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Traditional Tenkara Fly Fishing

An efficient, tight line fly fishing technique utilizing rod, fixed line, and single fly developed on the mountain streams of Japan.

It’s 66 degrees in the mist covered mountains of a far away land of ancient traditions and mystery. A lone man wades upstream in crystal clear high mountain water with tenkara rod in hand.What is traditional Tenkara?

A lone man wades upstream in crystal clear high mountain water with tenkara rod in hand. He methodically scans the stream, moving with expert stealth, stalking his elusive goal.

There it is, a small eddy of water below a beach ball sized boulder in the center of the fast moving stream. He crouches low, kneeling in the cool water, and casts his fly with the precision of a modern sniper.

BAM! The strike is hard and fast as the trout devours the fly. Success at last.


As you have worked to develop your fly fishing skills you have learned a great many things. Some of these fly fishing basics include proper casting techniques, choosing the right fly, working on your presentation of that fly and reading the water for suitable fish habitats.

One of the most basic skills a fly fisherman must develop in order to be consistently successful is the ability to recognize fish feeding signs.

Your odds of catching fish will drastically improve if you locate fish that are feeding. The reason behind this is simple- feeding fish are more likely to attempt to eat your artificial fly!  Not only do you have to be able to recognize when fish are feeding, you also must learn to distinguish where in the water they are feeding and what specifically they are eating.

Let’s say that you can see movement on the surface of the stream, which tells you that the trout are actively feeding. You throw on a floating fly and present it perfectly to them, but they fail to take it. Why would the fish continue eating all around your fly but avoid taking it? The probable answer is because you are not recognizing where and what they are targeting. These skills are definitely fly fishing basics that you should take the time to learn!

Image by askaflyfishingguide.com


Currently there are over 700,000 Chinook that have passed Bonneville Dam and the run is expected to hit 800,000.

Steelhead on the other hand is below the 10 year goal with only a total 200,000 across Bonneville Dam with about 100,000 across The Dalles.

On one hand this is a success story for the Fall Chinook, granted the low number over the last 10 years but at what expense.

The Deschutes River is known for its superior steelhead summer steelhead run.

“With the development of hydroelectric projects, habitat degradation, interaction with hatchery fish and fisheries, these changes have caused declines in the wild portion of many salmonid populations (including steelhead) within the basin (national research council).

The decline in steelhead populations has led the National Marine Fisheries to list several steelhead on the Columbia and Snake as threatened or endangered according to the article “the migratory timing of Adult Summer-Run steelhead in the Columbia River over six Decades of Environmental Change.


I don’t have the patience to tie my own flies, I don’t think I could ever be a guide for the same reasons. DD

You are a leading guide and casting instructor. How did this happen?

Timing, many hours of practice, luck and helpful mentors. Spey casting seems to have blown up in the last 5 years.

What do you think is the reason for the expansion of fly fishing with women?

Camaraderie. Women see other women fishing, and they want to join in the fun.

Like a lot of great guides you spend a lot of time on the road and don’t really have a home base as much anymore (although you spend a lot of time in Oregon-CA).

How is that lifestyle treating you?

At times I feel as though I have an advanced degree in packing and unpacking. While I enjoy going to all of these great places and spending time with some really great people, there are times I look forward to learning a group of rivers in which I can settle and guide year-round. I’m on my way.

Name a place you haven’t fished, but are dying to.

It’s not like me to have only one place, but I do have a dream list. So here it is: the USA’s salt and trout fisheries, Canada’s steelhead and atlantics, Russia, Iceland and Norway atlantics, the Seychelles, the boundary waters between the USA and Canada and everywhere else I have not been.

Photo courtesy of flyfishergirl.com


Fly For Fly Fishing: Tying Crab Flies

The real reason for this post was that now that I’m salty, or at least brackish, in my fly fishing pursuits, I figure I need to put some thought into tying saltwater flies.  I can tie a Clouser minnow, but that’s about it.

Not a new revelation, but always good for a 2nd grade giggle…as explained by Dr. Ed Southwick in the video below…You know, being from Philly, I almost titled this “Crab Fries”…but I was reluctant to because then I’d just start obsessing about Chickie’s & Pete’s.

My tying materials are definitely geared toward tiny little trout flies, so I’m kinda lost right now.

I was paging through the September/October issue of American Angler (you know, the same issue TFM’s Cam Mortenson is in…), and I read a great article about Captain Gary Taylor, one of the world’s top redfish fly fishing guides.

He suggests a couple of “go-to” flies in the article, and while I’m not going to give them all away here, one of them is a Merkin fly, or a crab imitation named after a pubic wig.

So does anyone else out there tie crab flies?