August 28, 2017

JAX Pond Bassin'

Nothing crazy to write about today, but I did get out and do just a little (local) fishing this weekend.

Living down here in North Florida, there aren't that many like-minded folks who actually enjoy (or understand) the fun and frivolity of fly fishing for bass with tenkara rods. Fortunately, my friend Lee is one of them, and we met up on Saturday evening to hit one of the neighborhood parks.

Fishing wasn't fast, nor furious, but we caught more than our fair share of small bass and aggressive bream.

Arms strategically extended to exaggerate size of fish

And for those gearheads out there curious about what tackle we were using... We were both slinging Dragontail Hellbender rods, Lee opting for floating line, and myself a furled line.

A black woolly bugger seemed to work best for me, and Lee had luck with both a small popper and a simple fly consisting of a hook with a few wraps of gray dubbing.

Simple, fun, & effective... and no fingers lost to stray gators. A win on many levels!

Oh, and if you happened to stumble on this post and actually do want to learn more about the dark art of Florida "tenkara," please check out our Facebook group on the subject HERE.

August 24, 2017

Dr. Goodwin's Artisan Sporting Buckles and Belts

From time to time I receive email "press releases" from folks in the fishing and sporting goods industry. If you write a fishing blog, or perhaps ever attended a trade show like IFTD or ICAST, you may receive them too. While they're nothing more than specially crafted advertisements, sometimes one of them catches my eye. So today here's a press release I received from Dr. Mark Goodwin, perhaps it interests you as well:

"Mark Goodwin is an internationally recognized award winning small metal sculpture and fabrication artist. An avid outdoorsman who loves to fish and hunt, he also has a passion to create wearable art in the form of belt buckles and belts. Mark says, “I hand make very affordable artisan belt buckles that can be worn on any occasion, 365 days a year. They are perfect gifts either for yourself, family, groomsmen and, bridesmaids or to corporate clients to commemorate outings.”

He makes each buckle, one at a time, in his Apalachicola, Florida studio on the Forgotten Coast. He only uses hand tools and traditional methods. Up to 5 different recycled USA metals are joined together- bronze, copper, brass, nickel, and pewter. His designs often include gemstones and other materials. No two creations are identical- each is unique.

In addition to his casual and dress buckles, Mark makes his perfect GatorGrip© Belt. “I got tired of belts with buckles that slipped during an active day in the field and on the water.” So, he designed and built his GatorGrip© buckle so that it cannot slip. Ever. And because it is made of cartridge brass, it will not rust. The 100% nylon web belt is comfortable, handsome, and strong. “See why I say: My toothy grip will never slip! This will be your favorite belt, guaranteed. And while it makes the perfect stocking stuffer gift, there is no reason to wait until Christmas to get one for yourself or someone else.”

All of the metals exhibit their natural colors. He rubs the metal against stainless steel shot to make it shine, and then he hand rubs it with a warm mixture or turpentine and beeswax. No paint or lacquer is used.”Paint, lacquer, and synthetic coatings are bright for a while. But they will eventually yellow, crack, chip, and wear away. Wax finishes give off a soft glow and are fairly durable. Of course, wax can be re-applied (or not) on occasion, according to the desire of the owner.”

Buckles and belts can be purchased in select sporting art galleries, or from his webstore Price ranges from $60 to $249."

Pinterest @tygerforge
Instagram #tygerforge

As mentioned in the intro, I received this press release via email. I have no personal or professional relationship with Mark Goodwin and received no compensation for this post. I just happened to find his creations interesting and thought you might too. Plus, "copy & paste" makes for an easy blog post when you've got nothing novel to write...

August 22, 2017

Tenkara Tuesday: Looking Back & Ahead At The Tenkara Summit

Bug Outs and Summits and Jams, oh my!

While the 2017 Tenkara Jam was mentioned in the prior post, it would be negligent of me to not also mention the upcoming Tenkara Summit hosted by Tenkara USA.

This year's Summit will be held in Colorado over the weekend of September 16 & 17 at the Estes Park Events Center. Having attended several different tenkara gatherings over the years, I hold the Summit in the highest regard; the content is phenomenal, the turnout is solid, and it's an absolute blast to attend. This year will be my fourth Summit (of the six total) and it can't get here soon enough.

