Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tenkara Angler Magazine is LIVE!

Just a note to let you know that my article on tenkara in the Alaskan interior, appearing in the Fall 2016 issue of Tenkara Angler Magazine, is available online, and in print.  It's packed with a wide range of informative and entertaining articles, and our editor, Michael Agneta, has once again done a fantastic job of putting all of it together.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Alaskan Tenkara

“To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.”  --John Muir, Travels in Alaska

Many things have pulled me away from my blog, and nearly all of them have been really good things!  I enjoyed a long, busy summer of presentations on behalf of Zen Tenkara, guiding tenkara trips for Royal Gorge Anglers, as well as spending many days behind the counter at the fly shop there.  Each year I keep a journal of client’s names, miles driven, water fished, and productive fly patterns, among other things.  This year was no exception, and my journal is full.

Toward the end of my summer guiding season, just prior to the annual start of my “real job” as a high school teacher, I was able to allow enough time to make my first trip north to Alaska.  My mission was to take tenkara to the Last Frontier.  I really didn’t know what to expect, but I had rolled the idea around in my head enough to know that it would be a personal milestone, and one that I would remember for a long time.  It was those and much more.

I won’t go into great detail on the trip here.  A full account of the trip will be published, along with some photos, in the fall edition (coming in the next couple of weeks) of Tenkara Angler Magazine, edited by the hard-working and extremely capable Michael Agneta.  I hope you enjoy it!

Photo by Shawn Larson

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Trip Report: Spring Tenkara in the Canyons

It’s pretty safe to say that spring has sprung in the canyons.  The ice has long since disappeared, the baetis are alive and well, and with the recent arrival of daylight savings time, I can fish longer and I don’t have to hike out via headlamp.  Even as I sat here yesterday in my office, with the woodstove cranked, while a spring snowstorm dumped several inches of late March slop, I knew that come Sunday it would be back up to near 60 degrees.  I just love spring snowstorms along the Colorado foothills!  It looks like winter one day, and it’s back to shirtsleeve weather the next. 

I just came off four straight days of guiding tenkara clients on one of my favorite streams.  With warm (albeit windy) weather, willing browns and rainbows, and the best clients on the face of the earth, it was a simply amazing week!  We spent each day on different water, and each day we tasted a different flavor of this canyon.  When my guys flew home to Utah yesterday, I knew they had experienced something special, and I’ll bet it won’t be the last time we poke up into deep cracks containing tiny blue lines together.

My clients this past week, brothers, fishing together.

Fishing a bend.
Another one falls to the reliable RS2!

As for the fishing, it was fairly consistent.  Japanese mountain water and Colorado wilderness streams may lend themselves to only fishing one traditional kebari pattern all day long, but these gnarly canyon trickles require opening your mind to other tactics.  These canyons contain fairly fertile streams with heavy doses of emerging blue-winged olives this time of year.  You have to pay attention to what the fish tell you, and the browns and rainbows in the canyons told us they wanted to munch on a slightly weighted two-nymph rig all day long, with the venerable #20 gray sparkle wing RS2 the clear winner.  That’s not to say that the fish wouldn’t take a #18 Nosepicker or bead head pheasant tail once in a while.   However, they wouldn’t give a sakasa kebari the time of day.  Even though the blue-winged olives were hatching in the late afternoon, the fish wouldn’t take a dry off the surface because of the wind.  The hatched adult BWOs just simply blew away.  That didn’t matter much, because our little nymph rigs were extremely effective.  We fished them on size 3.5 and 4 level line, with 12-foot (360 cm) rods.  We cast middle-of-the  road medium-flex (6:4) rods, and they did just fine.  The gusty wind oftentimes made the decision for us to switch over to heavier size 4 level line.

Fishing one of countless pockets.

Along with sharing spectacular landscapes and water with my clients, I also enjoy providing backcountry epicurean delights along the banks of the stream.  I nearly always pack a homemade, mostly dehydrated hot meal in on my back.  The highlight of our week was a hot meal of alfredo pasta with sautéed portabello mushrooms and Italian sausage (from the best butcher shop in town, Hilltop Market), rehydrated and warmed up on one of my backpacking stoves.  There’s just something special about kicking back in the middle of nowhere, savoring homemade Italian cooking, after a morning of tenkara!

Backcountry, homemade Italian cuisine.
Cherry cheesecake, hauled in on our backs!

The canyons never cease to amaze me, and recent trips have been no exception.  Some relatively big browns and rainbows weave their way up these creeks and end up living in some pretty obscure spots.  Targeting the deepest pools along rock walls on the outside of the bends in the creeks, and undercut banks covered in thick grass produced several fish over 16 inches.  That’s a trophy trout in water that’s only flowing at less than thirty cubic feet per second!

A nice 18" rainbow taken on a lightweight two-nymph rig.

I hope you have a chance to get out and fish very soon, because this is one of my favorite times of the year!  As I sit here on Easter Sunday, watching the sun rise, I’m already trying to figure out how I can sneak out of the house late this afternoon after things warm up and some of the snow melts.  Happy Easter and happy spring tenkara to you!


