August 16, 2016

Tenkara Tuesday - Making A Tenkara Fly Box

Welcome to Tenkara Tuesday...

Not a ton to write about today, but stumbled across this fun woodworking video by "Clean Phil Wanted" in which he makes a tenkara fly box using only hand tools. Rather impressive skills to a guy like me that is not all that handy or crafty.


Anyway, the video is almost 6 minutes, so it's a bit long by internet standards, but a good watch nonetheless. It definitely held my attention. Enjoy!

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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.

August 15, 2016

Local Happenings...

Hey, some cool things going on locally. Should keep my mind off brookies the next few weeks, and if you're in the area (maybe getting that last bit of summer vacation time in), you should stop by too!

Grand Opening Celebration
Oyster Creek Outfitters (St. Augustine, FL)
August 20th, 2016

Featuring Drew Chicone, Joe Mahler, & Strip-Strike University


Events begin at 9:00am and continue through the day till 6:00pm. Burgers and Hotdogs from 12:00pm to 2:00pm with drinks all day. Casting and fishing platforms on Oyster Creek pond. Fly tying in the shop times to be announced.

Additional Workshops/Demonstrations:
  • Hardy Zephrus
  • Scott Meridian
  • G. Loomis NRX
  • Temple Fork Outfitters
  • BOTE fishing stand-up paddle boards
  • NuCanoe

3rd Annual Floodtide Festival
Blackfly Outfitters (Jacksonville, FL)
August 27th, 2016

Per Website:

"Join us at the store for a cold beer or two and some excellent BBQ for this years Floodtide Festival! Like years past, we will be setting up in the parking lot "block party style" looking to have a good time.

This year's raffles are even better than the last; you can expect to see some great prizes. We have four fly rods, a Nautilus reel, Hatch pliers, and much more! In addition to great prizes we have some exceptional guest speakers this year! Jon Cave of Sage Fly Rods will be giving a casting clinic, Michael Schmidt will be inside tying some of his signature flies, and Jako Lucas will be representing Thomas & Thomas Fly Rods and Alphonse Island Resort!

All of the proceeds this year are being donated to Bull Sugar's Now or Neverglades Campaign, so come out for a great time and help us raise funds and awareness for the water quality issues in South Florida. We look forward to seeing you!"


August 13, 2016

Without Trout

I've got a serious case of trout withdrawal.

When you're a trout junkie like me and haven't really been in a place to find them since mid-May, well, it does something to your state of mind. It's unsettling, I'm off-kilter. I think I've got a case of the shakes.

Doesn't matter much that you live in Florida, home to endless saltwater and freshwater fishing opportunities. Those waters are devoid of trout. I could be called a species snob, but it's not necessarily the fish I'm after, it's the surroundings, the therapeutic experience. It kept me balanced. What I do know is that a handful of opportunities a year isn't going to work.

Social media doesn't provide much of an escape. When you curate your "friends" and "follows" around your primary interest, the constant flow of brookies, browns, & rainbows swimming in the virtual photo stream quickly goes from gratifying to grating. Like? Love? Retweet? Ugh...

It's definitely worse this year than the prior three. I don't handle cold turkey well. Has Pennsylvania been three years already? Wow. Can't believe it.

For now, a long Smoky Mountain weekend in October is the light at the end of the tunnel. Although pinning so much hope on a few short days of potential probably isn't the best recipe for true satisfaction. As easily as Mother Nature can giveth, she can also taketh away.

In the meantime, I guess there's football, family, & the possibility of flood tide tailers. The latter could be a decent distraction, the highlight of many an angler's year, although consistently locating them is still a missing ingredient in my salt marsh recipe. I'm not seeking challenge, I'm seeking comfort.

While I do mean to vent, I'm not looking for your sympathy or consolation. My overall quality of life is good. I'm just confused, existing in an odd state of fishing purgatory. It's even become hard to write this blog. I've been doing this for at least a quarter of my life, it's been such a long time since I haven't. Something is missing and I know it's not going to be found anytime soon.

Change is hard. Living five hours from a good trout stream is even harder.


August 2, 2016

Tenkara Angler Magazine - Fall 2016 Call For Submissions

It's time again to reach out to you, the incredibly awesome tenkara community, particularly those creative souls that may have an interest in submitting content to the upcoming Fall 2016 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine. As before, the e-magazine will remain completely “crowdsourced;” reader submissions and agendas shape the content, I only serve the role as curator and editor as a labor of love for this method of fly fishing.


