Saturday, December 15, 2012

Duck Season

Mallard Sakasa Kebari
I awoke this morning to the sound of duck hunters in action.  I only live a "stones throw" from the Long Island Sound so it's not unusual to hear them going about their business.  Today they sparked a little creative idea in me.  I picked up a pair of mallard duck wings back a little while ago and have used them several times for hackle in a few sakasa kebari.

I tie a fair number of flies for sale, swaps, and friends. Sometimes I just like to tie fun little diversions like this fly I call a Mallard Sakasa Kebari.  It reminds me of a mallard duck with it's grey body color, green head, and purple patch like on it's wings.  I don't know how well it will fish or if I will even cast it to a rising trout  but it seems with all that is going on in this world we can use all of the little distractions we can get. Recipe is below for anyone interested.

Mallard Sakasa Kebari

Hook: Mustad C49S scud hook, size 12
Hackle: mallard hackle from outer wing
Head: Pearsall's gossamer silk thread, highlander green
Body:  6/0 Uni-Thread, color grey & Pearsall's gossamer silk thread, purple

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Various sakasa kebari
Between family, job, a hurricane, and numerous other obligations I haven't had a whole lot of extra time for other extra-curricular activities, let alone blogging.  I think it was high time that I got back up in the saddle with several posts that I had intended to post a while ago.  This past summer I had actually started a second blog....American Sakasa Kebari.  The purpose of this blog is to serve as a repository for variations and recipes of my favorite type of fly to fish and tie...the sakasa kebari. Anyone can submit their own take on this type of fly for all to appreciate and share.  The initial response was good and over 30 variations can be found on the blog to be seen by anyone interested in this fly.  I'm hoping to add many more of my own creations as well as those of many of the other very talented fly tiers out there.  If you are interested please feel free to contact me on how to contribute your own creations.  I think that sites such as this and others serve as great sources of inspiration and ideas for yet more variety.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Post Sandy

Hurricane Sandy Oct 28th 2012
First and foremost I would like to say thank you to a number of fellow anglers and bloggers who sent me e-mails wanting to know how my family and I made out following the mess that Sandy left behind.  In a nutshell we were not as fortunate as some but better off than most.  We were with out power for almost nine days and had to put up with some cold nights and long gas lines but things are slowly coming back to normal.  Without power it took a few days to learn how bad it was for many people across the tri-state area and beyond.  After seeing some of that I didn't feel so bad about our situation because we still had a roof over our heads.  No electricity also has some benefits.  I learned my six year old is a ruthless UNO player and talks a great deal of smack while playing.  I also managed to get time to make some horsehair fly lines that I have been trying to find time to make. In the end, just like Irene last year, for a time we lost power and our modern comforts. However, like any other bump in the road of our lives we clean up the mess, move on, and try to return to the routine of or hectic lives. I only ask that we keep, in our thoughts and prayers, those who we're not so fortunate and continue to struggle getting back to some sense of normalcy.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Going Back To My Roots

I really like tenkara fishing (either method or with the equipment).  In fact, I would say that 99% of my fresh water fishing is exclusively tenkara related.  However, today I decided to go "old school", at least for me.  I first learned to fish when I was about 5 or 6 when my Dad taught me. Back then fishing meant going to a local lake for pickerel, perch, bass, catfish or panfish.  It also meant using a worm or a good 'ole Mepps spinner.

I have fond memories when I look back on those days.  I can distinctly remember after my Dad coming home from work quickly finishing dinner and heading down to this one old guys house to pick up a big Styrofoam cup full of night crawlers and then heading off to Chadwick Lake. Today....I just felt like using some worms, catching some trout and spending some time outdoors (before Sandy gets here).  By the end of the trip I had my trout and felt like I was a kid again.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Filling A Need

Shawangunk Ridge  
Humans have many needs.  First and foremost we need to fill our basic needs such as water, food, clothing and shelter. Once the essential needs are met I believe the next most important things that most of us feel we need to fulfill are that of making sure that our children and loved ones are safe and healthy.  The list of needs that must be met can go on and on.

A woods road on an autumn day
I strongly believe that each and everyone of us live in two worlds.  In order for us to function in either world we must address the needs that are specific to each.  The first world is that of the human world or civilization...what ever you may wish to call it.  This is the world of deadlines, tax collectors, mortgages, bad relationships etc. (although this is not always as bad as I just made it sound). I firmly believe this is the greatest source of stress in our lives.  Sometimes trying to meet the ever demanding needs of this world can seriously run an individual down. The second world is what I like to call "the real world".  This is everything else from which we draw resources to survive and gain inspiration....or Nature for short.  The second world is neither for us or against simply....just is.  The other creatures who share this place with us generally don't give a hoot whether we are there or not.  Their lives will continue one way or another.

