lundi 23 avril 2018

Spring tenkara

Since the opening of the trout season last month the weather has been so bad that I have not been able to go fishing once; most streams having seen their waters become strongly tainted. However, I have seen many fishermen strive on several streams throughout the month, surely those people who want to "profitable" their fishing licence by filling their freezer of these famous "farm" trout. Fortunately last week we finally saw spring conditions settle.

Finally blue in the sky and white, pink, yellow, purple on the banks! And the madness of the flying fauna of the undergrowth. Spring has finally begun!

I started fishing a little upstream from where I stopped at the opening. An interesting place, narrow and crowded where the discretion and the casting precision are imperative for the angler who does not want to spend his time to unhook his kebari from branches and brambles and who wants to make visit his tamo to a trout.

The casting accuracy is, any serious trout anglers knows this, one of the most important factors in the success of trout fishing. I take very few kebari with me and if I lose them in the trees or brambles I just have to turn around and go back home. My friend Adam Trahan has written an excellent article on the topic and let us not forget that our kebari will be seen in movement by animals which surely do not have the same view as human beings.

I fished with the same gear at the opening, ie a Nissin Kawashi 320 rod and a Oni-ryu 号2.5 level line. The conditions being ideal during the two mornings of this weekend the trout responded favorably to my requests.

I did take full advantage of it and I was always completely absorbed in my fishing and during these two mornings I made the same mistake and every morning around 10:30 I left this narrow and shadowed area to reach a place where the stream widens and it was the end of my fishing trip.

I took one last trout under the drooping branches of a boxwood, which formed a shelter against the bank, once this trout had returned to its element, I did collapse my rod and left. The temperature had risen and the trout were no longer as cooperative as those in the shaded areas.

But I did not regret leaving because I had spent two very beautiful spring mornings.

lundi 2 avril 2018

2018 Trout season opening

Like every year I did not miss the ritual of the trout season opening although this year I thought that for once I was going to miss it because the winter was particularly rainy and some days before the fateful date the state of many of the creeks in the area was really bad, all had high water level and a pretty disgusting dark stain. Fortunately we were like all the France affected by the cold wave which caused the stop of the rain and consequently a rather fast decrease of the level of the water as I noticed it a few days before the opening on the occasion of a walk on the banks of the stream on which I open the trout season every year.

I devoted a single evening to prepare the season opening because I had actually prepared everything several months ago ; it was more a kind of detailed review of my equipment. Knowing that I would fish only drowned in this period of opening I packed my box only a few kebari for this purpose.

The smallest is none other than a refined version of my faithful Yamato kebari that has been following me everywhere since my trip to Japan and I do not regret it, on the contrary because it made me catch trout everywhere. From Itoshiro to Vercors through Ardèche and Normandy. True to the job! The largest, only a little larger, is made of zenmai and a hen chicken feather.

I decided to skip the first mile of the stream to get close to the place where every year I have lunch on the season opening day, the area where the creek runs in the narrowest part of its valley where I hoped to be somewhat sheltered from the icy wind that had swept the region for several days.

As last year the fishing was not easy, I tried all the spots where I have already taken trout in the past without achieving the desired result and it is finally in a corner where I have never seen or caught a trout that I finally had success. 

This trout gone back in its element I did put my line back on a card and collapsed the rod, it was already noon, the hour of the traditional season opening lunch. The wind was still very present but the sky was clear, it was the good moment to enjoy some ramen and a tasty beer!

I went back down the stream without seeing anyone, or even hearing anything but the sound of the wind. Since this opening morning the weather has been constantly bad, the streams have returned to winter conditions and I did not go fishing.

jeudi 8 février 2018

Interview with Adam Trahan

 In my tenkara experience I have been lucky to encounter some of the most eminent teachers in Japan and also a handful of the best ambassadors in the west. Adam Trahan has made for several years a great work in studying the tenkara techniques and history and he has made a great job in sharing his knowledge through his Tenkara Fisher Forum that has now become a blog.
I have known him through social media for several years and I have always appreciated his viewpoint about tenkara so it is a great pleasure for me today to publish his interview on my own blogs.

