February 8, 2016

Florida Shad, Bream, & A Bonus Fish On The Fly

Needed to get out fishing, it had been far too long. And by fishing I mean not "spend an hour or two fishing retention ponds" fishing, but real, "go somewhere cool and fish all day" fishing.

Recalling that this was about the same time of year that I headed out to chase the annual Florida shad run with Captain Rich Santos in 2015, I popped him last minute note to see if he was booked solid yet... Lucky for me, he had an opening this on Saturday, which I jumped on, cold & rainy weather forecast be damned.

I'm not going to lie and tell you the catching part of the fishing experience was stellar. Cold temps, lack of sun, and an abundance of wind seemed to put the fish down, but damn it didn't matter. When your nerves are frazzled from working non-stop at 1,000 miles per hour since Thanksgiving, you'll revel in the peacefulness that moving water, abundant nature, no cell service, and the occasional tight line provides.

However, it wasn't like the catching was poor. It was a very successful trip. We caught some shad.

We caught some bream.

And we caught a "Sunshine Bass," a hybrid striper, which was a first for me. A powerful fish, you know immediately when one of these takes your fly that there's no shad on the end of the line.

One word. Awesome.

I can't end the post without giving props to Captain Rich & his First Coast Fly Fishing Unlimited guide service. Not only is he extremely personable - the kind of guy you'll easily call your friend after a few minutes - but he just finds a way to put you on fish, even in tough circumstances. I've been out with Rich three times now, and my opinion of him only gets stronger each time. If you're ever in Jacksonville and want to go fishing, Rich is the man (& a great photographer too)!

January 26, 2016

Tenkara Angler Magazine - Spring 2016 Call For Submissions

In case you haven't noticed, I dig tenkara. I love fishing small streams, and over the past 6 and a half years, my preferred method has been using a tenkara rod. Fortunately, I'm not alone. And those that hate on tenkara, well, that's their problem.

Tenkara Angler magazine is an online (& print) publication that launched as a test last Fall, and with a successful Winter follow up it appears like there's enough interest to keep it around for a while. The magazine is completely “crowdsourced;” reader submissions shape the content, I only serve the role as curator and editor.

With that, thought I'd use today's Tenkara Tuesday as a call for submissions for the Spring 2016 issue. Articles, photography, art, essays, "how-tos," fly tying, destination travel, if it's tenkara related, it's all fair game.

You don't need to be a professional writer or photographer to participate, just willing to share. If you're interested, or even mildly curious, there's more information on the submission process HERE.

The Winter 2015-16 issue is embedded below. There were a lot of great contributions from across the tenkara community, yours could be next!

January 22, 2016

Bonefish Barrage

My inbox was barraged by bonefish emails yesterday...strange...perhaps with all the blizzard talk in the Northeast, the senders want to get their recipient's mind in a warmer climate...

Anyway, figured I'd consolidate & regurgitate. It makes for an easy blog post; enjoy...

First was Rod from DIY Bonefishing (an excellent site by the way) dropping a trip report of a friend chasing bones in (gasp) Cuba!

Then, almost on cue, Rio Products followed up with an email with "10 Interesting Bonefish Facts," and a slew of links to shop their specialized bonefish lines.

Oh, and a video...

All this bonefishing stuff makes me wonder why I'm sitting at my computer at work right now...right? I need to get back to the Cayman Islands, no bones to hand, but it was a blast!

January 18, 2016

The Quest For The Ultimate Fly Fishing Kayak - The SipaBoards Fisherman SUP

Ok...they finally got me.

When I thought SUPs designed for fishing couldn't get any more rad, I get an email about this self-inflating, electric-propelled model from SipaBoards...

Yeah, you read that right.

So let's walk through what's going on here. It's an inflatable stand up paddleboard with a nice, large platform (almost 6 feet long by 3 feet wide) to paddle and fish from. Like most fishing-oriented SUPs, the Fisherman has a lot of D rings to tie and strap things down, be it fishing gear, dry bags, coolers, whatever. But that's where the "normal" comparables end.

At the core of this SUP is a "jet engine," basically a centrally located compressor that serves two functions. The first is that it inflates your board in a few short minutes (video below). The second is that it also plays the role of trolling motor, providing extra "paddle assist" that keeps you on the move for up to 3 hours.

Oh, and how do you control this electric jet engine? Through a Bluetooth control in your paddle, of course. How slick is that?

Here's a little bit more information provided by the manufacturer:
SipaBoards delivers all the advantages of inflatables, like easy storage and transport, at the same time boldly breaking new ground with self-inflation and several hours of paddle assist from the fully integrated electric motor. 
Founder Sebastjan Sitar was happy to answer the calls of those in the fishing community with a model that fits their every need: 
“Our fishing model is also a bit of a hint that SipaBoards is set to introduce some new things. We won’t be surprised if the Fisherman is next year’s hit, since we worked so closely with fishers and paddleboarders to give them exactly what they asked for.”

Now I'm not going to lie, all these bells and whistles don't come inexpensively, but damn if this board wouldn't be a ton of fun to take out on the water. Really hope some demos show up at some point here in the US. MSRP is $2790, but the SipaBoard Fisherman is currently being offered at an introductory-sale price of $1990.

January 17, 2016

The Otaki from Discover Tenkara & Tenkara Centre

Wow, quite a lot going on with new tenkara rods for 2016...

