Monday, June 20, 2011

The Tenkara Bum and North River Flies

I first became interested in Tenkara in the fall of 2009 after seeing it mentioned in a blog post.  I had no idea what it was but based on what I read I thought it was definitely worth a more detailed look.  An Internet search did not yield many sources of information.  However, two websites continuously popped up no matter how I searched.  One, not surprisingly, was Tenkara USA.  Tenkara USA was the first company in the US to offer Tenkara fishing rods.  The other website was Tenkara Bum by Chris Stewart.  These two sites were and still are the two best sources of Tenkara information on the web whether you are a beginner or experienced Tenkara angler.  Though the best way to learn to fish is to spend time on the water, these two sites will provide all the necessary information to get started.  In addition to Tenkara info, Chris supplies a number of items such as flies, line, and a number of other accessories through  The reason for this post is two fold.  One, Chris is a nice guy with a great website that is helpful for any tenkara angler. The second reason is that I'm excited to announce that Chris and I have entered into an agreement to sell several of my flies on  I was very excited when Chris approached me about a month ago and asked if I would consider it.  We both feel that this could be beneficial to both of us.  For the time being, Chris will offering my Ausable Kebari, Royal Sakasa Kebari, and the Bubble Kebari in olive and black.  In addition, I will also be tying the Usual (a great pattern by the late Fran Betters).  I am grateful for those who have come to my site to purchase flies in the past but unfortunately I will be closing my other blog where I offered my flies.  Most of the flies I offered to tie over there would just be duplicating flies that Chris already does an outstanding job tying for his customers.  However, if there are any questions about my flies or you don't see specific ones offered please feel free to contact me and we will see what we can do. 

Ausable Kebari

Bubble Kebari (olive)

Royal Sakasa Kebari

The Usual

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bella's Fly

Bluegill taken on an "Isabella"
I tied a lot of different flies last year with the hopes of testing all of them out as soon as I could do so.  Well that hasn't quite turned out the way I hoped.  I tend to bring a few standard patterns and a few odd flies that I want to try when ever I'm on the water.  Either because I have forgotten to bring some flies with me or I'm doing so well with one particular fly I have not had a chance to try them all.  However, last week I made a point to try a fly that I hold particularly dear....The Isabella.  I tied this fly but my, then 4 1/2 year old daughter, picked the threads and materials she wanted in a fly.  The result was the fly pictured below.

The Isabella
I don't think it will win any contests (other than the Daddy's favorite contest) or take a 20+" brown trout but I love it and wanted to try it none-the-less.  To my surprise, it worked very nicely.  I used it to hook up with almost a dozen bluegill at the local millpond.  Not a bad showing by this fly. 

When I arrived home my first job was let Bella know how her fly did.  After showing her the pictures of some of the fish and the chewed up fly she let out a few very high-pitched screams of delight and immediately wanted to go back to the pond for some fishing.  Isabella has been fishing a few times with a worm and bobber but maybe the time is close when I feel comfortable enough to let her try her hand at tenkara style fly fishing.  I can only imagine her excitement when she catches a fish on her own fly.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Nature's Night Lights

When I was a kid, one of my favorite summer time activities (besides fishing, of course) was to catch fireflies in the early evening.  I would spend as much time as it took to collect a full jar of them to make a latern.  As I have grown older my fascination for them has only gotten stronger and now I share this wonder with my daughters.  Bella, over the last few summers, has become very adept at catching them and gets very excited when they come out.  Over the last few years I have become interested in Phenology, which is the study of  periodic animal and plant life cycles (times of first or last occurrences or blooming in a season).  Keeping a running journal of certain events has led me to be able to predict some events such as the first appearance of fireflies.  Generally the first time I see any is around June tenth.  This year they are a couple of days early as they put on their first night time displays last night. 

Consciously or sub-consciously many of us practise phenology.  Many anglers know that when the water reaches a certain temperature or a specific hatch is on they trout will be in a feeding mood or that August will bring the arrival of snappers (baby bluefish) into the harbors and tidal creeks here on Long Island to feed on small bait fish.  When we see one sign such as a change in weather or a specific movement of animals we know what to expect next.  This may not be as critical to us as it was our ancestors, whose lives depended on that information for survival, but it is still very useful today.  Understanding these patterns and changes to them will help us to make more informed decisions about how best to live on this planet and preserve it for our children.  Knowing the exact day fireflies should appear will probably not make a huge difference to most people in the grand scheme of things but it will let me know that I need to be ready to reintroduce one of those great summer evening activities to my kids that will make memories that will last their whole lives.

Monday, June 6, 2011


The end of West Meadow Creek and Sand Street Beach just before sunrise
Serendipity is one of my favorite words in the English language.  It's basic meaning is to find something that was not sought out or a "happy accident."  Serendipitous discoveries are part of almost every experience that I have outdoors whether it's just hanging out in the backyard or going on a hiking or fishing trip.  This past Sunday was no exception.  I had decided that I was going to go after some striped bass with my 15' Hera rod.....Tenkara style.  I had rigged up my Hera rod with a 15' section of a 7wt floating fly line and about a 4' section of fluorocarbon leader material and found that I could cast some self tied blonde bucktails and clouser minnows pretty nicely.  I chose the mouth of West Meadow Creek (in Stony Brook Harbor leading out to the Long Island Sound) as a good place to try for some stripers.  West Meadow Creek is actually a tidal salt water marsh that is an ideal nursery for bait fish and therefore fish that feed on bait fish.  As the tide goes out and drains the creek, bass set up shop at the narrow entrance to the creek and pick off anything being swept out into the harbor, very much like trout in any small fresh water river, except that stripers tend to run just a wee bit bigger.

Late May-early June....When Love is in the air or at least the waterline.
While walking and wading out to my predetermined fishing location I noticed one of the typical seasonal markers along the beach.  Hundreds of horseshoe crab along the waterline getting feisty with one another.  It's a scene right out of the Cambrian.  These animals have been around for at least 300 million years and are more closely related to spiders than actual crabs.  But I digress.....I set up my rod and had made exactly 3 casts when my clouser had become snagged on the bottom.  As I tried to reach for my line to free it, I heard a sickening "snap."  So much for striper fishing!  The end of the rod tip snapped just below the lillian.  Now I had woken at 4:30am to catch a falling tide and I was going to damned that I didn't catch at least something today.

Mt Laurel in bloom
My only available option was to head over to the millpond for some fresh water cousins of the stripers....largemouth bass and some bluegills.  Fortunately, the pond was only a few minutes away.  That's one of the advantages to fishing on Long Island....salt water, fresh water or both fresh and salt fishing options can be found in close proximity to one another.

A 12" largemouth caught on a Kiwi's Killer
I wound up having a couple of peaceful hours catching bluegill and a couple of decent bass.  After releasing the guy pictured above I turned to my right to find these guys admiring my catch before deciding they didn't want to share the bridge with me.

A couple of White-tailed deer.
I had set out with the intention of catching a few stripers only to have fate deal me a disappointing blow.  But in the end, the sights and sounds of the millpond allowed me to experience a morning that was just as enjoyable if not more so.  Like I said.....I like serendipity.