Rigs Floating Tenkara Fly Line Does A Great Job On A 4-Day Backpack Fishing Trip
My reason for taking this trip was to test Rigs Fly Shop's Tenkara Floating Line on lake dwelling brook, rainbow and golden trout. I had tried to get Tenkara USA and Tenkarabum to bring out floating Tenkara lines for lake fishing. Rigs brought out 10 & 12 foot Floating Tenkara Lines. The standard Tenkara lines all sink, causing drag in windy conditions on stillwaters, pulling floating flies under the water as the lines sink, which is a problem when fish want a floating fly. It has been said the essence of Tenkara is the ability to hold your line off of the water, and neither of Daniel or Chris could see any reason to sell floating T-lines. Wind is the weak point in Tenkara. T-lines are so light its impossible to cast them into a strong wind. And if you hold your T-line off of the water in a wind, the line and fly will be blown all over, creating drag for your fly on or in the water. Dropping the rod will keep the line from getting blown around. But then you will have the sinking line creating drag on a floating fly. On the high lakes wind is the principal producer of food in the from of wind deposited land based insects, so there are good reasons to be able to fish surface floating flies on stillwaters during windy conditions. The best argument for using floating lines is they cast better in the wind than any FC line will, and floating lines are easier to hold off of the water than T-USA's Traditional Furled Lines are. My Tenkara tackle on this trip was a 13.5 foot Amago rod, Rigs 12 foot Floating T-Line, with a 5 foot 5X FC tippet. Below is a brief summary for each lake I fished.
9/18/12, Flame Lake, 9,724 Ft, 4:15 PM:
A 5 acre lake set in a shallow marshy bowl. Clear, warm and sunny, with wind creating 6 inch ripples and no working fish.
Flies Fished: The only pattern fished was a #12 Two-Toned X-rated Ant, which was cast quartering into the wind and allowed to drift back towards me.
Results: 3 hours to fish around the lake. If I could see a fish or see a rise and cast ahead of the fish's line of travel, the fish would usually take my fly. I did not always succeed in hooking or landing them, but it was good enough to release 24 nice rainbows and brook trout by the time I got back to where I started. The line handled the wind well but the tippet tended to hinge. Going from 15 to 5 Lb test is be too big a step to take with wind resistant patterns.
9/19/12, Sun Lake, 9,894 Ft, 7:AM:
Clear, sunny and warm. Calm to windy. I started fishing on the shaded side of the lake to midge pupa feeding fish.
Flies Fished and Conclusions: A #10 White Midge Pupa was good for 10 fish; a #12 Orange Midge Pupa took 10 fish, catching them faster than the white pattern had. When the midges were done I put on a #14 Peacock Sheeps Creek, which scored its 10 fish the fastest. Last up was a #12 Orange Sheeps Creek, which caught another 7 rainbows by the time I had fished around this 7 acre lake.
9/19/12, Redskin Lake, 10,052 Ft, 12:00:
Clear, sunny & warm. It was calm but became windy. Brook trout were stacked up in the outlet cove. No water was flowing out of the lake. The fish were in their spawning colors. My first 8 casts landed 8 fish. Feeling a little sheepish, I moved on looking for less concentrated fish.
Flies Fished: The Orange Sheeps Creek went on first because brook trout about to spawn respond aggressively to orange flies. My orange fly caught 10 fish quickly. I put on a #10 Black Sheeps Creek and it also caught 10 fish, but not as fast as the orange pattern did. The Peacock Sheeps Creek pattern completed its 10 fish limit as the wind began to rise, so I changed to a #12 Two-toned X-rated Ant pattern, which landed its 10 fish very fast. The High Country Hopper also caught its 10 fish quickly. The Big Two-toned Foam Beetle also landed 10 fish. I put on a #16 Two-Toned Foam Beetle and it had caught its 10 fish by the time I had fished back to my starting point.
Conclusions: The small beetle pattern did not pull fish as far or as fast as the bigger flies did.
9/20/12, Contrary Lake, 10,500 Ft, 8:00 AM:
Light overcast, still, with very few fish seen, although I did see one really big dead fish on the bottom of this 3 acre lake. I did see a sizable live fish as well but it would not even look at my fly. This lake was so shallow I wonder how the fish make it through the winters.
Flies Fished And Conclusions Reached: The fished a #14 Black Midge Pupa, which succeeded in landing 3 small rainbows.