The Peterskill above Awosting Falls
Lately, I have found myself needing to fulfill a very specific need.  This need being a stronger connection with the second world.  It seems that the first world has been taking precedence lately.  I love fishing, hiking, camping, kayaking, hunting and generally anything that has to do with being outdoors or learning about Nature.  These activities are not just fun little past times.  The connections to the real world that I begin to feel when doing any of these things serves to help me slow down and to forget the stresses of the first world. Most importantly they remind me of my significance and place in the world....the important things.

A golden crowned kinglet 
I find that a simple hike in the woods once in a while is just what I need to reset my mental clock and pull me out of any funk. A recent trip to the Shawangunks (in the Hudson Valley of NY) was just what the Dr. ordered.  The smells of the woods, the sights and the sounds of places I'm so familiar with is all that was needed to feel better.

"Chatter marks" left by a glacier from 10,000 years ago can definitely give someone a deep sense of time. 
I guess the main message of this post is the matter how overwhelming the obligations and needs may seem from the first world there are very few needs (other than the a fore mentioned basic needs for survival) that would supersede that of establishing a deeper connection with Nature and sharing that experience with others.  It's making this connection which can keep you sane in this modern world and inform you as to your place within it.

Awosting Falls, Minnewaska State Park Preserve

Monday, October 15, 2012

Last Call For.....

At this time of year, the completion to the title of this post could be any one of a number of things.  For instance, anyone with a botanical background will not want to miss the last of any flowers that might be in bloom or the brevity of the autumn colors.  Or the anyone with a particular interest in our feathered friends will want to catch the final glimpses of any birds on their way to warmer climates.  For those of in New means last call for trout fishing across most of the state.  I haven't had a whole lot of opportunities to fish in the last few weeks and this past weekend I decided that the season wouldn't slip by with out one more quick trip to a favorite place.

My first catch of the day
This past weekend the family and I went home (...the Hudson Valley where I grew up) to visit my parents and do a few fall-like things like hayrides and a visit to the orchard for cider donuts and apples.  I also wanted to do some hiking and fishing.  Based on the picture above you might think I intended to do some microfishing.....that was not the intent but this little guy definitely qualifies.   Fortunately,  he was not the only brookie of the day.

All of these brookies were caught on a #10 Killer Bug (including the little guy...which was pretty ambitious if you ask me). This was not the most memorable or productive trip I have ever had but I got my last "fishing fix" on a wild trout stream for the season.  Bottom line, it was good to get out and leave the stress of the week behind and spend time with my family.  In the end that's what matters most.

The girls enjoying a cider donut

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Very Long Distance Fly Swap

Sakasa Kebari tied by Mr. Katsutoshi Amano
I love to go fishing anytime and anywhere I can.  However, when I'm not fishing I always enjoy tying flies for other anglers and myself.  In the last year or two I seem to have developed a liking for yet another aspect of the sport of fly fishing and that is the collection of flies tied by notable fly tiers, such as Fran Betters and Don Bastian, as well as lesser known but very talented tiers such as fellow bloggers Alan and Karel.  There are many tiers out there whose flies appeal to me in one way or another.  I find some flies fascinating due to materials used or method of construction.  Some are simply like miniature works of art.

Ishigaki Kebari tied by Dr. Hisao Ishigaki
Many people find items that have been previously owned by someone noteworthy or an autograph to be extremely valuable for one reason or another.  I find that the same can be said for flies used for fly fishing.  In fact some flies can be sold for hundreds, even thousands of dollars depending on who tied it and how rare it is.  Why would collectors spend that kind of money to obtain an old dusty fly that generally can be tied today with the same or similar materials?  I can't speak for everyone but I can tell you why I would want to collect them.

Kebari tied by Shintaro Kumazaki
No two fly tiers tie the same flies exactly alike. A great example of this can be found in the new "Tying Tenkara Flies, Volume I" from In this video three different tiers tied the same pattern three different ways.  My point is that each tier of a particular fly will make slight modifications to either make the tie easier, more effective, or even for aesthetic reasons.  A little bit of their personality and their fly tying wisdom go into this process. Possessing flies from the a notable or very skilled tier allows anyone to hold and examine up close the genius  of another angler.  Such flies are also a piece of history.  How can today's tiers know where they are going if they don't know the paths that have been taken by others to arrive at the present day?  This is why I find such flies valuable and worthy of collecting.