While daydreaming about fishing in Colorado again, I took the time over the past weekend to look back at some photos and memories from prior Summits. If you've never attended one, the 3 videos below should give you a little flavor for the event.

2012: Salt Lake City, Utah. After missing the first Summit in 2011, this was my first adventure in traveling for fly fishing. The Tenkara Guides of Utah played a huge role in hosting this very well run gathering. I even got some one-on-one time with Dr. Ishigaki on stream - not only observing the fly manipulation techniques of a Master, but also noticing that we both had the same orange waterproof cameras!

2013: Harrisonburg, Virginia - the Summit comes East! Japanese fly fishing meets Moonshine and Bluegrass... literally. Looking back, this was the precursor of the Tenkara Jam we can now enjoy annually. My only regret regarding this event was opting to go on my own on Sunday rather than fishing Mossy Creek with the many of the attendees. From what I heard, Mossy was pretty epic!

2014: Boulder, Colorado. This is when I learned everything they say about outdoor recreation in the Rockies is 100% true. I also had the pleasure of fishing (or grabbing some beers) with so many of the different tenkara-folks I had met online over the years - far too many to list them all. And the bugling elk in Rocky Mountain National Park... it was so cool.

Unfortunately, I missed 2015, also in Estes Park... and there was no Summit 2016...

All of that being said, if this piques your interest, it's definitely not too late to register for the 2017 Summit should your schedule allow for it. Tenkara USA's official website is located HERE, with a ton more details including a list of speakers and a general overview of activities. Hope to see you there!

For more details and info on prior Summits, click HERE to view all prior "Tenkara Summit" tagged posts.

August 18, 2017

Who's Ready For The 2017 Tenkara Jam?

It's back...

Yep, the website's been updated and registration is now open for the 2017 Tenkara Jam in Boone, North Carolina. If it's anything like last year's Jam, it's a "must attend" if you can make arrangements to be in the area on Saturday, September 30th and/or Sunday, October 1st.

Not only does the preliminary line up of speakers and vendors look fantastic, but the facilities appear to be a huge step up over last year's event as well. Plus, registration not only gets you admission to the event, but food too! With the Jam a little over a month away, it seems like everything is coming together very quickly.

Personally, I'm going to try my darndest to get there, just working out some last minute details to make sure my schedule can accommodate it. I attended "representing" Tenkara Angler magazine last year and would really enjoy doing that again.

Would be nice to fish in North Carolina again too!

August 17, 2017

Fly Tying: Road Kone Kebari

It was mentioned in the comments of a recent post that the fly I referenced in the body of the article, the Road Kone Kebari (above), was nowhere to be found on the internet.

Well, that's sort of embarrassing. If I have one "confidence" fly that I fish in almost any situation without hesitation, this would be it. It's caught trout, bass, bream, and everything in between. I knew I had done a write up of the fly for Tenkara Angler magazine once upon a time, but I suppose I never did one here on the blog, even though it's been referred to in several prior posts.

A nice Driftless brown with a moutful of Road Kone

It's really nothing fancy, I just gave it the goofy "road kone" name a while back due to the fact that it's highly visible in the water due to the white feather and fluorescent orange thread used in tying it. The small bead head is optional, should you want to get a little more depth.

It also gave me another excuse to practice making some more video... So here's about a 4 minute long tying video of the Road Kone Kebari. It's more than a little boring to watch, but you can get the idea rather quickly as to what's going on with this pattern.

August 16, 2017

Exploring Florida - Fort Caroline National Memorial

Wow, this was a pleasant surprise.

Just a few minutes off of 295 (or "The Loop" as it's known in Jacksonville) is one of North Florida's treasures. Managed by the National Park Service, Fort Caroline and the surrounding grounds make for a great little half-day trip if you're ever in the area looking for something to explore.