Christophe: Hello Adam! Many people in the tenkara community know you as you managed the Tenkara-Fisher Forum which was one of the very first website in the west dedicated to tenkara but as in the whole internet universe very few of us have ever met you in real life. Can you please introduce yourself? 

AdamI started fishing as a young child, my Grandfather, who didn’t like fishing, taught me with a cane pole. He knew that a young boy needed to know how to fish. This is the reason why I look at fishing with a pragmatic view. I’ve always fished my whole life also doing many other exciting sports along with having an interesting and intense career path. 

In 1995, two things happened that would alter the course of my life. I quit cross country hang gliding and I started creating a web site on small stream fly fishing. I used my love of fishing small streams to ignore the call of the sky. I dove into creating the best web site on this type of fishing with the help of many great anglers. My story of helping tenkara along comes from this same desire. 

Christophe: I have discovered tenkara through the Youtube videos of Masami Sakakibara and it was a kind of revelation. I realised quite fast that tenkara was exactly the fishing technique that was really what I was looking for. How did you discover tenkara and what was your reaction then?

Adam:I knew about tenkara long before most of the people in America but that is not when I discovered tenkara. About the same time I began writing my web site on fly fishing small streams, Yoshikazu Fujioka started to make his. He and I began our online friendship then. Fujioka-san is a fly fisher that also does tenkara but his site started with fly fishing his favorite small streams. 

I learned about fly fishing as a boy of about 10, it was really simple for me, not the simple of today’s tenkara, simple in that I was not taught to shoot a line. I wasn’t given instruction so I just gripped the line in my hand and fished with the line about as long as the rod. That pragmatic approach to fishing is what I used to teach myself fly fishing as a boy. 

When I quit hang gliding, I was learning as an adult all the aspects of fly fishing, to really wring out the performance of a fly rod. I was learning about entomology, the history of fly fishing, about bamboo fly rods but focused on small streams as Fujioka-san was. 

In 2009, I was deep into making bamboo fly rods. I I was learning from some of the best modern makers through another web site I created, I was looking for a recipe for a long rod that I could create to fish like I did when I was a child. Tom Smithwick, a fellow bamboo fly rod maker suggested that I contact Daniel Galhardo. He was selling tenkara rods. So I called him and he set me up with an Ebisu. 

I found out about Masami and Ishigaki-sensei through Daniel but in my own research online, I found out about Kazuya Shimoda. He is a genryu tenkara angler and he produced many videos on tenkara. So I began to follow him as well as the people Daniel was introducing tenkara outside of Japan. 

I knew about tenkara, genryu and sawanobori 23 years ago but it wasn’t until I got my own rod that I understood the precise performance in a short range tenkara rod. 

Christophe: You have traveled to Japan to meet Masami Sakakibara and Yuzo Sebata as well as their own "tenkara tribe"; how do you think these journeys have influenced you in your tenkara experience? Do you think that the people in western countries will ever be able to reach such a level of involvement in their own tenkara community? And also asuch a deep understanding of what tenkara can be for some people such Masami Sakakibara, Yuzo Sebata, Hisao Ishigaki and the generation that follows them. From my own experience I think that it will only exist on a very small scale gathering only the passionate tenkara anglers who will not jump in the wagon of the next fad in fly fishing world.

Adam: To answer your question quickly but with meaning, I learn about the Japanese people and their culture more than anything else when I travel to Japan. For me, Japan and the tenkara anglers there will always be a part of my tenkara. 

With all due respect to all my friends and acquaintences, tenkara is now outside of Japan and the same passion can be found in France, Italy, America or South Africa. There are other countries too, passionate ambassadors. Tenkara is growing outside of Japan with the help of a lot of people around the globe. 

Perhaps they will find their way to the Japanese mountains and the anglers there as you and I have and to the mountain streams in their own country. 

ChristopheI am also a fishing gear minimalist and it does not only make my tenkara better, it also allows to carry some other kind of gear such as a camping stove, a reflex camera, a bottle of good beer. This equipment is useful to prepare a lunch break and also taking pictures of animals, mushrooms, etc.

What is the typical non fishing gear you carry on a tenkara fishing trip?

Adam: I have a few “types” of tenkara fishing trips that I take. 