Please feel free to write about whatever tenkara-related topics that you see fit. For inspirational purposes, I've listed a few topics below:

  • Did you fish tenkara on your summer vacation?
  • Did you try out any new gear - a new rod, line, or fly?
  • Did you meet up with any online friends on-stream?
  • Did you catch any new species, what did you use to catch them?
  • Did you stumble upon a good DIY tenkara hack?
  • Maybe you're just feeling creative through art, photography, or essay?

Those are just a few ideas, as always, anything & everything tenkara-related is fair game!

If you are interested in contributing, I’ve outlined some simple parameters for content submission on the Tenkara Angler website HERE.

The deadline for content submission will be September 9th, 2016, with the target publishing date toward the end of that same month.

For those of you that are new to Tenkara Angler, the Summer 2016 issue is embedded below. The contributions continue to get stronger with each new edition, I would sincerely love to have you as a part of the next issue!

July 26, 2016

Tenkara Tuesday - My Fab Five Tenkara Rods

Welcome to Tenkara Tuesday...

In last week's Tenkara Tuesday, I mentioned that I had a new Tanuki rod on pre-order, and had also sold off several tenkara rods that just didn't "fit" me well. I didn't say what the rods were, but in the comments section, bolder_in_boulder asked the following question:


Well, even after a recent purge, I've still got a lot of tenkara rods.
Probably too many than I could dream of fishing with any regularity.

So bolder_in_boulder, I'll lump them into 3 groups...

New To Me Rods I'm Still Evaluating


  • Suntech TenkaraBum 36 - I like a lot about this rod. The feel in hand, the sensitivity, the cosmetics, and believe it or not, I also found it casts a floating line surprisingly well. I just haven't fished it enough yet. It's definitely a premium rod. Even if it doesn't go into my regular rotation, I'll probably hold on to it. It's the first TenkaraBum branded rod, a Japanese rod designed by an American. That's a pretty cool thing.
  • Badger Tenkara WISCO - If you've never seen this rod in person, it's an absolute beast. The handle section is absolutely Paul Bunyan-esque. I bought this rod thinking it would become my "inshore" rod, to go chase sea trout, small redfish, or anything off the beach or jetties. I've been horrible actually getting off my butt and hitting the salt, so the jury is still out.

Rods I've Held On To, But Don't Fish Often


  • Tenkara USA Iwana 11" - This was my first tenkara rod purchased way back in 2009. It started it all for me. I fished this rod almost exclusively for 4 years - from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, from Virgnia to Utah. It's well worn and went with me everywhere. Sure, it's not the best casting rod, nor is it the best feeling rod, but it was my first rod. It's here to stay.
  • Tenkara USA Ito - Call me crazy, but I never took to the Ito. So many other people love it, it's their favorite rod, but for whatever the reason - size, weight, the squared off butt cap - I just don't care for this rod. I pick it up once or twice a year thinking that I'll give it another try, but just haven't had the warm and fuzzies...yet. Maybe next year. 
  • Tenkara USA Ayu II - I bought this rod because Tenkara USA was having a Black Friday sale one year and at the time it filled a gap in my rod assortment. There's really nothing wrong with it. It's just an odd rod out. It's a discontinued model, so I hang on to it sort of out of novelty.
  • Tenkara Customs - I made a tenkara rod once upon a time using a Tenkara Customs blank and a Winn Grip. The rod is rather spartan, found it to be a nice bass rod, but I really, really like the grip. I actually acquired the grip before the blank. I wish more manufacturers would try this cork-alternative rather than foam. However I'm not sure anyone would want this rod if I tried to sell it, I didn't try hard to make it "pretty" when I assembled it.
  • Sakura Kongo Betuatsurae - This was my first "splurge" on a tenkara rod. I was really drawn to how small this rod collapsed, not to mention the beautiful faux-bamboo finish. It's a beautifully crafted rod, casts a tapered line quite well. I'm not sure why I don't fish it more often. Maybe I just don't have the heart to use it on lowly bluegill & bass. I considered selling it a few times, but I know I'll regret it if I do. 
  • Tenkara Rod Co. Cascade - Not going to lie, I'm not a huge fan of this rod. I like the short length, but the rod is just too stiff for my taste. Doesn't cast bad with a floating or furled line, but I've got a better choice in short rod (see next section). This will probably be the one I move on from next, there are a lot of people that do like this rod, it's just not my cup of tea.

