lundi 30 mars 2015

My REGAL Medallion vise

After many years of loyal services I have decided to not use my Dyna King vise, a Barracuda Trekker Junior model, anymore. Since I spend a lot of time behind the vise tying the kebari that I sell in my own webshop this vise has proven to offer a too low working position. This vise has many good points such as the complete stainless steel construction, rotary function on super smooth ball bearings, stability, very strong jaws that are also very easy to change but I spend a full day working on it I systematically feel a neck hache because of working in a wrong position.
I had long wanted a Regal vise because the head positioning has a very large amplitude (220° up or down) unfortunately these great tools are poorly distributed in Europe and are often sold at ridiculously high prices. After research on the net I did find a fly shop that offered the almost complete range of Regal products at reasonable prices and my choice was the flagship of this collection: the Medallion traditional head.

After a week of wait I finally had the parcel in my hands! I opened it, the vise was lying  in a very simple carton box waiting to be assembled and take action. It was fortunate that I did receive the vise this day because I had to tie a lot of kebari for a customer in Belgium. 

One of the specifications that made me choose a Regal vise is the fact that the jaws are actioned by a lever and not a rotating cam which means that I will never have to care with jaws settings prior tying kebari on the vise. These jaws are designed to hold hooks from size 22 to 1/0 and that covers even more than my needs. 
The hook tightening in the jaws is incredible and I sacrificed a few hooks that ware taken in them. Most of did bend but the part of the hooks taken between the jaws did not move at all. 

The vise stem has the swivel shaft clamp knob that can be positioned at the height chosen by the user. That is the feature that made choose a Regal vise. The necessary tool to set up the swivel shaft is included in the box. I finally have a vise on which I can work without having to lower the head. My cervical vertebraes warmly thank the Regal vises team!

Regal offers no less than seven types of bases for their vises, three clamps and four pedestals. I have chosen the Traditional bronze pedestal that most of us have probably already seen because it is a very famous model. It is superb! I can not find another word to describe this beautiful object. 
The underside of the base is covered with a cork plate. It does not slide at all whatever is the material of the table where you may use the vise. It is pretty heavy (3,7 lbs) and very stable. 

The box in which comes the vise contains two bolts, one is to secure the vise stem on the base and the other one goes under the head and according how it is tightened it will make the head rotary or fixed.
When I did open the box I was a bit surprised by the size of these bolts. They are really huge compared to the ones of my Dyna King! Their diameter is 24 mm and this really eases the use. I am sure that a Regal vise is designed to be assembled blindfolded. 

Regal Vises offer of course a lifetime warranty and the booklet included in the box contains very clear use and care instructions to keep this great tool in perfect conditions. I have only owned  this vise for two weeks but it has already proven me to be the best choice. Don't we say "A good worker always has good tools"?

mardi 24 mars 2015

A short outing

According to the calendar we are now in Spring but the weather is so bad that it is a bit hard to believe that winter is really finished. I experienced this phenomenon yesterday afternoon during a short outing that was interrupted twice by hail. Thai it why some of you will notice that on the video that concludes this post I have been fishing the same spot twice. The wind was powerful enough to make a dead branch, that has been suspended over the stream for long, drop in the water. 

This outing was also a good opportunity to get my Nissin Kawashi 320 on the stream as this little beauty is really awesome when it comes to fish in the wind. I did try my chance in many snaggy spots where trouts are not often disturbed by anglers but I did not have the expected results; only a few trouts rushed to my kebari but without biting. On the other hand I have some interesting spots on my list now. 

It is not so bad that the beginning of the season is so hard because it will make the fishing even better when the weather conditions are going to improve. The water is still very cold and even on this small stream where I have found a high concentration of caddis larvas trouts will not be very active until the first hatches. It is only a matter of time. 

lundi 16 mars 2015


Saturday was the trout season opening day in France. The day awaited by thousands of anglers was finally here, I am a fishing enthusiast since I was a kid but I know from my experience that this symbolic day is rarely a good fishing day. At least if I considered a good fishing day with lots of trouts caught in very little time. 

I always open the season on the same small stream and this year I only arrive one hour and a half after the legal hour. I did not see traces of feet or tires on the path that leads nearby and that was a good sign. I did take my time to prepare my rod, I did watch the stream flowing in front of me and its water was stained because it had rained a lot the day before. 

It was very cold, around 39° F, the sky was low and plain grey; with lower temperature I would have expected snow. The trout season opening is more like a ritual and anglers feel the need to join in. It means that spring is at hand.

The first fishes I did catch were parrs and that unfortunately means that I had very little chances to catch a nice sized trout this day. With my long experience of this small stream I know that a high catch rates of these little bastards means that bigger fishes (trouts) are not active on food at all.

After an hour of fishing I still not had caught any trout so I decided to go to one of my favorite spot of the stream about two miles away. The air temperature was remaining very low and the wind from the North was blowing more and more so this spot would be my last chance to catch a trout today. I did catch at the first cast! Not a big one but pretty representative of the kind of trout this small stream can produce.