It’s important to remember that tenkara, not the fishing method but the look at why tenkara is so appealing, this simple approach, the minimalism works in many different areas of life. Because I live in a city, the areas where I fish are diverse and the types of trips I take are also varied. 

For fishing the local ponds during the winter in my city, I take only my fishing gear. 

When I travel by car to the streams in our state, if I do a day trip, I often only take my fishing gear if I am only fishing less than two or less miles of stream. I might take a repurposed PTE bottlefor water and a knife. 

For a day trip, I might take a daypack or a sling bag and in that, I might take a stove, cook pot, a repurposed PTE bottle of water, ramen, my little emergency essentials ditty bag, a sit pad and my Sake flask. 

For a camping overnight trip, I will take my pyramid style tent with netting, a efficient sleep pad, my quilt, dehydrated meals, stove or lightweight grill, a small folding saw, a lightweight “sink” for clean up and fire dousing, a micro table, a small headlamp, and a few personal effects as well as stuffable down puffy jacket.When I travel by plane to a destination, my gear is not the same as my camping gear. I do not want to appear as a camper in my destination city. I use gear that is designed for multi-purpose. I use a backpack that has no outside pockets, it is easy to stuff into an overhead bin or under a seat. It is maximum legal airline carry on, I do not check my baggage. So my backpack is airline friendly in that it has handles on each side and the comfortable straps are stowable. My pants have a durable water repellant finish and do not hold water or odors. I use merino wool, performance clothes that can go a few days without looking dirty or worn. If I am camping, I use the tent, pad and quilt, the same utilities for eating. My tenkara gear changes once I get on a plane, I use very compact rods so that I can put them inside my bag and forget them until I am fishing. 

I’ve learned very much about what I don’t need with a minimalist view that I found out about from learning tenkara. 

Christophe: In your tenkara experience you have tested a whole lot of gear as some of us also have; do you think that it has brought you what you were looking for?  What is your favorite tenkara gear set today?

Adam: For a while, I made it a purpose to learn the different tenkara experts style by using their rods and setting them up the way they used them. Rods by Masami Sakakibara, Hisao Ishigaki and Yuzo Sebata.

My “work rods” are the Ito from Tenkara USA, that and the Sato gets used hard. The Rhodo is a tight quarters casting rod that I beat against the trees, that is a really well thought out rod. I use these because they are rods from a friend and from the company I learned tenkara with. They are also the rods I suggest to new tenkara anglers.

Sometimes I use my Sakura Sekirei because it has been around for a long time and is my first rod from Japan and excellent quality. I really like it.

Christophe: I have seen your reports on your blog and I had not imagined this state had these beautiful mountain meadows and forests, what is tenkara fishing like in Arizona?

Adam: Arizona has a stigma for being a desert. The Grand Canyon, spaghetti westerns, media associates Arizona with cactus and deserts. The thing of Arizona, we have mountains and snow! Our highest mountain is nearly 13,000’ and we have several mountain ranges above 7,000’ and a great portion of the state is above 5,000’ which is about the elevation that sustains a cold water trout stream. We have the largest ponderosa pine forest in the country! Our forests are varied, blue spruce, aspens, all kinds of trees and we even have a world famous for fly fishing tailwater river that carves canyons through solid rock, Lees Ferry in Marble Canyon, part of the Grand Canyon complex of the Colorado River!If you don’t mind, I would like to back up a little. I learned about the *Rosgen Stream Classification System decades ago. It is a system that classifies the different types of streams. In fly fishing and tenkara, there are many enthusiasts that struggle to understand stream types so I use the Rosgen system, it seems to work pretty well.

Some of my favorite alpine streams are in meadows high on a mountain. These high mountain flat bottom valleys promote tiny streams that meander slowly winding back and forth on itself. Sometimes changing course completely over the course of a season. These streams are just a few feet wide and half as deep. Undercut banks with grass lining the stream. These streams go through open areas and then get pinched off by the steep sided valley, drop in elevation in these pinches then open up again.

Typically, these streams breed trout (brook or brown) that were planted long ago. The game and fish organization often changes the population of a stream to meet the needs of their studies. Lately there have been efforts to grow the population of our native species, the Apache and Gila trout which are not my favorite. My favorite being brook trout, the reason being, they refuse to live in ugly places.

