Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Winter Tenkara or My Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

I believe I have mentioned in the past that I typically don't have much luck catching fish in the Winter. I am not sure if it is a lack of technique, approach, knowledge or something else or everything combined. I guess that this lack of success also affects my confidence which doesn't help. After all, if you are not confident in what you do why would you have success with it, right? I think this sounds really familiar what folks say about the one/any fly approach.

Last Sunday I was out fishing on the South Platte with my buddies Phil and Graham (the guy behind this blog); it was a very cold and slightly overcast morning with freezing temperatures that gave slowly way to some sun and warmer temperatures that should have made trout more active.

Graham (left) and Phil goofing around while still trying to keep up appearance...
While Phil and Graham both got into fish, although not in huge numbers, I have to admit that I was completely skunked. I couldn't even entice a trout to a nibble. I understand I fished mostly the same flies as Phil and Graham but here is where the part about the self-fulfilling prophecy comes into play - if you think you might not catch fish because it's Winter you probably won't because you believe so. Don't get me wrong, I always enjoy fishing and I have HOPE to catch a fish, even in Winter. It's just that my expectations are set very low.

That being said, it was still a great day out. The sun, once out, was warm. Good, no excellent, company. Big fish that were spotted but couldn't get enticed. And some annoying wind that made casting and presentation a challenge at times.

I will be out again this Winter I am sure, maybe after hitting the slopes first though. I hope we'll get some snow soon.

Stay warm & tight lines,

Days on the Water: 31

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gear Review: Fishpond Piney Creek Tech Pack

As a gear and particularly as a bag junkie I went through a lot of  different packs during my fly fishing and tenkara career - side packs, over the shoulder packs, sling packs, chest packs, back packs etc. - you name it. I have two or three packs I like for fishing light, but I still have been looking for a pack for full day trips. The closest I was able to find that worked for me (other than just a plain backpack) was a sling pack but it was a bit too small; just by bringing my light weight rain jacket I would have used almost all space available.

the sling pack with my rain jacket outside (!!) so that I
actually could put into the sling pack: not a great solution
the "plain" backpack - worked but not quite... 
So, when going on day hikes and fishing "away from the car", i.e. when hiking-in a few miles before fishing, I packed everything I might need in a plain backpack which left me wishing I had my essential stuff (i.e. fly box or two, nippers, extra line etc.) not "back there" but handy upfront so that I wouldn't have take off the backpack and try to find what I need. This was especially not convenient when I was in the middle of a creek or river and had to wade back ashore to retrieve what I needed.

This Fall I "rediscovered" Colorado based Fishpond (I own a very nice but not often used Fishpond fly fishing vest)  and realized that some of their packs might be what I have been looking for - a combo of a fishing backpack and a chestpack. After a very nice email exchange inquiring what Fishpond would recommend for a tenkara angler, Fishpond was generous enough to send me their Piney Creek Tech Pack for review.

The Piney Creek Tech Pack is one of three Chestpack/Backpack combinations Fishpond offers (there is a bigger Tundra Tech Pack and a smaller Double Haul Chest/Backpack. As mentioned above, the pack is a combination of a technical fly fishing backpack and the Tumbleweed Chestpack. Both the backpack and the chestpack can be used on their own but what is really cool is that the chestpack attaches to the backpack's straps in the front OR to the back of the backpack. This way you can decide how you want to be setup during the hiking portion and fishing portion of your trip. To my, it's obvious that it is more comfortable to have the chestpack attached in the back while "en route" to the creek of fishing spot and once there, you switch and attach it to the straps upfront so that you have all your fishing accessories handy.