The primary draw is, of course, the re-creation of the 1500s-era French fort with the grisly past (thanks to the not too friendly Spaniards). Interestingly, some historians don't even believe this is where the fort actually was located, be it elsewhere in Jacksonville, or even Georgia, but that's a debate for a different forum. Once you place the fort aside, there are so many trails and paths to explore on the grounds, it makes for a wonderful hike for those that just want to be outdoors.

I'd highly recommend the trails right across the street from the visitor's center, just look for the signs for Spanish Pond. They create a large loop and drop you off into a salt marsh viewing area. I happened to be there at low tide, but it still made for a picturesque setting. There's quite a bit of wildlife, be it the crabs, birds, or even the elusive zebra long winged butterfly that wouldn't sit still long enough to let me take its picture!

Here are a few more photos of the trip, including a huge boat, I assume transporting cargo, which went down the St. Johns River as I was in the fort itself.

For more information on the Fort Caroline National Memorial and the Timucuan Ecological & Historical Preserve:

12713 Fort Caroline Road
Jacksonville, FL 32225

August 15, 2017

Tenkara Tuesday: Eye Catching New Rods

Welcome to Tenkara Tuesday...

Just happened to notice some really striking new tenkara rods being teased on Facebook the past week or so. While they say "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," it's certainly interesting to see some unique looks being produced.

The following photos have been lifted from Facebook, I don't think the owners of the contributing pages will mind... I mean the posts were set to "public" for a reason...

"Built to be one of the most ELITE Fixed Line Nymphing Rods on the planet!! Our Hardware Package was machined and anodized right here in the USA!! All our grips are lathed and constructed right here in SE Tennessee. Each Rod is meticulously assembled one at a time by the guy who designed the rods."
- Riverworks Company USA

Images courtesy: Riverworks Company USA Facebook Page

"Alps Tanuki Special designed in Italy by Italian. it is a collaboration work between US, Italian, and Chinese rod Engineers. When it comes to design, it is hard to beat Italian. The AlpsTanukiSpecial action is not the same Tanuki XL. It is designed for a full rod casting, it means you hold on the lower section of the grip. The action is a little slower and flies land gently on the water. It is a Tanuki XL family which designed for more Traditional Japanese fly manipulation both dry and kebari does not mean you can't use double October Caddis."
-Tenkara Tanuki

Images courtesy: Tenkara Tanuki Rods Facebook Page

Those are definitely some eye-catching rods. Very different from the norm.
I guess the next question is, "but how do they catch fish?"

August 14, 2017

My Kid Is Good At Video, I Suck At It

I'm really good persistent at writing a sub-par fishing blog, but I'll be the first one to admit I suck at making videos. My 11-year-old daughter is way better at it than I am.

I used to be somewhat okay finding my way around Microsoft Movie Maker, this probably being my masterpiece (ha!), but somewhere along the line I upgraded or updated my computer, and it disappeared. Oh, and Microsoft doesn't offer it anymore. That kinda sucks. I'm sure I could get a copy on the dark web, whatever the hell that is, but that just sounds too sinister to me, like something Snidely Whiplash would do... (man, that's a dated reference).

Since the only way to improve at creating videos is to try more of it, I'm determined to record some footage (within reason) at this Fall's Tenkara Summit in Colorado. So in the meantime, I'm test driving a few different, basic video editing programs.

I'm currently playing around with a program called "Filmora" that's pretty easy to use, even for a video-for-dummies candidate like me. Cranked out this super quick 0:15 video last night, just to play around with some of the introductory features such as cropping, text & graphic overlays, sound tracks, and transitions.

Whatever... I know it sucks, we can't all be Drew Lookinfishy. It's just a proof of concept sort of test.

So I'm curious, what video software do you use (preferably PC), especially if you're not totally engrossed in online movie making? I'm guessing the Mac folks use iMovie, but heck, I could be wrong. I'd love to read in the comments below...

August 12, 2017

Gear Review Update: Tenkara Times TRY 360 Tenkara Rod

A few years ago I had the pleasure of reviewing the TRY 360 tenkara rod from Tenkara Times. I wrote a fairly thorough review about it HERE if you'd like to go back and read it. However, you don't really have to... in short, I thought the rod was great - lightweight in hand, an accurate caster, and able to handle fish of many sizes and species. The only criticism was the rod's questionable cosmetics, which I didn't think were all that attractive...

