Dry Flies For Fun and Profit Tenkara Fly Fishing


Wow, what a great article.

I will have to try it with my daughter. So far we have always fished wets. Shamefully I dont know much about dry fly fishing, so i never fish them. Sort of strange that even though i have dozens of drys, i never carry them on the water these days.

Gonna have to break them out the next time we fish!!!

Great article!
My 4 year old daughter has been lawn casting my Western fly fishing and Tenkara rods with some nice loops at times and I have been contemplating taking her out to a small, accessible stream this summer for a short outing.There was a lot of great tips in the article to keep her engaged and possibly able to catch her first trout. I had not contemplated the “fun” of dry flies until I read the article.
Thanks for posting it, Karl!

Thank you for your great suggestions and articles.
I think so, too.

Gressak and Jason, fishing dry flies with tenkara tackle is about as straight forward and efficient as things can get because of your ability to hold your line up and off of the water, which allows you to get long drag free drifts in water that you could never accomplish with a fly rod, reel, and floating fly line tackle techniques. Once a child understands what needs to be done, they can pretty well figure things out all by themselves with no help needed from you, intuitively, and pretty quickly. And if there are willing fish in the stream, they will catch some, very probably a Lot, pretty quickly.

Defining Drag Free: The term Drag refers to the small Vs - [((( for upstream drag and/or ))) lines on the down stream drag] on the water’s surface that the fly or the line makes when the fly is moving faster or slower than the water around it is moving, which scares the hell out of the fish and needs to be avoided at all costs. And once the fish have been spooked in a stretch of water, even if they are still there and seem unconcerned, you need to move on to fresh water and find undisturbed fish to fish to because your child will not get any action from the spooked fish on that day.

The primary cause of drag is different current streams flowing at different current speeds with the line laying across them, getting pulled this way and that with the fly following in tow, by the pull on the line to disturb the water and the fish - natural bugs do not behave that way and the fish know it, but move at the same speed as the current and the foam and twigs on the water’s surface. The long T-rod and line held off of the water allows your fly puppet to dance on the surface right along with everything else, which provides a high level of entertainment for the child whether a fish takes the fly on that drift or not. And when a fish takes the fly, it does so in plain sight, often coming out of the water for everyone to see, which is also just about as entertaining as fishing can get for all of us…Karl.

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Unfortunately, in this video the camera does not show how visible the flies being used would be to the angler, but it does give a good indication of what it is like to Pick Small Stream Pockets with Dry Flies on a Tenkara Rod.

Here is a different environment that illustrates different angling points. In the above video, what can really mess things up for you is wind, which pretty much eliminates your ability to hold your line up and off of the water as the line and your fly will be blown all over the place in a good wind. But with wind comes other possibilities, namely Terrestrial (land based) Insects. They are composed of things like ants, beetles, spiders and hoppers that the trout are not usually selective to, will accept readily in a wide range of sizes and shapes as dry flies.

Here is a video with a T-angler catching some impressive sized fish, first on wet flies and then on a Joe’s Hopper under windy conditions. He demonstrates a unique technique I have never seen before to keep out of the trout’s sight on this very flat, slow water - sitting on his butt in the grass to cast, which turns out to work really well. And this would have been a perfect place to use side pressure to get these fish in a lot faster. His line handling technique could also use some refinement but he got the job done in the end, but too slowly for the fish’s sake.

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気軽に始めるドライフライ・テンカラ Feel free to start dry fly tenkara
May 21, 2019 つり人チャンネル


https://web.tsuribito.co.jp/beginner/dryfly-tenkara A thorough explanation of tenkara fishing using dry flies!

David, thank you so much for the above videos, and especially the English language translated version, with out which I would not have gotten much out of the videos. This looks like Western Dry Fly fishing done with a tenkara rod and line set up, with all the bells and whistles that Western Fly Fishing typically includes. For myself, I have adopted a more minimalist tenkara sized back approach - a BW Tippet Pouch for lines and one fly box mostly, filled with dry flies but also a few wets just in case. An Ebera for carrying a couple of rods, a stream thremometer, tippet, nippers, hemostats and fly floatant, and that’s about it.

Manipulation, swinging and skating flies are techniques to look into. V-wakes of a fly are a trigger for trout and other species. There are plenty of techniques where drag is intentional. In fact, it does not scare fish away, it will make them pounce. What you are noting is dead drift and is only one approach.

I have bunch of experience with dry fly fishing using Western fly fishing gear. That world had conditioned me to think that the drifts need to be drag-free and that any drag is detrimental. I am starting to learn more about fly manipulation. Interesting for me to learn that intentional drag will still trigger strikes in trout.

@dwalker, do you know what rod he is using in the video? Looks like it comes in a 2.4 and a 2.7?

下野 てんから源 24 、 27、30 [Shimotsuke Tenkara Source 24, 27, 30]


TenkaraBum sold them for a while before they ceased making the first generation version.

It has been a few months since I last looked at the Shimotsuke website. Wow, they have completely changed how it looks.

