July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July, 2015!

John Adams don't mess around...


A continuation of the last four years' "Famous Fly Fishers of the Fourth," found HERE.

*Pre-Photoshop components "liberated" from History.com & Dakota Angler & Outfitter.

June 28, 2015

Fishing Goodie Box Of The Month Clubs

Over the past few years, there's been a growing trend in internet retail around what I'll call monthly "goodie box" subscriptions. I think most of the subscriptions I first noticed were those for clothing or personal care products, like those from Trunk Club or Birchbox. For those unfamiliar, you essentially receive an assortment of products based on your personal preferences every 30 or so days, like clockwork.

Well, when something works, or at least appears that it works, it isn't long until it trickles down into other areas. Heck, I noticed advertisements for this box of pop-culture geekdom from Lootcrate on my Facebook feed not too long ago.

Fishing, even fly fishing, has not been spared. There are several goodie box providers these days geared toward those that pursue fish, or simply enjoy the outdoors. While I haven't subscribed to any myself, here's a few that I've noticed (and I'm sure I'm missing a few).


Mystery Tackle Box


I think this is the granddaddy of the fishing goodie boxes...it's certainly the one I remember being around the longest. The concept behind Mystery Tackle Box is simple, $15 gets you a box of "mystery" baits or lures each month...for as long as you want to play.


Postfly Box


Postfly box is much like Mystery Tackle Box in concept. $15...a monthly delivery. What makes it different is that it is flies, or fly fishing items. You can also sign up for what sort of box you want to receive - geared toward trout, bass, salmon, saltwater, etc... Because getting a box of salmon stuff each month when you live in say Texas probably isn't the best combination. Postfly also has a storefront for things like reels and accessories outside of the monthly subscription eco-system.


Fishing Enthusiast


Grab Mystery Tackle Box and Postfly Box and squish them together...and you've got Fishing Enthusiast. Slightly more expensive than the others (subscriptions start at $53 for 3 months...roughly $18), you can choose from freshwater lures, saltwater lures, or freshwater flies.


Cairn


Cairn isn't fishing. Rather it's more "outdoors lifestyle." Think Clif Bars, bug spray, solar chargers, water bottles, stuff like that. At $25 a month, this one probably interests me more than the others, simply because it seems like it would serve up more randomness each month, a true grab bag. That said, as I mentioned, it's not fishing, so if you're not super-outdoorsy, you might end up getting stuff you'd never use.

I'd also be negligent if I didn't state that these goodie boxes are also marketed as ideal gift giving vehicles, so if you've got a fisherperson in your family that you just don't know what to get them for a birthday (or other holiday), perhaps this is an ideal option.

In the end, maybe these goodie boxes are for you, maybe they're not. The compelling thing to me is simply the anticipation of not knowing what you're going to get. The childhood "Christmas Morning" phenomenon delivered to your door monthly. Here's hoping these boxes contain more GI Joes & Transformers and less socks & underwear.

Did I miss a fishing club you're fond of? 
I'd love it if you'd post it in the comments below...

June 21, 2015

Fly Fishing Branding Alliances - Topo X Tenkara Rod Co.

Was bouncing around the internet last night and came across this collaboration between Topo Designs and the Tenkara Rod Co.  Pretty slick.


Topo has been doing these "X" collaborations for a little bit now; you'll find Topo X Howler Bros., Topo X Salomon, Topo X Woolrich, etc...products all over their website. I think it's a pretty interesting branding exercise, and from their generous use, one that I suppose works well for them, especially when the two companies offer complimentary products.

Personally, I'd love to see a Tenkara Company TBD X Vedavoo or X ZimmerBuilt collab (although in the case of the former it happened in a limited way, and in the case of the latter I guess there is sort of one right now, without as bold of a dual-branding marketing message). 

There's probably also an opportunity for a performance fishing apparel brand too if both parties found it to be mutually beneficial.

Nike X Simms...eh, that'd never happen...