Okay, I'm not going to sugarcoat it, I thought the rod was ugly.

Fast forward to this year, I was given the opportunity to test drive an updated version of the TRY 360.

I was able to fish the rod during some outings this summer in Pennsylvania and Oregon, and I'm happy to say that the rod maintains many of the qualities enjoyed in the original version.


The rod still feels incredibly light in hand. I never weighed the first version on a scale, so I can't compare the actual weight side-by-side (I no longer have the original rod), however, this new version is very similar. I think it feels perhaps a smidge heavier, but that could just be the influence of time on my memory. Either way, this rod remains super light for a model in this price range, (currently  $149.99 at Three Rivers Tenkara).


One of the features of this rod that I really enjoy is the grip, which seems slightly revised. Visually, you'll immediately notice a composite cork accent at top and bottom, which I think looks sharp should it serve no other function. Meanwhile, the handle maintains the 2 noticeable humps at top and bottom, and similar to the weight, they appear slightly more pronounced than before. The reason why I enjoy this grip configuration is that I prefer to "palm" the butt of the tenkara rod in my hand when I cast if the overhead clearance allows it, and this larger bump makes it very comfortable to hold in that fashion.

That said, should I need to choke up on my grip for whatever the reason, be it for increased control or to achieve a shorter overall rod length, the upper handle hump allows a very natural feeling grip as well.


As for performance, the rod is essentially the same. Crisp, perhaps a bit stiff, and casts a beautiful level line. I used a Tenkara USA 3.5 level line during the testing and it made for such an easy cast with both weighted and unweighted flies. A quick, compact flick of the wrist dropped cast after cast into the desired pocket or riffle on command.


So I guess it's time to address the elephant in the room, the cosmetics, especially when looking back at the prior review. Now I know cosmetics aren't the most important thing when it comes to a fishing rod. There could be a cool looking rod that casts like junk (and vice versa), but it would be foolish to think they don't play any role in the buying decision.

Well, I'm happy to report that while the majority of the rod blank maintains the same matte paint job, the largest section by the handle has been upgraded tremendously. Glossy black, silver printing, and a nice band that serves as a backdrop for the Tenkara Times logo while adding a splash of color. Is it perfect? No. But, in my opinion, it's light years more attractive than the original TRY. A classier, more premium look in so many ways.

Original TRY (Top) | Updated TRY (Bottom)

In closing, I believe the many updates included in this latest iteration of the Tenkara Times TRY 360 further cements this rod as an excellent option in the mid-price point tenkara rod range. I'd have no reservations recommending this rod to anybody seeking an "all around" model while still expecting extremely high-value & performance for the money.

The Tenkara Times TRY 360 tenkara rod tested in this product review was provided to me at no cost by Oleg at Tenkara Times. As mentioned in the review above, it carries a retail price of $149.99 in the United States and can be purchased at Three Rivers Tenkara. I currently hold no professional affiliation with Oleg, and the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

August 9, 2017

Listen Here: Dylan Tomine on "Anchored with April Vokey"

Was catching up on some podcasts this week, and found that I really enjoyed the July 14th episode of "Anchored with April Vokey" featuring Dylan Tomine. It's a bit of a meandering interview, but the backbone of the talk happens to center around Steelhead hatcheries, and what long term impact stockings have on the fish populations of the Pacific Northwest.

Image: Wild Steelhead Coalition

As somebody living in Florida I have little to no first-hand exposure to the decline of the salmon & steelhead runs in that part of the country. However, after recently visiting a hatchery as a "tourist" in Oregon last month, it's now easy to see the pro & anti-stocking arguments from both sides. The science cited by Mr. Tomine definitely makes for a timely and eye-opening (or perhaps better put, ear-opening) listen. 

August 5, 2017

A Photo Dump Of Signs

Signs are cool. I tend to take pictures of them when I'm in new places. I took a lot of photos while I was out in the Pacific Northwest. Here's a photo dump of some that just didn't have a place in prior posts. Most don't require any elaboration. Those that do, well... feel free to let your imagination run wild.  :)