Monthly Archives: February 2012

Daiwa Tenkara Rods Available in the U.S. for the First Time

By Morgan Lyle

Chris Stewart, aka Tenkara Bum (right) with Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard in Montana in 2011.

You can now buy a rod from  the Tenkara Bum – and not just any rod: a high-end Daiwa, just like the guys in Japan fish.

For two years, has been a retail outlet for tenkara lines, flies and accessories, as well as an excellent repository of tenkara lore. But only now has the Bum, whose real identity is Christopher Stewart of New York City, offered rods for sale.

Stewart enters a U.S. market that is dominated by Tenkara USA, which introduced tenkara tackle and methods to the western world in April 2009, and also Fountainhead and several smaller rod sellers. The difference is Tenkara Bum’s rods cost twice as much as anything else on the market outside of Japan.

“I think the tenkara market in the U.S. is now ready for some premium rods,” Stewart said. “Even the Daiwas I’m bringing in are not their most expensive series of rods. These are the mid-priced rods in Japan – or at least the mid-priced rods from one of the top name companies. They’re really, really nice rods, though, and I do think that once people decide they like tenkara, they’re going to love these rods.”

TenBum’s Daiwas include the LT series (level line/tapered line) in a 7:3 action in lengths from 10 feet, 7 inches to 14 feet, 5 inches and priced from $345 to $415; and two models in the 5:5 LL (level line) series, an 11-foot-8 for $360 and a 13-foot-5 for $400.

The rod actions are a bit different than the tenkara rods we’re accustomed to in the U.S., Stewart reports. The faster-action 7:3 rods aren’t as stiff as other brands, and the 5:5s aren’t as soft – especially since the LL rods have hollow tips, which makes them a bit stiffer. Stewart explains all this on his site.

We tenkara enthusiasts have been wondering whether Daiwa and Shimano, the top tenkara rod companies in Japan, would begin selling to the U.S. market. So far, they haven’t; Stewart imports the Daiwas and says he sells them for about the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

Until now, the only way western customers could buy a Daiwa or a Shimano was by dealing directly with a Japanese retailer, which isn’t very easy for those of us who don’t speak Japanese.






Esopus Turbidity May Not Be Bad for Trout After All

Daily Gazette article
Thursday, February 9, 2012

By Morgan Lyle
Twelve years ago, Trout Unlimited sued New York City for polluting Esopus Creek, the ruggedly beautiful wild rainbow stream in the eastern Catskills, with silt from Schoharie Reservoir.

The city uses the Esopus in an unusual way — as an aqueduct of sorts. Water is piped from Schoharie Reservoir 18 miles to the Esopus, which then carries the Schoharie water another 10 miles downstream to Ashokan Reservoir. From there, the water is piped to the Big Apple.

This arrangement has both positives and negatives for trout fishermen on this 10-mile stretch of the Esopus.

Negative: The water from Schoharie tends to be laden with silt that washes into the reservoir. Since the pipeline came online in 1924, the Esopus has run kind of milky much of the time.

Positive: the creek has also been nice and cool. The water from the tunnel is collected at the bottom of Schoharie Reservoir, where it is coldest, and the infusion of this water has kept the Esopus in good shape, temperature-wise, while other streams in the region were getting bony and warm in mid-summer. Cold water is good for trout.

By 2000, TU had decided the Schoharie sed­iment was getting out of hand and took the city to U.S. District Court. The judge agreed in 2003, finding the city in violation of the Clean Water Act. He leveled a $5 million fine and demanded the city clean up the water flowing out of the Shandaken Tunnel.

Nine years later, no action has been taken to reduce the turbidity. Now, a new study by a Cornell University graduate student indicates the turbidity is doing no harm — at least not to full-grown trout.

T.J. Ross and his technicians studied stocked brown trout equipped with transmitters in the summers of 2009, 2010 and 2011 and found that trout stationed just below the outfall of the Shandaken Tunnel — a spot known locally as the Portal — had better blood chemistry and better growth rates than trout stocked upstream of the portal and those stocked way downstream, near Ashokan Reservoir.