Or maybe brands just don't mean that much to you. I'll be honest, most really don't mean a ton to me, but a few do resonate since I've had nothing but positive experiences with their products. It'd be cool to see them working together, especially if the end product was unique and brought some added value.

One could take this in all sorts of humorous directions, but I was curious if there were any collaborations in the fishing world that you'd like to see actually happen?

June 16, 2015

Tenkara Tuesday - Comfort Food & Trout Streams

I don't really consider myself some sort of "destination angler," but between last fall's Tenkara Summit, a trip to Philadelphia, and last month's Wisconsin venture, it seems like I've been seeking as much out of state trout fishing as I have been chasing bass, bluegill, shad, redfish, and other species locally within the Sunshine State.


It's not that I dislike fishing in Florida. Florida fishing is tough to beat. It also tends to be more high impact, more extreme. The gear is bigger, the water is warmer, the sun is more intense. Oh, and the mosquitoes. Add that all together and it can be an exhausting combination...especially if you involve watercraft of any sort. It's just not the same sort of escape as a trout stream. It's just different, and that is fine.

In search of a good recharge from the work week, I headed to North Georgia last weekend to fish some trout streams that my friend first introduced me to last year. Driving the six or so hours to get to my destination at the southern origin of the Appalachian Trail is a small price to pay to relieve the accumulated stress of daily drama and deadlines. I'm not a man of many vices, but the promise of wild trout water will motivate me like few other things.


Upon arrival, I considered myself fortunate. Other cars were parked along the road and at stream side campsites, but on the whole, I didn't see many other anglers on the water. I suppose they could have been hidden by the rhododendron, but it proved a good sign of things to come.


I'm not going to detail every plunge pool or every set of riffles, but the fish were very kind to me. They were eager to interact, and I was able to score a nice rainbow on my second cast and a solid brown on my fifth or sixth. That never happens. At least not to me.



The residents really seemed to respond to a small white hackled kebari. I enjoy fishing white hackled flies for no other reason than they are easy for me to see in the water or against the wooded backdrop. Most fish were caught slightly below the surface, but some aggressive juvenile rainbows rose on occasion. There's nothing quite as pretty as the banding of parr marks. 



Before I knew it, getting lost in the motions of hopping rocks, bow and arrow casting, lofting fly after fly softly into pocket water, and drifting in and out of random thought, I had spent almost 9 hours on the stream. It barely felt like 45 minutes. Not wanting to drive back to town on the winding mountain roads in the dark, I packed my gear up and contently headed back to the car.  


There's no other place that I feel as care free and at ease than when standing in a nice cool trout stream. I'm not sure if it's the sound of the flowing water, the shade of the forest canopy, or what. Maybe it's just the relative solitude that a missing cell phone signal provides. I certainly don't think that hurts any.


I think more than a few of you know what I'm talking about. That's why you're reading this, that's why you grab your fishing rod and find your special place. We're all hooked on some aspect of fishing that makes us come back because it feels easy and familiar. Just like mac & cheese, shrimp & grits, or pecan pie. My comfort food is a trout stream, what's yours?

June 9, 2015

#TenkaraTuesday Is Evidently A Thing Now...

The American Museum of Fly Fishing is on board...


...as is Wetfly...

A photo posted by Wetfly (@wetflyfish) on


...and even Tenkara USA...

Welcome to Tenkara Tuesday! We hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. *Today we're going to make this super easy....
Posted by Tenkara USA on Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Welcome back to Tenkara Tuesday!*Tell us, if you could use only ONE fly on your next fishing adventure, which fly would...
Posted by Tenkara USA on Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Welcome back to Tenkara Tuesday! 'Like' & 'Comment' to enter.*If you could pick anyone to go fishing with, who (or...