The latest addition appears the be the "Otaki," a collaboration between Tenkara Centre & Discover Tenkara. While I've never fished a Tenkara Centre rod before, if any of the prior content created by the guys at Discover Tenkara is an indication of how this rod may perform, anglers are likely going to be in for a treat.

Some info additional information from the Discover Tenkara website:

...Through our investigations and the kind teachings of many top Japanese anglers, we realised that the early western-produced tenkara rods tended to suffer from poor “recovery” of the rod tip. In other words, they would wobble a lot at the end of a casting stroke. Even now, many Japanese and non-Japanese tenkara rods either have poor recovery – or they go to the other extreme and “over-recover”... 
We use the term “Over-recovery” to describe when the rod returns smartly to a straight position when it “unloads” at the end of a casting stroke – but then does an extra “rebound” before settling to a straight position...With the Otaki, the recovery is just right. It neither continues wobbling uncontrollably – nor does it rebound and move your hand when you give it a firm “stop”... 
...we took all of our existing favourite handle dimensions and shapes and combined them into what we felt was the optimum in terms of comfort and versatility. The handle is also relatively long (so that you can alter the “fishing length” of the rod just by moving your hand to different parts of the grip). It is also made of very firm EVA – with a durable cork/resin composite at the front end (which stands up to wear and tear – as well as taking the hook point of a fly/kebari very well with minimal ill effects!)

There's a lot going on here, but as silly as this may sound, the foam pommel at the butt end of the rod was the first thing that caught my attention. When I fish with tenkara rods, I tend to hold them as far down the grip as possible, cradling the butt end in my palm. I never thought the flat ends of most tenkara rods were incredibly ergonomic, so I'm "all in" when it comes to this minor improvement.

As far as full specs, pricing, & a release date, well they are still to come, but based on the fact that the Discover Tenkara team is behind the development of this rod, it's definitely one that I can't wait to learn more about.

January 11, 2016

The Quest For The Ultimate Fly Fishing Kayak - The Kaku Wahoo Kayak

I haven't really been hunting down the latest and greatest in fishing kayaks as of late, however while paging through the free Coastal Angler Magazine I picked up a few weeks ago, I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw the new Wahoo from Kaku Kayaks.

This kayak appears to have all the features and specs that a top notch fly fishing kayak needs. They compare well to most competitors and even have a few that right now are somewhat unique, although I'm certain will be emulated by others.

Here's the skinny from the manufacturer website:

The new Wahoo boasts a 12.5′ long by 33″ wide incredibly stable design. With a roomy open cockpit design, including adjustable foot pegs and aluminum top load gear tracks, you’ll have full control guide this highly versatile yak to your local fishing hole. The lightweight aluminum frame seat will keep you comfortable while you fish and the rear tie down system will keep your gear secure for that “Big One!” The new Wahoo is rudder and micro power pole ready (not included), so feel free to customize after purchase.
  • Length: 12.5 Feet
  • Width: 33" across
  • Weight: 74 pounds
  • Capacity: 400 pounds
  • MSRP: $1099 (although available with a pre-order price of $999)

There's clearly a lot going for for the Wahoo. I love that it's got a generally large cockpit/deck to allow for stand-up fishing and appreciate that it's designed to accommodate a Power Pole Micro, as that really seems to be an accessory that is becoming more and more popular for shallow water anglers. I've certainly had my eye on one for a little while now.

Here are a few more photos lifted from their website, to better show off some of the features since you won't be able to see this kayak in person until February...

January 10, 2016

Beer Me...And Bring The Fishing Rod Too!

Back in October, I was introduced to an interesting product via my Cairn subscription. (If you're not familiar, Cairn is a "box of the month" club, where you get random outdoors products and foodstuffs...like THESE...which are so tasty it isn't even funny).

The Mountainsmith Cooler Tube Sling arrived at my front door and I wasn't exactly sure what to do with it. It's essentially a tube with an insulated, padded liner designed to hold a 6 pack of beer (or soda) vertically. It also has an adjustable shoulder strap so you can wear your beverages; I suppose it's a way to show off your drink cooling prowess in style without dropping $250 on one of those tiny YETIs.

As I was saying, I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it, but last night I came to the epiphany that it makes a pretty slick rod sling, especially when you consider rod slings (with slightly more pockets) retail for at least double of the $25 MSRP of this tube, and don't come with the added benefit of keeping, at least, one can of something cold.

Surprisingly, this tube sling will actually hold up six 12' rods comfortably, plus a beverage at one of the ends. 

Not sure if I'm going to use this on the water, but as a way to transport a handful of rods (think airplane carry-on to the Tenkara Summit), perhaps this will strike your fancy. Heck, even if you're not looking for a fancy Mountainsmith "Hemp" fabric version, there are evidently many other tube coolers on the market, just make sure they accommodate six 12 ounce cans.

(For what it's worth, a smaller 4 piece standard fly rod will also fit in the rod tube, but not with the canned beverage, so in my opinion, what's the point?)


Although this isn't really a review, I wanted to note that none of the manufacturers or retailers mentioned in the post above paid or supplied me free product for inclusion. It's simply a by-product of writing a blog post far too late on a Saturday night when all common sense & coherency is lost. That said, should any of them see this post and have the sudden desire to shower me with swag, they can certainly feel free to contact me HERE.