Oak Creek, one of my favorites is managed as a put and take rainbow trout fishery. It is a stream that I have been fishing for about 50 years off and on. It runs through Sedona, red rock country and I can get there in about an hour and a half. If it is 115 degrees in Phoenix where I live, I can drive up before the sun rises and bask in the 50 degrees of the deep canyon, catching the wild brown trout to 20+” and then turn around and be back home by early afternoon. I do this a few times over the course of the year, it’s one of my home streams and if I am catching the browns there, I’m doing well. I have helped many people through to the next level in their fishing by showing them the gentle and generous side of Oak Creek.

20 years ago I went through a decade of explore the high mountain streams phase that took long drives and then long hikes to get through. Secret streams that weren’t so secret, a fly fishing snob I was, knowing I held the key to being a expert. It’s so funny, I now fish the stocked ponds in Phoenix in the winter! Sometimes those damn fish have beat me! I drive 10 minutes a couple of times a week and chase these hatchery trout, some of them very big. I love fishing now, more than ever and I’m not beyond that scenario for fishing with a good friend or teaching a new angler.

Arizona has wonderful fishing opportunities year round. Cold water, warm water, 3.5 hours south we have the Sea of Cortez, a world class salt water fishery. We have fishing, you just need to use the windshield time in your car to realize it.f trees and we even have a world famous tailwater river that carves canyons through solid rock, the Grand Canyon! 

Christophe': Do you plan to travel to other places than Japan in the future for your tenkara experience? I know that you are a wine amateur, especially Bourgogne wines, so perhaps you would appreciate to discover France for its trout streams and of course the gastronomy? Or perhaps Italy and the people who keep the legacy of valsesiana style of fishing alive? 

Adam: I do. 

I’ve been to Japan three times now, twice for fishing, my funds are limited for travel and a big trip like this is years in the planning for me. I do have plans to return but not as I have done in the past. I really want to visit Yoshikazu Fujioka and Yoshida Takashi and go through his day one school. He is responsible for many many people learning tenkara in Japan and his voice is largely missing here. The same with Kazuya Shimoda, I would really like to visit him too. I love visiting Japan but it is difficult as I have friends all over and I want the experience of visiting the big circle of friends, not just the same ones over and over. With respect, I like the community aspect, not just one single group, all of my friends there, I want to visit. My style of Japanese tenkara is not one group, it is community, a broad range of styles have influenced me, not just one group. 

I was invited to go to South Africa to give a talk to an old club there when I was fishing small streams with a fly rod. I kick myself for not taking that offer up. I want to go to South Africa like nobodys business. The quality of streams is outstanding there, the community is old, focused and keen. I have friends there and helped get tenkara started in this country. I will go there in some fishing and tourist capacity one day. I’m going to do it, I missed my first chance but I will make that up. 

I would be careful how you approach me about visiting France. This is how my trips start, with a mention in a conversation, that spark grows into a fire that burns hot inside of me. Yes, you know I love Jadot and yes, I want to visit France, those those mountain towns where many of the dreams you see in crazy sports are being lived by focused extreme athletes. It is my TARGET for the next adventure. Are you inviting me? 

Christophe': Tenkara has been spreading in the west since 2009 and now there are tenkara anglers in real unexpected places such as Brazil, Iran, Israel, Morocco, South Africa (and many others) but tenkara remains a controversial topic in the fishing galaxy. 

What is your idea of the development of tenkara in the future? 

Adam: Good question Christophe’ 

As you know, I enjoy creating these interviews such as yourself. I create them just as much for myself, to learn from my subject and I share them if people what to read them. 

