Tenkara Fly Fishing along the Albemarle Sound

tenkara fly fishing albemarle soundA gentleman fishing one of the local creeks last fall quickly caught my attention. I was returning from an afternoon of paddling and fishing on Queen Anne Creek. When I returned to the dock, the angler was enjoying one of many catches using a traditional fly rod. Colin introduced himself and then laughed as he joked that he had come out to test some of his hand tied flies. The combination of the angler’s joy, art and skill intrigued me. A few weeks later, I tried my own luck with fly fishing albeit a centuries old technique called Tenkara.

This simple form of fly fishing originated from Japan over two hundred years ago and is still one of the most popular Japanese fresh water angling today. Simple is fine with me especially when it comes to gear and equipment — think rod, line and fly – no reel! Here’s a quick Tenkara lesson for fishing fresh water streams on the fly along the Albemarle Sound.

Tenkara beginnings

Traditional Japanese rods are made from solid bamboo. Modern tenkara rods are constructed from ultra light, high-tech carbon fiber. Rods vary in length from 8.5 feet to 13 feet and anglers can easily cast lines from 12’–30′ or longer. One of the great advantages of the tenkara rods is that they are telescopic and conveniently break down into the rod’s butt section. The rod “telescopes” out of the largest section of the rod and quickly sets up in seconds. My Patagonia rod’s length is 10’6” but packs into its 20.5” base section. I can easily carry my rod and fishing kit with me while cycling or walking to local creeks.

Tenkara 101

Tenkara rods have a tag of line called a lilian that adjoins the tip of the rod. A level line (fly line) of various lengths (twenty-foot, twelve-foot, eight-foot) is slipped over and hitched to the lilian utilizing a turle knot. This allows quick transition to longer/shorter lines in the field. Finally, a 4’–6’ tippet is tied to the fly line and the fly. Lately, I’ve been averaging about 20-24 feet of total casting line.

Once I arrive at the stream, I simply unwind my desired length of line, gently pull out the tip section, seat with the adjoining section until I’ve properly set the entire rod. I chose the 10’6” model for it’s springy action and all-around length for fishing coastal creeks with dry flies, soft hackles and streamers.

Fly Fishing on Queen Anne Creek

Different strokes

Most folks who experience the rhythm of Tenkara use words like “intuitive, FUN and instinctive” when describing the feel of casting and setting the hook. I prefer to move the rod quickly back to a vertical point then release the rod forward to approximately 10 o’clock. This allows your line to move forward and present the fly toward your target. I place my index finger on top of the handle for better control. Instead of moving my wrist to create a twitching motion on the fly, I gently squeeze my smallest two fingers on the cork handle. The flexible tip gently reacts to the squeeze and transfers a subtle motion to the fly. The majority of my strikes emerge while I’m retrieving the line to make another cast.

Tenkara fishing Albemarle SoundCompared to conventional fly fishing, the tip of the rod is held relatively high after the cast. This keeps a tighter line making it easier to set the hook. When I land a fish, I casually raise the rod up higher and calmly reach for the line. Fishing with longer line requires one to tilt the rod back, keeping your arm low and close to the body when recovering the line. With larger catches, use the line versus the rod to lift the fish out of the water. After securing the line, I often lay the rod down on the ground or dock and use both hands to reel the line in. Again, this technique seems fairly natural after a couple of successful landings. Since November, I’ve been routinely catching bluegill, black perch and yellow perch in the shallow, grassy waters of Queen Anne Creek and Pembroke Creek.

While some traditionalists or fisher elitists may scoff at the Tenkara fly fishing method, I’ve found it very exciting and effective for anglers of all ages and abilities. When you combine elegance, art and recreation, it’s all good! Some guides are finding it to be a great introduction and teaching tool to fly fishing. Regardless of your preference, share the love of fishing and fish on!

 

 

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WaveLINKS Autumn Gear Review

wavelinksgearreview

Cheers to cooler weather and lower humidity! For some of us outdoor adventurers, autumn is the perfect season for camping, paddling, hunting, biking and hiking. Here are a few pocket-size and affordable gear options that are sure to lighten your load and sweeten your next outing.

waveLINKS gear reveiw

photo courtesy of Sawyer Products

H20 on the Go!

Regardless of your pleasure, safe potable water is essential to any outdoor experience. It can also be one of the most challenging elements to carry. Remember the rhyme, “A pint’s a pound, the world around” so 8 pints to the gallon weighs eight pounds. Three quarts (6 lbs.) per person per day may be sufficient for the average day hiker while a kayaker may get by on less especially during a cool overcast day. A portable filtration system turns streams and springs into a valuable asset and in some cases, a lighter hydration alternative. Whenever I venture into the woods, paddle skinny water or tour back roads of eastern NC, I often include a water filter in my gear checklist.

The Sawyer MINI is one of the most versatile and effective portable filtration systems that I’ve personally used. According to Sawyer’s product details listed on their website, the MINI removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli. It also removes 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium.

The high performance filter fits in the palm of your hand and attaches directly to the reusable drinking pouch, standard disposable bottles and hydration packs. Or simply use the system’s straw to drink directly from your water source. A cleaning plunger provides easy backwashing after extended use.

WaveLINKS gear review - MSR Rapid Cooking Pocketrocket™ Fuel to Gruel

Our second piece of gear pairs well with the Sawyer MINI especially if you like hot beverages or tasty food while exploring overnight adventures. Again if you prefer palm-size convenience and lightweight options, you’re sure to appreciate the MSR Rapid Cooking Pocketrocket™ ultralite canister stove. It’s one, two, three and your ready to fire up some cowboy coffee or cook a delicious one-pot meal. The stove and valve body fit inside a small plastic case. Simply connect the stove with an IsoPro canister, (80/20 blend of isobutane and propane), then light a match over the edge of the burner head, open the flame adjuster valve and presto, you’re ready to boil the pint of water you just filtered in only a few minutes! The glove-friendly flame adjuster control is a nice addition and is easy to ‘dial in’ from simmer to full boil positions.

waveLINKS gear review

photo courtesy of Hydrapak™

Collapsible & Adaptable

Our last autumn gear tip features an innovative design and eliminates the waste of plastic disposable bottles. Hydropak is a company whose slogan boasts, “Always Innovate. Never Compromise.” Their outdoor athletes-tested personal hydration products are quickly becoming one of the most popular and most functional products in the industry. They have been designing multi-purpose and collapsible bottles, flasks and reservoirs for the past 12 years. One of my favorite bottles is the Hydrapak™ 500 ml (17 oz.) Softflask™. The flask is made of  thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) film body with a molded screw cap. The leak-proof design is easy to use and it collapses to a fifth of the original size when empty. The bottle includes a comfortable high flow soft silicone bite valve, twist shutoff valve, dust cap and nylon finger loop. The softflask works well for paddle boarding, running and cycling and it neatly packs away when empty. The sportflask™ line also includes 350 (12 oz.) & 750 ml. (77 oz.) bottles.

So all you gear geeks out there, be sure to give these products a field test during your next autumn adventure.

 

 

Suspension Therapy – When’s the last time you laid in a hammock? Check out Eagle Nest Outfitters hammocks for some serious hang time. Not only are they way cool, they are also comfortable, lightweight and durable. When used responsibly, they have a minimum impact on the trees and surrounding environment.
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