Monthly Archives: July 2012

Introducing the Stewart Stone

I’m just not a morning person. A real fisherman would have been up at 4 and on the water at first light. I settled for being up at 6:10 and on the water  by 8. Fortunately, most of the Muscoot River below Amawalk Reservoir is in the shade all day anyway, so the bright July sun wasn’t a problem.

I’ve never done very well on this beautiful stream. Today, I landed two, lost two others and had a few dismissive flips. I’ll settle for that, too.

What made it interesting was the fly. I’ve come across several mentions of big tenkara flies lately, so I decided to try one myself. It’s probably not unique enough to merit a name, but I gave it one anyway: the Stewart Stone, named for TenkaraBum Chris Stewart of New York.

It was Chris, after all, who popularized the yarn used to make the Killer Bug. That stuff has some serious mojo,  and I think it’s the most important part of the Stewart Stone. In  the water, the yarn (Jamieson’s Shetland Spendrift, in sand, colored with a Prismacolor marker, also in sand) is complex stew of shades that combine to create a meaty, live-looking pink, with a fuzzy halo.

The fly that became the Stewart Stone differs from a big Killer Bug in a couple of significant ways:

  • It has a tail and a hackle, both olive-dyed Hungarian partridge. (Chris’s Killer Kebari has a hackle, but no tail.) Brown-dyed or natural partridge would probably work just as well.
  • It has a pronounced taper.

I tied the fly on a size 8 Orvis 1524 hook – a 1X heavy, 2X long nymph hook that I would normally use for Woolly Buggers. I’m not used to tying or fishing nymphs that big. Sure, I’ve always had a few big black stoneflies handy, but only used them as a last resort and never had much success (probably because by the time I tie on the last resort fly, my own mojo is on the wane.) The Stewart Stone is  not a lovely fly to cast on an Ebisu with a TenBum hand-tied line, but I can more or less put it where I want it. Yes, it makes a loud plop when it hits the water. This doesn’t seem to bother the trout. Most strikes to this fly have come right after splashdown.

I decided to think of the pattern as a stonefly last weekend, when I saw lots of big stonefly shucks on the rocks protruding from Esopus Creek. A few small, wild Esopus rainbows endorsed it that day. Two days earlier, on a hatchless afternoon at the Hale Eddy riffles on the West Branch of the Delaware, a chubby trout grabbed the fly as it swung below me, and several others nipped at it but wouldn’t commit.

I guess it might imitate a stonefly, but I think of it as more of an attractor. There aren’t many insects around right now, so maybe the trout are less fussy. At the very least I know they’re seeing it.

Tenkara: Orvis is In, TFO Ain’t Saying

From the start, tenkara enthusiasts have wondered whether the established fly-fishing tackle companies would get in the game.

No need to wonder anymore. Orvis now carries the Tenkara USA Iwana – quite possibly the first time it’s sold another brand of rod, and certainly the first time it has offered a fly rod that doesn’t use a reel. (And yes, it’s a fly rod – you cast the line and the fly goes along for the ride.)

Orvis Marketing Director Tom Rosenbauer has described tenkara as a good introduction to fly-fishing, with a learning curve that’s “nowhere near as steep.” Of course that’s true, but tenkara also resonates with many (though certainly not all) highly experienced fly-fishers. In fact, Rosenbauer himself said a tenkara rod seemed like a fun way to fish a small stream as far back as September 2009.

Meanwhile Temple Fork Outfitters had a prototype tenkara rod on display at ICAST, the annual show by the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, in Orlando July 11-13. One observer reports the rod is called the Soft Hackle.

TFO executive Brandon Powers wouldn’t comment on the prototype or whether the company plans to introduce tenkara tackle. The Fly Line broke the news back in January that TFO was considering selling its own tenkara rod.

Tenkara USA founder Daniel Galhardo Galhardo said he’d been approached before by big-box retailers, but turned them down because he doesn’t like the idea of tenkara tackle being sold by people who don’t know the tenkara method of fishing or its history. He sensed that Orvis executives took the Japanese fixed-line trout fishing seriously.

“Every single person in their org­anization at the retail level, people [Orvis staff and dealers] at the fly-fishing shows that had booths, every single one was excited about tenkara, was cur­ious about it,” Galhardo told The Fly Line.

OK, so Orvis & TFO. Who’s next?

Chris Stewart, author of the TenkaraBum website and online tenkara tackle shop, sees the Orvis move as a toe-dip. “At the least, they’ll know if their customer base will buy enough tenkara rods to justify making their own rods,” he writes. “If they sell well, look for Orvis tenkara rods in a couple years – and then all the majors will jump in.”

Orvis Carries Tenkara USA

A huge development in tenkara fishing in the U.S.: Orvis is now carrying Tenkara USA tackle. Press release below. More soon.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Orvis to Sell Tenkara USA Products
San Francisco, California

Today, San Francisco based company Tenkara USA announced that Orvis, industry leader in fly-fishing equipment, will start carrying Tenkara USA’s rods, line and flies and helping promote the Japanese method of fly-fishing called tenkara.

Tenkara is a very simple method of fly-fishing, which uses only a rod, line and fly (no reel). The line is tied directly to the end of the rod, and while the casting technique is similar to Western fly-fishing it is also easier to learn.

Tenkara USA was founded in 2009 by Daniel Galhardo and is the first company to introduce and promote the method and equipment for tenkara outside of Japan. Since its introduction, tenkara has developed a passionate following and growing popularity in the US, Canada and throughout Europe.