9/20/12, Hates Lake, 10,560 Ft, 11 AM:
Light overcast to intermittent sun, still to windy, midge pupa feeding brook trout of modest size. This is a big lake and I only fished around about a third of it, to where I had to head up and over a low point to go into the next drainage.
Flies Fished: The Black Midge Pupa was good for a total of 30 fish.
Conclusions: One of the things I've found is that high status backpacking areas do not produce the best fishing. A lot of backpackers do not fish. But enough do that the lakes in the high use areas are usually unproductive. The fish were real spooky in this lake. Where there are no trees, the vertical form of an angler and his rod and line movement tends to scare every fish within sight of the motion.
9/20/12, Polar Lake, 10,827 Ft, 1:00 Pm:
This is an above timberline talus bound lake, with many unstable boulders of basketball to pick up truck size, and with slabs and ledges of vertical faces dropping into the water that you had to climb around or go over. There was alternating sunlight and clouds, it was still at first but windy later. This lake is sparsely populated with nice sized golden trout, which are almost always the toughest of trout to catch.
Flies Fished and Conclusions Reached: I started out with the Orange Sheeps Creek because golden trout show a tendency to react aggressively to fly patterns including red, hot pink and orange. True to form these fish charged my fly but always turned away at the last instant. After the third refusal I put on something smaller and with a more natural coloration - the Peacock Sheeps Creek, which also got refusals but managed to catch 10 incredibly hard fighting golden trout by the time I fished half way around the lake. My line sounded like a bull elk in estrus on every fish I hooked, and I didn't feel over gunned at all with the Amago rod. The back of the lake had bone fish like flats, where I saw recent foot prints from another angler. Golden trout are extremely sensitive to fishing pressure, which accounted for some of my difficulties. The wind was up so I put on a #16 Two-toned X-rated Ant. The First golden I cast to charged the 15 feet I placed the fly ahead of its cruising direction so fast I couldn't believe it. I thought I had it nailed with that fly change but I only saw one other fish to cast to before getting back to my starting point on this 4 acre lake. But a dozen nice golden trout is not a bad showing on a high lake.
9/20/12, U-Lake, 10,800 Ft, 3:00 PM:
This is a huge, deep lake that has no aquatic plant life. It has talus and rock faces along the south side, with a more friendly north shore except for the 250 to 300 foot high rock buttresses you have to climb over to get around the lake. It was windy with almost no fish to be seen. The brook trout looked black against the emerald depths. There was so much empty water there was no point in random casting. I cast to only to sighted fish well up toward the surface. The deep ones wouldn't budge from the bottom.
Flies Fished and Conclusions Reached: The Small Two-Toned X-rated Ant was effective on the fish I saw. There is a tendency to assume the best fishing is on waters that get the least fishing pressure. But the fertility of the water being fished is much more important than the fishing pressure it gets. These fish were not big and they were so skinny you would think they would go crazy over anything that looked like food. But they were really tough to catch and very difficult to approach. I manage only 12 by the time I hiked around to the outlet stream.
Floating Tenkara Line Conclusions: As far as fishing with Rigs Floating Tenkara Fly Line goes, I really like the line and it did about everything I could ask of it. It was nice to be able to drift dry flies in the wind and not have the line pull them under water. I fished in some pretty windy conditions and the floating line cast better than any Tenkara line I have used in the wind in the past, but it still needs a little work. After I got home I replaced the thin braided line with a super glued on braided loop for the lillian connection, so I can loop-to-loop the line onto the glued on braided loop connectors on my Tenkara rods. I cut the tippet ring off and added a 14" of HiViz 12 Lb. nylon mono, then I went on down with 12 inches each of 10, 8, and 6 Lb test FC leader material, looping on a 3 foot long tippet of 5X FC tippet material. I cast the altered line and it performed perfectly. What I was looking for was more separation between the fly and the floating fly line and to eliminate hinging. I'll be criticized for this because it is not considered to be true Tenkara. I am not interested in being a pure Tenkara fisherman; what I am interested in is having Tenkara tackle that works as well as it can under the conditions I am fishing in. Will this be the only line I use in the future? No. There are times when a tapered FC line will work better for doing the bow-and arrow-cast on tightly timbered lakes, and I see myself staying with the level FC lines for my stream fishing, where you want to be able to hold as much line up off of the water as you can. The floating Tenkara line is a useful tool but it isn't the right tool for every Tenkara fishing job.
Last edited by Golden; 10-31-2012 at 07:33 PM.