The original version has been discontinued, but they now list a 2nd generation version.


www.shimotsukeor.com/product/ 2nd Generation Tenkara Gen

FYI Shimotsuke is aka Ohashi fishing gear [ 大橋漁具].

https://tenkaratrain.blogspot.com/2019/02/blog-post_ Short Rod Tenkara Gen

Anyway, search this forum for that rod name, there has been some discussion about it before. I seem to specifically recall Chris Lynch writing about fishing with one, I think in the Smokies.

I am almost certain I have seen rods that looked exactly the same, including the Gen name, but a different company name was printed on the rod.

図20 ヤマメの出色々 {Fig.20 Yamame various ways coming out}

Click this link for an upright picture. :wink:

Hmm, haven’t a clue why this picture is sideways. And as a result, only shows part of the image.

Dr Ishigaki makes an interesting observation in a recent blog post. Rereading 渓流のつり・杉本英樹 著 Mountain Stream (Keiryū) Fishing by Hideki Sugimoto.

This book , I think:

About an apparent change in fish (specifically Yamame) feeding behavior over the past five decades. Yamame feeding at the time the book was written 55 years ago, they would break through the water surface in various ways (as shown in the diagram from the book) to hit a surface fly. But he writes they no longer do that.

His conclusion (theory) is that when the book was written there were fewer anglers, and the fish were all wild fish feeding naturally.

But since the 1980s hatchery fish are stocked that were fed by fish pellets, they never had to feed by ambush attacking an insect floating on the water surface, and today there are more anglers after the fish making them more cautious.

Causing their feeding behavior to change. [Which may change the way you need to fish to catch them] :thinking: Has the same change in fish feeding behavior happened in America or other countries, too?

The text in question begins just below the 2 pictures on the blog post. Below this subtitle :
ヤマメは水面に出る [Yamame goes out of the water surface]

As always, the digital translation is pretty strange.
http://www.tenkaradaio.sakura.ne.jp/tenkara/2020/keiryunoturi [Keiryu Fishing] rereading

btw, you may notice a sentence that translates as
I have never sunk it and matched it with dandruff.”

The phrase that incorrectly translates as ‘dandruff’ is Ito fuke.
Or 糸フケで合わせる[ito fuke de awaseru] Match with dandruff.

But, 糸フケとは What is dandruff?, what is ito fuke?

It pretty much means - line slack, line drape in gentle curves.
This video tries to illustrate the idea.

I think the kind of fish takes, as illustrated in the diagram, is what makes dry fly fishing more exciting when it happens or if it happens. :smile:

---- /\ ----
Oh, I almost forgot. For a bit of off topic, and off-color fun, or maybe some other reaction. :astonished:
Try digitally translating this title from anoher of Dr. Ishigaki’s recent blog post:

(don’t forget to check the alternate translations, too)

You’ll either think Dr Ishi has gone sideways isolating at home.
Or realize google translate has a long way to go to not only not lose something in translation, but has gone to far adding something to the translation, that ought not be there.

Whole page blog post digital translation gets extra strange in places as well.

Thanks @dwalker. That is what I thought. I have been trying to find someone selling the 240 but haven’t been able to. I contacted the company directly and they said they are available but they don’t ship to the U.S… Tenkara-Ya said he would have them is stock in a few weeks but that was a couple of months ago. I haven’t had any luck on the few other Japanese fishing sites I know either. Guess I will just have to be patient.

In these small mountain streams, the water depth is generally quite shallow. The trout are vulnerable to flying predators and are quite wary of any over head motion, moving shadows and rod movement, line movement, casting movement, all of these can and will spook the fish. In places where skated fly patterns produce well, it is usually due to hatches of insects that behave that way and the trout are accustomed to seeing and eating them, so it is a natural happening the fish accept well where that occures.

In these kinds of streams, your first presentation will usually be the most productive one. And the odds of success will decline sharply with each succeeding presentation. So try the dead drift on your first cast and if that does not work, then try manipulating your fly pattern in the following presentations. In stillwaters, I manipulate my fly patterns all the time. Where the water is still, motion is an indicator of living, breathing, crawling, kicking and swimming and in the chasing down of prey kind of appeal. Streams act as a conveyor belt supplying stream fish with their food. The fish idles in soft water out of the main current flow, and darts out to grab a bite when food comes a long. The stream flow provides most of the movement needed for the fish but some additional movement of the fly pattern’s tying materials will enhance the pattern’s fish catching abilities.

Defining Spooked Trout: As an angler you want to see your target trout before the trout sees you. If a wild trout sees you first, it is going to run for cover up stream, starting a chain reaction that will spook all the other fish in the water 3 or 4 pools above the one you were approaching. All of those fish will be hiding under each of their respective hiding rocks or root balls, and not come out to feed again until well after you have gone, so there is no point in fishing any of that water whether you manipulate your fly patterns or not. Continue on up stream until you can see undisturbed fish and then start your stalk all over again being more careful with your newly targeted trout.