In 2012, I interviewed Masami Sakakibara just as I interviewed you in 2015. I ask questions that I want to know about so that I learn and share with whoever wants to learn with me. I asked Masami what his definition of tenkara is and he responded with the following. 
Masami Tenkarano-oni Sakakibara: I think Tenkara is about fishing in the beautiful mountain stream of Japan, for our beautiful native trout which inhabit them. Yet today, Tenkara seems to have spread to the US, Europe and more. I’m sure that they too have beautiful rivers and streams, with beautiful trout or other fish which inhabit them. Hence once Tenkara has left Japan, or it enters another country and culture, people who pick up a Tenkara rod there have the right and obligation to decide what Tenkara is for them. It is certainly not for me to decide.
I’m an American living in the Southwest portion of the USA. Although I travel to Japan and I practice tenkara, which I call Japanese style fly fishing out of respect to the Japanese and their contribution to the whole of fly fishing, I am not authentic. 

Unless I live in Japan and fish the streams there with a rod, line and fly, I’m just doing it my way. 

That’s what I love about tenkara, it is a simple but effective form of fly fishing. This is also why I say that “tenkara is easy to learn, hard to master and fly fishing is hard to learn, easy to master.” 

Tenkara is outside of Japan. 

Consumerism is part of the Japanese and American society. Marketing is part of the tenkara fishing community. For my example, I learned about tenkara from Tenkara USA. This new form of fishing fit perfectly into the evolution of my fishing. As a fisherman, already I was developing interest in the method that Yvon Chouinard has made popular now, “simple fly fishing” and I wrote about that long before the marketing that Yvon and Patagonia have used in bringing their rods to market. This simple fly fishing was what I was doing on small streams only, not in the ocean and certainly not on tailwaters. 

Daniel Galhardo is a kind and gentle person and his marketing techniques are oddly brilliant. He shows you in his way what tenkara is with a soft touch and an aesthetic that is what what I want in my fishing. He also educates anglers on the background of tenkara through the voices of the Japanese anglers sharing their methods. Daniel’s demeanor in sharing tenkara is kind, softspoken and he creates a gentle community, perfect for learning tenkara. 

Recently I have experience the wrath of tenkara marketing and I if I was mean or hateful, I would expose it here but I am not. I know that I have a tendency to overthink and I am human and often make mistakes. So I will not write about what I think is wrong, I’ll keep centered on what is right. 

Unless you are Japanese, practicing tenkara with a rod, line and fly, catching fish and selling them, you are not doing authentic tenkara. In my understanding from Japanese anglers, journalists, enthusiasts, books and media, this is where tenkara was formulated. Everything after that is an interpretation, even in Japan. In Japan, the tenkara community is a small portion of the whole of fly fishing there. In the Japanese fishing community, there is a western influence just as there is a Japanese influence on tenkara as it is practiced outside of Japan. 

When a person picks up a tenkara rod, line and fly outside of Japan, it is his or her decision on how to practice it, NO ONE ELSE. It’s a choice. My choice is my way, as an American, sharing and supporting tenkara in the fashion that you read here. It is your choice to do it as you please. It is your decision where to get your information, it is your decision on how to practice it. In no way do I want to place my own “spin” on tenkara. That’s why I quit fly fishing, I didn’t want tenkara to be “simple fly fishing” for me, and that is what it is to some and I respect that. To me, tenkara is mountain stream fishing for trout, I also use it for still waters for trout and down in the cities and desert areas I use it for trout in season and panfish out of season. 

This is the tenkara I practice. From my understanding, from traveling to Japan, interviewing tenkara anglers from all over Japan, not just one area, I’m getting a good version of it and I’ve developed my own practice of it from this method of self teaching. I promote Tenkara USA as the equipment and education for people that I teach because from day one, Daniel Galhardo got it right. His methods have created a very kind and gentle community which I find appealing. If someone wants a Japanese rod, I will help them with one from Sakura, the old rod shop and brand that has supported tenkara in Japan from day one. They chose me to help them promote their craft outside of Japan. Sakura rods are one of the oldest tenkara brands in Japan and I am proud to be a part of them as an ambassador to that brand. I sold many early adopters of tenkara back in 2010 on, their first Japanese rod. 

If someone wants another Japanese tenkara rod, I suggest they visit Keiichi Okushi of Tenkaraya. He is a life long genryu angler and knows all the equipment and techniques from Japan. He approached me to help him with his shop which on it’s own was one of the highlights of my tenkara. That and getting my first rod from Tenkara USA, meeting many of the Japanese teachers and being invited to fish many of the central mountain areas of Japan. 

