dimanche 13 décembre 2015

Japan Kebari: Hiromichi Fuji

Last July during my stay in Japan I had the opportunity and the privilege of meeting a key figure of the history of modern tenkara: Hiromichi Fuji.
He was one of the first angler to use  tenkara as sport fishing and not a commercial technique and has played a central role in the design of modern tenkara rods and lines. During the afternoon I spent in his workshop we did tie some kebari that we traded before we leave.

Fuji-sensei still ties himself all the kebari sold by the NISSIN firm, his long experience of fly tying is noticeable how fast he ties kebari beautiful, simple and whose effectiveness is famous. His vise in a very low position denotes an economy of gestures and if the table is completely covered by equipment and materials Fuji-sensei knows where each item is at. 

The kebari tied by Fuji-sensei on this afternoon were made on Maruto hooks size 号7 and 号6.

This kebari was inspired by the traditional patterns of commercial fishermen from whom Fuji-sensei made tenkara a sport fishing technique. 

These kebari are neither "dry flies" or  "wet flies" because as Fuji-sensei told himself: "That is the angler who adapts the use of his kebari to the situation."
Hiromichi Fuji technique is based on the legacy of professional fishermen and his observation of fishes. 

Fuji-sensei's kebari are perfectly suitable to his tenkara technique that requires great fly presentation delicacy. The economy of materials in the tying process is not only a matter of aesthetics. 

Today Fuji-sensei is still an active member in the tenkara community in Japan through the Kyoto Kitayama Tenkarakai, participating in numerous events on the theme of tenkara and collaborating in the design of rods and lines for Nissin.

samedi 5 décembre 2015

Japan Kebari: Yuzo Sebata

During my stay in Japan I, as tradition dictates, traded kebari with tenkara fishermen I met. The first step of my journey gave me the opportunity to meet Yuzo Sebata who made me gift kebari he tied himself.

Sebata-san is used to tie his kebari without a vise vise and with only a pair of scissors. He preferably uses Gamakatsu hooks in size Kantsuki Yamame 号 8 or 9. We have all seen on the internet kebari inspired by Sebata-san's ties but it is rare to see reproductions made with the materials used by Sebata-san including the model in the center of the picture whose body is made of self-fusing usually used tape by electricians.
The Zenmai-dou of Sebata-san is tied backwards like a sakasa kebari but the whip finish is done behind the hackle after the thread has been wound in wide turns about the shaft so as to solidify the tying.

Sebata uses cock neck, hen neck or parttridge flank feathers for the hackle of his kebari depending on what he has available when he needs to tie some kebari. 

The kebari of Sebata-san are simple because they are the fruit of a long evolution and in line with a technique. Those considered in Japan, and elsewhere by the sincere enthusiasts, as tenkara masters are those who have developed techniques of their own.

I am certainly not the only one who has noticed that all the great tenkara anglers such as Sebata-san, his tenkara career is over fifty years long, have remained faithful to the basic principle of tenkara:
rod, line, kebari.

mercredi 11 novembre 2015

NISSIN Zerosum Oni Honryu 450 (Part 2)

Saturday morning I got up at dawn and consulted the weather reports that announced the imminent arrival of a huge depression in a few days that would bring wind and rain so I decided us not to waste time and took the road to enjoy a hanful of hours fishing. I did take to the bare minimum gear: landing net, rod, line, kebari.

After sunrnise, the light remained discreet. It was a typical November matinee: gray. There was some wind but nothing to worry about. However, I find an advantage to these conditions: I did not need polarized glasses to view the fish and I observed several of them near the edge seated on a bench while I was rigging my rod. 

I tied to my tippet a Zenmai-dou. My first cast was targeting a rainbow trout that did not make ways when the famous kebari sank slowly in front of her ...The ZeroSum Oni Honryu rod does not only allows long and accurate shots but also delicate. 

The tenkara matinee was starting pretty well! There are on this pond a tiny island around which usually I see many trout but several fihermen were already trying their luck there so I decided to go to another spot. It was a wise choice because the place where I had decided to fish revealed the presence of many brook trout.