The Portal is where the creek is most turbid — but also coolest.

“The turbidity that we see in the Esopus is not at the level where you see significant problems,” Ross told a group of about 60 people at SUNY Ulster in Stone Ridge, Ulster County on Feb.

Importantly, however, Ross’s study did not examine the impact of turbidity on trout eggs and fry, nor on the aquatic insects trout eat. Other studies by state and federal agencies are examining those questions, he said.


Doug Moody of Broadalbin has made lots of fans playing fiddle for the McKrells and Popa Chubby. He’ll likely make some more for another skill — bamboo fly-rod making — at the Adirondack Outdoorsman Show in Johnstown Feb. 18-19.

Bamboo fly rods can only be made by hand. It’s a painstaking process of high-level craftsmanship. It’s fascinating to observe, and the resulting fly rods are exquisite fishing tools, responsive and alive in a way that no rod constructed of man-made materials could ever be. Or, at least, most fly-fishers think so.

Moody will show how it’s done at the Outdoorsman Show. He launched Bark Eater Bamboo in 2006, and has been hand-planing rods at his Hans Creek Road home ever since. He was the subject of a profile in The Daily Gazette in June 2009.

The Outdoorsman Show will be at the Johnstown Moose Lodge, Route 30A, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Feb. 18 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 19. Admission is: adults, $5; youths 15 and under, $1. For more information, visit or contact Mike Hauser at 725-5565.

Morgan Lyle’s commentary appears regularly in The Daily Gazette. Reach him at

River Blown Out? Fish the Pond

Daily Gazette article
Thursday, January 19, 2012

By Morgan Lyle

Not long ago, Dave Brandt, the well-known fly-tier and fly-fishing instructor from Oneonta,N.Y., told me it had occurred to him that still­water fly-fishing — lakes and ponds instead of streams — may be a lot more important in the years to come.

We were lamenting the sorry conditions on most New York trout streams for most of last season. Rainstorm after rainstorm made the streams too deep and swift to wade or fish. And then came Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, which effectively ended any hope of fishing for the season.

Most people agree that this happens more often than it used to. Sure, there have always been rainy summers, and hurricanes or tropical storms in September are certainly nothing new. But veteran anglers are finding themselves confronted by blown-out streams more frequently than ever.

It’s possible to fly-fish in high water, mainly by seeking out soft pockets near the shore, but it’s not what you look forward to. It’s not what you re-arrange your schedule to do.

Scientists have predicted more intense and more frequent storms as a result of global clim­ate change. Of course, we can’t say the stormy summer of 2011 was caused by global warming; that will be for researchers to decide decades from now. But whatever the reason, we find ourselves looking in despair at U.S. Geolog­ical Survey stream gauges more and more often these days.

Lakes and ponds, of course, don’t blow out ­­— at least not the way streams do — and do hold trout.

The trouble is that so much of what we have learned about fly-fishing relies on moving water. Everything we do is designed to make a fly drift naturally in or on the current, or pull the fly against the current so it looks like a struggling bug or darting baitfish.

We step to the shore of a body of non-moving water and wonder, “Where do I cast? And what do I do after that?”

Sometimes, of course, we can see where we should cast — when a trout reveals its position by rising. But unlike trout in streams, stillwater trout don’t stay put. They have a whole pond to swim around in, and as some of my saltwater fishing friends like to say, “Fish have fins.”

So your task is to watch for another rise, and then another, and try to discern a pattern. You end up casting not to where the trout rose, but where you expect it to rise next.

And just because you can see a trout doesn’t mean you can reach it. The fish is 100 feet away, your best cast is 70 feet, and if you walk three steps forward you’ll be in over your head. The answer, of course, is to use some kind of watercraft, but first, you have to acquire it and transport it to the water. Canoes, kayaks and float tubes are all fun to use, but they’re things that stream fishermen usually don’t bother with.

