April 22, 2015

MWTF, Star Wars, And The Ooze...

Starting to make some preparations for my upcoming trip to the Driftless for the Midwest Tenkara Fest.

Actually, I'm not going to lie...all of my fishing thoughts got majorly derailed last Thursday when that new Star Wars trailer dropped upon the world. Han motherf'n Solo & a chromed out stormtrooper in a cape. That's all that needs to be said. I haven't been able to focus on much of anything since... 


Stumbling through a midicholrian induced haze over the past weekend I thought it would be prudent to begin rounding up supplies to bring with - rods, lines, flies, booze, porn, Tebow... Ok, who am I kidding...packing tenkara crap is pretty easy...although I do have a tie-a-thon facing me this weekend to finish filling my fancy, hipster silicone-bottomed fly box.

Anybody know how to tie a pink squirrel kebari? 

Also sucked it up and did a half ass patch job on my wading boots with some Gorilla Glue. You know, "do or do not, there is no try." It's about function, not appearance. It was actually a fun project...because about the only thing I'm handy at is procrastination. For those that use the stuff, gotta love the ooze. You know what I'm talking about.


Could have been a royal douche and tried to call in the L.L. Bean guarantee, but these suckers have served me well over the past 4+ years...they've seen a lot of streams and hopped rocks o' plenty. Pennsylvania to Colorado, Georgia to New York, Virginia to Utah, and many points in-between. I've been nothing but happy with them. Just need to get through one more season.

Now I need to plot out where to actually fish...you know, when were not "Festing."
Sometimes too much water can be a curse. It's much easier if your choices are only chocolate or vanilla.
If you've been, and have ideas on locales, fill me in..

Otherwise, I'm just going to go where my rental Nissan Versa (or similar) takes me...trout are evidently as plentiful as cheese curd out there, so I guess I'll figure it out...

April 14, 2015

Tenkara Tuesday - Interview With Robb Chunco of Creekside Kebari + Fly Co.

Welcome to Tenkara Tuesday.

As I started playing around a little bit more on Instagram last winter as a way to fuel the "Tenkaragram" project, I found that it broadened my horizons to what is going on in the world of tenkara, especially when it came to folks that weren't affiliated with any of the rod companies, nor doing the majority of their socializing on Facebook or Twitter. One of the first users to catch my eye was Creekside Kebari + Fly Co...an account that not only appeared to be tying really great flies, but taking stellar photos of them as well.

After a month or so in the making, I'm happy to present this week's installment of Tenkara Tuesday; an interview with Robb Chunco of Creekside Kebari + Fly Co.


T!: I understand that you & Creekside Kebari + Fly Co. are based in Buffalo, NY. What do you consider your home waters? Do you have a favorite creek or fish species, and what do you like most about it? (No need to give up secret spots) 
RC: Being in Western NY, we’re pretty lucky to be smack dab in the middle of some pretty amazing waters. Within an hour’s drive I could be at any one of a half dozen prime creeks. A little further out and another half dozen – that’s what’s cool about the area. If you've got the time to keep looking, you’ll keep finding water to fish. The Upper Cattaraugus, Hosmer Brook and Wiscoy Creek are probably the best known. The Lake Erie and Ontario tribs are legendary steelhead fisheries as well. 
I’ve gotta say that brookies are probably my favorite. They’re also New York’s official state fish, so I got that goin' for me. Which is nice. But I have a big soft spot for warm water fishing. If you've never taken a slab of a bluegill on a tenkara rod, then I kind of feel bad for you – those little SOB’s are a hell of a lot of fun!
But honestly, any fish on the end of your line is pretty hard to beat. Brookies, browns, bluegill or bass – I’ll happily catch them all. 