I did not regret not to fish the originally planned spot and with at look at it from time to time it seemed to me that nothing exciting was happening happening there. I did fish calmly letting a little bit of time between each cast for the coveted fish do not flee or descend deeper where I will see them no more. 

My strategy paid off and I had very little failure.

Despite the breeze increasing over time the rod did a great job, my casts were still accurate and delicate and I had only to move a little to place myself so that my kebari could drift naturally. I used a line Fujino Soft Long Type of seven meters and although this line is not as dense as a fluorocarbon line that I did not meet any major problems.

The cane is very sensitive, does not emit vibrations when a fish is fighting at the end of the line but transmits very well all the sensations of the battle. 

By late morning I decided to make a break for lunch and this is when the rain announced for the following week started. Not being equipped to fish in the rain I did take my time, thinking back to this very pleasant morning fishing with a great tenkara rod. After a good coffee I did take the road back home with new and enjoyable fishing memories.

vendredi 6 novembre 2015

NISSIN Zerosum Oni Honryu 450 (Part 1)

Until now tenkara rods were designed for fishing in Japan but with the international development of tenkara appeared to manufacturers a new challenge which is to put on the market tenkara rods designed to catch fishes which are bigger than their Japanese counterparts . Masami Sakakibara has successfully met the challenge in cooperation with Nissin to design, once again, an exceptional rod: the Zerosum Oni Honryu 450.

Like all Japanese tenkara rods it is sold in a plastic box, the rod sock being in a pale purple velvet of good quality. The overall aesthetic is simple and very beautiful; the rod is glossy black, and only a woven carbon accent surrounded by fine chrome edging is visible at the tip of the handle section.

Like all the Nissin rods the Zerosum Oni Honryu is made in Japan and it shows with a very high quality work and perfect finishes.

The theoretical characteristics of this rod are as follow: 

Length: 450 cm
Sections: 9
Folded: 64 cm
Weight: 100 gr
Tip diameter: 0.65 m
Butt diameter: 13.3 mm
Advised tippet: 号 0.8 to 号1.5 (from 0.148mm to 0.20mm)
Composition: 97% Graphite

The ZeroSum Oni Honryu reviewed here actually weighs 98.8 grams without the tip cap, so ready to fish, and has a length including the lilian of 448.5 cm. The collapsed length is 63.5 cm with the tip of cap. The handle, a foot long, is made of a high quality cork and a subtle camel shape that makes it particularly comfortable. The winding check is made of chromed aluminum and fits perfectly to the handle.

The tip cap is made of nylon, it fits tightly in. The butt cap is also made of nylon, it is rounded for comfort especially for fishermen who hold their rod in a very low position. It is knurled to facilitate tightening and loosening. It has no drain hole. 
Upon receipt of the rod I disassembled it as I always do and could see that there was no dust inside the blank or in the threads of the butt cap which shows that great care has been given to the quality control during the production process.

As always with Nissin rods the connection of the lilian to the rod is perfectly executed.

This rod features no mention of its action, but it is a "6: 4" and I want to make a brief digression on the topic: this is not the rod that makes you cast "good" (even if a well balanced rod is a plus) it is oneself cast properly, by making the "back" and "front" casting strokes at the same speed and blocking at the right time which will allow the rod to load energy enough to get the correct deployment of the line.

During my stay with Masami-san I had the chance to test this rod when it was just available in Japan and I must say it pleasantly surprised me.
Balancing a rod of that length is particularly complex because you have to avoid the feeling of heaviness in the tip but it has to be powerful enough to transmit the energy of the casts and has to be strong enough to hold big fishes, with ZeroSum Oni Honryu these three aspects are gathered.
The rod is very pleasant, despite its length it does little effort to cast even if you fish with small diameter line level. As I have always thought and written on many occasions, a really good tenkara rod is versatile and gives the best results results with all types of lines and ZeroSum Oni Honryu is no exception to the rule. One can cast with accuracy and delicacy with level, tapered and furled lines with this rod. 

