This blog is written by tenkara anglers to the tenkara anglers.
North West Slovenia–the Hidden Pearl of
Europe. Part 1.
If I could only choose two words to describe
this place they would be Perfect and Paradise!
Particularly for fishermen, this place has it
all! The rivers are beautiful with cristal clear water in many tones of blue
and green. These light colored river bottoms and picturesque gravel bars are
surrounded by densely forested alpine mountains full of wildlife. Many unique fish species live here in a fairy
tale environment that is magical and more than worth every fisherman’s visit. Without
a doubt, I know you will love this place like everyone else. This is a fisherman’s
perfect playground: it makes you a better fishermen and has everything you
could wish for.
explain the following about North West Slovania:
The 10 amazing rivers to fish.
The 9 different species of fish and
how to catch them.
Where to get fishing licenses.
Where to spend the night.
The rivers in this part of Slovenia find their way over 200 million year old
limestone, making the water exeptionally clear. The last ice age left a mineral
resin in these mountains that causes a vibrant and surreal blue and green tone in
the water and pools. Combine that with a
white river bottom, gravel beaches and green alpine mountains and you get special
nature with contrasting colors that are a real treat for the eye. The rivers themselves
are in pristine shape, flowing naturally and almost untouched by human influence
or other regulations. The 145km of river water that may be fished is divided over 10 rivers. Because
of this abundance of choice, it is impossible to choose only one favorite
river. There is just to much to see and fish, more than enough for a fisherman’s
The rivers of which I speak include the Soca,
Idrijca, Baca, Trebuscica, Tolminka,
Nadiza, Ucja, Kneza, Koritnica and Bela, almost an entire river sytem
very well managed by the fishing club of Tolmin.
Soca river is large and ranks among the most beautiful
rivers of Europe. This river is absolutely pristine and untouched. Around 40km
can be fished, all so beautiful that you often forget to fish while there. The
upper and lower part have stone and gravel beaches with gentle currents and
rapids while the middle part flows through a deep and remote canyon with many
big boulders and pocket water. It has many places that are good for Tenkara but
require some walking to reach the next spot. All species of trout, grayling and
whitefish live in this river and the average size is "BIG". Many of
the fish are just too big for Tenkara; fishing here demands skill.
The Soca river with
her emerald water color looks unreal. A must "do before you die"river.
Idrijca river is also large and has a more mysterious
karst character with attractive greenish pools.
The upper part is densly forested, remote and better for Tenkara. The
lower part is more open with gravel beaches and longer, slower pools and rapids.
16km can be fished. All species of trout, grayling and whitefish live in this
Idrijca has long pools and rapids. Prepare for big and strong fish
The rivers Baca, Trebuscica, Tolminka, Nadiza
and Ucja are mid-sized and ideally suited for Tenkara throughout the entirety
of the rivers. Because these rivers are
smaller than the Soca and Idrijca they have more variety and different surroundings.
The total length of these rivers together is around 65km and the average width
is 20m or less. The fish can be big too. It is not uncommon to find 60+ cm
Baca river is a tributary of the Idrijca and the
longest of the middle sized rivers; around 21km can be fished. The bottom consists
of white, grey and brown stones and and gravel. The pools have a nice bluish hue
and the water is very clear. The lower part is C&R only, with a more open
character and longer pools with surprisingly big fish. This river has high,
densly forested banks in the middle part and more rapids in the upper part.
Many sections of the river have impressive limestone plated walls and big
rocks. This river one of my favorite rivers that guarrantees a lot of fishing fun.
The whole river is good for Tenkara. The upper part holds only wild trout while
in the lower part you can catch grayling and a occasional whitefish too.
Baca is a varied river, perfect for Tenkara
Trebuscica river is also a Tributary of the Idrijca. This
pristine, untouched river with its white gravel bottom, yellow stones and light
greenish toned pools is an intimate beauty where pools and rapids follow each
other up quickly. The water is
exeptionally clear and the fish will offer you a nice challenge. The whole
river is around 8km, perfect for Tenkara and C&R only. All species of trout
can be caught. The lower part has more grayling and whitefish.
river is a special experience for every fishermen.
Tolminka river is a tributary of the Soca. It has
around 10km of fishable water and is C&R only. The upper and middle parts
flow through a narrow, remote and densely forested valley. To reach the water
and walk from spot to spot requires some hiking and climbing skills. Almost no
fishermen go to this place so you can expect to have the water to yourself. The
river has some gorges with steep walls and many big white rocks scattered
around. The water is cold, very clear and clean enough to drink with a nice
blue tone in the pools. The bottom is light colored and the fish are all wild.