Then again, a vessel may not be necessary. As I understand it — and I’m no expert — trout in lakes and ponds do much of their feeding in shallow water near the shore. Even wading fishermen can reach plenty of productive water. An inlet or outlet is a bonus, an obvious place to look for fish.

There’s a whole science to lakes and ponds, involving stratification, the baitfish and insect life and more. We fly-fishers like that sort of thing. We like big trout, too, and they’re more likely to be found in lakes and ponds than in creeks.

The magic of moving water will always be a big part of the attraction of fly-fishing. But too often these days, there’s too much water and it’s moving too fast. Seeking trout in ponds and lakes may be an option worth exploring.

Morgan Lyle’s commentary appears regularly in The Daily Gazette. Reach him at

Tenkara’s Fly Show Debut

Daily Gazette article
Thursday, February 2, 2012

Morgan Lyle
Fly-Fishing: Tenkara is more than a curiosity

Tenkara USA founder Daniel Galhardo demonstrates fixed-line fly-fishing tackle during The Fly Fishing Show Saturday in Somerset, N.J. -(Morgan Lyle)

The 20th annual Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, N.J., is now in the books, and most people seem to agree it was a good one.

As always, it offered 54,000 square feet of everything a fly-fisher could want: rods, reels, waders, fly-tying supplies, clothing, books, videos, watercraft, travel services and art. Big-name celebrities were on hand, such as A.K. Best and Lefty Kreh.

The Capital Region was well represented: Bob Mead of Scotia, Pat Cohen of Cobleskill, Jay “Fishy” Fullum of Ravena and Bill Newcomb of Copake were at their vises, tying flies, while The Fly Shack of Gloversville had several booths and owner Mike Bokan of Charlton stayed busy tending to customers all weekend. Author Mike Valla of Ballston Spa signed copies of “Tying Catskill Style Dry Flies,” and tied Catskill-style dry flies at the Stackpole Books booth.

Naturally, there were casting demonstrations, master classes with experts (for a fee), and sem­inars on fishing everywhere from Maine to Montana, Alaska to the Bahamas and, of course, the Del­aware River.

A fly-fisher at Somerset is a kid in a huge candy store. The candy is pretty much the same every year. But this year, there was a new flavor: fly-fishing with no reel.

Tenkara USA made its fly-show debut at Somerset, with a booth that was appropriately spare — a small display case with five rods and a couple spools of line. It was purely informational; the company didn’t want to compete with its two authorized retailers with booths at the show.

Hanging from the ceiling was a big, cylindrical sign, dubbed “the spaceship” by the T USA crew, which was visible from most of the room. No other exhibitor had anything like it.

Tenkara USA had been burning up the Internet in the week before Somerset. Company founder Daniel Galhardo had attended the Marlborough, Mass., stop on the Fly Fishing Show tour and rode an elevator with Kreh. “I think tenkara is a fad, and it won’t last long,” Lefty told him. “That is just my honest assessment.”

Galhardo turned the diss into a publicity bonanza. He wrote a post on his blog that quickly went viral, spawning comments on dozens of other blogs and forums and even moving Field& to do a piece.

Time will tell whether tenkara is a fad, but Galhardo entertained a steady stream of curious anglers at Somerset. No one scoffed, but then again, skeptics probably wouldn’t bother visiting the booth, anyway. I’m told there were “industry” people among the visitors. At the food court, I chatted with a guy from Pennsylvania who had a new Tenkara USA 12-foot Iwana in his backpack and couldn’t wait to fish it. I ran into David Dirks of Dirks­ and the Middletown Times Herald-Record, and found out he’s hooked on tenkara. Mag­azine articles are starting to refer to it without explaining what it is.

Three years ago, almost no one outside Japan had any idea that fixed-line fly-fishing even existed. Today, there are several thousand rods in use across the U.S. and in Europe. It’s hard to say how big it will get, and no one expects tenkara to replace rod-and-reel fly-fishing, but it’s no longer a curiosity.

Or as my friend Christopher Stewart of Manhattan, proprietor of, put it, “Tenkara is on everyone’s radar now.”