I asked Masami-san describe briefly the ideas he had put into play in the design of this excellent rod and this is what he sent me:

-Fishing big fish with a really adapted rod to reduce the risk of losing beautiful specimens.
-Casting more accurately and with less effort than any other existing rod of that length.
-Get a better balance than the other rods of equal length. Most of 450 cm rods have too much weight in the tip.

Try this rod and you will enjoy it and take a lot of fun to fish with it. Bye!

dimanche 25 octobre 2015

Stroll on Bérence creek

I enjoyed this week of an afternoon bathed in sunlight to get a ride on the banks of the Bérence, a local creek which I like and where I have been doing some fishing trips for many years. Over the years I unfortunately could only note the deterioration of the general condition of the stream that is increasingly jammed with the inevitable consequence of siltation of many sectors deserted by trouts.

Saddened by this sight I walked away and went up through the woods.

Despite some recent rainfall and the temperature which is relatively high for the season I did not find any edible mushroom. As in many beech forest mucosal collybie (oudemansiella mucida) is probably the most frequent species and it would not come to my mind to eat that!

mercredi 7 octobre 2015

Tenkara Fly Angles

A few days ago Anthony Naples, editor of Casting Around blog and manager of Three Rivers Tenkara tackle shop, asked me if I wanted to participate in a series of articles about tenkara flies or kebari if you prefer and I of course accepted with pleasure.
I have always liked what Anthony has been doing for several years now as a tenkara blog editor and I am sincerely honored to be a part of this series. If you are interested by my guest post please click here

In case you do not know Anthony's blog yet, perhaps some of you are from Venus!, I am sure that you will like what you find in it because it is a great blog. 

mardi 22 septembre 2015

A trout season ends...

Sunday was the closing day of the trout stream fishing season and I of course did follow the ritual of the last fishing day. It has often rained during the last weeks and the stream I did fish already wears its autumnal finery: high and cold water spoofing the first fallen leaves. But the season is done, if one missed his season it is too late to make it better. To me it is a last opportunity to say goodbye to a stream I like fishing, it is only better if I catch a few trouts.

So I was leaving home in the beginning of the afternoon with minimum gear, what a tenkara angler should always keep in mind: rod, line, kebari. The great Charles Mingus once said: "Making the simple thing complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity." In the morning the sky was overcast but now it was sunny, it was even hot. 
I walked along the stream without fishing before I was at the spot where I wanted to catch the very last brown trouts of the season. On the way I did not meet anyone, we are fewer and fewer every year to fish this stream. 

The upstream part of this spot is shallow, the current makes the water rich in oxygen before it reaches a right angle turn where the depth grows. Depending on the level of water and its temperature trouts will place themselves in the fast or the slow part. I did fish with my faitful Oni type 2 rod, a five meters tapered line and a Takayama sakasa kebari. After a few casts I got the first brown trout of the day.

I did lose a big one just after this one, it went away after making a maximum of fuss so I was expecting a long moment without catching anything. I decided to take a break, left my rod on the bank and went in the woods on the other side of the stream but did not find any edible mushroom, the only things I brought back were crow and pigeon feathers. Useful but inedible! 
Back on the stream banks I did take the rod back but decided to skip the fast part of the spot. I walked a few meters upstream to fish a quiet stretch where I caught a couple of very nice brown trouts. The both of them were very nice typical brownies from Normandy with grey and yellow flanks. 

It was hardly four p.m and I was already feeling the temperature has begun dropping, the light intensity was going down so after the second trout was gone back to its shelter I did collapse my rod and rolled back my line on a spool. It started raining just at the moment when I closed the door of the house. 