Kebari tied by Hiroto Sasaki
With the help of Daniel Galhardo, founder of Tenkara USA, I was able to swap some of my favorite sakasa kebari with several tenkara masters in Japan.  The flies pictured throughout this post are the flies I received in return.  To me, each is as valuable as having a Fran Better's Ausable Wulff or a Carrie Stevens streamer. Each has something to offer or teach me.  I hope everyone who reads this will come to appreciate these and other flies as I have.  I also again just wanted to thank Daniel and my fellow tenkara anglers/tiers from Japan for these little treasures as they will now be added to my collection.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Tyrannosaurus rex 
I have not had a chance to do a lot of fishing in the last few weeks (this would explain the lack of posts lately) but the family and I have still had time to do a few fun things here and there.  For instance, today we took a day trip to the city (NYC, for those outside of the tri-state area) to visit The American Museum of Natural History.  It was the first trip for the girls and they enjoyed every minute of it.

It was a very busy day and the highlight of it was walking through dinosaur and extinct mammal halls on the fourth floor.  I could spend the entire day by myself and still be fascinated but it was very cool to see the amazement in the eyes and jaw dropping expressions on their faces.  It was a beautiful day outside and I would always love to be outdoors and maybe even fishing but it's virtually impossible to beat a day like today.
Mastodon found near my hometown in 1845
"Get a load of this guy!"
Wooly Mammoth

Monday, September 3, 2012

It's Just About That Time

Orange Jewel weed in bloom
As many of my fellow bloggers have noted in the last few weeks, the signs of change are all around for those willing to pay attention.  My oldest daughter's first day of first grade is tomorrow but I don't that reminder to tell me what part of the year we are all passing through.

Enjoying the last few warm days of summer
I spent an hour this morning fishing for a few bluegills and taking in the beautiful morning.  It was a lazy morning and more than two dozen bluegills were willing to take a fly.  Fishing at the millpond provides one with a great sense of time and a progression of the seasons.

A small obliging bluegill with a lip full of a Kiwi's Killer
Some examples of  the change evident in the last few weeks are the blooming of golden rod and orange jewel weed and white wood aster.  The ends of some tree branches are showing some color.

A few leaves starting to turn
Even as some of the responsibilities of my wife and I will begin again tomorrow certain parental duties are nearing their end for the year.

Kids grow up so fast these days.... especially when you hatched from an egg a few months before.
The signs are there for those willing to observe and listen.  There is only a few pages left in this chapter...the next chapter....Autumn is right around the corner.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Request....The McGee Lime Kebari

McGee Lime Kebari
Recently, I received a request (via Chris Stewart) for one of my flies to be tied a little differently.  The Royal Sakasa Kebari is my all time favorite sakasa kebari experiment. I have tied more of these than any other fly and my fly box is never without a 1/2 dozen of them.  But one of Chris's customers asked if I could tie a dozen in the image of a Tennessee Wulff.  For those who may not be familiar with this version of a Wulff it is virtually the same as a Royal Wulff except that the red silk band is replaced with a band of lime or chartreuse thread. I'm very happy with the look of the fly and can't wait to try out the few extra that I tied for my self.  For those interested I'm posting the recipe below.

McGee Lime Kebari

Hook: Mustad C49S, scud hook, size 12
Hackle: Hungarian partridge, color grey
Thread: Uni-thread 6/0, color black
Body: peacock herl, with central band of Uni-Thread 6/0, color chartreuse

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bucktail Kebari

The Bucktail Kebari
It's been a while between posts and fly tying experiments so I decided it was time to rectify both at the same time.  A few weeks ago I came across an article in the June/July issue of Fly Fisherman that utilized bucktail       in the construction of fly bodies.  I have always liked using bucktail hair in flies and look for any chance to do so.  The article instructs the tier to make a "rope" with about 6 bucktail fibers and the tying thread and then use this to wrap the body.  The great thing about this technique is that bucktail is fairly easy to work with and  comes in a great variety of colors, allowing you to mix and match fibers to create whatever color body you desire.  The fly above was my first attempt at incorporating this kind of body into a sakasa kebari.  I like the way it looks with it's segmented appearance.  It reminds me of a fly tied by Jason Klass of "Tenkaratalk".  Jason's fly utilized camel hair and is twisted to give a similar look.

A closer look at the body
In this case I used a mixture of brown and white bucktail fibers. In the future I plan to play with color combinations to see what kind of unique looks can be created.  For anyone interested the recipe is below.