So, what are the spec's you ask? Here they are:

BACKPACK FEATURES (from Fishponds website)
  • Volume: 1,220 cu. inches
  • Dimensions: 10.5" x 7" x 19"
  • Lightweight, waterproof and breathable fabric
  • Padded, contoured shoulder straps for load control and carrying comfort
  • Modular design allows the chestpack to dock on the front and back of the pack
  • Two large backpack compartments
  • One small accessories pocket for quick access to the necessities
  • Two zip-out rod tube holders
  • Wading staff lash point attachment system
  • Net attachment D-ring
  • Holds up to 100 oz. hydration bladder (optional, not included)
CHESTPACK FEATURES (from Fishponds website)
  • Chestpack is the Tumbleweed Chest Pack
  • Dimensions: 5.5" x 3" x 9"
  • Lightweight, waterproof and breathable fabric
  • Modular design docks to the front and back of the larger backpack
  • One main storage compartment that can accommodate large fly boxes
  • Signature, zip-down fly bench with replaceable foam
  • Integrated floatant holder
  • Gear attachment tabs, and loops
  • Neck and waist straps included for use as a stand-alone chestpack
The volume of the backpack is plenty sufficient to hold anything I could need on a day-hike and probably even an overnighter (unless you camp out and need to pack a sleeping bag, tent, etc.) in a cabin and you need a change of undergarments after a hard day's fishing. On the few trips I took, I was able to pack my rain jacket, fleece jacket, first aid stuff, water bottle, extra fly boxes, fly lines, food/snacks etc. and still had room for more. There are many adjustment options and strap, almost too many for someone like me who never owned such a technical pack. It took a little time to figure out what the purpose of each strap is and how/when I should be using or adjusting it. But once I figured it out and overcame my own clumsiness, the backpack turned out to be very confortable and I barely noticed I wearing it, even after hours of fishing.

An interesting feature for tenkara anglers that I would like to highlight are the zip-out rod tube holders. Obviously, this pack wasn't developed for tenkara but this feature is extremely valuable to tenkara anglers carrying multiple rods. Most backpacks have side pockets where folks usually store their water bottle or a rod. The zip-out rod tube holders are basically an extension to that side pocket, you open the zip and gain a few more inches of room and allowing the storage of your rod to be more secure from accidentally sliding out. The picture below should give you an idea how this works. Each side pocket is big enough to carry a total of 4 to 6 tenkara rods (4 if all your rods have cork handles, 6 if some of your rods feature no cork handles, i.e. like the Daiway Sagiri, Soyokaze or Kyose rods).

CHESTPACK FEATURES (from Fishponds website)
  • Dimensions: 5.5" x 3" x 9" 
  • Lightweight, waterproof and breathable fabric
  • Modular design docks to the front and back of the larger backpack
  • One main storage compartment that can accommodate large fly boxes
  • Signature, zip-down fly bench with replaceable foam
  • Integrated floatant holder
  • Gear attachment tabs, and loops
  • Neck and waist straps included for use as a stand-alone chestpack
Let's face it - the backpack will probably hold more stuff than you will ever need during a day's fishing. In the big compartment there is enough space for my rain jacket, a fleece, first aid kit, water, food, snacks, extra fly boxes, all my fly line spools, hat, glasses etc. The smaller compartment is still big enough for additional line spools, another fly box or two, a map etc. It holds everything you might need for a day trip into the back country and maybe even for an overnighter (well, that means a change of essential clothes if staying in a cabin, not a camp-out trip, the pack is obviously not big enough for a sleeping bag, tent etc.) There are a lot straps and adjustment options that make this a very comfortable backpack - once you figure out how what all those straps are for. Not having had much experience with technical packs and being a bit clumsy it took me a few dry runs at home before I figured it all out. One cool feature I would like to point out are to the tenkara angler are the zip-out rod tube holders. I know this pack was not designed for tenkara, but the tenkara angler will find those zip-out rod tube holders, one on each side at the bottom of the side pocket, are a great way to carry your tenkara rods. I was able to stuff them on each side with two traditional tenkara rods (with cork handles) and 3 "cork-less" tenkara rods (i.e. Daiwa Sagiri, Soyokaze, Kyose, etc.). That is a total of up to 6 rods!! Being able to carry that many rods size of the backpack would make this a suitable bag for a tenkara guide or for the tenkara angler who wants to be ready for changing stream conditions and stream sizes or field test new tenkara rod models.

