mardi 23 février 2016

Japan Kebari: Masami "Tenkara-no Oni" Sakakibara

It is rare to have the opportunity to meet the people who inspire us and thanks to whom we have developed a passion for something but I am gifted to have the pleasure to go fishing with the man who made me discover tenkara: Masami Sakakibara

With his thirty five years experience in the field of tenkara Masami Sakakibara's style is the perfect illustration of the highest skilled master. Faithful to the basic principle of tenkara "A rod, a line, a fly"
he has developed his technique instead of carrying a lot of tackle. Oni tenkara is not only simple but also very efficient and it is explicit when one sees his kebari and thinks a little about it. I think that the Tenkara-no Oni style of fly tying can be resumed by a simple motto: "design matches function".

This kebari tied by Masami-san is probably his most famous pattern. He is used to name his patterns from the materials used, in this case "Oni black pheasant kebari". What has in first place made this kebari famous among western tenkara anglers is its size as Masami-san ties it on hooks up to size 2. But function dictates design and size and this kebari is designed to be used in the sasoi technique.

Masami-san uses Tiemco "pellet dubbing", which is a natural substitute for seal fur, for the body of this kebari; a hen pheasant feather on a Gamakatsu S10 hook.
The next kebari is Masami-san's interpretation of a Mayfly, a huge ephemera, it is realistic by its size but impressionistic by its design.  I think that this describes very well Tenkara-no Oni style of fly-tying.

The body is made of polypropylene yarn and that is a good product if one wants low floatation kebari. The hackle will give the illusion of life to this kebari when on the water surface. 

If fishing big streams with long level lines has become a kind of hallmark of Tenkara-no Oni style he is also a very experienced and skilled small streams tenkara angler as I got to realize during my stay with the Team Oni in the mountains. 

To fish in shallow mountain streams small sized , in relation with the observable small insects, and light kebari are needed to obtain natural drifts. Masami-san is accosumated to tie his small sized kebari on Tiemco 2499-SP BL hooks that as he says have great features for small streams tenkara fishing: short shank, wide gap and laser sharp point. 

Masami Sakakibara's experience shows that it is possible to practice successful tenkara fishing on any water with his "simple" kebari because he has developed his technique on rational analysis of his fishing and fish behavior. 

Masami-san has developed over the years a tenkara fishing system that is not only simple but also very effective. I would even personally say that the Oni tenkara style has become so effective because it has been kept simple throughout the years. While fishing with him in the mountains I understood why his nickname is "Tenkara-no Oni", the Tenkara demon. As he says himself: "A tenkara angler must be one with the stream". 

If you want to learn more about Masami Sakakibara and the Oni tenkara style I invite you to check his awesome blog

dimanche 7 février 2016

Japan Kebari: Kazumi "Ajari" Saigo

After a little more than a couple of years of social network friendship I had the  pleasure during my stay in Japan to meet a friend who is as passionate as I am about tenkara: Kazumi "Ajari" Saigo.
During the hours of drive we did together from Kyoto to the banks of the Shō-gawa we talked about everything tenkara and I realized that my host's long experience with Masami Sakakibara and Dr. Hisao Ishigaki had gone to his head and that on the contrary he was happy to share his favorite streams with foreign tenkara anglers. 
Kazumi Saigo who was a bass competition angler at the highest level has been seduced by the simplicity and efficiency of tenkara and that shows in his ability to give one the best advices while doing countless jokes. 

Ajari uses a very small number of kebari and these are very simple. Like other Japanese tenkara anglers he does not give names to his kebari. Over the years he refined his technique and his ties are now the same size 14 which is the one giving the best results on the streams he is used to fish. 

The one above is tied on a size 14 Tiemco 403 BLJ hook which is commonly called "jig hook" by fly tiers. The value of this hook is to give a more natural "swim" to the kebari, or rather moves closer to the swimming of a real insect trying to head for the surface. The body of this kebari is made of Hareline "Ice Dub" dubbing that is an excellent synthetic product that does not soak up water and is very durable. Ajari also uses the "Ice Dub" in black which is an interesting substitute for peacock herls.

The benefit of this synthetic dubbing is obviously not to be more attractive to fishes, especially salmonids because as scientific studies show their eyes are not sensitive to UV longer than in the first weeks of their lives, but to be stronger than natural peacock herls.

This second model is tied on a Tiemco 2487 BL hook size 14. The body made of natural peacock herls and its collar black cock hackle make it an extremely versatile pattern that can suggest for a fish hundreds of insect species which are its usual food.
Having had the opportunity to observe Ajari fishing I can state that he masters the drift of his kebari perfectly as he has understood long ago that it was the key of successful tenkara fishing: the fish do not make the difference between a true insect and a kebari if it drifts to the good speed. Rather than multiplying the kebari models Ajari has adapted his technique to fish behavior.

There is no doubt that in the future this excellent and friendly tenkara angler gains a lot of attention from the tenkara community. A fisherman who has developed a very effective technique while remaining faithful to the principle of simplicity of tenkara and who likes sharing will undoubtedly become a respected ambassador of tenkara.