So my idea of the development of tenkara in the future has not changed since day one because tenkara in Japan has changed very little. But once tenkara leaves Japan, as Masami has said, it is up to the person practicing it to do it as he or she pleases. 

With the help of tenkara ambassadors such as yourself, Isaac Tait and other kind people above as I mention, tenkara will live as a gentle way to explore the waters we enjoy. There are many others that promote tenkara that are kind and gentle, too many to put into this interview which has already very long. 

Christophe: Thank you very much Adam for your very interesting points of view about everything Tenkara; you are one of the most passionate Tenkara ambassador out there. I let you the freedom to conclude this interview the way you will. 

Adam: The pleasure is mine Christophe. If you choose to visit my area, you are welcome in my home.

I want you to know that I have enjoyed your participation in tenkara in social media and on the internet since you have begun doing it. You are a kind soul, the world in general needs more people like you. 

dimanche 7 janvier 2018

Zimmerbuilt packs and tenkara anglers.

Rob Gonzalez:

I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Zimmer of Zimmerbuilt at the 2014 Tenkara USA Summit in Boulder, CO. I’d read online about his tenkara specific line of packs and was anxious to see them in person. The high tech materials and handmade workmanship are immediately noticeable as high quality in his gear. Over time I've acquired several Zimmerbuilt pieces starting with the Quickdraw and Micro Pack which I left loaded in my car for those impromptu moments when you have an opportunity to get away for a few minutes. It carried just the right amount of equipment in a small package that could be worn on your belt or as a sling. When I began doing tenkara demos at local fly fishing clubs, GRTU TroutFest, the IFFF Expo, REI, etc - I needed a way to carry more rods, lines, fly boxes, pamphlets, stickers, etc. That's when I got the Zimmerbuilt Guide Sling and liked that it could incorporate a hydration pack, so I added a small CamelBak that attaches to a loop inside the pack. This was also the first time I contacted Chris to see if he could customize the pack for me by adding a detachable rod sleeve on the outside of the pack to allow me to carry a broken down conventional fly rod too if I wanted. The Guide Sling is a great pack capable of carrying more gear for longer hikes or for your clients. Sometimes though the Guide was just too big for my needs but the Quickdraw and Micro Pack too small. Recently I asked Chris if he would be interested in trying an idea I had of a Double Quickdraw stitched together with a more robust carrying strap to be worn as a sling or on your belt with a daisy chain attachment system in the center to allow adding his Strap Pack. I’d purchased the Strap Pack a while ago and had been using that quite a bit lately as an over the shoulder system with all my gear and tools attached - the only thing lacking was I wanted to carry more rods. This Double Quickdraw allows me to carry one or two extra rods plus the larger Strap Pack which easily carries slightly larger fly boxes (two Tacky Day boxes being my favorite) as well as a couple of lines and tippet, plus your forceps and nippers. Although I haven't had a chance to fish with this new Double Quickdraw much yet - it's very comfortable and a perfect compromise between the minimal Quick Draw and the Guide Sling. I think it's going to be the perfect pack for me when I only need to carry the essentials for a day on the water, yet offers me the choice of different rods and/or fly boxes. And don’t forget the Sling Lite, a smaller version of the Guide Sling, as another option. Chris Zimmer's Zimmerbuilt products are quality, durable, handmade gear at a great price! If I was still backpacking, I would definitely consider some of his larger tenkara packs like the DeadDrift or TailWater or his many other larger custom conventional packs!


Rob is the administrator of the Tenkara Texas facebook group 

Adam Klags:

Zimmerbuilt makes some of the best Tenkara packs available to our niche industry right now – I’ve used my Tenkara guide sling for many seasons, and I’ve seen a few of the other packs he makes which are also available with features that cater specifically to our sport. 