Rods In My Regular Rotation; The Fab Five


  • Tenkara USA Sato - This has become my everyday tenkara rod. The lengths of this 3-way zoom rod pretty much make it perfect for any scenario. Shrink it small to avoid the canopy, extend it to fish a little more open water - I've caught brookies to largemouth on this rod - fished level, furled, and floating lines - weighted and unweighted flies - the versatility is hard to match.
  • Tenkara USA Rhodo - This is the current "short rod" in my collection of tenkara rods. I don't have any of the smaller Japanese specialty rods, so when I know I'm going to go out and fish tight conditions or small water, the Rhodo and some 2.5 level line are my preferred combination.
  • Tenkara USA Ebisu - Can you tell I'm a Tenkara USA guy? I love the wooden-handled 5:5 Ebisu. Like the Ayu II it's a discontinued model, but it's so soft and responsive (which sounds like a contradiction) that it's an absolute blast to fish. It's a tad on the heavy side compared to my other favorites, but if you ever see one available on the secondary market, snap it up.
  • Tenkara Times TRY 360 - I think this is the most underrated tenkara rod on the market. I'll come clean, I didn't want to like this rod, the cosmetics are horrible, but it fishes so well that I love it. It's ridiculously light and casts level line like a dream. If it was re-branded as something different, with a sexier paint job, tenkara anglers would go crazy for it. I'd fish it more, but when I go out with Lilly, she always picks this rod.
  • Dragontail Hellbender - This has become my big fish rod of choice. It's a zoom rod, but I pretty much fish it at it's fully extended length at all times. It tosses streamers like beadhead woolly buggers and Clouser minnows extremely efficiently. When I know there's a chance to hook a nice sized bass, I bring this rod

So the observant tenkara fanboy will probably notice something odd, "hey where are all the Japanese rods? No Nissin, no Shimano, no Daiwa, no Oni?" 

I have nothing against Japanese rods (note the Suntech TenkaraBum & Sakura Kongo are on the list), I just never took the plunge in a big way. Call me crazy, I like to support the folks I know. People I've become friendly with online, people I've met in person...had conversations with...shared beers....stuff like that. Although I am damn tempted to try the "magic" of an Oni some time. Maybe if they #savethecamohandle. (Ha!)

In the end, there's really not a bad rod in the list above. These just happen to be my current preferences. You might have a differing opinion of my choices, and you know what, that's fine, we're all different. Nothing that I wrote above should be an indictment of your favorite rod(s), either as angler or manufacturer. Ten colors, you know? I'd love to hear about your personal favorites in the comments below.

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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.

July 24, 2016

The Rest of the IFTD/ICAST Stuff...Hardy, Hodgman, & Korkers

Sorry, meant to post these last week, but just getting to it now. These are the last few IFTD-related product press release emails I received that grabbed my attention. Perhaps there's something below that will catch yours too...

Pure Fishing

Pure Fishing is the company that owns many fishing brands - Hardy, Hodgman, Fenwick, & Pflueger (to name a few), and they had sent me an email calling out a slew of new products, starting with this new Hardy reel, the Ultralite ASR large arbor:


Now I'm not going to lie, I'm more of a "classic" Hardy guy, but this reel's got a lot going for it...check out what they had to say in their press release:

Anglers can become more versatile with the new Hardy® Ultralite® ASR (Assisted Spool Release) large arbor fly reel debuting July in the IFTD New Product Showcase. Now it is faster and easier than ever to adapt to changing conditions. The Ultralight ASR's spring-loaded cassette ejection system enables the angler to change fly line in seconds. The lightweight polycarbonate cassettes allow multiple lines to be carried on the water to adjust when the hatch tapers off and going deep is the only option. 
The heavily ported, lightweight reels are ideal for the challenges of multiple-situation fly fishing. The Model 4000 is rated for 4- and 5-weight line, measures 3.75 inches in diameter and weighs just 6.2 ounces. The body is constructed with 6061 bar stock aluminium for lightweight durability and the spool built from a high impact composite. 
The 340-degree disc drag includes a multi-pad system with color-coded reference for easy tracking of the drag setting. The drag setting can be identified with a simple glance as the red dots on the drag knob clearly indicate a stronger drag and lighter drag settings are indicated by green. The drag can be configured from zero to maximum in just one turn of the knob. 
Five models are offered from the 4000 to the 9000 rated for 9- to 11-weight line. In addition to multiple cartridges, the reel is packaged with a soft travel case. MSRP for the Ultralite ASR fly reel starts at 299.00.