The lower part, down the Unesco gorges, is easier to reach and has a more open
character with more gravel beaches. All the trout in the upper section are wild.
In the lower part there are also grayling
and occasional whitefish.
Tolminka is a magnificant river for those who love to explore remote places and
a challenging fishery.
Nadiza river offers around 13km to fish. The upper
part is remote with some impressive limestone art and big rock and is also the
best area for Tenkara. The middle and lower parts are more open, wider and
easier to reach. The pools are far apart so expect to do some walking. The
bottom is white gravel with nice black stones. The water is very clear, drinkable
and has a blue tone to the pools.
All trout and grayling species can be found.
This river also has many chubs and barbels.The
Nadiza river is a good river during the early and late seasons with beautiful
water color and surroundings.
river has 6km of fishable water. This river offers
adventerous and peaceful fishing. It is
very remote and the least fished river of all. It is very difficult to enter, almost
inaccessable. The water is cold and fast. The pools are blue toned and the bottom
is white. It has the most amazing big rocks, boulders, cliffs, ravines and
gorges. To fish this river you need to be fit and have some climbing skills. I
do not suggest fishing here alone. It has many dead ends with steep walls and
deep pools that you cannot get around. It probably doesn't get any wilder than
this. All the trout are wild and the lower section also has grayling.
river is an impressive and wild river.
The Kneza, Koritnica and Bela rivers are
fairly small with a combined length around 18km. The Kneza and Koritnica river are
tributaries of the Baca river. The Bela river is a tributary of Nadiza river.
These rivers are perfect if you like Indian style Tenkara with a short rod and
short line. The banks are densly forested with high a variety of pools and
limestone art. The Kneza and Koritnica rivers have many impressive limestone
plated walls, while the Bela river has a more open character. These rivers hold
wild trout and some occasional grayling in the lower parts.
river has many limestone plated walls, which makes it one of my favorite small
To be continued..
One day of tenkara fishing in Croatia.
My annual family beach
holidays at the Istria coast with sunbathing, swimming and snorkling bored me after
a couple of days this year. Fortunately I had the possibility to diversify my vacation
with a day-trip, fishing the Croatian mountains. The Kupa River and its
tributaries in the area of the Risnjak national park make for some good places
to fish with the fly.
The town of Brod-na-Kupi is 140 km from the western coast
of Istria and reachable by car in two hours. A state fishing license is not
required to fish there. A one-day permit is available at the restaurant on the
main crossroad before the border with Slovenia. Please note that you need cash
to pay there. The nearest ATM is in Delvice town in 15 km. The permit cost is
150 kunas (22 EUR) for the Kupa River and 250 kunas (35 EUR) for the Kupa and
tributaries Kupica and Curak.
The Kupa is
easily accessible from the road. Catch and release is mandatory for grayling
and I found a lot of them there. In the crystal-clear water of the slow
stretches and mirror pools, small grayling are easily visible. These grayling
are spooky and do not take flies, but at the nearest run I caught a dozen modest
sized grayling in half an hour.
At the end of August all the big grayling are
in deeper pools. I saw teams of 15-20” specimens slowly moving in the emerald
water and glistening in the sun. I managed to hook one with a nymph on a stream
flowing into a pool, but all the others ignored my flies. The water was very
warm and these large grayling were not feeding during the day. To find active
fish I went to the tributaries.
in the tributaries–Kupica and Curak–is definitely colder than in the Kupa. Both
rivers run through canyons where the current is stronger and the fish are much
more active in the summertime heat, so I went there to fish. The tributaries
are catch and release areas. The Kupica is accessible easily by car from the
confluence of the Kupa up to the village of Mala Lesnica. The Curak is also accessible
by car for 4 km upstream from the confluence to the Kupica near the village of
Both rivers look perfect for tenkara; I chose the Curak and was not
disappointed. I stopped my car near the first run and caught a nice 15” bow on the
first cast. I quickly regretted not wearing waders: the water was cold and wading
Moving alongside the river through the bushes, I fished some
runs, sometimes hooking nice little WBTs and found a lovely pool with flowing
stream and a visible flock of decent-sized fish near the bottom: grayling! I
switched to a heavier kebari and got a take on the very first cast. Fortunately,
at this moment my mate with the camera passed me on his way to the next fishing
spot and got some nice shots, recording the fight, the catch and the release. All
the other grayling spooked and I moved upstream, focusing on the deeper pools. I
caught some nice grayling, brownies and bows in two hours of perfect tenkara
fishing under the canopies of the beautiful Curak stream.
near Kupa is available. The hotel “Mance”, http://www.hotelmance.com/ is located in the center of Brod-na-Kupi. Driving
through the Kuzelj village I saw the signes “SOBE” which means there are rooms
for rent. Also you can contact the fly angler, Darko Gorjan, at https://www.facebook.com/croatia.flyfishing for inexpensive fisherman’s lodging
in Zakraic Brodski near Curak, like I did.