If you are going to take your offspring fishing, there are a few things you should give some thought to and provide for your child. #1 being some Polarized Sun Glasses, both for eye safety in casting and fishing and the ability to see fish in the water below the glare reflecting off of the water’s surface. Theses specks do not need to be as good as your Costas or Smiths because they will quickly get scratched up and be out grown shortly. But they need to be Polarized to get the desired results, which can be checked by rotating the specs from vertical to horizontal and watching what happens looking through the lenses held up against the light. If the light coming through the lenses changes from light at vertical to dark at horizontal, the lenses are polarized lenses.

#2 Footwear. If you are wearing Simms’ Guide Wading Boots and the kid is wearing sneakers, how fair is that? I am not suggesting that you should buy top dollar wading shoes for your offspring either as the cost is prohibitive and they will quickly be out grown. Better to get some Water Shoes from someplace like Big 5, Walmart, or even some of the Dollar Stores. And get a pair for yourself as well while you are at it. Not only will it be more equitable but you will know exactly what your kid or kidet is having to deal with in the wet wading traction department.

#3 On the matter of clothing, long sleeves and pants work better than Sun Screen does in protecting young skin from the environment and elements. Avoid cotton in underwear, socks, pants and shirts. Your wife will probably know much more about where light weight, fast drying, synthetic clothing can be bought at a reasonable cost than you will, but I am pretty sure it will not be at REI. Wool socks will be just fine for wet wadding. And just like you, they need a fishing hat to make the sunglasses work better and protect their faces. Put a spray bottle of insect repellent in the driver’s side door and apply it to everyone before leaving the car (bugs or no bugs) and carry a First Aid Kit.

#4 Speaking of fishing, do not take the kid to a Put and Take Tailwater Fishery that is heavily fished for his or her first outing. Find a small stream with lots of trout away from campgrounds and tourest destinations. The kind of little stream most fly fishermen would not even consider fishing, a place where the flows are shallow and kid sized. Kids love to wet wade, so go after things have warmed up enough for the wet wading to be pleasant. Trout will not stick their noses out of the water to take a dry fly until the air is warmer than the water temperature is, so there is no need to get there at an early hour. Kids do not care all that much about catching big fish but having a fair amount of action is the most important thing for them in developing a long term interest. Take stuff they like to eat and do not stay out too long. When somebody gets cranky - it is time to head for home. And hopefully, the driving time will not be all that long. If you can pull this off with bluegill in a small pond somewhere, that may work out a lot better than a full fledged trout fishing trip would be. Good luck and have fun…Karl.

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No disagreement with this at all!

In summer low water conditions I try to be stealthy. I wet wade in full camo, try to move as quietly as possible, wade only if necessary, use boulders for cover, and wear knee-shin guards to help me stay low when there is no cover. Now patience is not one of my redeeming qualities; just ask Mrs Brian, but I have actually experimented a few times with native fish that I spooked in ankle to lower calf deep crystal clear water. When I saw the fish dart under cover I have remained completely motionless and timed their return to their feeding lies in front of me. The average time for the fish to return and actively resume feeding only 10-12 feet away from me has been around 5 minutes. And I have been able to hook and land them.

On several occasions I have hooked and lost “larger” fish, one time even having to walk into the lie where the fish was hooked to untangle my Tenkara rod from low hanging branches. While speaking in a manner that I wouldn’t want God or my Mother to hear, I retreated about 50 feet, sat down, checked my rig (in the low branch incident I re-rigged with a short line), had something to eat, drank a pint of water, relieved myself… then slowly crept back into position to hook and land a large fish from the exact same spots.

YMMV, but it works pretty consistently for me, and really makes my day.

BTW in bigger, faster, famous trout water like Oregon’s Deschutes near Maupin I have had 2 big native redsides (at the same time) that have seen a lot of fly anglers take up feeding stations within arm’s length in the eddy I was creating in the current.

Brian, all great points and well taken. You are much more patient than I am! On the Deschutes experience, often wading anglers will up root nymphs that the trout will readily feed on right at your feet. Especially where they are conditioned to a steady stream of fishermen providing food for them. I have heard of fish bumping into the anglers legs in a feeding frenzy. There was a famous river in Montana where the Nymph Shuffle was a deadly tactic for catching big fish by drifting an appropriate nymph pattern down stream in your wake. Is that sporting? That’s for you to decide. Is it legal? I don’t know. Some wardens might consider it to be chumming, which is not legal in most states.

I hadn’t moved for a few minutes when that occurred. Pretty tough to cast to a fish feeding within an arm’s length in the eddy behind me, but I did try casting a couple of nymphs upstream about 10’ and letting them drift back alongside past me. No takers, and hardly “chumming” :laughing:.

When standing still in the middle of the stream for several minutes while changing my fly or replacing one lost to a tree branch or some underwater snag. I have often had fish bump my legs swimming by or just hold stationary in the water within a foot or two. But never had any luck getting them to hit the fly when I just dangled it in front of them before starting to cast again. Most of the time the casting motion doesn’t send them off looking for shelter. Only stepping quickly. Slow stepping they often remain in place.