mercredi 20 janvier 2016

Japan Kebari: Hirata-san

When I arrived in Gifu Prefecture I went with my guests in a small fishing gear shop located a few steps from the Itoshiro river held by Hirata-san. Located a few steps from the river this little shop is the place to stay in the region to be informed of the fishing conditions in the area and buy what you need.
In many ways the Hirata-san shop reminded me of those still existing  fifteen years ago in my area and that were held by true fishing junkies and where we were going to buy as much as our material for the simple pleasure to discuss. Hirata-san's tackle shop is exactly that kind of shop. 

If Hirata-san's shop is small it offers no less than anything you need to practice ayu, esa zuri and tenkara. The latest gear rubs beautiful tamos manufactured by the master of the house and bamboo tenkara rods.
I did take advantage also of Hirata-san advices to purchase some spools of fluorocarbon tippet then I became interested in the contents of two wooden boxes placed on the counter of the shop. One of them contained the famous "mamushi kebari".

This kebari really deserves to be described as "one of a kind" as Hirata-san uses the skin of gloydius blomhoffii, a highly venomous viper which is called "mamushi" in Japan. Having met several of these snakes when I was in the mountains around Tadami I can assure you that the behavior of this snake is typically that of a viper: it does not flee at your approach, quite the contrary.

Hirata-san uses the skin of this venomous snake to make the body of its kebari. To people who tell him that they are too expensive kebari, around USD 8.50 each, he replies with a smile: "I risk my life to tie these kebari!"
Hirata-san is used to tie his kebari with a pair scissors as sole tool and the result is nonetheless very successful, that is the evidence of a long experience of tool-free tying.

But Hirata-san's kebari are not only beautiful, they are also very strong as he uses nail varnish as a glue. Hirata-san uses  Owner Kuwahara Tenkara hooks.
The second box on the counter of the shop contained other kebari tied by Hirata-san. He of course also ties them without tools on the same hooks but with embroidery thread as a body. When I visited all of them had a beige body but differed in the colors of their hackles ranging from grizzly to black through  furnace brown.

Hirata-san also finishes these kebari by a thin layer of nail varnish on the body to make it more durable. As he stated varnish body does not change in appearance when the kebari has been submerged.  Like most of the tenkara anglers I did meet in Japan Hirata-san has  observed long ago that  it is not the kebari that catches fish but the angler who knows how to use it wisely. 

dimanche 3 janvier 2016

Japan Kebari: Dr. Hisao Ishigaki

During my stay in Japan I was lucky thanks to the intervention of my friend Kazumi Saigo of Dr. Hisao Ishigaki meet with whom I did fish an afternoon on the legendary Itosihro. It was of course a very good experience and a joy to meet one of the most notable ambassadors of tenkara.
Ishigaki-sensei and I exchanged some of our kebari after fishing.

We all know the Ishigaki sakasa kebari and most of us have tied this pattern in their tenkara beginnings but the original tied by Ishigaki Sensei are very different from western versions  which in most cases show excessive attention to details.
The tenkara technique of Dr Hisao Ishigaki is based on a rational observation of salmonid behavior, especially their sense of vision.

If the details in the pattern may be important for the fisherman they have none for fish which, because of the quasi-spherical and rigid lens of their eyes are myopic. 
Made of tying thread and a cock hackle feather a tenkara angler who considers his technique more important to meet success than the choice of a particular pattern will use this kebari as a dry, an emergent or a wet fly. When Ishigaki sensei opened his box to give me some of his kebari he took two other models that have no name.

Both kebari are tied on Varivas barbless hooks, they are of great simplicity and flawlessly efficient in fishing. The movements of their hackle on and under the water surface is certainly no stranger to their efficiency.

Ishigaki Sensei has developed a downstream wet fly fishing technique called "Tomezuri". This technique is very effective and allows successful downstream fishing at short distance. I was initiated by Ishigaki sensei himself and I can state that these kebari tied with long supple hackles perfectly work. Not only in Japanese mountain streams but on any stream.

As the masters of tenkara Ishigaki sensei has demonstrated during his career that while remaining faithful to the principle of simplicity of tenkara he was able to develop a range of effective techniques based on rational observation of salmonids.

John and Paul of Discover Tenkara have released an excellent video starring Ishigaki sensei that you can watch by clicking here.
Learn more about Ishigaki sensei and his tenkara experience in the very interesting interview he did with Adam and that was published on the Tenkara Fisher forum