Curak. The grayling.
With Darko Gorjan: fly swap :).
Suitability of the Stream.
I have been asked so much recently whether I prefer western-style or tenkara. This is a very difficult question to answer, because I love them both. One is aware of all the conjecture, the arguments for and against, and I'm afraid that the simple truth is that we anglers usually do have a distinct preference for one approach or the other and tend to do our utmost to 'protect' and promote whichever that might be. This is typical of our nature, of course, though while it does the sport no good at all, it might not, finally, do any harm.
So what are the main points of concern, or argument, and are they valid? A lot is made of the minimalistic simplicity of tenkara, which is perhaps obvious, but probably over-stated in comparison with western-style, because apart from having a reel in the system, the latter can be just about as simple. On all the rivers I fish, Europe-wide, I carry very little, with either approach. Indeed, I have known tenkara fishers more burdened with tackle and flies than I am when fishing with fly line.
The delicacy of presentation of tenkara is also a strongly voiced virtue, and we have to agree with this, although again, fishing western-style, with the ultra-light line weights and furls available nowadays, or particularly the leader-only approach, there is very little in it, believe me. I should add that western-style actually has a huge advantage here, particularly again with leader-only in that one can obtain beautifully soft touch down, with control, at significantly greater range than is possible with the fixed line. On the small river this is inconsequential, but the value of this increases vastly in proportion to the size of the river. Having control over line/leader length, however, from cast to cast, is also of huge value, no matter what the size of river. I fear that tenkara aficionados who do not appreciate this point are either in ignorance of this factor of control, or in denial.
The problem here is keeping hooked trout out of the overhanging alders on the right bank: middle Ternoise, at Blangy sur Ternoise, northern France.
The perfect quarry for tenkara, on any size stream:
grayling on the plume tip.
Dealing with hooked fish is an area of concern, it must be said, when fishing tenkara, and this is related both to the size of the fish and the scale of the river. Committed western-stylers have suggested that this issue actually confines tenkara to small rivers and small fish (as from which the method emanated). Tenkara enthusiasts, however, point to evermore adventurous exploits with larger trout and rivers. Again, the truth is that beyond those small fish and pocket water streams, we are always running a risk, and to deny this is ridiculous. I have been in enough 'marginal' situations with big rainbows and browns, in open water, to know absolutely that to have the ability to yield line via the fly reel, and to gather line, often makes the entire difference between a fish successfully brought to hand, and the irresponsible ignominy of a break. There is no rational argument that to leave a hook, or worse, a hook and tippet/leader, in a fish is a deep sin within our sport, and to risk this is where the irresponsibility lies. Try as one might, the fixed line stylers will never win this argument, I feel, even though one does know of exceptionally large trout being successfully caught using tenkara on, for example, some American rivers. I confess to being surprised by this, because when I have hooked large trout on large European rivers, I have had to move very quickly through the water – which is not always easy – in order to have any chance at all.
Upper Eden feeder stream; ideal for tenkara
and plume tip.
Grayling, Eden, plume tip.
The process of bringing a fish to hand, or netting a fish, is also a concern. I have never felt comfortable with hand-lining tippet and leader in order to bring a fish into range of hand or net (this is not a comparison about netting and hand-landing, because that is quite a separate issue: I actually far prefer bringing fish to hand, rather than netting them, because in all cases other than particularly 'squirmy' grayling, I find the unhooking process much quicker if a net is not involved, though one admits to knowing a lot of anglers who find the opposite). The point here is that with a leader/tippet any longer than the rod length, hand-lining of the tippet is always necessary. At best this is clumsy and inelegant. At worst it is a process which runs an enhanced risk of tippet breakage. In tenkara (as in western style) we are often fishing tippets down to 0.08mm, and commonly 0.1mm, and once the wonderful cushioning of a soft tenkara rod is gone - as we hand-line - even a small trout, suddenly making a bid for freedom, can produce the break. Again, there can be no doubt that the ability to yield line at this point, in western-style, often saves the break.