Dedicated rod-sleeve pockets for stashing rods externally, durable waterproof fabrics and creative hardware allowing for convenient attachment of extra pockets… as well as a ton of convenience for the average Tenkara angler… are just some of the reasons to consider a Zimmerbuilt.
There are a few things I like about Zimmerbuilt that make these packs and slings more useful than other mainstream fishing packs. To begin with, there’s design – these packs are truly designed for our sport, and for holding Tenkara rods. Most fishing packs are designed to hold a rod tube at best… so it’s nice to have dedicated pockets and loops for holding Tenkara rods that are rigged up and ready to go.
Another major design benefit is in the Tenkara Guide Sling – it’s just about the only sling pack I’ve found in the fishing industry that is designed for right-handed anglers! Somehow most of the other sling packs are designed to rest on your right shoulder… limiting one’s casting, and leaving the wrong arm… the left one… unburdened. So that’s great for the minority of lefties out there… but doesn’t make much sense for the right-handed anglers. Zimmerbuilt designed his sling to go over the left shoulder, leaving the right arm free to cast. Of course, you can still get a custom pack if you’re a lefty!

Durability is a major strength of the Zimmerbuilt packs as well. The materials used can take a serious beating…. Mine has taken many seasons of bushwhacking through conifers and tight forests near the streams of the northeast. The pack has been with me to Japan, Italy and all over the USA. It has served me well everywhere I’ve taken it. The materials do a great job repelling water, withstanding rips, tears, dirt and general abuse.
Another point worth mentioning with these packs is weight – or lack thereof! One doesn’t need a pack with padded and lined panels which may absorb water and add weight to the pack. One doesn’t need thick straps and pads on a pack that doesn’t need to carry much weight. Also, while the fabric options are rather durable, one can be confident in knowing that these packs are a lot lighter than most of the competition without losing out on that durability. And, for those who are more interested in ultralight weight over durability, Zimmerbuilt offers options to make packs out of Cuben Fiber… awesome!

While I love my guide sling, I find it just a bit too small for use on days when I go really far back into the wilderness and high up in the mountains. For those days, I need to carry more gear and heavier layers in my pack. Chris makes some other great packs that I’ve seen in use and which are already rather popular in the industry, like the Tailwater or Dead-drift packs in his lineup.
I opted to take advantage of the custom pack design he does, in order to design my own pack and get exactly the features I want - I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished result at some point next year.

It’s great to have a company like Zimmerbuilt available to us in the Tenakra industry… I recommend trying one of his packs or slings if you haven’t done so already.

Adam is the editor of "Of rock and riffle" blog.

John Vetterli:

I have been a user of Zimmerbuilt packs since 2010.

My business partners Erik Ostrander and Rob Worthing and I designed the Guide Slingpack.  The design parameters were to have a pack that was light weight, efficient in design, have the ability to carry multiple tenkara rods, and have enough cargo capacity to support a guide and two clients on a full day guided fishing trip.
I had Chris Zimmer build me a custom daypack based on one of his current designs.  My custom pack has the capacity to carry 8 tenkara rods, has custom pocket in the lid panel for small items and it can have a Patagonia Fishing vest attach directly to the pack shoulder straps and pack body. I also use a small custom chest pack for my tenkara fly fishing.

Another bag I designed is a boot bag made from mesh and ultralight dyneema fabric.  The bag is used to hang muddy/wet hiking or wading boots from my camping hammock suspension system.  The boots are up off the ground and can dry while preventing unwanted critters from finding a way inside my boots overnight.


The construction of all my Zimmerbuilt gear is top quality.
Having custom designed gear made to fit my exact needs provides me with the perfect solutions to my needs. My daypack has travelled to Japan, Belize, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Virgin Gorda, and all across the United States.  It has had lots of serious abuse and use.  It shows no signs of wearing out anytime soon.

Zimmerbuilt gear is some of the best ultralight packs and gear available.  Built with top line fabrics and care in construction of a true craftsman.

John is member of Tenkara Guides LLC, the first tenkara guide service created outside of Japan. 

Isaac Tait

During the past keiryu tenkara season I carried my Zimmerbuilt Tailwaters backpack with me on many adventures. It was my faithful companion as I ventured deep into the mountains of Japan to not only explore the genryū but to catch (and then release) the Japanese trout and char known as Yamame, Iwana, Amago.

After a thorough beating, I must say that I would be hard pressed to find a better backpack for genryū tenkara than the Zimmerbuilt Tailwaters backpack. The following are the reasons why I make such a bold statement.