Brookie

T!: When I think of Buffalo, 3 things come to mind. The Bills, wings, and snow. They’re probably stereotypical associations, like all Philadelphians (where I'm from) are insane for the Eagles and eat a diet of only cheesesteaks. What’s your opinion of the first two, and does it really snow as much as most people think there? 
RC: I’m just not a fan of football. Not even one little bit. But I do sort of admire the dedication of Bills fans. 
I dig wings (thank you for not calling them ‘Buffalo Wings’, by the way). I live about 2 minutes away from the Anchor Bar where they were invented. 
Snow. Oh, snow... Yes, it can get pretty crazy here at times. If conditions are just so, and Lake Erie isn’t totally frozen the Lake Effect snows can be quite intense. This past season the areas just south of the city got 7 feet of snow in 3 days. It was insane. The city proper got nailed pretty badly too. However, the other 3 seasons are known for being pretty glorious around here.

T!: How and when did you come across tenkara? What was/is appealing about it to you? I “found” tenkara not even a year after I started fly fishing...I love the efficiency, but am not one of those guys that has decided to abandon my reels all together. Still love a click & pawl on a 3-weight. Did you fly fish prior?
RC: I think 3 or 4 years ago or so, a good friend told me about it. It seemed really cool – I know the term “simple” gets used a lot, but it’s right on the money. It’s a truly simple way to fish and that simplicity can be pretty liberating. 
I had messed around with fly fishing a little bit before I got into tenkara, but was primarily chasing largemouth bass with a spinning rig and soft plastics. 
If anything, tenkara is almost fueling my interest in conventional fly fishing. The two methods both have their place and a tenkara rod is so portable it’s nice to be able to pack one along in addition to a fly rod. I’ve got a few Eagle Claw Featherlights with Martin clickers and a Cabela's CGR rigged up with an LL Bean Pocket Water reel. They're so buttery smooth.

Takayama Sakasa Kebari

T!: Tenkara tools can be simple, but let’s talk gear for a second...rod, line, fly box. I've got way too much tenkara gear, but am crushing on the Tenkara USA Rhodo, Sunline 3.0 level line, and a Tacky Fly Box to do my bidding at the moment. What do you use, do you have a preference?

RC: I have a Badger Tenkara “Classic” and a “Bad Axe.” I dig Badger because of their relaxed and approachable view on tenkara fishing – a “just get out there and do it” vibe. Their Badger Lite lines are really nice and I've been using 12’ & 14’ furled kevlar lines from Streamside Leaders. I really like the way they cast, but this year I’d like to look into using level line a bit more. Man, those Tacky boxes are nice, aren’t they? I love mine.

T!: And more importantly what’s INSIDE your fly box? I’d imagine you’re not a “one fly” guy...but who knows, you might surprise me…
RC: I’m not really a tenkara ‘one fly’ purist. I get it, but fishing different flies is fun, man. I’ve got a few of almost everything in my catalog. I love pheasant tail kebari and I really like killer bugs – both the Frank Sawyer and the Utah version. The traditional kebari with a silk loop for an eye seem to move really nice in the water due to the flexible eye, so I always have a bunch of those on hand. 
So many “Western” patterns work well with a tenkara rod – Adams, a few terrestrials, small poppers for bass and bluegill. Stimulators for a dry & dropper rig. It seems silly to not use them – why limit yourself?

Green Rock Worm

T!: What does your tying bench look like? Mine is always a mess. Do you have favorite tools (vise, bobbin, etc...) or materials to work with? I’ll be honest, those whip finish tools just confuse me.
RC: I always start out pretty organized and then it’s all downhill from there. If I’m tying up a whole bunch of the same pattern I’ll try to stage everything in a kind of mise en place. 
I've got a nice, simple and solid HMH SX pedestal vise and really can’t see myself needing anything else. It’s just rock solid. Zero BS. I like Dr Slick tools – I have their Micro tip scissors, a few ECO bobbins and their bamboo handle whip finisher. It seems like there’s a certain dark magic at play with the whip finisher, doesn’t it? 
Embrace it, dude. Embrace the dark magic.