Bucktail Kebari

Hook: Mustad C49S, size 10
Thread: Pearsall's gossamer silk thread, color olive
Hackle: Hungarian partridge
Collar: peacock herl
Body: bucktail fibers, 6 fibers, a mixture of brown and white

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hitting the Salt

My trusty kayak
If you spend any time reading through this blog it will be readily apparent that my preferred rod to fish with is a tenkara rod and I use it in traditional as well as non-traditional manner.  If I could choose only one type of fish and location to fish, it would definitely be for brook trout on a small mountain stream.  That being said, I still fish in all sorts of locations and with all types of equipment.  Lately, with trout fishing being a little slow I have broken out the saltwater spin rod and have been going down to the harbor to catch some fluke, bluefish and striped bass.  However, today I also broke out the kayak to add some mobility and fish several locations.  My kayak is not exactly outfitted like some anglers....but it gets the job done.  The morning started at 5am and got off to a good start with a number of fluke and sea robins (usually they are a pain but they put up a decent fight) caught on bucktails.  After a few hours....and no keepers....I began to head back to the harbor entrance.  I pulled the kayak out for a stretch and decided to cast a little when I noticed another angler nailing a number of striped bass....good size ones too!  I happen to ask him what he was using  and his reply was sandworms.  These are like candy for stripers.  After a little chit-chat he insisted that I try some, which I politely refused at first.  I'm glad I changed my mind because on my first cast I fought this guy.......

33" Striped bass
It turned out to be my first of the year and a keeper to boot.  I love brookies but there is something to be said for hauling in one of these guys. Where ever you went Brian (the generous angler with the sandworms) thanks made my morning. For all of those reading this I hope your days of angling end with keepers that put a smile on your face (and maybe some filet's in your freezer).

Sunday, July 1, 2012

An Early Summer Morning

Sunrise in the woods
My wife, kids and I went home (my home....upstate) to visit family this weekend.  And like any trip home I usually take a quick trip to the woods to do a little hiking or fishing (or both).  This weekend was no different. I woke up at around 5 am and headed out to find some wild brookies.  It was one of those typical early summer mornings.  It was quiet, a little humid, and with warm breeze...nothing uncomfortable though.  Insects could could be seen flitting from here to there.  A squirrel could be seen going about it's business and black-throated green warblers could be heard singing in the hemlocks.  It didn't take long to find what I was looking for, some peace and quiet......and some brook trout.

First brookie of the day

None of these brook trout or any of the others I caught this morning are going to wind up on the cover of a fly fishing magazine or mounted over a fireplace but that does not matter.  Each and every one is a remarkable work of Nature and a trophy to me.  The opportunity to be out in the woods and stream side on a beautiful summer morning like this is what matters most. I, for one, do not take these moments for granted.

Friday, June 29, 2012


Sakasa Kebari with a "twist" of green antron fiber
Recently, my wife and I had a chance to get away for the weekend and take the girls on a "kid-oriented" mini vacation.  For the last few summers we have visited Hershey and Amish country in PA.  My kids are 6 and 3  and really enjoy going to Dutch Wonderland.  It's perfectly geared to kids their age.  These trips have usually  been focused on them with little room for Mommy or Daddy's interests....and that is perfectly fine.  But this time I had to make a little detour on the way home.  For a little while now I have been dying to visit the Cabela's in Hamburg PA and I decided this year I wouldn't miss it.

The centerpiece of the Hamburg Cabela's (about three stories tall)

Looking down from the second floor of this huge diorama

I'm glad I went.  Even my wife was impressed with it's size and what could be found in it.  I primarily wanted to visit the fly shop to pick through some fly tying materials but at around 7 ACRES of floor space the rest of the store beckoned me.  The first thing you notice entering the doors is a "mountain" in the back center of the store that is about three stories tall and filled with various big game animals.  The taxidermists that put this display together did an incredible job and it's worthy of any great natural history museum.  An outdoors man or woman could spend a full day in this place very easily and not see everything.  Unfortunately, we only had an hour and a half to spare before getting back on the road to get through NYC before the rush hour traffic started and I didn't get to see everything.  Bottom line....if anyone one is traveling along I-78 in PA you owe it to yourself to stop in and take a look at the place.

A purple Royal Sakasa Kebari
But I digress....I went to get some fly tying materials....and I did. I managed to pick up some materials for some experiments that I plan on tying and hope to display soon.  For the time being I have two to show off.  The fly above is a Purple Royal Sakasa Kebari.  It's tied just like my favorite sakasa kebari but I used purple Pearsall's gossamer silk thread and purple dyed peacock herl.  I don't know how much I'll use it but I think it looks cool.  The fly pictured at the beginning of the post is a sakasa kebari tied with a twisted body of green antron (ala Jason Klass' twisted kebari).  I really like the way this one looks and can't wait to tie more with the other colors I picked up and then fish them.  It was enjoyable and productive visit.  However, for a while my 6 year old had a hard time trying to understand why Daddy was so happy to be in a "store" until an elderly woman passing by explained that THIS store was like Dutch Wonderland to Daddy.  At that point...She clearly understood.