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Thread: My First Tenkara Experience On A Lake I have Fished For more than 40 Years

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    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Fresno, California

    Default My First Tenkara Experience On A Lake I have Fished For more than 40 Years

    Well, the broken tip section replacements for my Amago rod were delivered Monday evening, so I went up to fish a hike into lake where I have done a lot of my fly pattern testing and fly pattern development on over the years the next day, which was July 3rd. I was the first person to fish this little 3 acre lake this year, which is located at a modest 9,100 feet in elevation.

    I Started Out by Fishing the Morning Midge Emergence:
    I got into the lake before the sunlight was falling on the water, with the fish rising to a midge emergence, I fished the 8 foot + Airflow Braided Leader butt, with about a 4 foot 5X tippet, going through my Midge Pupa patterns in sizes 10, 12, 14 and 16. After 10 fish were released on a pattern, another pattern was tried. Colors included white, black, orange and blond or light yellow, with the Blond one getting its limit the fastest. This was the first time I have fished for trout with midge pupa patterns on a Tenkara rod. I didn't bother to re-treat the Braided Leader Butt with floatant, so the braided material that was not being held up off of the water would slowly sink, but not fast enough to interfear with keeping the midge pupa from ascending in the water with a twitching rod retrieve and being able to fish these sinking patterns close the surface. Trout do not usually move swiftly to take midge pupa patterns, and I was having some problems detecting strikes and hooking the fish that ever so gently taking my flies, which undoubtedly resulted in many missed fish. But I am hoping to get better at fishing midge patterns on a Tenkara rod in the future.

    Fishing My Sheeps Creek Patterns:
    As the temperature climbed with the full light of day falling on the water, the midges quit emerging and the brook trout quit hitting my midge pupa patterns. So I changed to a size 10 Black Sheeps Creek pattern, which is more or less a reverse-hackle (meaning that the hackle is placed at the bend of the hook instead of being placed nearer to the eye of the hook) Sakasa Kebari style fly. With all of my Sheeps Creek Patterns, including the Black, Orange and a variation on the Peacock Sheeps Creek with a blue hackle, I was trying to get rid of, the fish took all of those flies with a lot more speed and force than they did with the midge pupa patterns. Again I changed patterns after the fly on my line had caught its 10 fish limit, with the exception of the blue hackle fly, which I had to shorten the hackle by half in order to get it to catch any fish at all, which resulted in 30 fish being caught on that pattern before my tippet finally broke at the fly. The braided leader butt performed as well as could be expected here also, even in doing sling shot casts where the timber was pushing me right to the water's edge with no back casting room to be had anywhere behind me in places. Marv Taylor popularized the Sheep Creek fly pattern. I call my patterns the Sheeps Creek Patterns to differentiate my fly patterns from the way Marv and the originator, Gorge Biggs, ties the Sheep Creek Fly Pattern.

    Fishing My Terrestrial Patterns After the Wind Had Come Up:
    Eventually the wind made it difficult to spot and stalk the fish I was casting to. Thermal afternoon winds tend to deposit a lot of terrestrial insects into mountain lakes on a nearly daily basis over the summer and well into the fall, so I put on an ant pattern. The fish took the ant on the surface with a lot more enthusiasm than they had taken either the midge pupa or the Sheeps Creek patterns earlier, and it could not have taken more than 5 minuets for the size 12 foam ant pattern to catch its 10 fish limit. The Big Two-Tone Foam Beetle pattern also got its 10 fish limit, but it took about twice as long for it to do it as it did with the ant pattern. Buy this time I was fishing around the lake for the second time, catching some of the same fish again that I had caught earlier in the morning, which I could tell from the hook scars on their mouths. The High Country Hopper pattern produced its 10 fish limit the fastest, with me finishing out the day with my Foam Spider Pattern, which caught its 40th fish by the time I got back to where my pack was parked a second time. Normally the spider is not a good lake fly, but on this day it turned these normally shy fish into terrestrial fly pattern hogs. By the time I took that fly off of my line, there was only a few strands of the hackle left on the hook. The foam was ripped to shreds, the under body was chewed to peaces, and the thread that holds the whole fly together was coming unwound. And yet the tattered pattern was still catching fish quite handily.

    My Braided Leader Butt for Tenkara Lake Fly Fishing Conclusions:
    The braided leader butt was sure not perfect for Tenkara fly fishing on this day. Casting into the wind, the bulky, more wind resistant foam terrestrial fly patterns were troublesome at times, with the wind doubling the tippet back toward the rod frequently once the wind got above a certain velocity. But all in all the braided leader butt did a pretty good job of presenting my fly patterns in most situations on this day. This was with a total line length, including the tippet, of about 14 feet on a 13.5 foot long rod. That is not a very long line by most prople's standards. Were there fish I could not reach? You bet. But no matter how long a line you can cast, there will always be fish that are still out of reach. The braided leader butt and tippet ended up being about the same length as my rod, after making all the fly changes that I made over the day, but the line was still long enough, to reach and effectively cover the 160 fish I released over the day, which amounted to 90 fish released on wet flies and another 70 fish released on dry flies over about 6 hours of fishing on a 3 acre lake. In my opinion, regardless of whether you are fishing lakes or streams, you do not need one and one half times the length of your Tenkara rod, or longer lines, in order to be able to catch a lot of fish. The water in this lake is gin-clear and the fish had to be approached with due stealth to be caught, and the gentle presentations the braided butt leader made helped a lot in fooling the fish. Next, I plan to fish the Orvis Braided Butt Leader on a stream to see how well it does. I actually believe the Tenkara anglers practicing the Long Tenkara Line Technique may be compromising their fish catching abilities to some extent because of the time wasted by the necessity of having to bring fish in, hand over hand, to release their fish. Flies can only catch fish when they are spending time in the water; it is always best to get your fly back in the water as fast as you can to catch even more fish. A Tenkara rod is essentially a short range tool. Why try to turn Tenkara fly fishing into a western fly fishing line length tool method? This was not a trip for the faint of heart. Between the time I left home and got back there, I had used a considerable amount of gas and driven over 150 miles, hiked better than 3 miles with a total amount of elevation change of better than 3,000 feet in that 3 miles, and spent 12 hours driving, hiking, and fishing. For obvious reasons, I try to get as much as I can out of the fishing for my physical efforts and economic expenses invested in these Tenkara fly fishing trips.
    Last edited by Golden; 10-31-2012 at 07:06 PM.

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