that's three rods on one side, and three more on the other

the backpack also is great for air travel - it held all I needed for a long weekend 
The chestpack is just the right size. The front pocket can hold for the minimalist some flies in Fishpond's removable "fly bench" (basically a sheet with rows of closed cell foam, attached with velcro) or while removed, my custom made tenkara fly box (which is what I do). The main pocket holds for me another medium sized fly box, pocket knife, snack bars, one or two line spools and my fishing license. Forceps, nippers and other accessories can by attached in various places on various gear attachment tabs and loops. Of course the chestpack comes with a comfortable neck and waist strap so that you can use it without the backpack.

front pocket of the chest pack with "fly bench"
front pocket of the chest pack without "fly bench" - this is where I keep my custom made tenkara fly box
The versatility of this pack makes it one of my favorites for my fishing needs. If I go up to RMNP for a day trip, I pack the backpack with what I need (and probably some stuff I don't need) and being able to attach the chestpack in the back makes for easy and comfortable hiking. Having the option of carrying a few rod choices safely is a bonus, especially should you break one far away from your home or car. It also allows to adopt to changing conditions on-stream should you need to break out that super short or super long rod. The chestpack is just the right size for smaller trips close to your car or if you are have only a few hours to go fish. Leaving the chestpack in your car would allow you to be ready to fish whenever you are close to water holding fish. Both the backpack and the combination is comfortable to wear and the only gripe I had was to figure out the straps and adjustment options (I blame myself for most of this issue since I tend to be a bit clumsy).

Where to get it:
The Piney Creek Tech Pack is available online and through your local fly shop that carries Fishpond gear. The prices as listed on Fishpond's website is $179.95.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Fishpond nor did I receive any compensation to review the Piney Creek Tech Pack. However, received it free of charge for testing & reviewing from Fishpond.

Last but not least, I also would like to thank Kara who was very helpful in selecting the pack and coordinating the delivery of the pack.

Monday, October 29, 2012

South Platte 2012 10 27 or How much longer before I will go skiing instead of fishing

Last week I spent on a road trip with my family, heading West to Utah and then South and back towards Denver. We enjoyed just hanging out, soaked in some hot springs, took walks and hikes, saw some spectacular scenery in our National Parks and visited a few small few towns along the way. But we had to cut the trip one stop short and headed straight home from Montrose, taking the scenic route on Highway 50 and then 285. 

While I wasn't able to wet a line during the trip, coming home a day early allowed me to head up to the South Platte once more after a pretty good day two weeks earlier. Expectations were sort of "there" given last trips experience; I hoped to encounter another BWO hatch that would allow us to pluck some  unsuspecting trout. Well, the weather was not really what BWOs like, the sun was out, warming us up a bit although it was still kind of chilly, especially when the wind came up. 

We started fishing further upstream at one of the picnic pull-offs. While it seems that Phil hooked fairly quickly into some fish, it took me a while to hook one. The first action I encountered seems to have been a fish being foul hooked since all I was able to retrieve after a quick dart was a scale on the hook point. Soon though I was able to land my first rainbow of the day; not a big fish but nice and I was pleasantly surprised how my new Daiwa 43MF handled the fish without any problems. 

The morning moved on with a few more hookups but fishing was less than hot. We decided to move to the Deckers section of the South Platte and were pleasantly surprised that we had the river to ourselves. This section is typically overrun with people and "combat" fishing is typically what you have to endure. And once we got settled in the river we saw some fish rising again to some small sailboats. I switched back to a small size 16 green thread kebari with some grizzly hackle and tried to present it afloat, knowing well that it was too big compared to the size 20 bluewinged olives coming downstream. The wind was once more challenging but I still managed to fool two nice rainbows that went for my fake bug.

We continued to fish for a few more hours and a few hookups but none to hand. Fish were continuing to rise but the BWOs were gone and I couldn't figure out what they were going for. I settled in watching one enormous rainbow, a true torpedo, at least 25" long taking something small off the surface, at times very delicately and sometimes like a true veracious predator. 

I won't be fooled though, Fall is in full swing. Last week we had about 3" of snow while we were gone. Temperatures can dip any day into the 20ies at night and daytime highs can be anything between 40 and 70. Winter is coming for sure I think that I will likely be hitting the slopes instead of the river when its really cold.