Galhardo thinks this partnership with the 156-year old Orvis company represents a huge milestone for the sport.  “Tenkara has generated a lot of heated debate within the fly-fishing community over the last couple of years. Having a well-established fly-fishing company like Orvis embrace the method and promote it to its customers is an irrefutable validation of tenkara”, said Galhardo.

Orvis contacted Tenkara USA in early 2012 expressing interest in their products.  Galhardo says, “The trust a large company like Orvis is putting on Tenkara USA based on the quality they saw in our equipment speaks to our worldwide leadership on tenkara”.

Tom Rosenbauer, Director of Marketing at Orvis, sees a potential for tenkara to remove many of the typical barriers to entry new fly anglers experience. “Tenkara can be a great way for people to get introduced to fly-fishing.  Eliminating the reel and line handling removes a lot of the complexities of the sport, and the ability to get a drag-free float on pocket water makes it easy for novices to grasp this concept.  Plus, it’s inexpensive and the tackle is simple and not intimidating”, said Rosenbauer.

Rosenbauer added that tenkara is not only a refreshing forte into fly-fishing for westerners, but also a good way to introduce children to the sport.  “Tenkara is something fun and new (actually hardly new, but new to Americans) to try for fishing smaller trout streams and panfish ponds.  It’s simple and brings you back to the essence of fly-fishing.  I know I will be teaching my 7-year-old how to fly fish with a Tenkara rod on a local bluegill pond.”

Tenkara USA’s current product lineup includes six rod models, and a couple of different lines, and four fly patterns specifically designed for tenkara. Orvis will initially be offering one of Tenkara USA’s most popular rods, the 12-foot long Iwana model, along with the tenkara lines and flies designed specifically for tenkara.  The tenkara gear is now available on Orvis’ website.

About Tenkara USA

Tenkara USA is a fully independent, US-based company. Founded in 2009 by Daniel W. Galhardo, Tenkara USA is the first company in the US fully dedicated to bringing the Japanese method of fly-fishing, tenkara, to those in pursuit of a simpler and more effective way to fly-fish.  For more information, visit www.tenkarausa.com.

About OrvisIn 1856, Charles Orvis founded the Orvis Company in Manchester, Vermont, offering the finest fly-fishing equipment, and priding himself on customer satisfaction and service. Today, along with their world famous fly-fishing gear, Orvis offers distinctive clothing, home furnishings, gifts, and dog products. They are the longest-running mail order business in the United States.  For more information, visit Orvis.com.

A Bass Tourney on Lake Champlain — for Fly Rods!

Daily Gazette article
Thursday, July 5, 2012

By Morgan Lyle

Did you hear about the bass-fishing tournament on Lake Champlain?

No, not the FLW Tour event — that was last week. I’m talking about the Ditch Pickle Classic, a fly-fishing-only bass tournament in Missisquoi Bay on the Vermont side of the lake, not far from the Canadian border. Now in its third year, the DPC will run July 14-15.

Fly-fishing tournaments, mostly for fun and usually benefiting a good cause, seem to be more and more popular in recent years, but most of them are trout-fishing contests. So the Ditch Pickle Classic is a rare breed in a region most fly-fishers associate with trout and salmon.

“I could spend whole summers up on Missisquoi Bay and never see another fly angler,” said Brendan Hare, a graduate student at the University of Vermont and an organizer of the Classic. “I just wanted to get the word out that we had this great fishery with shallow-water bass fishing, sight fishing in some cases.”

The good fishing of Lake Champlain is no secret to the FLW Tour anglers, who consistently rate the lake among the nation’s best. Missisquoi Bay, in Swanton, Vt., offers big fish in a pristine, shallow-water setting. In fact, while other FLW Champlain tournament anglers headed for fishing holes in Ticonderoga, the eventual winner of the tourney, David Dudley, made a beeline for Missisquoi Bay and caught most of his fish in two feet of water.

There’s no livewell and weigh-in at the Ditch Pickle Classic. Partic-ipants in two-angler teams simply photograph each other’s fish next to tournament-issue rulers, a format known as catch-photo-release. A 12- to 13-inch fish is worth one point, and a 20-incher or better is worth five.

This year, for the first time, the contest will span two days, so anglers can fish until dark on Saturday and be on the water as early as they like on Sunday.

The low-light hours will offer the best shot at surface action. While the bay is known for shallow-water fishing, anglers may need to reach as deep as 25 feet to find willing fish during the heat of the day, Hare said.

The fishing is done from boats — anything from canoes to motorboats.

“We got some pretty slick boats last year,” Hare said. “No full-on bass boats with 200-horsepower Mercs, but we had guys that had flats boats that were over from Massachusetts.”

The registration fee is $25 per angler. Of that, $15 will go to the Friends of Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, and the rest covers the participant’s keepsake T-shirt.

Without much publicity, the Ditch Pickle Classic (the name comes from a slang term for largemouth bass) is becoming an established event. It’s also expanding interest in a great resource that’s underutilized by fly-fishers.

“A lot of people never exper-ience Lake Champlain,” Hare said. “There are a lot of people that fly-fish in Vermont, and you still hear, ‘You can catch bass on a fly?’ Not only can you, but these are four-pound smallies and four-pound largemouth bass that, to me, are a lot more impressive than the average stocked trout we all wind up catching out of the rivers.”