Posted by Tenkara USA on Tuesday, June 9, 2015


All the Tenkara Tuesday-ing around here suddenly seems legit!
Happy #tenkaratuesday

June 7, 2015

Guest Post - Angler Eye Safety

My buddy Spurky from central PA decided to send over a guest post the other day. I always enjoy a guest post from Spurky because he's a top notch spin fisherman...and my lure fishing Sensei. Posts from him change things up around here every now and then and take you from hooks and feathers to spinners and spoons.

In this post he explores safety on the water, particularly eye safety, something anglers probably take for granted until it's too late.

Please enjoy.

Safety while fishing, do we really think about it?

Nowadays, parents have kids basically in bubble wrap to do anything. Sorry, but I grew up in an era without child seats, riding in bed of pick ups, etc... Back to the point in hand, I tend to go fishing a lot, and picked up a few things.

The safety aspect I believe is most important to fishing is eye safety. I work as a mechanic so I have to wear safety glasses all day. My glasses have prescription lenses, so I basically wear safety glasses all the time, paid for by work.  :)

Spurky doing what he does best

When out fishing, the glasses have prevented me from getting branches in the eye when following someone, or from injuring myself when not paying attention. Now the reason I am so thankful so wearing them...

I was fishing for trout on the local over-sized hill which was no cell signal area. I would have to cross the stream twice to get back to my truck due to terrain. (I am lucky, my truck has OnStar if there's no cell coverage in an emergency). My lure got snagged, a 1/4 oz spoon, and I had 8-lb test on. Pulling to free the lure was not working so prepped myself to snap the line, as lure was in a deep hole 30 feet upstream.

Pulling to break it, I heard the line "singing," then it happened. The lure broke free and in a millisecond the spoon hit my glasses dead center in the left lens, knocking my glasses up my nose and off my head and laying me out on the ground. When got my senses back, I had blood all over from cuts on my nose. I found my glasses and saw a small chip in lens, it was dead center.

Not THE glasses, image used for effect

If I did not have my glasses on, my doctor said I most definitely would have lost my eye. I had the lens replaced and the eye doctor had the lens manufacturer check the lens. They estimated the impact at approximately 45 mph!!!

With the wide range of safety glasses out there, there is no excuse not to wear them while fishing. Whether it is a dry fly or a large metal bait, remember your sight is important and you need to protect it.

June 4, 2015

Ghosts Of Tenkara USA Rods Past

I love tenkara rods. If you read this blog regularly, that fact is pretty self evident.
Having fished primarily Tenkara USA rods for almost six years now, it's been interesting to see the various models come and go from their line-up.

While it's nothing really uncommon, rods are retired as newer versions are introduced all the time from other makers, it's been such a relatively short period of time many can probably remember them all. Could you imagine if you could say the same about the Orvis rod line up?

Here's a list of some the rods I recall, images and copy courtesy of Tenkara USA (& Backpacking Light) via the magic of the "Wayback Machine"

Backpacking Light Hane

Backpacking-Light-Hane-Tenkara-USA-rod

This was an interesting little rod. Maybe the first tenkara collaboration, the Hane was the shortest Tenkara USA rod available at the time at slightly under 10 feet, and was a "special make up" that was only sold via the Backpacking Light website. It's sort of become a collectors item for those that are into that, since it was so unique and relatively short lived.

Description (circa 2009)
"The Hane model is exclusive to Backpacking Light and was co-designed by Ryan Jordan for the ultralight backpacking community. One of the lightest and most compact Tenkara fly fishing rod currently on the market. Elegant and ultra-compact design without compromise to quality. Length provides balance between good reach and casting in tight quarters. 
Reinforced carbon fiber wall in lower section negates the need for a separate case. Ideal action with 7:3 flex ratio provides pin-point precision while being very responsive and easy to cast. High-grade cork handle is long enough, with a universal shape, for a variety of casting holds. Low-glare finish reveals the beauty of the carbon fiber used in the Hane's construction. Fits inside most packraft paddle shafts (Aqua Bound or Sawyer). Reinforced lower tube is durable enough to be used as a rear pole on a flat tarp or along with p-cord and round lashings, as a pole extender in a pyramid tarp." 
  • Length-collapsed: 16 in. (40.6 cm) - 16.5 in. (40.9 cm) incl. plug
  • Length-extended: 9 ft - 10 in. (3 m)
  • Length-handle: 8.25 in. (21 cm)
  • Weight: 2.7 oz (77 g)
  • Number of Segments: 10
  • Ratio: 7:3

