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.

dimanche 8 octobre 2017

A tenkara season ends

Since my return from Isère we have entered the summer and it has quickly taken on canicular paces, to the point that given the very rapid rise of the temperature of the water of the rivers (up to 26 ° on some) the fishing authorities have decided to close the trout fishing in all streams whose width is less than two meters.
For myself in the last three months I went fishing only for very short sessions, one hour maximum, and always very early in the morning, the only time of the day when the trout show a little bit of activity.
I left at home the 13 feet rods and more to use only the 360 Nissin Royal Stage offered to me by Fuji sensei during our meeting and also one of his furled fluorocarbon lines.

I have fished the whole summer with a single kebari which is nothing but a "reduced size" version of my Yamato Kebari. The grizzly cock feather has been replaced by hen pheasant and the head has changed from rusty brown to fluo orange.

The month of July was excellent, the temperatures were high but the stable weather allowed me to go fishing every morning knowing beforehand the state of the river; it was very different in August during which the storms were numerous. The month of September began in the rain and storms and fortunately for the trout the level of the rivers began to rise. 
Because of these heavy rains the end of the trout season for me was about two weeks before the official closure but I had no regrets to have since I had fished a lot during the previous months.

The hot summer and the rainy beginning of autumn  have at least a positive aspect: a very good vintage for mushrooms!

mardi 20 juin 2017

Tenkara Fest 2017

This year it was in Isère, more precisely in Pont-en-Royans, that we had rendez vous for the third edition of the Tenkara Fest which was going to take place in the Vercors massif.

As every year I arrived first and took rather quickly the direction of a stream that we had planned to fish during these three days ie the Bourne.

But before fishing I took the time to prepare an excellent lunch on the bank of this beautiful stream bathed in sunshine and took advantage of it to relax after the almost ten hours of my night time drive. It was very hot this friday afternoon, 82 F  in the shade to be exact, and so I did not expect trout to be particularly active. The Bourne is a beautiful stream where you feel incredibly good to look for trout even if this afternoon the conditions were hardly favorable to trout fishing. So I spent a good time observing another tenant on the premises.

Joined by Guilhem we decided to climb further up the river. The atmosphere began to feel strongly stormy but we were confident and wanted to start this weekend devoted to fishing by simply tenkara fishing. In spite of the stormy atmosphere then the wind started blowing but our fishing met the success. Our simple approach to tenkara, faithful to the basic principle of this sport fishing: a rod, a line, a fly, once again demonstrated its effectiveness even in difficult conditions and in my case on streams of which I knew only the name a few hours ago. 

This first fishing session completed, we did hit the road in the opposite direction to join our friend Edouard, who had just arrived at the guest house. We did spend an excellent evening which was followed by a good night of sleep for the day that was awaiting for us the next day. This second day began with our first encounter with a tenkara angler whom we knew only through social networks and I must say that as we had expected, we had the pleasure of meeting a very nice fisherman and really passionate about tenkara. 

After we met, we observed the river where some trout had been stocked for the "fishing festival" and decided to go fishing on the Vercors plateau. As we were driving to the plateau the sky darkened very quickly, and once we reached our destination, we could only see that a storm had swollen the surrounding streams, and we decided to drive back to the gorges of the Bourne where we hopefully found clean and clear waters.

We arrived in the middle of the morning and even at the bottom of these deep gorges the temperature was already very high. Despite the warm weather our morning of tenkara fishing in this magnificent place was crowned with success. We will observe many mayflies but it must be said that during this day they did not seem to interest any fish because only small black kebari were taken by trout. 

The weather forecast was correct and the afternoon ended in a violent storm, it was almost 7 pm when we stopped fishing.

The next day the temperature had dropped sharply and as we found when we arrived on the banks of the Vernaison the water was slightly stained because of the night rain. If the beginning of the morning was rather difficult the fishing became good around noon as the sky uncovered and the temperature rose.

Once again simplicity was rewarded and all trout were taken with zenmai-dou pattern.

In the afternoon I resumed the north road where dantesque storms awaited me and compelled me to cancel the visits and tenkara fishing that I had planned to make in Savoie but I had just spent a weekend with friends passionate of tenkara and that's the main thing.

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!