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Arkansas River Fly Fishing Festival Tenkara Clinic

The tenkara events along the Front Range just keep rolling in!  I'm pleased to offer a half-day, on-the-water tenkara clinic with Royal Gorge Anglers in Canon City on Sunday, March 20th, 12:45-5:00 PM!  It's actually part of our weekend-long Arkansas River Fly Fishing Festival on March 19th and 20th (Saturday and Sunday).  You won't want to miss either day!

My tenkara clinic will cover the following topics...not in a classroom but ON THE WATER.

*  History and heritage of tenkara
*  Equipment (rod options, rod anatomy, line options, traditional and non-traditional fly patterns)
*  Deployment of the tenkara system
*  Casting techniques
*  Reading water
*  Specific technique (fishing the traditional kebari, fishing dries and terrestrials, nymphing, and
    multi-fly fishing
*  Landing and netting fish

If you've ever wanted a down and dirty, nuts and bolts tenkara clinic, this is for you!  It's going to be hands-on, experiential learning...and that type of learning is the most beneficial and the most fun!

Check out event details online,  call the shop at 888-994-6743, or email us at taylor@royalgorgeanglers.com for details.  Registration fee:  $75 per person

Feel free to bring your own tenkara rod and line if you have them.  We will have rods and lines on hand as well.

UPDATE:  As of Thursday, February 18th, we've booked nearly half of the spots available! Book early to take advantage of this clinic!  We have limited reservations available!

I hope to see you on the water in March!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Tenkara Winter Series

Here's a quick blog post to plug Zen Fly Fishing Gear's Tenkara Winter Series coming up on March 12th in Golden.  The winter series is all about community and learning, and we've been working hard behind the scenes to put a solid event together for you.  I know most of the presenters personally, and with the lineup we have, there's something for everyone.  From the skills Dennis Coppock has built searching out new water, the technical expertise Rob Worthing will share, Bob Younger's tips on improving your on-the-water photography, and the wit and wisdom of Jason Klass, it'll be a jam-packed day of tenkara!  We also plan to unveil some exciting new products that Zen has been tirelessly designing and testing over the past several months.  I hope you can join us!  For more information, visit the Tenkara Winter Series page!

Thursday, December 17, 2015


It’s been said, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  This has been especially true for me over the past several months.

In August I returned home from my annual migration to southwest Colorado, where, for four seasons, I had been guiding tenkara trips for RIGS Fly Shop and Guide Service in Ridgway.  You may know that they were the first fly shop in Colorado to offer professionally guided tenkara trips, and I was their first on-staff tenkara guide.  I had paid my dues as a guide, spending my first season in 2012 sleeping in my truck and camping among bears and vagabonds in pullouts along Owl Creek Pass and the San Miguel River.  Tim and Heather Patterson's amazing hospitality then provided me with much better accommodations during the next three seasons, and I'm forever thankful for that.  In between trips, I had also spent increasingly more time behind the counter in the fly shop, assisting customers and scurrying around as most shop rats do, as there’s never a dull moment when you have to squeeze 75% of your annual business into three summer months.  As I’ve said many times here and to everyone I meet, the RIGS team is an amazing collection of family business owners, fly fishing and whitewater raft guides, and extremely knowledgeable shop personnel.  We worked together, fished together, partied together.  I resigned my position with RIGS earlier this fall. I didn’t know until recently that the Pattersons had written this blog post on the RIGS website upon my departure.  I will never forget where I got my start as a tenkara guide.  Thank you, everyone, for a wonderful experience.  I’m going to miss you!

Throwin' down with the RIGS guide crew and owner, Tim Patterson,
at our favorite haunt in Ridgway...Colorado Boy Brewery.

One of the reasons I made the very difficult decision to leave RIGS was a need to stay closer to home to fulfill my responsibilities as the newest member of Zen Tenkara, a Loveland, Colorado, based company.  Zen made their public announcement of this recently, and I’ve been busy ever since!  I’m honored that Zen asked me to climb aboard, and I’m looking forward to what the future will bring!  Our team at Zen shares a common vision, focused on defining American tenkara and the enjoying the tenkara lifestyle.

Fishing in the San Juan backcountry with Zen Tenkara owner, Karin Miller.
Enter Royal Gorge Anglers.  I’ve known RGA’s Bill and Taylor Edrington for many years.  I met Bill at his Canon City fly shop when Taylor was just a kid back in the late ‘90s.  Taylor is now a grown man, and has taken over the business, while Bill still spends quite a bit of time at the shop.  Since we moved down into town from our mountain home a couple of years ago, I think I could throw a fist-size rock and hit Taylor’s house from where ours now sits, and the two of us have a running joke that we’re responsible for 90% of the wood smoke in our neighborhood.  During a recent conversation I had with Taylor at the fly shop, he asked if I would be interested in creating and guiding tenkara trips for RGA.  In the ensuing weeks, Taylor and I put together several exciting new tenkara trip offerings for RGA, and we’re pleased to be making them public now.  Guiding tenkara trips in the canyons of southern Colorado that I know so well, for my hometown fly shop, in the company of good friends and neighbors is a wholesomely satisfying feeling.  Full circle.

So there you have it.  Changes.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.  New (but somehow old) fly shop and guide service, and new and exciting opportunities with a company that shares a common vision for American tenkara.  My tenkara has not changed, has not faltered.  My love for wild trout and lonely canyons is the same.  The same shining moon keeps looking down.