Iwana 11'

Tenkara-USA-Iwana-Rod

This was my first tenkara rod, I actually own one of the originals that featured a much shorter cork handle than later versions and was marked with a 5:5 action (later changed to 6:4). A separate accessory handle was also later sold which converted this 11 foot rod into a 9 foot rod, and made it a favorite of bushwhackers everywhere.

Description (7/12/2009)
"These are lightest rods we offer. Ideal for those seeking very very delicate casting and for fishing smaller streams, the Iwana feels extremely light-weight and all sensations are enhanced when hooking a fish. The flexible tip action provides for great battles, even when hooking the smallest fish. Quality and strength are by no means compromised, and landing large fish is not unheard of (17" mentioned on a forum). If you are going to streams where 12 inch trout are trophies this is the rod. These rods have a beautiful "glossy carbon" finish, where you can see the high-quality carbon fiber material through a nice glossy finish."
  • Closed size: 20 1/2 inches (including 1/2" cap)
  • Segments: 8
  • Handle length: 9 inches
  • Weight:2.5oz

Ebisu

Tenkara-USA-Ebisu-Rod

The Ebisu is one of my favorite rods. I consider myself lucky to have snatched one up via a "want to sell" ad on a tenkara forum a few years ago. Featuring a somewhat unique wooden handle, this rod was originally offered in two versions; 5:5 and 6:4. I really love the way my 5:5 casts a level line or even light furled line.

Description (7/8/2009)
"These rods feature a unique Red-Pine handle, a very high quality wood that is light-weight, durable and water resistant. This beautiful wood has very fine grain and rays that flows in the same direction as the rod. We designed a very short handle, which makes it feel more "delicate" and great in the hands. The wood handle is a great addition to a fishing rod that you will feel proud of.

We offer this rod in both 5:5 and 6:4 actions. Both rods are made with the highest grade carbon fibers we could find and have very powerful casting. The action of these rods are right on the mark at the 5:5 and 6:4 categories. The 5:5 is just slightly stiffer than the Iwana rods (our lightest and slowest) and the 6:4 just a bit slower than the Yamame rods (which are borderline 7:3)."
  • Weight: 3.4 oz
  • Closed length: 20 3/4 inches
  • Open length: 12 ft (360cm)
  • Handle length: 8 inches
  • Number of segments: 9
  • Finish:Glossy black

Ayu

Tenkara-USA-Ayu-Rod

I'll be honest, I had a first generation Ayu and didn't care for it much. I thought it was heavy in hand and I rarely fished it so I sold it on eBay. That said, many people loved their Ayus, different strokes for different folks...

Description (10/29/2009)
"Our longest rod, the 13ft Ayu has similar action and finish to the Ebisu rods, but one extra foot. The Ayu 6:4 features a long premium cork handle that has been redesigned and is more ergonomic. The longer handle helps balance the rod and adds to overall comfort. The Ayu is one of the rods featured in our Tenkara Intro film (the one catching the larger fish). 
The rod is a mid-weight tenkara rod, and the most versatile rod we offer, great for catching most fish sizes while staying a bit further and casting precisely and softly."
  • Length: 13ft
  • Closed length: 20 3/4 inches
  • Number of segments: 9
  • Handle length: 11 1/4 inches
  • Weight: 3.6oz
  • Finish: Glossy Black, green stripes at end of each segment

Ayu II

Tenkara-USA-Ayu-II-Rod
This Ayu rod was only available for a very brief time in early 2013. Even though I didn't like the original Ayu that much I did break down and purchase one of these when Tenkara USA had one of their rare sales. Visually, it had a glossy carbon fiber finish, and I also think may have been one of the first tenkara rods to be made available with a length of extra lillian looped through the tip cap.