Perfect tenkara water on la Ternoise, northern France.
Only the fixed line can work here: upper Ternoise in deep cover. In twenty metres of river I counted nine trout, all of which would not have been accessible with western-style.
I think that responsible river guides and fishing instructors should not concentrate on the tired old ground of casting technique and fly selection (which are comparatively trivial), and should certainly not push the angler towards one approach while condemning others. Rather, they should gear the approach absolutely to the water type and conditions that face them. Beyond that, they should teach wading technique and, above all, how to expediently and safely deal with a hooked fish, of any size. The latter issues, make all the difference out there, and are water-invariant. Many of us have learned how to extend the scope of tenkara towards bigger fish and more open water situations, in which big fish can run, and we can cope with hand-lining, such that we know how to hold the tippet and allow it to slip as it is shortened to the point when we can net or handle the fish; but above all, as we broadcast this beautiful fly fishing approach, we owe it to both the sport and our quarry to teach how to do it so as to minimise any damage we do.
We are now well into the autumn/winter fishing for grayling and I am fishing mostly with tenkara, and double nymph, using either the outstanding Motive 390 or the new Try 360, the latter being supremely gentle and I have to say superbly suited to fishing for big grayling on the Eden in Cumbria and the Category two streams in northern France (the Category ones now being closed for the winter).
Do take a look at the draft details of next year's courses and hosted trips (which include Eden in Cumbria, Slovenia, Czech, the San in Poland as well as the tenkara-suited waters of the Seven Valleys area of northern France) up on my website: www.presentationflyfishing.com.
The oldest tenkara angler I’ve met.
I met Alexander Vasilchenko–the tenkara angler, bamboo rod maker and my compatriot, who now lives in Germany–on the forum www.tenkara.ru.
Being intrigued with bamboo tenkara rods, I went to visit him in Ansbach.
It is a town with a population of 40 thousand; the home water is the small Fränkischen Rezat River so I was very surprised to learn that the local fishing club includes 1200 members.
I never knew that fishing is so popular in Germany. Again I was surprised when we went to the river together to try each other’s rods and saw the riverbanks were absolutely virgin. Not one angler or even angler’s track was seen! Alexander confirmed my impression that the rivers are absolutely not pressured, even being stocked with trout regularly every year.Let me note
that, according to German regulation, the fish caught there can’t be released.
I supposed that Alexander himself caught all the stocked trout every season and
he confirmed it smiling.
He used to live in Siberia, Russia. There he
fished often with artificial flies and did so without a reel. The Siberian
anglers have fished this simple and effective technique for centuries. It is similar
to tenkara, the most known fixed line fly fishing technique. Joining the tenkara
angler’s community was completely natural for him. At the river I observed his
perfect fishing skills, which he has developed over dozens of years. Our
meeting was in the middle of August; at that time of year Alexander focuses on
deeper pools and prefers fishing with small streamers, using a level line and a
high visible indicator section. With his great skill in animating the streamer,
it received many strikes.
Tenkara bamboo rods.
building is Alexander’s second hobby. Being a tenkara angler, he tried to make
a bamboo tenkara rod. He makes the glued hexagonal blank using the traditional
technology for building bamboo fly rods, with metal ferrules and a cork handle.
Being solid, the rod is definitely heavier but much stronger than those made
The heavier blank loads itself when casting, making the rod very
slow. Alexander’s casting is perfect and precise. I’ve tried it and failed because
I have difficulty slowing my stroke down that much. The main advantage of a
solid bamboo rod is the strength: Alexander’s record catch with it is a 3 kilo
tried to make a replica of the traditional segmented cane tenkara rod. The
first sample looks fine, but is not yet ready for trial. I hope to try it when
I visit Alexander next.
Tenkara Fishing in Austria
Fly fishing in Austria is rarely mentioned in the UK fly fishing
magazines, yet it has a wealth of outstanding waters full of brown, rainbow and
brook trout, plus grayling. Their high alpine streams are what Tenkara was
devised for. My fishing buddy Steve and I have visited Austria five times and
two things always amaze me; one is the shear number of fish in the waters (it
is not unusual to catch over a hundred fish in a day); the other is how few
anglers are to be seen on most of the waters.
