The water is swirling and heavy and the current is fast. The energy of the river breaks the surface here into a myriad of fractal reflections. But once my eyes become accustomed to these ever shifting patterns I see the shapes of many fish, dark silhouettes against a golden gravel bed. It's a puzzle why so many fish are concentrated into this one small area.
But as I watch the current I realise that this little spot is the eye of the storm, the calm place at the center of a swirling vortex of water. And as I watch it seems the fish expend very little energy to hold place, ready to dart at any food item that the surrounding chaos of water brings into reach.
I had passed by this spot earlier, but my good fishing buddy GA sees the potential for a weighted nymph run through. But after many passes and many follows, nothing. The fish just lack that final little tail flick of commitment to close on the fly. Although weighted, the fly is too soon pulled from the fishes window by drag, and it's just too much effort, I think, to make that final lunge.
A change of tack perhaps and sometimes a little change makes all the difference. I'm keen to try out a little trick stored away in the memory bank. But I only have a few minutes or so before I must leave so when GA drifts down stream to pester some dace (he's very good at it) I'm in like Flynn.
No heavy-weighted fly, just a sparsely dressed sakasa kebari with a tiny brass coloured bead - more for a little bit of flash than for the miniscule weight it adds. Tippet is 5ft of 5X, the shine taken off with a little Rio Grande Mud. Casting line is a Fujino Midi. It's a lovely bright weed green colour which I'm figuring won't spook the fish. Which is handy because I'm planning to slam most of it down onto the water. Now this is not a finesse technique, but there again, finesse here would be like attempting origami in a hurricane.
So with the fish in the channel at my feet, a sharp near vertical back cast much like a western 'steeple' cast. Then an over powered forward cast with the rod following most of the way through. The result is a large slack noodle of casting line slammed onto the water so that it sinks into the calm at the eye of the vortex. Its enough to keep the fly in the still water zone long enough for a fish to take, and the resistance of the submerged casting line is just enough to self hook a turning fish. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and this pudding is eaten on the first cast. And the second, with two fish coming to hand. With this technique there is no need for heavy flies, fish whatever you like. The background noise dampens the disturbance of the line delivery and the colour doesn't seem to upset these fish.
I love the way tenkara can unpick the potential in tiny pockets of water, the detail is so absorbing, but I'm keen to show GA this slack line technique and three times he has a fish on. But it's time to leave now and the dark shapes of the biggest fish in the pool must remain just shadows. For now.