October 21, 2014

Sunday In Rocky Mountain National Park

I never wrote a post about my last day of the Tenkara Summit weekend...aka fishing in the Park on a Broncos bye-week Sunday...

Unlike prior Summits that I had attended, the Sunday following the conference was more of a "free for all" fishing day.  The unofficial, official Summit outing was along Boulder Creek, and the Tenkara USA crew was going to seek people out during the day, drop in, and fish with them, give tips, etc...  Me, we'll I kinda went on my own, bypassing the Boulder Creek outing for a solo trip up in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I'm not gonna lie, I didn't care about the potential for crowds, I just wanted to fish and see some elk.

It was a gorgeous, somewhat brisk morning, and for better or worse, there were a ton of people in the park that day. I couldn't find a place to park at any of the trailheads, but did find a spot to pull off on the side of the road.  It made for a bit longer walk to and from the water than I had hoped, but it was definitely worth it.

I had an absolute blast fishing the Big Thompson River near Fern Lake Trail.  It wasn't difficult fishing, but the brown & brook trout were more than accommodating.  They especially seemed to like the white hackled, light bodied kebari I was tossing that day.

There were probably a ton of other spots to go fish in the park, but as I mentioned before, I really wanted to see the elk, and during the drive in, they were out in the Moraine Park meadows bugling up a storm.  Literally.  Some rain clouds started to roll in on my fishing outing, so I packed up the gear and headed back to the parked car to do some wildlife viewing before the rain started.  I was fortunate to get a lot of that in amid the drizzle.


Simply stunning.  My sub-par pictures don't do the beauty of this area justice.  I'd really like to get back and make a vacation of just exploring the park.  It's a truly special place...and what an awesome way to end this four day Colorado tenkara adventure!

October 15, 2014

Tenkara USA Forum "Soft Hackle" Theme Fly Swap

Over the summer, the Tenkara USA forum hosted a "Soft Hackle" themed fly swap.  While the stereotypical tenkara sakasa kebari might fall into the category of a soft hackle wet fly, the tyers in this swap were not limited to creating reverse hackle patterns.  As such, the swap yielded a little of both.

Everybody was to receive two flies from each participant for a total of 14 in your box (you didn't tie for yourself).  Most tied two different patterns...me, I went a little rogue and tied two of the same...one to lose to a tree and the other to catch fish with...

Since it's been about a week since everybody received their flies back in the mail, I figured it would be okay to show off some of the patterns here, as I've done with other fly swaps in the past.  I just think they're neat to look at...

Hotspot Sakasa Kebari
(Chris "Kiwi" Kuhlow)

Purple Henthorn Spider
(Chris "Kiwi" Kuhlow)

Double Reverse Hackle
(Robert Olson)

(Robert Olson)

Silk Spider Green
(Mike Shaffer "Gentle Shepherd")

Silk Spider Pink
(Mike Shaffer "Gentle Shepherd")

Unnamed Fly

Unnamed Fly

#8 Gujo

#12 Thread Eye

Unnamed Fly

Unnamed Fly

Dark Kebari

Bead-head Pheasant Tail

Swamp Ape Kebari (x2)
(Yours Truly)

Thanks to everyone that participated, they are all awesome specimens.  I hope you get your box of flies wet and in fish mouths soon.  I sure know I plan on doing so!

October 13, 2014

Tenkara With Ike - #tenkarawithike

One of my favorite non-fishing blogs over the last few years is a Philadelphia sports blog called "I Want To Go To The Zoo With Roy Halladay," or Zoo With Roy (ZWR), for short.  It is a blog that went up shortly after the Philadelphia Phillies signed ace pitcher Roy Halladay in the 2010 off-season.  The blog started as a simple, yet unlikely concept, to get Roy Halladay to go to the Philadelphia Zoo with the author...

Over the years, the blog evolved into much more, satirizing & lampooning the entire Philly sports scene (and their opponents) with quick wit and a ton on MS Paint drawings...to the point that following his retirement prior to the 2014 season, Roy Halladay became a fan of the blog...and, well, it actually happened...

So with that, and an innocent Twitter interaction this past Friday night, my half-assed, "I Want To Go Tenkara Fishing with Mike Iaconelli," or Tenkara With Ike (TWI), campaign has begun...

Those with Twitter accounts, please don't be shy about letting him know about it either... 

October 12, 2014

The 2014 Tenkara Summit Recap

There have been a handful of 2014 Tenkara Summit recaps posted in the few weeks that have elapsed since the event.  Two excellent ones can be found HERE & HERE.  I had fully intended on jotting down my notes at least a week ago, but some business travel sort of got in the way, so I'm going to catch up now...

The Summit started a little after 9:00 AM, with some opening remarks by Daniel Galhardo.  He spoke a bit about the acceptance and growth of tenkara in the U.S. over the past few years, noting some of the highlights and milestones that took place along the way.  A segment from a Japanese TV program on tenkara, featuring Daniel & Dr. Ishigaki also was shown.  The same segment is available online (& below).

Dr. Ishigaki then took to the podium for his tenkara presentation, a bit about his background, the history of tenkara in Japan, an overview of the tackle & techniques, wrapped up by a Q&A session from the crowd.  Personally, it's always interesting to see Dr. Ishigaki speak.  While his presentation was very similar to the one in Salt Lake 2 years ago, his passion for promoting tenkara comes through in full despite a language barrier (an interpreter was used).  The Q&A session was surprisingly long, but full of interesting asks, both basic & advanced.

After that, it was time to break out to the product vendors, fly tying demos, and rigging/casting demos.  A hall of product vendors featured quite a variety of suppliers...including Tenkara USARocky Mountain Anglers, both Zimmerbuilt & Vedavoo, Fly Fishing Artwork rod cases, Native Eyewear, and artwork by Jeremy Shellhorn just to name a few.