A typical day involves a lot of walking and scrambling over boulder-strewn banks and up waterfalls, dropping your fly into every likely looking pocket. Good, comfortable wading boots with studded rubber soles are essential, as are a lightweight, breathable pair of waders. A wading
staff can also be useful. Most of the waters are at altitudes of over 1000 m,
where the weather can be very changeable and many are far from the beaten track
so it is important to go well equipped with small rucksack containing water,
food, first aid kit, waterproof jacket and warm clothing. I have known it snow
in July, whilst in September 2012 we fished in a blizzard. It is also worth
taking a spare Tenkara rod in case of breakage.
We both love dry fly fishing so rather than
fish traditional Sakasa Kebari flies or nymphs we use big, buoyant dry flies. The
summer is short and the fish have to be opportunists, so fly choice is
relatively unimportant. A size 12 foam beetle is one of my favourite patterns,
as is a size 10 Black Klinkhammer. Whilst fly choice is optional presentation
requires a lot of care and attention to optimize success. Maelstroms of white
water with small pockets of calm are not the place for ‘long line Tenkara’: a light
level line plus tippet the same length as the rod is required if all the line
and most of the tippet is to be kept off the water to avoid drag. The Brook
Trout, which prefer the slacker water pockets, are particularly slow risers and
it is often important to have a drag-free drift lasting many seconds to allow
them time to rise. Even when the temperature is sub-zero we still find the fish
are willing to rise to a dry fly.
The angle of approach is also important in
achieving the best presentation. Casting directly up the stream is inefficient since
firstly and least important in my opinion, is that the fish will see the tippet
before the fly; secondly the fish will always be closer to the angler than the
maximum casting range possible; thirdly and most importantly, it is very
difficult to consistently track the rod downstream in order to keep the line
and tippet off the water and to avoid pulling the fly downstream faster than
the natural flow. Across stream casting and particularly slightly down and
across casting eliminate these problems. The latter also allows the fly to be
twitched back into a pocket if it should drift out of it. Fortunately it is
usually possible to fish at very close range even downstream since the broken,
boisterous water surface breaks the fish’s window to the outside world.
Importantly, avoid fishing just below the
hydro-power abstraction points that are often located a kilometer or two above
Much of the fishing is controlled by hotels.
The following are worth visiting:
Hotel Platzer A-6281 Gerlos 198 Zillertal/Tirol, Austria, www.hotelplatzer.at: Outstanding service, excellent food
and a good mix of very varied waters from small brooks to big lakes.
Mittersill Austria, www.braurup.at : Good food,
their own brewery and an extensive range of waters.
All the fisheries that I've fished in Austria were run by the hotels and permits to fish were obtained from the hotels. No state licence was needed.
fishing in Trysil, Norway.
I had some nice
fishing days at Trysel, Norway this year when I visited there to participate in
European Tenkara Convention. Trysil is 160 km from the
Gardermoen airport and can be reached by car. Trysil area is placed in the middle part of Scandinavia near the Swedish boarder.
Licensing in Norway.
you do not need a state rod license to fish there. You must have local
permission only. I bought a weeklong license at the Trysil Hyttegrend reception
for 325 NOK (~50 EUR). It covers the Tryselva River and tributaries around Trysil.
To fish the nearby Rena River you need a separate permission.
Lodging in Trysil.
definitely an expensive country in which to live. I found a 2 bed cabin for 60
EUR daily at the Trysel Hyttegrend hotel and camp for me and my junior. It is located between
Storvegen and the Trysil center on the beautiful Tryselva bank and is the good place to reach the fishing places in Trysil surroundings by car.
local flies that I’ve seen in the boxes of Norwegian anglers are dries with red
tags. Chris Hendriks normally fishes with two dry flies in the team–a high-floating
elkhair caddis and a sunken palmer with red tag. Chris also uses CZ rigs with
pair of heavy orange-headed nymphs in large deep pools for grayling.
steadfast to the traditional tenkara technique, fished with the simplest soft
hackle Amano kebaries and Kebari Killers. I also switched to heavy goldhead
nymphs in the deepest pools, with success.
for us tenkara anglers, Norwegian fly fishermen focus on the large, main stem
of the Tryselva River. As a result, the smaller tributaries are absolutely not pressured!