A trout fishing season just ended, not "one more" as they are all different and to me the 2015 season has been awesome. 

mardi 8 septembre 2015

My encounter with Masami "Tenkara-no Oni" Sakakibara (Part 3)

The next day we did fish the same torrent but a little bit further upstream.
I have watched videos on the  web and seen a lot of pictures of Japanese anglers fishing at the foot of dams and this time it was my turn to try this exercise in style. There is indeed some iwana at the foot of the waterfalls but it is not easy to reach them with a kebari. After a few tries I managed to sink my kebari in the depths and got a strike. The fish unhooked itself when  emerging from the water but Masami-san congratulated me because it is very difficult to feel the strike of an iwana in a such violent current.

We slowly ascended the banks of the river, exploring one by one all the spots likely to harbor these very discreet fish are that are iwana. 

The Iwana being a fish that does not move a lot it is to you to get your kebari convincingly drift in its field of vision. Masami-san never insists on a post, if the fish does not react when fishing upstream, he goes up the river a few meters and may try the same spot fishing downstream. His approach of the fish spots is stealthy and it pays off because he excels at catching fish at very close range.

A discreet approach, accurate and delicate casting and drift control are the keys to success in tenkara. I was also pleased to take another Yamato Iwana before we arrive at the highest point of our adventure. Having not the necessary gear we could not climb the waterfall that was in front of us when we came down in the valley.

We did find a river whose water was well cleared, the level still seemed a bit high to Masami-san but it probably seemed correct because he invited me to fish.

This time I was the only one to fish and it was my great pleasure and privilege to practice on this stream under the watchful eye of my friend and master.

I did catch some beautiful  amago that were in great shape. I was satisfied with this result and the water level being a little bit high was a good thing for the amago. They were in great shape and were a lot of fun to fish.

The weather that had been sullen and capricious turned to great weather as we were leaving the mountains. All good things come to an end and I had to return to Tokyo to take the plane that would bring me back to Paris. I thanked warmly Masami-san and Coco for their hospitality and for sharing with me their vast knowledge and experience of tenkara. Bye my friends!

My stay in Japan was a great moment in terms of fishing of course but above all a great human experience because I met simple, welcoming and generous people. And I have no doubt that this trip where I had the chance to meet some of the best connoisseurs of this fishing technique will have a great influence on my own experience of tenkara.

dimanche 6 septembre 2015

My encounter with Masami "Tenkara-no Oni" Sakakibara (Part 2)

The typhoon had striked the area and made plenty of damages as we were seeing at the TV news in the morning. But it also meant that we would now have warmer weather and we would gather our tenkara gear before leaving Masami-san's home  to go north to fish a river he likes a lot.
When we arrived in the coveted valley it was a scene of desolation that we had in front of us, the level of the river was very high and the water was muddy. So we do not have any other option but to go further to the north and the high mountains for a chance to find clear waters.

We did find our happiness rather quickly because Masami-san knows the area very well. The first fishes were caught pretty fast. This torrent is full of beautiful iwana and despite a very capricious weather I put to good use everything I had learned in Tadami, on the Itoshiro and of course Masami-san valuable advices. He is a first class guide who knows how to give you what you need to meet success. 

Thanks to Oni's advices and the casting lesson the day before I had the opportunity to really improve my technique. Success is based solely on technique. I will not say I "master" everything tenkara because it is a perpetual learning, but I think I have done credit to those who shared some of their knowledge with me.

Masami-san fished as well obviously, it was an opportunity for me to pause and learn by observing. We all know his honryu style of tenkara but his genryu style is also very effective. 

That first afternoon of tenkara fishing was obviously a memorable moment for me, fishing in the mountains with Masami Sakakibara as a guide was a dream that until recently I thought unachievable. I did not see hours passing by, totally absorbed by fishing which was really enjoyable. The light was beginning to fall when we left these majestic mountains to go back home. If Japan is the land of the rising sun is also that of the setting sun, night falls early even in summer.

The evening was an opportunity to meet Masami-san's friends who would join us the next day to fish. This was also the opportunity to taste the best okonomiyaki I've ever eaten. The atmosphere was really friendly as it was expected to be for the Team Oni.