Suzumi Custom 32 Tenkara Rod

30 May

A friend of mine recently returned from Japan with a nice surprise for me:  a Suzumi Tenkara rod!

Suzumi Tenkara Rod

The 10.5 foot (3.2 m) rod feels incredibly light in the hand despite the slightly heavy weight of 2.7 oz. weight.  I think this is because the rod is slightly stiffer than what I’m used to fishing with.  I normally fish a 6:4 action rod and this one feels more like a 7:3 (but I need to get someone who speaks Japanese to confirm it).  The action is extremely crisp and and can make dead accurate presentations–a nice dry fly rod for pocket water! Continue reading


Big Shipment of Trico Ultralight Fly Fishing Packs has Arrived!

12 May

FINALLY got the big shipment in I’ve been waiting for!  The Tricos are officially back in stock and hopefully for good.  To all of you who have been so patient in waiting for them, thanks!  Also, from now on, we’re including a custom foam fly drying patch with each one.  Get them here.

Ultralight Fly Fishing Pack

Tenkara Auction to Benefit Japan Relief Efforts

27 Mar

Tenkara USA is auctioning off the ultimate Tenkara outfit with proceeds to go directly to aid victims of the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.  The auction was donated by Thom Darrah, inventor of the Ebira Rod Quiver and founder of TrailLite Designs and includes the following gear for a retail value of over $425:

– Iwana 11ft rod, Series II (147.95)
– Ebira rod quiver (55.00)
– Tenkara Net (85.95)
– Book: Tenkara, Radically Simple, Ultralight Fly Fishing. Dr. Kelleher and Misako Ishimura (Signed by Dr. Kelleher) (19.95)
– 3 flies tied by Dr. Ishigaki (the only fly he actually uses for fishing) (priceless)
– Level line 3.5 (12.35)
– Traditional tenkara line 10.5ft (19.95)
– 2X Line holders (11.95 each)
– Tippet, 5X (7.55)
– Forceps/Nipper set (11.95)
– Fly box (12.35)
– Tenkara tea set (15.00)

If you’ve been thinking about getting into Tenkara, this is a perfect opportunity to get completely outfitted while doing something proactive to help Japan in this crisis.  The auction ends March 31st.  To bid, click here or on the image above.

Inexpensive (Not Cheap) Flies

21 Mar

Cheap Fly Fishing Flies

Just stumbled on to a site that has flies for 50 cents each!  Stream Flies has all the mainstay patterns to stock your fly arsenal without breaking the bank.  But here’s the clincher:  these flies are actually high quality.  They’re not cheap flies tied with the incorrect colors and proportions you typically find at discount prices.  Check them out–they’re for real.

Bamboo "Tenkara" Rod

17 Mar

Bmboo Tenkara Rod

Today, I got something in the mail that has been in the works for months:  my bamboo tenkara rod.  A while back, I contacted Chuck Ledgerwood from Prize Catch Inc. and asked him if he could make me a tenkara-style rod in bamboo.  He was really enthusiastic about the project right from the start and in the following weeks, we started putting all the pieces together to see what such a rod might look like.  It should be noted that this isn’t a traditional hollow tenkara rod–it’s spit cane.  Also, it’s only 9 feet in length so some will surely call into question whether it really is a true tenkara rod or not (which is why “tenkara” is in quotes in the title of this post).  Of course, some call it to question whether tenkara is truly “fly fishing” or not (I happen to think it is).  But, that’s another story. Whatever it is, it’s something unique and hopefully a contribution to the evolution of tenkara fishing that is already taking place in the West.

My goal was to create a rod that combined my love of bamboo with my passion for tenkara that would work well for very small, brushy streams where the rod and line lengths need to be short enough to be cast under overhead foliage.  With that in mind (and the fact that split cane had the potential to be fairly tip heavy) I decided on a 9 foot length as a good compromise.

We ordered the blanks from China and Chuck put together all the components according to my specifications.  Here are some of the features:

It’s a 3-section, 2-tip design with a half-wells grip.  For those unfamiliar with bamboo rods, you have two tips so you can alternate them between fishing trips to minimize warping.

Tenkara Bamboo Fly rod Handle

The cap on the butt of the grip is walnut and features a laser-engraved tenkara reverse hackle fly.

