Sunday, 12 June 2016

summer days and razor blades

'Razor blades' are those
one and two-year class perch that we learned not to rub up the wrong way as kids because their gill plates are sharp enough to cut you. My friends know that I have something of a passion for  chasing trophy perch on the fly, but they also poke fun at me for my enthusiasm in catching these little ones too. I just love them. They are so exquisitely marked. Perfect warriors in miniature and I can think of no finer way than tenkara to fish for them.

And right now in the margins of the lake down the road  there are lots of voracious little razor blades bunching up. I am learning ways I can adapt standard tenkara to stillwater presentations and I have an approach in mind that I am keen to try. 
The normal practice of holding the casting line off of the water that is so effective on rivers can be irrelevant on still water I think. I will be letting almost all of the line lay on the surface most of the time so I have dispensed with the normal  fluorocarbon casting line, replacing it with a monofilament which is less dense. This is important because I am using a buoyant indicator fly and I don't want a heavy casting line to drag it down. The whole setup consists of the level mono casting line (which at 8ft is the same length as the little zoom rod I am using,) plus 4ft of 6x mono tippet. 

This is effectively a duo rig. The indicator fly is a foam beetle pattern with a red sight post. The point fly is at the business end of the rig though. It seems appropriate that a fly to catch 'razor blades' should be red so I have tied up a scruffy non-descript size 14 pattern from red dubbing ribbed with mylar. It could be taken as a nymph, bloodworm or buzzer and should work well for stillwater perch. 

What makes this rig slightly different from a conventional  New Zealand style dropper is that the indicator fly is not fixed. Instead, the the thread is just passed through the eye of the hook once with a float stop threaded on the line either side. This effectively locks the fly on the line but it can be adjusted to vary the length of the line to the point fly. This is useful to allow the point fly depth to be adjusted to waft about on or near the bottom, or to suspend it below the buoyant indicator fly for taking fish in mid water. It's a lovely finesse presentation for shallow lake margins and it's really sensitive in signalling when fish are mouthing the point fly. Also, if you wish to manipulate the point fly the indicator fly shows you how much you are moving it.  

These small perch hunt throughout the water column  and fly will often be taken 'on the drop' as it sinks. I find that the best approach is to cast, allow the fly to sink then lift the rod to repeat the cycle. Positive takes are signaled by the beetle skating away across the surface, but if nothing develops I cast to a new area. If there is a breeze or convection current to drift the flies then so much the better as more water can be covered with each cast. Great fun on tenkara, and I soon lose count of how many little razor blades come to hand as I work the shore line. Occasionally I pick up a bigger perch too with a few hard scrappers of around the pound mark putting a good bend into the rod. It's addictive fishing and great to be catching on tenkara, in between those too infrequent trips to the trout streams!



  1. I like your indicator rig. I must give it a go for the perch on my local canal.

    1. Thanks David, it's very simple but very effective! Let me know how you get on..