The Hodgman division also had a lot of new products. Hodgman's been on a bit of a tear the last few years re-inventing themselves. It's been fun to see the new high-performance items they've added at each show. While I don't know much about this particular batch, the item pictured to the far right definitely catches your eye. An interchangable-soled wading boot...hmmm...


There is actually quite a bit of information on Hodgman's website regarding their 3 new models of H-Lock series boots (as well as much better pictures), so if you're so inclined, check it out HERE.


Korkers

So how could I mention interchangeable soled wading boots without mentioning Korkers? Well, perhaps they heard that competition was coming, because they've clearly stepped up their game with the new HatchBack boots.


Exactly what it sounds like, the back of the HatchBack boot disengages for really fast entry or exit, and then cinches back up snug with a BOA closure. This innovation (perhaps borrowed from the ski industry) looks awesome and is a pleasant surprise. I'm certain anglers will love the convenience.

Here's the press release info from Korkers, with more info on the HatchBack, as well as an introduction to their other two new boot models, the DarkHorse & BuckSkin Mary.

Beginning with an industry first, Korkers’ new HatchBack™ ($239.99 MSRP) features a rear-entry BOA®assisted closure system that makes slipping into this boot incredibly smooth and easy. Korkers dynamic Flow Foam Fit System™ provides a positive fit that keeps your toes controlled but allows articulation and range of motion, while the 3 Ply Fit System adds security and support around the achilles tendon and ankle. The midsole incorporates Korkers’ hallmark Internal Drainage System™ for rapid drainage of excess water and weight, as well as a protective features such as TPU guards at the toe, calf, and shin. 
Understanding that female angler participation is on the rise, Korkers created a performance-packed boot made exclusively for women: the BuckSkin Mary™ ($139.99 MSRP). The new BuckSkin Mary™ boot is lightweight and athletic, yet rugged and durable. It comes in sizes 5-11 and is built on a slightly narrower last that better contours to the shape of a woman’s foot, providing better retention, fit, and supreme comfort. 
Last, but certainly not least, Korkers new DarkHorse™ ($179.99 MSRP) drafts off one of the brand’s most successful boots, the WhiteHorse, but offers several design enhancements aimed at durability, fit, and comfort. The DarkHorse™ is a lightweight, fast-mover, made for the angler who is looking for just the right balance between flexibility and durability. At 9 inches in height, the DarkHorse™ offers ample support. The combination of the BOA® M2 lacing system and Korkers proprietary 3 Ply Fit System™ lock the foot in place and provide supreme support around the ankle and heel. The DarkHorse™ offers an enhanced EVA Midsole & TPU toe cap for better durability, as well as Protected Stitching™ for better longevity.
If you want to look at Korkers' full 2017 product line, check out this cool e-catalog HERE.

That's about it for my IFTD/ICAST product plugs for this year. I received a few other emails, but nothing that really made me go "wow, that's super cool or unique." It was disappointing to not be able to make the show for the first time in 3 years. I'm hoping to actually get to Orlando again next year, even if I have to plan my PTO day way in advance. It's much more fun to bring you the real scoop from first hand experience and not have to rely on press releases. Either way, it's all good.

July 23, 2016

Fishing Forecast: Hot, Humid, & A Chance of Bass...

Got out for a little fishing the other night. It's been so hot and humid, I haven't been eager to sneak out to do much angling lately. It'd be one thing if I were in a trout stream, where when you reach down to handle your quarry, you're greeted by cool, refreshing, moving water. Instead, warm, stagnant ponds don't do much to re-energize after standing in the sun, ugh...

No worries though, with the proper amount of action, warmwater can be a lot of fun too...

This was the first bass of about a half dozen...

The bluegill bycatch was in effect too...
Guess the mini-hopper was just too tempting...

Nice bend in the Dragontail Hellbender tenkara rod...

Brought this one out to cast a shadowy silhouette in the setting sun...

Tried a little video, excuse the excessive grunting, not sure what's up with that...

With a still of the same fish.  Big head, skinny body...but who's judging?

Will probably do a little more fishing this weekend, we'll see. Have actually been trying to get in a little better shape recently, so I'm taking to riding my bike and playing pickup basketball again. See, when I lived up North, it wasn't uncommon to put on a few extra pounds of "winter weight" when it was too cold to want to do anything outside. Here in Florida, it's the opposite, and the jeans are starting to feel a little tight.

More time on the court means less time on the ponds, but willing to make that trade if it helps drop a few pounds.