T!: I've noticed you offer many different kebari patterns for sale. Where do you get your inspiration? 
RC: Well, there are a few “standard” offerings, but there’s usually a lot of daydreaming involved with pattern development. I scratch notes and sketches on scraps of paper all the time and when I sit down to tie, I’ll dig them out and try to make them work. I’ll sometimes try to translate a Western or North Country wet pattern into a tenkara pattern, but after a certain point it can get kind of moot. Why try to fix what isn't broken?
T!: What about the “+ Fly” part of your brand’s name...you also tie English North Country soft hackle flies. While not mutually exclusive, tell us more about that portion of your offering? 
RC: It seemed like a logical second side to the shop. They’re quite similar to kebari in their structure, simplicity, and elegance, and also fish quite well on a tenkara rod. Tying them is a lot of fun and also a huge exercise in restraint. They just don’t look right with too much or too little hackle, and the silk thread has to be wound just so. Their history is incredibly interesting as well.

Snipe and Purple

T!: Have you tied flies for a long time? Your Etsy store is relatively new (November 2014); what made you decide to sell your kebari? Is there a "top selling" pattern yet?
RC: I’m still fairly new to tying, but I kind of hit the ground running. It just sort of clicked. My buddy who initially told me about tenkara had been telling me for years that I would really dig tying, and he was totally right.
I’m not sure when or why I decided to start selling them. I think I just wanted to see if I could actually do it, but then it turned into something a bit bigger. There’s no real top seller per se, but people do seem to dig the Caddis Larva kebari and the Pearly Gates kebari. I move a lot of Killer Bugs too.

Caddis Larva Kebari

T!: What else do you like to do beside fly tying and fishing?

RC: So many things to do, and not enough time to do them. I play guitar, and have a few analog synthesizers that I mess around with in a low key solo electronic music project. I like woodworking. I love photography. I love to cook. I've been a homebrewer since 1994. I snowboard and ride bikes when I can. I really dig camping, and now that my son is getting old enough (5 this year!) to come along with me, we’ll be doing quite a bit of that this summer.

T!: I believe I first noticed your flies on Instagram. It’s a social media platform that I've definitely spent some more time with over the last year. Is that your primary form of marketing, and what do you think of Instagram as a marketing tool?
RC: Instagram has changed everything for me. It is my primary form of marketing – I have a Facebook page and a Tumblr account too, but Instagram is a very powerful platform. It’s essentially a form of free advertising if you want it to be. 

March Brown Flymph

T! Bigfoot. Do you believe?
RC: Hell yeah, dude.

T!: What can we expect from Creekside Kebari + Fly Co. in 2015? Any surprises?
RC: I’d like to keep doing what I’m doing and grow at a comfortable rate. Tying these flies is almost as therapeutic as fishing them. I’ll rotate available patterns in and out and try to keep current with fishable conditions. Not exactly “hatch matching” as much as just being appropriate to the time of year, I guess.
As far as surprises go, well – everybody loves a surprise, and if I do have any it wouldn't be a surprise if I told anybody, right?

Pheasant Tail Kebari

T!: Is there anything else you’d like to say about fly tying, fly fishing, or Creekside? Feel free to say whatever comes to mind.
RC: I really appreciate your taking the time to notice my work, and giving me the opportunity to answer these questions. 
It seems like there can be a little bit of animosity in both fly fishing camps (tenkara and conventional) toward one another, and there really shouldn't be. The techniques each have their merits and limitations – what works well with one method may not necessarily work with the other, but they can cover each other’s backs. I've seen some downright nasty chatter toward tenkara online that sounded like it could have been happening in a middle school locker room. Lighten up! It’s all a means to an end, and who the hell cares how you do it?

A big thanks go out to Rob for taking the time to provide my readers a peek behind the scenes of the Creekside Kebari + Fly Co.  Hopefully we'll get to hook up on a stream together someday!

