don't go out there and really truly learn about WHY these different things matter. And you cannot do that without other perspectives and other people to show you things that they do, things they do not do, and WHY they do or do not do those things. Then you will be informed enough to make decisions and to develop you own styles, patterns and ways of fishing, if you will. The key is to educate oneself. To listen to other perspectives. Learn definitions. Apply that to what you do now. All of this helps to alter perspective. Once you understand other perspectives, it can help you develop your own.
Traveling to Japan for tenkara was really the peak of all of this for me because it helped me create more context and a better perspective. Talking about that what want to be " real" or think lmight be "correct" online does have some value, but its not based on logic and personal experience alone. You must seek to understand the history, the culture, the whole context if you are to truly understand tenkara. Tenkara is Japanese, it is not American. It has a definition and much cultural history behind it. Understanding and accepting that is the first step to becoming an effective and informed tenkara angler.

I have recently read the reports that you have shared about your second trip to Japan during which you have met Yuzo Sebata. I have been lucky to meet him as well and I have been really impressed by this man; he is a living legend in tenkara fishing as well as shower climibing, he is a prized author, a famous sansai cook but still the most humble man I probably ever encountered. How do you think your encountering with Sebata-san, and his community, may influence your tenkara experience? Sebata-san has his own fishing technique, developed from the Nikko Tenkara technique, but he also has a philosophy about relationship with nature, minimalism; what aspect of Sebata-san is according to you the most influential?

Where to begin with this one...it's almost difficult. Sebata-san was a truly interesting and wonderful man. I feel I barely got to know him in our short time together and look forward to hopefully visiting him again and learning more. He is a gentle and deliberate man who brings people together with his generosity and spirit.
I really liked hearing about some of the wild plants he had picked to serve us, as well as the mushrooms. I like to look for wild mushrooms too, and I'm still learning how to identify most varieties myself. Sebata-san had some wonderful milky-caps and some other wild mushrooms he found. Those were sautéed. The next evening he made some Maitake tempura that I believe Keiichi-san had found, and it was incredibly good. I line in NYC, and it's not like I haven't has these things before. As a wine salesman I'm lucky enough to be at some of the finer restaurants in the cities around the world and so I hope that people can appreciate it when I say this was one of the best maitake tempura's I've ever had in my life. I'm sure part of it was the location and the experience, but that's what good food is all about, really.
One of the most fun moments for me was late at night on the last night, when everyone was gathered at Tadami Bansho around Sebata-san, watching his old videos on VHS video format. I watched the videos but I also tried to watch Sebata-san as well. It was a joy to get to see him re-living those adventures with us in that room. I felt like it was a very special moment.
Sebata-san has so much knowldege about fishing, but I think the thing that makes me so in awe of him is his abilities navigating the steep gorges and raging rivers in the high mountains with so little. I don't know that its so much about intended minimalism vs what is just the way to be that made sense to a keen adventuring mind such as Sebata-san's, because I did not get to discuss it with him. I hope to do that in the future. But I can't say enough how impressed I was in the way he moved and the methods he used.
At one point we watched intently on the small TV screen as he swam across a turbid pool of rapids, somehow finding the slower moving line of water and almost drifting his way across with his hat bobbing just above the surface. Another moment, we watched him tie a rope around a rock and toss it into the rapids, catching it on the far side of another rock, locking it into place with both the weight of the rock and the strength of the flowing water, then using this rope to cross some rapids between a couple of waterfalls. Wow! Throughout all of this Sebata-san would be climbing these steep and seemingly inaccessible gorges with just his pack, some rice, basic fishing gear and a rope and a will to explore.
I was also in awe to learn about this method of Genryu (headwaters) fishing that he pretty much created in which the fisherman climbs up one Genryu, over the top of the mountain it flows form, and then down the other side, then fishing down and descending the headwaters of the river valley below. The word "epic" comes to mind watching these videos and thinking about what those trips must have been like. I'm looking forward to seeing those videos released to the rest of the world in some modern formats soon.
So why do I bring all of this up to answer the question? Because all of this has influenced me a great deal in my understanding of different tenkara anglers and their styles and equipment, as well as having influenced my thinking about how to push my own tenkara and exploration to the next level.


Tenkara fishing is all about technique, the people we call "tenkara masters" such as Sebata-san, Masami Sakakibara, Dr. Hisao Ishigaki or Hiromichi Fuji are the ones who have developed their own techniques and the fishing tackle to practise these techniques so as you perhaps guess I would like you to tell us what is your favorite technique and gear. Is it a goal for you to fish in you own way?