But all being said, yet another good day on the South Platte in good company.

Tight Lines, 

Days on the water: 29

Sunday, October 14, 2012

South Platte 2012 10 13

Yesterday was a BWO day if there ever was one. Not your usual Colorado weather (sunny) but cold, overcast, drizzly, windy and rain. The sun tried hard to get through the cloud cover but it never happened.

My new friend Phil Echelman and hit the river hoping, in vain, it would warm up at least a little bit. With the wind setting in early afternoon, windchill set in to make things worse.

Fishing began a bit slow, I started with a Copperbari and teased a fish to flash but that was it. I decided to add my a small purple something from a tenkara fly swap and promptly hooked up with a acrobatic rainbow that I lost to bad know. Since it looked like they were into the small stuff, I tied on my old friend the RS2 as a dropper and things got a bit more interesting, hooking another fish or two. 

We moved downstream around the bend and started working some interesting looking runs and pockets I knew were holding fish. Remember I mentioned it was BWO kinda day? Bingo, around noon I started seeing noses of some nice fish come up and picking up little sailboat like BWO duns off the surface. I watched a few them floating through the seam just to be picked up leisurely by a trout. I cast my Copperbari into the seem, kept a tight line to drift the kebari as high as possible in the column and promptly hooked up and realized that those were not the same trout I was catching during the Summer in various creeks, those were trout with shoulders from a quality tailwater; well fed and strong. 

Since the Copperbari was a bit too heavy, I tied on a green kebari tied with thread and some grizzly hackle that I found at the bottom of my fly box. This made it a bit easier to keep it riding on top and the trout surely approved. I hooked and landed a good number of feisty rainbows and brown trout and Phil joined into the action also. But as suddenly as the hatch started, it ended as quickly. 

Phil in action...
... but unfortunately my camera finger was too slow to capture the fish before it slipped back into the river
The rest of the day left us in search of more trout further downstream, hooking up here and there before the wind and rain had us pack up. 

I sure was glad having ventured back to the South Platte for some quality trout before "really" cold season.

Tight Lines, -K

PS: Jason - even you would have lost your South Platte skunk today.

Days on the water this yer: 28

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Ok, so I have a bit of tenkara and fly fishing "swag" that I would like to give away to my blog followers as a "Thank You".

Up for grabs is the following:

a bunch of Tenkara on the Fly stickers
1 Simplyfly sticker (Tenkara on the Fly design)
3 Tenkara Talk stickers by courtesy of Jason Klass
2 Tenkara Guides stickers
1 Custom Furled Tenkara "Eddie" Line (16ft) by courtesy of Tenkara Guides
3 Tenkara-Fishing stickers
3 Tenkara-Fishing foam line spools
2 Tenkara USA patches
2 Tenkara USA sticker (round & rectangular)
1 Hook Fly Fishing sticker
Half a Dozen Kebaris (my confidence flies)

All of the stuff in the picture will be given away randomly to 15 lucky swag winners. Each entry will be assigned an entry a number and I will then use the online random number generator to pick the winners.

But most importantly, here is what you need to do to qualify to enter (all 3 steps):

1. Leave a comment on this blog below and
2. Like Tenkara on the Fly on Facebook and
3. Share the giveaway blog post on Facebook

Bonus: You will receive an additional entry for following the blog through Google Friend Connect (box on the lower right on the front page of the blog).

I will post the winners on this blog post as an update in the evening of October 5th. Please come back and check to see whether you have won. If you see your name, please email me (email will be published with the update of the winners) with your pick of 3 choices of which you will receive one - note that you will receive one square Tenkara on the Fly sticker in any case if you are a winner.  The swag will be allocated on a first come/first serve basis, so whoever emails me back first will have dibs.

Any questions, please ask away in the "comments" below.

Tight Lines, -K

Everybody who commented on this blog post is a winner! You will receive 1 Tenkara on the Fly sticker plus 1 item of the list above.

Winners: please email me at "giveaway at tenkaraonthefly dot net" with a few choices (prioritized) of what swag you are interested in plus your mailing address. I will fill requests on a "first come first serve" basis - whoever replies back first has dibs.