Robb Chunco is a husband, a father and a dude that likes to make little bug puppets and try to catch fish with them. If you’d like to see his work you can check it out on Etsy or Instagram.
All images used in this post are copyright of Creekside Kebari + Fly Co.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

ATTENTION TENKARA FISHERFOLK
Are you a tenkara angler? Do you have a story, pictures, video, fly recipe, or simply a fishing report from one of your recent tenkara adventures? If so, I'd really enjoy hearing from you for an upcoming Tenkara Tuesday post! Feel free to send an email HERE, I'd love to publish your original contribution.

April 11, 2015

Southern Rainbows

Ever since I moved to Florida I've been somewhat saddened that my days of regular trout fishing were numbered. While the Sunshine State has tons of epic sport fishing opportunities, (coldwater) trout is not one of them...and for a guy who writes a blog called "Troutrageous!," that can be a difficult pill to swallow. The closest trout to me is a 5 to 7 hour trip to Georgia...or so I thought.

North Georgia trout from 2014's Owl Jones Escapade...

Turns out, there's something pretty interesting going on in Tallahassee. Interesting to me at least. Evidently for quite some time, a cardiologist has been stocking Kamloops rainbow trout in the pond on his plantation property creating a way for locals to fly fish for trout in Florida in the cooler winter months. It's become somewhat of an annual tradition ever since.

He only allows catch & release, barbless-hook fly fishing (4 weight or over, as not to stress the fish), and simply asks for a small fee of $25 be left in the mailbox on his property. How old-school is that? Once it gets too warm to keep the trout, he drains the pond and the fish go to local restaurants.

Image Courtesy: Coastal Angler Magazine

While I've always considered myself a "wild trout" kind of fisherman, I have to say this is really intriguing, if for no other reason to see the place. I'd really enjoy the chance to talk with Dr. Allee and ask a few questions about "why & how?" In his annual announcement, he claims to not be "computer literate," so it'd probably be best done in person. 

The window has probably closed now that we're in mid-April, but November & December will be here before we know it...perhaps a trip West is in the cards...

Here are a few links to articles or posts I found out about Dr. Allee & Hiamonee Planation.

April 8, 2015

Wednesday Nibbles - Apps, Rocks, Daiwas, & Rambles

Welcome to Wednesday Nibbles...the blog post that pulls some fishing randomness together from across the internet in bite sized chunks. A semi-regular feature here, I just so happened to have enough nibbles in my inbox this week that made sense to make a post.

Enjoy...or not...I don't care...well I kind of do...eh, whatever...


Chasing Trout Stocking Trucks Just Got Easier...

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission announced yesterday that they have launched a new smartphone app for anglers that crams a lot of the most popular features of their website into the palm of your hand. The "FishBoatPA" app provides access to navigational tools, trout stocking charts, a fish identification guide, the "My Trophies" section where users can upload pictures, and of course, rules and regulations including details on where to find the closest licensing agent.


The part of the app that I think may be the coolest, but perhaps the most controversial is the "Near Me” feature which uses your phone and GPS to locate and display trout waters within 5, 15, 25 and 50 miles of your current location. I don't think it's going to give away any honey holes, but I could see a lot of people with their panties in a bunch.

Either way, the free app is now available for download for Apple or Android products.


If You Smell What The Rock Is Eatin'...

It's been mentioned quite often as of late that the ocean's fishery is in a rapid state of collapse. I'm not going to debate you on whether it is science or sensationalism, however one thing is clear...if fish stocks are falling at a rapid rate, you can blame it on Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

Photo courtesy Muscle and Fitness.com

Now of course I'm joking, however an article on the statistic-driven fivethrityeight.com outlined his daily caloric intake. The Rock eats 821 pounds of cod per year to fuel his "rock" physique...which is astonishing...and a ton of fish (well almost half a ton). Wow.


Getting Started In Tenkara...

As a consumer of pretty much everything tenkara, I may have simply missed these videos from Daiwa making the rounds when they were released about two weeks ago. However since they are on a Japanese language site, maybe not. Either way, if you're into the art of telescoping graphite cane poles (like me), these videos are probably worth your time, even if they aren't in English. (Give it a sec, it's a little slow to load...)


