Saturday, September 24, 2011

RMNP Trip with Chris Stewart and Brian Flemming

While TenkaraBum aka Chris Stewart visited the Wild West (Tenkara Summit in Yellowstone, Colorado etc.) I got a chance to fish with him the week after Labor Day. We have been going back and forth where to fish but settled at last on heading to Rocky Mountain National Park and fishing the NSV.

While the intention for this trip was to fish a stream together that Chris hasn't fished for decades (I will not disclose how many decades...), we also had another Tenkara Angler join us, Brian Flemming of Learn Tenkara, who has been working on shooting a feature-length documentary on the introduction of Tenkara to the US. Brian fished only very little that day, but the few casts he managed to squeeze-in yielded a first for him, a Colorado native Greenback Cutthroat. Most of the time, Brian was kind enough to be content with taking pictures and video footage of Chris and I fishing and talking shop about Tenkara.

Chris approaching a difficult spot by using a boulder mid-stream to hide. The spot he is targeting is on the far side, to the left of the rock in the upper right corner.
Success! Chris hooked a trout, now how the difficult part, landing it.
Conditions were not the easiest; while the high flows of the run-off have subsided and dropped a few days before the trip to a more normal 60cfs, the few days before our trip were unseasonally cold with quite some rain which made the NSV swell up to around 95cfs the day of our trip. We were lucky though, even some rain was predicted, we stayed dry all day (that means there was no precipitation, we got plenty wet by wading, including some water spilling into someones waders) and air temperatures ranged from the mid 40ies in the morning to the mid 60ies in the afternoon. We mostly concentrated on pockets, pools, slower water and feeding lanes to present our flies to hungry brookies, greenbacks and brown trout and fishing was very good. While Chris used sakasa kebaris most of the time, I stuck with my personal Summer favorite, a CDC & Elk size 16 on an emerger hook. Both of us did equally well, confirming that high country trout on a high gradient stream are not very selective, they bounce on anything that looks like food if it is presented well.

Some of the beautiful bounty of the day:

Brook Trout- an non-native (some would say invasive) species of RMNP

Greenback Cutthroat

This one might be a hybrid - love the spots!

Chunkster of Greenback Cutthroat
Picture book markings on this Greenback Cutthroat

During lunch, we had a feathered visitor. I wonder what flies you could tie?

As much as I like fishing alone, fishing with like-minded friends is always a special occasion and treat.

And since we busted two rods during this trip, I will be including a "Lessons Learned":

Lessons Learned:

  • don't hike with a collapsed rod fully rigged with EZ Keepers in your backpack or similar if the the top sticks out
  • try to always fully collapse the rod, even if it s a bit stuck (use Tenkarabum's Tip-Grip if nothing else works)

Tight Lines,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gear Review: The Ebira Plus and Ebira Guide Rod Quivers (TrailLite Designs)

I know, there have been a lot of gear reviews lately, thanks to some weird lucky streak over at OBN but also thanks to the increased availability of Tenkara Gear - which I love to test for you so that you know what's out there and whether it's worth considering.

You might remember my review of the original Ebira, the Tenkara rod quiver made by TrailLite Designs (the same shop that also makes the Ti Net). Turns out that TrailLite Designs, that is run by Thom Darrah, is on to something. TrailLite Designs collected feedback from Tenkara anglers and the result is two new Ebiras.

The Ebira Plus is designed to pack 2 rods and has one pocket for gear. The pocket is slightly bigger than on the original Ebira and will hence accommodate either a bigger fly box for us fly junkies or a bit more gear such as tippet, nippers, lines or floatant etc.

Product Details Ebira Plus:
Weight: 1.5 oz. 
Material: dyneema-x 
Attachable Pocket
Type of Closure: Drawstring on the quiver pocket and water-resistant zipper on the tackle pocket.
Dimensions: 22.5" x 4.5" (2.25" per sleeve)
100% made in the USA

The Ebira Guide, for which I received a prototype for review, is designed to pack a whopping 4 rods (!) thanks to slightly wider twin sleeves than the Ebira Plus. You will able to store 4 rods if you insert one rod grip down and one grip up in each sleeve if you will carry the rods not rigged. Two rods, one per sleeve, can be stored if you decide to carry your rods fully rigged with EZ Keppers. Then there are two pockets to hold even more fly boxes and gear than with the Ebira Plus as well as a very comfortable new wide shoulder strap with pocket attachment webbing where you can attach one of the pockets upfront or just attach forceps or other small gear if you prefer. If you already own either the Ebira Plus or the original Ebira, you can attach its pocket to the shoulder strap on the Ebira Guide and be equipped with 3 pockets (just in case two fly boxes are not enough....).
Ebira Plus @ TrailLite Designs that will go on sale this week
My rig last week, I only carried two rods rigged in clear tubes
that's how the attachment point of the pockets looks like
top of Ebira Guide with shoulder strap and draw-string top
close-up of shoulder strap
very comfy shoulder strap!
3rd pocket attached to strap (note only two pockets are included but you can move them around)
pocket on shoulder strap close-up
Product Details Ebira Guide:
Weight: 2.5 oz. 
Material: dyneema-x 
Attachable Pocket
Type of Closure: Drawstring on the quiver pocket and water-resistant zipper on the tackle pocket.
Dimensions: 22.5" x 5" (2.5" per sleeve)
100% made in the USA

You will notice that I also carry the "oversized" Tenkara USA ITO in the Ebiras which does stick out a few inches. However, I feel comfortable carrying the ITO in the Ebiras, it stores securely and and is being held in place when you pull the drawstrings tight. Unless you store the ITO rigged with EZ Keepers, you should be absolutely fine. From personal experience, I do not recommend to carry a fully rigged rod with EZ Keepers if it sticks out of the Ebira or a backpack. You will snag it in a branch or brush, pull out the tip and break it and loose your whole setup. Yes, it happened to me recently.

During my last few outings I started to use a lightweight plastic tube in the sleeve of the Ebira (i.e. the tube that the spare handles from Tenkara USA are shipped in). The tube makes the sliding in and out of the rod easier and you can keep the rod fully rigged without fear of any snags inside the Ebira and it adds almost no additional weight. The downside is that you will obviously only will able to carry one rod per sleeve instead of 2.

These are very thought-through prodcuts specifically made with the Tenkara Angler in mind. The quality is very good and should last you for years, even if you are as rough on equipment as I am. I have been a fan of the original Ebira and like the two additions even better. There is a purpose for each of them, depending on your fishing needs any give day. For me, the Ebira Guide is the one I will use the most, carrying at least 2 or 3 rods (one I will be fishing, one I want to fish/test and a back-up rod). Also, being a gear junkie and not being able to let go of accessories, the ability of having two or even three pockets available is a winner.

Where to get them:
The Ebira Plus is available for $70 at TrailLite Designs here as well as at Tenkarabum here. The Ebira Guide is available for $105 at TrailLite Designs here and Tenkarabum here.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with TrailLite Designs nor did I receive any compensation to review the Ebira Plus or Ebira Guide, however, I received the Ebiras free of charge for testing & reviewing from TrailLite Designs.