Over in the fly tying area, tyers woud rotate among the tables.  Three I watched tie were Dr. Ishigaki, Graham Moran, & Joe Egry.  Jason Klass also tied a bit, as well as gentleman later in the session who's name escapes me.

Joe at the vise

Graham tying one of his fish catching kebari

Dr. Ishigaki always draws a crowd

Inside Ishigaki's fly box

A kebari shadowbox on display.
Assembled by Adam Trahan, each square shows a photo of a
tenkara angler as well as at least one sample of their hand-tied flies.

Out on the lawn were the rigging and casting demos.  A canopy was set up to show the various knots and whatnot required to attach tenkara lines to rods, tippet to lines, etc, etc...  Daniel also showed some basic casting to an eager crowd.  He even had Misako Ishimura stand in for a trout to show how to hand line in a fighting fish.  It was pretty funny, wish I took video.


Dr, Ishigaki took to Boulder Creek (which was literally a minute's walk behind the hotel) and also showed off some casting & fly manipulation techniques.  He even caught a fish with like 80 or so people watching.  Crazy.

The afternoon closed out with a very entertaining "tenkara magic" show by Dennis Vander Howen, a presentation on the impact on last year's Colorado floodings by Trout Unlimited (which was probably 15-20 minutes too long, my only complaint), and then some local fishing suggestions for the rest of the weekend, first by the folks from Rocky Mountain Anglers, then by Steve Schweitzer, specifically speaking to fishing Rocky Mountain National Park.

After some closing remarks from Daniel, the event wrapped up around 4:30PM, which left some time to go fishing...

There was a smaller nightcap back a the hotel bar for folks that wanted to stick around, including live music and some more up close magic from Dennis.  It was pretty fun...plus I'm never one to say no to beer.

The Afterparty...  I'm on the right, chatting up Scott Hunter from Vedavoo.
Graham Moran is in the back holding the tenkara rod and saying something I'm certain was very "deep" to Karel Lansky.  Dennis Vander Howen is in the foreground...disappearing?
(Image Courtesy of TJ Ferreira)

All in all, it seemed like a very successful and well run event.  If it wasn't, the crew working it on the Tenkara USA side sure fooled me.  I had a great time and met some great people.

Looking back, my favorite parts of the Summit event itself was actually the down time in-between sessions and during lunch.  The time spent sort of milling about, bumping into folks you knew, if only by name, and saying hello.  

I met quite a few people for the first time that I had either been friendly with or was familiar with from similar online circles.  Folks like Chris Kline, Graham Moran, & Adam Hanna just to name a few...  Chris was even so kind to drop off some care packages to several anglers there, myself included.  I'd guess the gurglers were probably unique to my Altoids tin though...thanks Chris!

October 7, 2014

The Meeting Of The Tenkara Outlaws

Pssst...I probably shouldn't be writing this post...but...well...ummm...I'm going rogue.  There was a group of dubious distinction that descended upon Boulder, Colorado two Fridays ago.  Traveling from point to point using the cloak of darkness as cover, a posse of a half dozen non-conformists emerged only for cold beer, salty bar food, and of course, tenkara...

Okay, all kidding aside, after fishing with Karel on Friday afternoon, I was lucky enough to meet up with a handful of folks at the hotel bar that evening that I've become friendly with recently on Facebook in a group called the "Tenkara Outlaws."

Now, you can interpret what being a Tenkara Outlaw means however you'd like, I prefer to think of it as a collection of tenkara enthusiasts who enjoy their fishing with equal sides of experimentation and frivolity.  There are lots of jokes and many a laugh shared, however at nobody in particular's expense.  Seriously.

"No meanies allowed" is one of the few ground rules of the group...and for the most part, the members stick faithfully to that decree.  Yeah, a few outlaw-outlaws may push that solitary boundary now and then, but you'll find that in any assemblage of people.

Me, my tenkara is pretty traditional.  I'm hardly an outlaw by definition.  I primarily fish kebari & Tenkara USA rods; the seismic change in my tenkara approach over the last year was swapping out furled lines in favor of level lines.  Mind blowing, right?  However these guys are all over the board, pushing the limit, and having a blast doing so.  It was interesting to meet people going down a common, yet divergent path.

There was Gregory from the Pacific Northwest, fond of chasing down carp with his tenkara tackle.  Karin & Adam from Colorado, outfitting folks with tenkara gear that meets very unique needs in the marketplace.  Joe, and his local knowledge and expertise in tying flies...I wish I had his skill.  There was the adopted-Outlaw, a gentleman from Kansas City in town for the Summit (I wish I could recall his name) who just happened upon our group and settled in at the sight of cold drinks.  And I can't leave out Brian...the defacto master of ceremonies and multi-rod tenkara casting guru.  His two-handed "samurai-style" parking lot casting clinic was unforgettable...both to us, and passers by.

I do have to say, hanging out with the Outlaws was an absolute hoot.  It kind of reminded me of college when you mix a bunch of people up at a party over alcohol, just substitute telescoping fishing rods for keg stands.  I was so consumed by many of their stories, it wasn't until the end of the night that I realized that I didn't contribute that much to the conversation.  I guess that's what happens when you get a bunch of Type A personalities in one place...and you're more of a Type B.

My one regret of the trip was that I didn't get out fishing with some of you on your Sunday Outlaw outing.  RMNP and the elk were bugling my name, I just couldn't miss it.  May we cross paths and hopefully wet some lines in the not too distant future.

To steal a line from Brian, "Peace & Tenkara" my new Outlaw friends, Peace & Tenkara...