Thanks for participating and tight lines!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Boulder Creek 2012 09 22

It has been a few weeks since I was able to get out and I feel like I missed already out on some great Fall fishing. Fall is by far my most favorite time of year to be on the water.

Today I got the opportunity to fish Boulder Creek for 3h in the morning and show the Vagabox some fine Colorado fishing. Arriving in the canyon, I started feeling that today would be tough; it was pretty chilly and the water was very low. Indeed, in the first hole, I spooked all the fish before I was even able to cast. Realizing that I needed a more stealthy approach, moved just a bit upstream and hooked a cute little brown on my very first cast.

As turned out, the fish were very cooperative if you didn't spook them. I fished all day with various kebaris from the Vagabox and hooked somewhere around 30 fish. I LOVE FALL FISHING! What surprised me most was not that the fish were taking the kebaris willingly but the number of fish and diversity - I landed 4 different species of trout: brown, rainbow, brook and a cuttbow. Not sure if that qualifies as a Colorado Grandslam but I think it is as close as you can get without catching an actual pure bred cuttie.

I also did today some gear testing, I received a very cool pack from fishpond, the Piney Creek Tech Pack. This was the first time out and it's a pretty cool pack, I will do some more testing (at least one day hike into RMNP is a must) before I will post a comprehensive review.

the Vagabox and diary
the Vagabox hanging out and enjoying Boulder Creek
 look at those spots on this brown!
beautifully marked rainbow
surprise of the day: cuttbow
the gem of the creek, a brookie
looooow water...
... but they are still there and bunched up!
ahh Fall....
bow on a claret spot copper bar and Daiwa Sagiri, the tool of choice today
Get out and fish, Fall is short and Winter will be here soon!

Tight Lines, -K

Days on the water this yer: 27

Monday, September 17, 2012

Introducing my daughter to tenkara

My daughter has always been enthusiastic about my tenkara endeavours but had yet to go out with me fishing. By that I don't mean our family trips to RMNP where I would wet a fly for half an hour while my daughter would play in the water. I mean my daughter actually picking up a rod and casting trying to catch a fish.

Yesterday was the big day she and I ventured out to a bluegill pond for some daddy/daughter fishing. An added incentive was that the pond was also located strategically close to a playground. When we got to the pond, I let her first unload some of her energy on the playground and sure enough, 20 minutes in she announced "Daddy, let's go fishing now!".

Well, let me tell you that the attention span of a 5yo is fairly short especially if there is so much more than "fishing" to explore at the pond. We got maybe a good 5 minutes of actual fishing when she announced that she rather watch me fishing while she is playing with sticks, mud and "allergies" (algae for us grown-ups).

She got very excited every time I hooked and landed a bluegill, she wanted to touch and hold them but got a big squeamish (or just excited?) once the fish started wiggling in her hands. More than once we had to "rescue" a bluegill from dry land and release it back into the pond.

I think our first real fishing outing went well, she already announced that she wants to go fishing again.

I also got to test a new furled line (16ft long) I made the day before. In short, it was too light, I had a hard time casting it and turning the fly over. Also, this was my first outing with the new Tenkara Universal Rod Cap that I got from TenkaraUSA this week.  This gadget goes over the top end of the rod when the rod iscollapsed instead of the top plug. You can keep the rod rigged (i.e. with EZ keepers) while keeping it protected (I once broke a rod and lost a line while bushwhacking keep the top unprotected). It also is bigger (obviously) than a top plug and hence it is somewhat easier to keep track off when you drop it. There is a rubber patch on the inside and rubber band that secures the cover around the rod which makes it very unlikely to slip off. The only downside I can think of that the cover itself is clear plastic; I would have preferred some sort of a hi-vis color to make it even more easier to track when dropped.

Lastly, I also learned how NOT to attach traditional lines. Recently, I have been fishing almost uniquely level lines and hence did not need a knot in the lilian (see also an interesting post here). However, when attaching a traditiona line with a girth hitch, an overhand knot in the lilian is required or else you will loose your line - this happened to me twice within 20 minutes yesterday. I sure was lucky that there was no fish on the other end or otherwise the line would have been gone.