Description (8/16/2013)
"A redesigned version of the popular Tenkara USA AYU, this is a delightful new tenkara rod. The 13ft Ayu Series II still features a softer feel that has made the original Ayu a very desirable rod. But, now it counts on more backbone to handle larger fish with more ease, and a very crisp and more precise action. Casting the new Ayu translates into considerably more precise placement of the fly. Handling of fish, small or large, should prove to be fun and very effective. It also counts on a sleeker and more durable finish.
Further, we started incorporating a section of "lillian" material attached to the plug of the rod. The lillian is the braided material that attaches to the tip of the rod and allows the line to be connected. The attached lillian will make it easier to keep track of the plug (or connect it to your backpack/shirt/waders), and if necessary it can be used in field repairs."
  • Closed length: 22 3/4 inches (58.42cm)
  • Number of segments: 9
  • Handle length: 11 1/4 inches (28.5cm)
  • Weight: 3.6oz (102 grams)
  • Finish: Glossy Carbon

Yamame

Tenkara-USA-Yamame-Rod

The Yamame was only recently retired a month and a half ago, so recently that you can still find it available for sale at many Tenkara USA dealers. Originally listed as a 6:4, this rod was later revised to a true 7:3 in December 2009. It became a favorite for "big fish" tenkara.

Description (7/12/2009)
"Named after one of the most prevalent fish in the mountain streams of Japan, this rod may be the most versatile rod we offer. This 6:4 rod is ideal for most fishing situations. Casting feels very precise and powerful. The faster action makes it well suited for slightly larger fish (e.g. 12 - 15 inches). These rods have a subdued matte finish, which was chosen for its "camouflage" effect. We took most of the gloss out of these rods to reduce any glare and their visibility to fish in places with more tree cover. This handle is very comfortable for slightly larger hands. Anglers with small hands may prefer the grip on the Ebisu or Iwana rods. The rod action is 6:4 borderline 7:3, a pretty fast and powerful rod as tenkara rods go."
  • Closed length: 21 1/4 inches (including 1/2" cap)
  • Open Length: 12 ft
  • Segments: 9
  • Handle length:10.5 inches
  • Weight: 3.6 oz
  • Finish: matte

While there were other small variations as many of the models were tweaked over time, these were the "once upon a time" Tenkara USA rods that I recall....well almost all of them. There was also the infamous Yagi rod adapter for Titanium Goat trekking poles too, but that's a story for another time...


Postscript (6/4/2015, 11:45pm)

After this blog post was published, Daniel Galhardo, founder of Tenkara USA made reference in the corresponding Facebook post to a prototype rod he had auctioned off that could certainly be considered a missing link between his first generation rods and the Rhodo & Sato zoom rods he sells today. As such, with a little digging, I am happy to have unearthed the...

Kawa Prototype

Tenkara-USA-Kawa-Prototype-Zoom-Rod

In what could be described as perhaps a 12'-13'-15' 3 way zoom version of the Ayu, there was very little information released about this rod, basically because it never came to market. A working prototype, the best sources remain the auction posting (which is quoted below) and a brief review in the TUSA forum by the eventual auction winner. The winning bid on this prototype zoom rod was $500 with the proceeds going to Hurricane Sandy relief.

Description (10/31/2012)
"The big one: A full tenkara set comprising of new Tenkara USA “not-yet-available-and-exclusive" prototypes that we plan on releasing in 2013. This set consists of a new 12ft-13ft-14ft17in zoom rod (this is a crisp but very soft rod, which we may or may not release in the future); 2 new level lines (super-high-vis orange and super-high-vis pink lines, 20ft each); the Tenkara USA strap-pack to hold all your tenkara items (available soon)."