I normally had about 60 trout takes in 3 hour fishing periods there.
hotel reception you get the fisherman’s map along with the permission. With
this map and the GPS in your car, you can find all the rivers well. The local
fishing rules and limits are also printed in English on the map page.
fact that you are certainly an expert angler and do not need a guide, I
recommend that you hire Chris Hendriks for a day. He will show you the best
places to fish, taking into account the season and the water level.
is popular with Norwegian fly fisherman. The main targets are the grayling that
come into the runs to feed. I did not fish there much, focusing instead on
typical tenkara rivers. I did, however, watch one angler catch five nice grayling
standing in one place on the run near the main stream in a half hour.
pours into the Tryselva on the right side; it is accessible by car in many
places. In the section before it enters the Tryselva Valley, the river cuts
through the high bank hills. It has a high gradient; the current is strong and
flows around limestone rocks. Casting to even the small, deeper spots results
in many trout takes. Most of the fish are less than 12’, but in deeper and wider
spots you can find larger ones.
short section passing through the Tryselva valley below the bridge, you will
find some large pools and good-sized grayling there.
move 5-6 km upstream, the gradient is lower. The stones are smaller and it is
much easier to wade there. The density of fish in the runs is lower; instead
you can find teams of good sized WBT in the pools. I’ve got up to 4 excellent takes
in the best ones.
is the Tryselva’s left tributary. It is easily reachable by car: the road follows
alongside the river for about 12 km.
In the section before the confluence with
the Tryselva, the river also cuts through the high bank hills. It also has a very
high gradient so the water current is very strong; it flows around large granite
boulders. Making precise casts behind them results in trout takes. Most of fish
are less than 12’.
lower part, near confluence to Tryselva, I found several nice pools. I searched
for grayling there, but found only the kindergarteners with a large number of
trout minnows that attacked my fly actively.
part of the Flena runs through small lakes, promising larger fish.
Unfortunately I did not have enough time to investigate it properly.
is definitely larger than Elta and Flena. Small trout and grayling mix together
in the same runs; the density of fish population is lower and it is harder to
localize it. The most interesting places are deep pools, where you can find larger
grayling. CZ nymphs work well there. Also I had success with heavier weighted
the rivers surrounding Trysil are great places for tenkara fishing and hope to
visit them again next season.
| Area fishing map
New TryTenkara rods
It is a
well-known fact that the very best fish live in spots where nobody can reach
them with the fly: normally with an overhead canopy, where you simply do not
have enough room for the backcast and again where you need the most precise
casts in order avoid snagging your fly on the trees immediately above. If you
normally fish in wild territory, you may not agree with me. However, if you
live in a big city and fish in the nearest rivers, you will understand exactly
what I mean.
high end Japanese Tenkara rods are wonderfully light rods. Most of them are
very soft and slow and targeted to fish small iwana in high gradient Japanese
mountain streams. I’ve tried the dozens of Japanese tenkara, seiryu and keiryu rods
and had still not found the ideal one. I had an ambitious plan to make a tenkara
rod even better than the best Japanese ones:
- so well balanced that you can actually feel the rod load with lightest lines as you are casting.
- stiff enough for the most accurate and precise casts.
- with enough backbone to control and land modest-sized fish.
- with the lowest known weight for tenkara rods with a cork handle.
I do not intend to divulge all the industry secrets here and now, so here are only 3 fact for you to know: 5 types of the highest possible quality Japanese carbon used for the blank. 17 rods were broken when tested (2 by me personally).
The rod development lasted 8 months from the first technical specification issue through to the first new rod actually sold.
Try 360 6:4
which is the perfect rod for small streams and rivers. You can make any casts
with it in a very precise fashion: overhead, underhand and bow & arrow. This
is the best rod for fishing in tight areas.
The Try 390
7:3 is a rod for use where there is no overhead canopy and where you would want
additional length for longer casts. It is also intended to be the rod for the
"long rod short line" approach, which will give you much better
drifts than if applying a long line approach with a shorter rod.
are stiff enough to switch from dry/wet flies to nymphs, whenever required.
I like TryTenkara rods. I hope you too will
also like it!
I’m back now from 1st European Tenkara Convention. It took place in Trysil, Norway and due to the initiative and actions of Chris Hendrix.
participants on the vendors and guides’ side were at the Tenkara Centre UK with
their local retailers Jan Hallagen , Tenkara Pirenee, Tenkara Norway and The Tenkara Times. Kirby
Wilson also presented his beautiful Japanese -style gyotaku pictures. Visitors
came from Norway, Sweden and Netherlands and I must highlight their genuine interest
presented a very detailed exposition about tenkara fishing. Misako enthusiastically
talked about tenkara and other types of national freshwater fishing in Japan.