Tenkara has existed for generations. Recently I've noticed a somewhat disturbing side-trend in American and other foreign Tenkara enthusiasts groups. I've noticed that people everywhere are starting to use the word "tenkara" to refer to all fixed line angling, for any kind of fish. While there's nothing wrong with fishing whatever you'd like to catch with a tenkara rod that is absolutely not "tenkara". Tenkara is fishing for trout only, in tumbling mountain streams that run cold and clear.
The reason I bring that definition and distinction up is because you would never learn to fish tenkara for bass from a Japanese tenkara angler or "master". Why? Because there are already other rods, other styles, other tackles for bass. Tenkara is its own thing with its own place in history. For that very reason, I do not value "my own" style of fishing, at least not yet.
Six years may be a long time to some, but to me, that's nothing in terms of tenkara's history. Six years of part time study with the Japanese methods doesn't give an angler the knowledge and understanding of tenkara on a level high enough to teach much, in my humble opinion. So until I have been able to learn and master the styles of other lifetime tenkara anglers from Japan, or "masters" as we often call them, no, I will not value my own way of fishing tenkara.
Now that I've said that, I think it's fair to point out that I am confident in the way that I fish, in my abilities to find fish, present flies and see the takes that follow...but I would never let that confidence turn to overconfidence or ignorance. I will always see Tenkara as someone else's style that I learned, and I'd find it difficult to imagine that an average angler like me would have much to add to tenkara's style and already existing methods. Maybe I'll end up being wrong, but I don't think so.
Another reason I bring this all up is because I would hope it would serve as a lesson to other beginner Tenkara anglers. Spend some time reading about the history. Understand the styles ans the cultures that tenkara is built around. Respect its definition even if you intend to fish for other species with your tenkara rod. Respect where tenkara comes from, and the people who brought it to us. Respect yourself by being open minded to learning about these truths before going out and doing your own thing. If you do, then whatever your own thing is will be all that much more rewarding for you later on.
Now back to the easier part of the question: gear! My favorite tenkara rods are always full flex rods, such as Oni Type III and the Shimano ZL Keiryu-Tenkara. My favorite flies tend to be simple soft of stiff hackled wet flies in th eold school fashion...spiders or kebari, depending on how they are tied. My favorite lines are always level lines, as Japanese fishing methods never allow for any line on the water. I usually carry a Mankyu net, a Zimmerbuilt guide sling pack, a knife ans as little extra gear as possible. For wading I'm only in waders during the winter, using typical Japanese wet wading gear, and being sure no to step into the water unless I absolutely have to.


Thank you for these very interesting answers about your perspective on tenkara! I have noticed that tenkara passionates, the ones one can probably call the "diehard", have also other hobbies to which they are totally devoted and have been pioneering like BMX, skateboarding, hand gliding, etc. Have you other hobbies than tenkara?
I do, yes. I really enjoy hiking and backpacking, which is really what brought me to tenkara in the first place. I tend to spend a lot of time in the Adirondack mountains in NY, and I really love the White Mountains as well. I'll be hitting a number of new places next year so you can expect a lot more from me then! While I'm out fishing and hiking I tend to look for mushrooms too but I only know how to ID a fe varieties at the moment.
I also like mountain bike although I haven't been doing this very much since I moved to the city six years ago. I hope to get a chance to spend more time riding again because I used to really enjoy it. I remember when I used to go out even in the cold winter, much like I still do with fishing, and ride my bike down some really gnarly trails in Peekskill and all around upstate. In the summer I would train with time trials in our local mountain biking park and I even took a trip out to Utah to ride in Moab, Zion, Salta, Fruita, Park City/Deer Valley and many more amazing places. It was quite an experience, and I hope to return to some of these places to ride again.
I guess it would make sense for me to mention how much I enjoy drinking Chinese teas as well. It is a pretty daily habit more than a hobby, but finding tea is a hobby in and of itself. I have a whole setup with a gaiwan, a tea table and a few cups that I bought from different places around the world. Tea is calming, healthy and the process itself is very meditative and soothing.
Finally, my work is wine...so I would be totally off base to leave that out. While work has in some ways tempered my passion for wine, it still intrigues me and keeps my interest, and I enjoy opening a few bottles with good company or having a glass while I tie some flies.

Thank you for answering my questions Adam! Feel free to conclude as you like.

It's been great to have a chance to do this with you, as I've been reading your blog and following your adventures for a while too! You know, something that means a lot to me right is the idea of really understanding tenkara and what defines it. I think that in all the international excitement about this new sport being introduced around the world, somehow the original styles and message maybe have been lost in marketing somewhere along the way.
I have been focusing a lot on trying to re-connect with what that definition of tenkara is, since my first trip to Japan two years ago. We got tenkara from Japan. It didn't come from the USA where we now make mostly stiffer rods that don't flex very much like most tenkara rods do. Companies in the West don't have tenkara mandrels to study the taper of, or to experiment with by wrapping with different thicknesses and weaves of carbon fiber on them, before releasing rods that are touted as the next best thing...it seems that most of the companies making rods in the western world right now are just not really basing them on anything in terms of tenkara, and I's like to see that change. You can't design something if you don't know what the end goal of the design is supposed to be, can you? It's just mind boggling how we have this knowledge available to us and yet many don't choose to engage.
Much of what people think they will be doing for the first time here, they will have to discover on their own, has been done already in Japan. Before we as active members of this niche sport of tenkara, attempt to change the sport and its definition, we must first become experts, or masters, if you will, of the knowledge that already exists. We must resist the urge to be ignorant westerners and to just decide to things "as we please". It's not the right way to think. Tenkara is a name for a sport that is a niche within a niche. Trying to define tenkara as " whatever you want it to be" is not only incorrect for tenkara, it is disrespectful to the Japanese who created these techniques and serves only to damage the effort and time spent by the masters in creating this niche sport.

Hope to see you in the states for some fishing!








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.