Saturday, 11 February 2017

urban tenkara/the road less travelled


The tenkara journey can take many parallel paths. 

My first path is a study of classic Japanese tenkara flies and techniques, the many subtle manipulations and approaches to catching wild trout with kebari. 

On this path I am  初心者  shoshinsha, green hand, novice.

My second path is a journey into the heart of things, into the self and therefore the universe. This too is the work of a lifetime.

My third is along the road less traveled by many, though well trodden by me -  urban tenkara.

This has been driven partly by the relative remoteness of wild trout fishing, and on the other hand, the super-abundance of wild urban coarse fishing opportunities near by. And partly by my coarse fishing roots that led me eventually to chasing coarse fish with a western fly road, and then naturally on to tenkara.                                                                                                   
It has become something of a mini-mission of mine to spread the word on urban tenkara and so it's great to learn that I have a couple of snippets of press in this month's 'Fly Fishing and Fly Tying' magazine and on Turrall flies blog. Some of my captures earned second place in the UK national fly fishing competition 'Fly for Coarse'. So I am feeling quite pleased,  particularly as this was the only 'fixed-line' fly entry and the top choice of panel judge and angling superstar Matt Hayes.  

I have found classic tenkara flies and techniques particularly relevant to catching river species like dace, chub and roach, all of which can be just as challenging and rewarding as wild trout. There are of course big differences too, not least the fact that these species often shoal. Each have their own unique patterns of behavior, sometimes very similar to trout, but sometimes very different. There is also the challenge posed by the sheer range of fish sizes you may find yourself connected to in comparison to an average trout stream. 


Of these three river species I have found dace to be the most similar to small stream trout. Some of the better dace will often hold station in micro pocket water, dashing out to sample offerings passing by, but rarely chasing a fly for more than six or so body lengths.  Here very short fly-only dead drifts or anchoring techniques are often the order of the day.

The smaller dace hunt the riffles. Here down-and-across and downstream manipulations are effective when the pace of the current makes a dead drift too fast for the fly to be detected or worth chasing.   

Moving on to methods for chub and roach are worthy of separate posts in their own right, while approaches for stillwater bream, perch and rudd may take us away from classic tenkara altogether and could more accurately be described as 'fixed-line fly fishing'.
 




  
   





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