During the break Jan Hallagen was very busy selling his tenkara rods, while I managed to demonstrate “the kebari tying in 1 minute” a few times.
indoor part finished the participants moved to the waters. The wide Tryselva river
is definitely not the tenkara water, but the right place to experiment your
first tenkara casts. All the newbies had got into waders and had started to manipulate
their rods under the direction of Chris Hendriks. Chris is a brilliant trainer:
in half an hour all the participants stared to show off quite acceptable casts.
At the same
time, Misako showed an absolutely spectacular and perfect casting technique
with a new TryTenkara rod. I'm not a beginner myself, but enjoyed its perfection!
fishing started. It was windy and I gave my Motive 390 with titanium line to one
of the participants, Jan from Netherlands, so that he could try it out.
The tests were successful: Jan caught five excellent graylings to the applause of the audience.
entire convention day I enjoyed inter-acting with Chris, Misako and other participants. I
hope the next convention will definitely take place next year … somewhere in a good tenkara fishing
area in Europe.
Tenkara on the Kokra.
steeply off the Julian Alps in northern Slovenia, close to the border with
Austria, is the jewel of the river Kokra.
Fishable way above the thousand metre altitude, and all the way down to
its confluence with the magnificent Sava, near Kranj, the Kokra affords ideal
opportunity to fish with either leader-only western-style (or low mass fly
line) or tenkara. The water is utterly
clear and cold from snow-melt and summer rains while the river consists mostly
of pockets and dashing rapids, with some short glides, particularly in the
lower reaches. Heavily treed banks
intersperse with pale gravel beaches. Idyllic villages and mills seamlessly
interrupt alpine meadows and forested sections.
Nowhere is the river broader than about 10 metres, in summer conditions,
and in most places in the upper section above the hamlet of Kokra it is little
over half this width. Even in low water,
however, there are occasional surprising depths where fish are poised, while in
the very shallow glides, fish are invisibly translucent. In a country full of incredible fly fishing
potential, the little Kokra is magnificent, and one of my and my friends’
many trees along the banks, as well as the small scale of the pocket water on
this river, tenkara might even have the advantage in places over
western-style. The size of the fish are
also ideal for tenkara, ranging from 20 - 40cm, though with an average of
around 26cm. Rainbow and brown trout are
present in roughly even numbers, while grayling populate the lower
reaches. My friend Paul Fear and I
decided to alternate between approaches while fishing the lower section
together over a river range of potentially some 20 kilometres (though we
restricted this to about six kilometres on this visit). I fished tenkara in the morning, while Paul
fished western-style (with an 11’ two weight), and we swapped in the
afternoon. I also used the occasion to
test the Tenkara Times Motive 390 married to a copolymer ‘presentation’ leader
of 3.5m, and a 1m 6X Fulling Mill copolymer tippet. I fished exclusively dry fly, starting with a
19 CDC plume tip shuttlecock (the ideal tenkara fly), but switched later to
championship caddis and Oppo patterns (which require less drying and maintenance
after fish capture). Rather than describe
these flies here, you might like to see pictures of them on my website: www.presentationflyfishing.com.
Paul and I
started mid-way along the very long lower section. I was about 100m upstream of Paul. Second
cast and a lithe rainbow snatched the plume tip away, so precipitating the
process of casting, hooking, hand-lining the fish and fly maintenance for the
rest of the morning. It was nothing
short of remarkable that in the first hour, as Paul worked his way upstream
towards me, while I moved no more than 50 metres, also upstream - a period of
perhaps an hour - I had caught 20 fish, roughly equally balanced between brown
trout, rainbow trout and grayling, while the best fish was a 32cm grayling. In one small pool alone I caught two of each
species. It was mesmerising; in these utterly clear waters the fish were
almost always completely invisible until the moment they rose to the fly. A part of the river bed seemed to detach
itself and lift in an instant to the drifting fly!