Tight Lines, Karel

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Gear Review - DVD Tying Tenkara Flies, Volume 1

I guess I am bit late with this review since I got a copy of this DVD at the Tenkara Summit a month ago (wow, already a month?!) and there is already a number of reviews out there. But that should not be a reason for me not to review it and not let you know what I think of it.

The DVD "Tying Tenkara Flies, Volume 1" was produced by Learn Tenkara's Brian Flemming (that's the guy who has been working on the feature-length documentary about tenkara in the US that is STILL not done yet) and co-produced by Ashley Valentine of and inventor of the Punk Rock Sakasa Kebari which is also featured on the DVD, tied by Chris Stewart, the Tenkarabum.

The DVD is 2.5h long and features 17 patterns tied by no other than Dr. Hisao Ishigaki (Ishigaki Kebari), Daniel Galhard of TenkaraUSA (Amano Kebari) and Chris Stewart of (Killer Bug, CDC & Elk, Sakakibara Sakasa Kebari and others). The content is very insight full and does not only show you in great detail and awesome quality how to tie the featured flies but also gives you an idea that each tenkara angler or tyer has a different approach and philosophy with which most of us can relate and learn from in one way or the other. A bonus is that this is not a fly tying only DVD but it also contains footage of the all 3 fishing with their flies as well as underwater impressions of the flies tied. There are also guest appearances of Rob Worthing and Erik Ostrander of and tenkara angler Dennis Galyardt.

The production value is very high, I don't think I have seen another fly fishing/tying DVD of similar quality. Whether you are a tenkara newbie or a seasoned pro, this DVD is a must have for your personal tenkara library. I am looking forward to see what Volume 2 will feature!

This DVD is a 'must have' for your personal tenkara and fly fishing/fly tying library. It is available for purchase for around $25 at LearnTenkaraTenkarabum and TenkaraUSA.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with LeanTenkara or its staff (Brian Flemming and Ashley Valentine)  nor did I receive any compensation to review the DVD Tying Tenkara Flies Volume 1. However, I received the DVD free of charge as part of a press kit for review. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

RMNP North Inlet Creek 2012 08 26

This last Sunday, I finally made it over to the West side of Rocky Mountain National Park. I set my eye on catching a few Colorado River Cutts and I read that North Inlet Creek above the Cascade Falls would be a good bet.

I headed up there with Jason Klass of TenkaraTalk and Joe Egry of Dragon Flyfishing early Sunday morning but it was a bit farther than anticipated, so we didn't get to the trailhead until after 8am. Thank god there was still space in the parking lot, I would hate to have to change fishing plans just because we got late to a full trailhead parking lot.

Cascade Falls are about 2.3miles from the trailhead and for some of us, it was torture not to start fishing when we first saw the creek down in the meadow. I was somehow able to talk everybody into continuing heading further up the trail and past Cascade Falls but wondered at times how long it will take us to see the creek again. Especially one of my fellow anglers was getting increasingly inpatient and frustrated.

That being said, once we got to the Cascade Falls I was pleasantly surprised of the awesome pocket water.

Jason (downstream) and Joe working their pools
keeping the profile low...
Jason with his signature hat and - shocker! - a fishing vest!
Once I started fishing, I quickly got into a number of brook trout that took my sakasa kebari. I even think that I probably had a Colorado Cutty on but lost it - a yellow instead of a white and orange belly is what I think I saw.  The brook trout up there were just gorgeous, little jewels of white, orange, green, red and blue.

those colors are just stunning
Just a little upstream of Cascade Falls the valley widened and we found ourselves suddenly in a combo of meadow and forest with a low gradient and slow water.

You probably guessed it already, but the day yielded "only" brook trout, no Colorado Cutties. I guess next time, we will have to venture even further upstream, get up earlier and maybe even camp out overnight.

One of the highlights of the day was our hike out where we encountered 5 (!) moose, two of them only maybe 30ft off the trail. Those guys were sure impressive and we made sure not to disturb them.

Fall is approaching...
Days on the water: 26