After releasing this fish, once my hands were wet I did feel the coldness even more and decided to go back home. This opening day will not remain in history but I did not feel like going on casting while I knew that I had very little chances to catch any other trout. Many people in the early days of the season go fishing every day, sometimes all day long, trying hard to catch trouts despite terrible conditions and the only reward they get is frustration and they put the rods back to the rack until next season after a couple of weeks. 
I did spend two nice hours on the stream for the opening day and it was enough, I have six months to go fishing so until then I will hopefully have better days.

lundi 9 mars 2015

Last spotting before season opening

I did hike this afternoon because I wanted to test the new camera I got delivered this morning and obviously as we are very close to the trout season opening I also wanted to check the stream where I will fish next weekend.

I open the season on the same stream every year and I still do not have enough! Fishing this stream is not easy because many spots are really crowded, it is a very snaggy little stream but I like challenges in fishing. It would really not please to go fishing shoulder against shoulder in large rivers for rainbows introduced there one week before; this is not my idea of fishing. A stream, a trout, are to be deserved.

The water is a bit higher than the past year but I think that it will be good. Anyway I consider the opening day more like a symbol or a ritual than a full day of fishing because often the conditions are not "perfect". I generally only fish two or three hours even though the whole day near by the stream.
Like many of you I have been eagerly waiting for this day and I would not miss it even for the whole world gold. 

dimanche 8 mars 2015

Just in time for the trout season opening

I had posted in last august about my plan to make my won tamo and after six months I finally finished it this morning. 
I am proud of the result, even if I am sure that the next ones will be better, because before I started this project I would have never thought of producing my own landing net. 

I am satisfied of this first result because I have followed the traditional Japanese process and it has allowed me to work with ease and efficiency. The Japanese process has probably been refined through decades, if not centuries, so my opinion is that I, as a learner, can not bring anything positive to this process. This would only lead to waste time and money. 

My tamo is made of Oregon pine (Pseudotsuga menziesii), called Douglas fir in France, a very light and durable wood; the net comes from the Shimizu range of products. I did finish the tamo with a light layer of Japanese lacquer. 

It will still take a few days to land the first trouts with it!

lundi 2 mars 2015

Discovering Tenkara Vol. 2: Japanese Kebari. Patterns & Principles

One year ago, Paul Gaskell & John Pearson released the first European DVD about tenkara and one week ago I was delighted to receive the second volume titled "Japanese Kebari: Patterns & Principles".

This 87 minutes documentary is, as its titles states, totally dedicated to one topic which is Japanese kebari and the principles behind them. 

As you probably know John and Paul are not only tenkara enthusiasts and guides but also scientists and the tone is set from the introduction with a gin clear explanation of the trout vision that is very different of the generally accepted theories from fishing magazines or fly fishing "experts". Moreover this introduction is followed by a fly-tying session by Dr. Hisao Ishigaki who explains to us why his kebari are so simple. He is also a scientist so his fly tying, as well as his tenkara technique, is based on a rational observation of salmonid behavior. As usual with Ishigaki-san the explanation is made with smile. 

The documentary contains fly tying scenes by John and Paul of course. One of these scenes is the first I have seen that includes a tying of a kebari with the tippet incorporated to the body. I have been vey interested by this sequence as it is how the commercial tenkara anglers used to tie their flies. 
The pattern chosen by Paul is the Takayama sakasa kebari which is one of the most iconic kebari known in the West, he ties it in the traditional way and gives his point of view about the incredible number of variations that have popped up everywhere these last years. 

There is an interesting interview with Go Ishii about his tenkara technique and his concept of his favorite kebari. As you will see his pattern is definitely more the result of his observations of fish behavior than aesthetic choice. 

I had the pleasure to watch Masami Sakakibara tie his "Yellow sakasa kebari". This scene is admittedly short but Paul and John are working on a documentary devoted to Masami-san. The introduction of Masami-san's fly tying session contains, at least in my opinion, a very important quote that one shall not forget: "there is no room for tradition for its own sake". Tenkara has evolved a lot during its transition from commercial towards sport fishing and it is still evolving. This fishing technique is not carved in stone, it is alive and will still evolve in the future. 

A sequence is the opportunity to make the acquaintance of a very experienced tenkara angler: Makino-san aka Himano-san. He does an interview with a unfeigned coolness but there is a lot to learn from it. He ties his kebari which is very simple and very effective as Himano-san catches very big Amago salmons. 
Thanks to Dr. Ishigaki John and Paul met Hirata-san who kindly accepted to tie a kebari without tools but a pair of scissors. I really like watching people tying kebari with the minimum tools. As you will see the absence of fly tying tools does not make the tie more ugly and less strong. I let you watch this scene to learn what Hirata-san uses as glue. 

I will not detail here all the contents of this excellent DVD because it is important for each one to make his own opinion after watching it. This is very well done and there is really no useless scenes, everything in here is useful and contains interesting informations. 

I am afraid that I will conclude this review just like I did for Vol.1 : When do you release Vol. 3 ?!