The Motive 390 was, indeed, the perfect tool for the job; made so by the scale of fishing
(size of river and fish) as much as the delightful stiffness, accompanying the
low weight, of this rod. The length
allowed the use of a 4.5m leader/tippet which yielded a casting stance at a
reasonable range downstream or across of most of the fish-holding pockets. I fished, as always on the river, without a
landing net, preferring to bring fish to hand, because it is usually much
easier to deal with the unhooking and releasing process when a net is not
There are exceptions, and usually these involve grayling, which often refuse to lie calmly to be unhooked. In any case, even with anything other than an impractically long handled landing net, hand-lining of the tippet is inevitable with tenkara when using leader/tippets greater than rod length. This has always been a huge concern of mine with tenkara, because it is an ungainly process, fraught with the threat of tippet breakage, particularly with fast-moving trout. I believe this to be a fundamental failing of the fixed-line approach, every bit as much as is the inability to yield and gather line.
issue is not, of course, a particular problem of the Motive 390. Indeed, I now believe this rod to be an
outstanding design. It has a hollow
carbon fibre tip section, and while one might suspect this will render the tip
subject to breakage, it does afford a stiffness without significant increase in
mass. This is significant: where one
needs low mass is at the tip of a fly rod (much less important in the butt
because of leverage), so the hollow tip provides this, while also being stiffer
than thin solid sections. Tenkara rods
usually conform to the flexing ratios of 5:5 (soft), 6:4 and 7:3 (stiff). My previous regular tenkara companion has
been a 3.6m Iwana designated as a 6:4.
This rod is certainly softer than the Motive 390, though I am reluctant
to designate the latter as a 7:3. Simply
put, it ‘feels’ like a stiff rod, but with hardly greater mass (and therefore
tiring leverage) than the Iwana, and that extra 30cm really does give a
presentation advantage, particularly in allowing one to keep almost all the
tippet off the water.
This particular point is one of tenkara’s great advantages over western-style, and some will argue that it is its greatest asset. I am not so sure, though the 390 does give a noticeably improved presentation in this regard.
The rest of
the morning passed to yield me over fifty fish to the tenkara, including a
rainbow of 35cm and a grayling of 34cm.
The rate determining factor was the length of time in dealing with a
hooked fish, which is always longer with tenkara than western-style, because of
that inherent inability to gather line through the rod and the necessity of
hand-lining the thin tippet. (Note:
perhaps the answer to this persistent issue is, after all, a long handled
landing net, but the cumbersome nature of this seems to destroy the gorgeous
simplicity of tenkara)
interchanged between nymph and dry fly on his western rig, and came back to the
meeting point at lunch time similarly awed by the Kokra, though perhaps with
fewer fish than I had caught, simply because the nymph will almost always be
slower than dry fly in a river such as this in normal summer conditions. In the
afternoon session, Paul fished tenkara, again with both nymph and dry, while I
switched to a two weight fly line on a 10' Streamflex. I also headed off downstream, where the river opens out a little, with longer glide sections and rather more casting space. I immediately felt the advantage of the longer range casting ability of the western rig, because on the broader river, with fewer overhanging trees, I was able to 'stand-off' at greater range, typically at between six and 10 metres, to the target areas. In many places I was even able to stand on the bank, which would have been ineffective with the tenkara, which by definition of the fixed line limits one's range. I should also mention that the above notwithstanding, I missed the pragmatic simplicity of the Motive, and the enhanced stalking nature of the fishing that tenkara necessitates.
By the end
of the afternoon we had caught a huge number of fish from this astonishingly
prolific river. The Motive 390 had been
both a delight and perfectly suited to the alpine river, which after all is not
so dissimilar to the mountain rivers of Japan.
I was able to deal more expediently with the larger stream of the
afternoon's section, and its generally larger fish, with the western-style,
although the tenkara would have managed comfortably enough here, as it did for
Paul. All in all, the day had been
exemplar in several ways: it had reaffirmed that tenkara is at its best on a
small mountain river, particularly where stalking is necessary and where
casting space is restricted. It had also shown me that the Motive is among a
new class of high-performance rods for the fixed line approach. And beyond it all, was the discovery of one
of the most astonishing alpine rivers I have ever fished, teeming with trout
and grayling, of high average size. Oh,
and beautiful, did I mention that?
gear reviews is not my favorite genre, but I would like to briefly describe the
new bag I bought from Chris Zimmer: The Tenkara Sling Lite
travel to my fishing places by train or bus with a sling on my back and a bag
with heap boots in my hands.
main compartment on the Sling Lite has enough room to place my 25 cm dia tamo,
a couple of light moccasins, a raincoat, an empty heap boots bag, and a pair of
sandwiches. Up to 4 tenkara rods can be fixed separately in outer pockets; I
use two. The padded shoulder strap is easily adjustable, holds the bag against my
back while moving through bushes along my favorite streams, and does not
prevent the movements of my hands when casting. The fabric is really waterproof,
a feature that has been very helpful in this rainy spring.
Sling Lite is a very convenient and useful gadget; I like and recommend it for
one-day fishing trips.