This particular video is about reading water, and there is a second video (that I won't embed) which is an intro to tenkara gear - rod, flies, line - and a basic casting stroke.

Note: For some reason I wasn't able to watch these at work...my IT guys are probably on to me...but they worked fine at home. 


Time For Some Blog Love...

As usual, I wrap up an edition of the Nibbles with some blog love...calling out a blog that is either doing something of note, or just worth your time reading (and typically lives in my blogroll). Today's blog love goes out to Rivertop Rambles.

Rivertop Rambles Blog

Rivertop Rambles is certainly not a new blog, around since 2011, but I've found myself going back and reading Walt's writing more and more frequently. That's one of the joys of a blog with a history, as a new(er) reader, there's a lot to go back in time and discover.

Topics are varied, with a little bit of everything for the outdoors-minded; if you haven't been a regular reader of Rivertop Rambles, I'm sure you'll find it quite enjoyable.

April 6, 2015

Ebisu - Don't Call It A Comeback

I had forgotten how much fun the (discontinued) Tenkara USA Ebisu rod is to fish with.

tenkara-bass-ebisu-florida

Yeah, it's a little bit heavier than some of the 12 foot-ish rods that I've been using these days, but it slings a real nice line quite easily...from 3.5 level line to furled. I used them both yesterday.

tenkara-bluegill-ebisu-florida

The fish were pretty active, brought 20 to hand (give or take a few), mostly bass. It's a blast sight fishing small bass like the one in the first picture, the way they'll rush up out of nowhere to slam an offering on the drop. Had a few takes from some bigger bass too, the biggest broke me off as it darted toward the center of the pond upon hookset. I need to work on my knots.

Could have been more I suppose, but the one thing I've learned is that if the fishing is good...there's always another angler crowding your space...

bird-fishing-florida-pond

Nice to sneak out for a few hours while everyone was crashing from the morning's sugar rush and get the Ebisu it back into the rotation. Weekends are far too short.

April 2, 2015

Fly Patterns - The Fly

Thought I'd share this short video I stumbled across on Vimeo last night...if for no other reason than to kick the April Fool's post out of the first spot on the blog.


Not exactly sure what's going on here, but it's pretty neat in a stop motion kinda way. The video belongs to this website and this blog, so check them out too if you're looking to kill more time...

the-fly-blog

April 1, 2015

Amazon Dash - Oh, The Possibilities!

So yesterday, Amazon.com unleashed a new concept in shopping for "consumable" items onto the e-tailing landscape.  Dubbed "Amazon Dash," it's a physical button you place pretty much wherever, that allows you to instantly re-order things like laundry detergent, diapers, coffee, trash bags, and razor blades with a simple click. Crazy...lazy..probably both.

amazon-dash-button

The fact that it was announced the day before April Fools', makes many think it's a joke. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, I guess we'll find out today.

Anyway, where there's smoke, there's fire, and how awesome of a service would this potentially be for fishermen? I mean think of all of the items you either run out of, lose, or simply forget to bring with you. Pair a "dash" button with Amazon's drone copter air force, and you could have immediate, on the river delivery of pretty much anything...

Fear not, Troutrageous! Dash will have you covered!

"Those trout wont take with a 5x tippet today...I think I need 7x..."

rio-products-fly-fishing-amazon-dash

"Crap, lost another one of my nymphs on a rock dragging bottom..."

montana-fly-company-fishing-amazon-dash

"Uhh...ummm...hey TJ, I need a new rod tip..."

Tenkara-USA-fly-fishing-amazon-dash

And most importantly...

"That friggin' YETI is a pain in the ass to drag around everywhere, BEER ME!"

Natural-Natty-Ice-Light-Beer-amazon-dash


Seriously, note to Perk Perkins...I'm spoon feeding you genius here. Incremental revenue streams galore. I hope you're taking notice before Jeff Bezos does, trout season is upon us.