- I found the packs size to be perfect for day trips. Not once did I run out of room for the gear that I needed to carry.
- When empty the Tailwaters pack is quite light, coming in at under 250 grams (>9oz)! It is also packable which makes it great for stuffing into a larger pack for multiday adventures.  

- The Xpac VX07 & VX21 material the Tailwaters pack is constructed of, is very durable. Part of what makes genryū tenkara fishing trips in Japan so much fun is the prerequisite for often times harrowing cross country travel. More times than I can count I found myself hiking through a dense boscage of thorny bushes, bamboo and Buna trees (trad: Japanese beech trees). The Tailwaters pack handled it with aplomb and even after a season of rough treatment it looks as good as new.

- On several trips I either experienced heavy rainstorms, fell into deep pools, or was forced to swim to continue upriver. Not once did the contents of my pack get wet!

- Of course I should mention that the pack costs less than $100, which is quite amazing I think.

- Lastly, Zimmerbuilt delivers great customer service. I had an issue with my waist belt and they replied quickly to my emails and promptly sent me out the necessary replacement parts at no cost. 

Considering all these attributes I think it is safe to say that the Zimmerbuilt Tailwaters backpack is one of the best, if not the best, daypack for tenkara currently on the market.

Isaac is the editor of Fallfish Tenkara blog.

Adam Trahan:

I'll just be blunt, I can't stand reviewing equipment. I'm not a salesmen, I just use what I use.

I don't have an agenda, I will only tell you what I really like.

It's cool when I gather together people that are like me or I'm like them and we use the same equipment. I don't know anyone that uses this bag, I picked it out myself. My friends use the larger version but I'm not a big fan of carrying a lot in a sling bag. They are an asymmetrical load on my shoulder. I purposefully cast switch in order to be proficient on both sides of the stream and thinking about using a sling bag? Well, it's just been off my radar until my last trip to Japan where I closely followed anglers that used sling type bags.

Adam Klagsbrun and his Zimmerbuilt Guide Sling

I saw the benefits and decided to give my own a try.

I chose the Zimmerbuilt Sling Lite bag for those trips that I need a little bit more than what I can carry in my pockets and much less than what I usually put in a backpack. I've been carrying mine now for about 8 months and I really like it. I am really picky about my gear, I do not use equipment that is not functional, the Sling Lite is more than functional, it's downright forgettable.
Wearing it all day, my shoulder isn't tired at all, as a matter of fact, I can't tell I have it on when I'm casting. It's just there, designed as it should be, to move with you.

Typically, I carry a Thermarest Z-fold sit pad that serves a couple of purposes. I put it in the zipped main storage to insulate cold or warm bottles or thermos type drinks for my lunch. It also pads my back against things poking around in the Sling Lite. I also carry a small micro-fiber towel, a Mont Bell hiking and wading staff, a Snow Peak Titanium Sake set if I'm celebrating something with my friends. A stove and a cook pot and a couple repurposed "Early Times" whiskey bottles filled with water. I don't carry all of these things although they would all fit in the pack, usually it's a combination of these items depending on who brought what for a shore lunch.

The contents of my Sling Lite the last time I used it were as follows.

Mont Bell Ultra Lite Folding Pole
Nissin Pocket Mini V3
Patagonia Houdini Jacket
Micro Fiber towel
Small Emergency Kit
2ea Pint Bottles (repurposed Early Times whiskey bottles)

I'll stuff in a sandwich or a bento lunch in there as well. 

The Sling Lite is really light, comfortable, non-restrictive and it has room for a puffy jacket too. I have not felt the need for anything larger. The Tenkara Guide Sling is larger, if you want more volume which I do not. If I want more, I will carry a backpack like the Zimmerbuilt Tailwater pack.

My own Zimmerbuilt Kaizen Pack, which I designed goes right along with my Sling Lite. I also use my own Tenkara USA Strap Pack, I like them both. Which ever one I'm using, I carry it over my opposite shoulder because it is so light and small, just enough for my tenkara fishing supplies.

If you are interested in a Zimmerbuilt Sling Lite or any of the gear mentioned in this piece, know that I use and enjoy it.

Adam is the editor of Tenkara Fisher blog.