Bamboo Tenkara Fly Rod End Ca

The ferrules are standard metal ferrules found on most Western Bamboo rods.  Each tip has a lilian cord that is secured with a few wraps of rod winding thread and some rod varnish.

Bamboo Tenkara FLy Rod Lilian Cord

Just above the grip, is the rod and maker information.

Bamboo Tenkara Rod Blank

A nickel silver winding check makes a nice transition from the grip to the blank.

Bamboo Tenkara Rod Blank

By now, you’re probably asking yourself how it casts.  The answer is beautifully!  It’s a very crisp action that throws a furled line well.  I haven’t fished with it yet or tried level lines but I cast it in the backyard today with both 9 foot and 10.5 foot lines and it worked great.  If I had to translate the action into tenkara terms, I’d say it’s probably closer to a 7:3 than a 6:4 but I’ll have to do more testing to make that determination.

What This Rod Is

  • An experiment.  As far as I know, this is the first rod built in the West using split cane to try to emulate a tenkara rod.  There are probably a lot of other design paths that could/should be tried out if split cane becomes a viable strain in the evolution of tenkara fishing.
  • A fun piece of gear.  There’s just something that feels good about bamboo.  It’s a rod I’ll only take out on special occasions when I want something more traditional or nostalgic in my hands than graphite.
  • A beautiful piece of art.  Just like any hand made bamboo fly rod, this one is worthy of a wall.  In fact, I might find a special rack to hang it on the wall of my gear room/office.  It’s definitely a conversation starter and the ultimate niche within a niche.  I appreciate unique things and it doesn’t get much more unique than this!
  • Light (considering it’s bamboo).  The weight is 3.8 oz. which is a little heavy compared to graphite tenkara rods but light for a 9 foot bamboo Western rod (the lack of a reel seat and guides helps).

What This Rod is Not

  • A practical rod for backpacking.  By it’s very nature, bamboo takes a little more care than your average graphite rod so I doubt I’ll ever take it on a backpacking trip where it might get broken.  But as stated above, that was never it’s purpose.
  • An all-in-one fishing tool.  This rod was designed for a very specific purpose (with a nod to nostalgia) and it will never replace more versatile tenkara rods like my Tenkara USA Iwana or Amago.  But, it has it’s place in my quiver just like every club in a golf bag has it’s specific purpose.

At any rate, I’m happy with this first step and am excited to test it on the stream.  As people that are drawn to tenkara, I feel that we are an inherently innovative tribe always trying to push the envelope. This concept had to be tried and I will be interested to see if it sparks other ideas.  And to be clear, when I say that tenkara will evolve in this country, it’s not a knock against tradition and simplicity, rather it’s with a passion for innovation with an appreciation for tradition (and how they can blend together).

The Ninja's Victim: a Sakasa Kebari Tenkara Fly

1 Mar

While I tend to prefer dry flies and don’t fish sinking flies much, I thought it would be fun to start experimenting with some reverse hackle Tenkara wet flies.  When I do fish wet flies, I usually want them to sink fast.  So, I’m playing around with some different ideas for Tenkara-style flies that use copper wire for the body to give them a little more weight than the traditional thread bodies.  Also, I’ve been reading a lot lately about the effectiveness of blue-colored flies.  And that’s what inspired this pattern.

Tenkara Flies The Ninja's Victim

The Ninja's Victim

It’s called the “Ninja’s Victim” because it goes down fast and is black and blue (get it?).  It’s a very simple pattern but one that I think has a lot of fish appeal (like iridescent Starling hackle).  Here is the recipe:

Hook: TMC 2457 #16-20
Thread: Black UNI 8/0
Body: Blue copper wire (with tapered thread underbody)
Hackle: Starling

I’m thinking about adding a peacock herl thorax to add to the iridescence but am not sure if that would slow down the sink rate.  The Starling already makes it look buggy enough so maybe the peacock herl is redundant.  I guess I’ll just have to put it in front of “the judges” to get the final verdict.

How Many Flies Do you Need for a Backpacking Trip?

12 Feb
Flies for Backpacking

A box full of Japanese Hammers and Griffith's Gnats

I get asked this question a lot.  And like many of my answers, I’m forced to say, “it depends”.  There are a variety of factors that determine how big of a selection you need to take on backcountry fly fishing trips.  Here are a few considerations that might help you figure it out… Continue reading