Fly Patterns...where to draw the line

A guy on facebook posted this…which I found very interesting. The gentleman asked what people thought of the method.

My reply…and I am curious what folk here think.

I am a novice tier. I have not tied beads in the rear like that, but have seen a few different folk tie that way. I think Adam Trahan has shown some flies he ties that way. I do lightly weigh with copper in the rear of my flies…like more weight in the rear, and I feel it gives the fly a nicer posture when the fly is given slack or drifts. Thanks for posting this video, I had never heard that guy lecture or seen his videos. I like how he outright notes how flies themselves matter little, but presenting to the trout at the right presentation depth is most important…followed by they will mouth just about everything. I really would meditate on that a bit because that is everything that tenkara is about. Capitalizing on trout habits and how they may really care little about specifics of fly patterns. The whole irony is he notes this then goes into the specifics of how to tie that specific fly. All that is for us…an exercise for us, not a recipe for catching more fish. I am trying to be more practical in the variety I tie. A couple tonal variations, working depth variations of those, and hackle variations of those. Some guys really enjoy tying. I do it for the utility of it and the ability for me to work out my own ideas. I think there is a lot to learn from the narrow spectrum of what are considered japanese kebari. Its not to say I dont learn from things like that video…I absolutely did, but I probably would not be tying that pattern.

I joke about with one of my buddies about how some tiers get really fixated on materials. Like I need to use hair from a fox’s mask or feathers from some rare bird. Do materials matter??? well sometimes if the attributes offer a difference from some other material…but mostly I do not think they matter…sort of like that other video where Sebata is tying with electrical tape and panty hose…hahahahhaha.

No we do not need to shave the legs of a thousand spiders to get the perfect silky dubbing to catch trout…although you may impress your friends that are dedicated enough to do so…hahhahahaha.

In the case of this pattern, I feel if we have something that is in the ball park of its size perhaps we are good enough. I like tail weighing, but the motion of that nymph is lost on me as I am not that much of a technical angler. I am banking on the fish mouthing everything.

1 Like

“I am banking on the fish mouthing everything.”

I agree.

Fish’s thought ~ “Eat = survive” That is, if a fish even has a thought.


The pattern is “Fly” but the concept is the same as “Kebari”

March Brown Flymph


I’ve found this post by a local who lives where I love to fish changed my thinking about fly tying:


Nick, check this out, I wrote it nearly twenty years ago.


I think materials matter.

To the tyer.

They matter to me.

I believe that we should do what we want and we do. I didn’t invent the elk hair Caddis but when it comes to the recipe, I won’t be using fox…

Fish mouth everything they can see that even might possibly be food. Especially anything that has a little independent movement. That’s what I seem to have luck with.
If simple works, why complicate things?


Adam, twenty years ago, you were already walking towards minimalism. Five flies.:grin:



My beats are more about moving to a minimal fly selection but also how the western fly fishing influence is a force that is equally pulling us away from that goal

I dont have any history with traditional fly fishing but my early experimenting as a tier had me following ridiculous shopping lists. A lesson we get from tenkara forms is the narrow list of materials and narrow resulting forms. Narrow compared to western fly fishing, yet effective and able to present in the same zones in the water column.

I am not saying we shouldn’t enjoy tying or tying variety, but I am trying to note we don’t need to tie patterns using varied materials if we don’t want to. It is sort of an accessory gift of tenkara.

That TUSA video I posted of Sebata tying a fly with electical tape and pantyhose is a perfect example. No silk thread, no rare or exotic materials…just bare bones utility. Material to bind the hackle and build up the form.

For new anglers or tiers i would recommend they initially stick to simpler materials and patterns. Sort of learn from my pitfall. I have a shameful amount of tying materials that I probably will never use again. I bought it thinking it had utility, but have come to the conclusion it does not.

1 Like

When you write “we” it does not include me.

I’m on my own path.

I’m not a follower nor do I profess to be a leader.

In this world of people trying to belong, I do not accept the “herd mentality.” I’m like Jonathan Livingston Seagull, I want to find out what I can do with my own wings and with as little as possible.

Tenkara is about skill for me.

It isn’t about things or the Internet of people or a desk of things to tye.

However, in my view, people get to be who they are and if they need a fly rod holster or they need to surround themselves with followers of like minds, so be it.

My way consists of my own study and comparisons of others who have similar experiences. I’m extremely supportive to those trying to figure it out on their own, faithful to those that helped me along the way and enthusiastic about people that enjoy tenkara.

If you have ever looked at the web site I put together, you will notice that I include and reference everyone I can. I do that out of respect.

I get the western influence of fly tying in Japan and in the tenkara community there, I’ve been blabbing about it for years.

Japan tenkara and American fly fishing communities are intertwined with influences. Others are now starting to see this. Sebata-san himself has chapters in books with a fly rod.

It’s complex and it is simple at the same time.

If a pattern calls for elk hair, I won’t use fox fur unless I think my way is better. Some ways, I do what I want, other ways I follow tradition but I do not put a spin on either tradition or innovation.

Sebata-san has his tenkara figured out. He has mastered his style through his experience.

I am on my own path.

People get to be who they are.

I enjoy reading what you write, what many of the people gathered here write. It’s fun to participate and share our experiences but make no mistake, I walk my own path doing my own thing. If someone has helped me, I am grateful and I include them by thanking them.

Thank you for providing a place to share our experiences.

I’m about to tye up my first blue and purple flys. Inspired by David West Beale and from a old circular plastic fly box I was given as a child from someone I can’t remember.


I agree with you Adam…and did not intend on have it inte4preted in the way you did. Like right a right or wrong. Its more noting t my interest in the economy in the aspects of not having to use more than i already have or even less to be an effective angler.

1 Like

An extention of this is how i note my novice level in all of this.

Understanding on what is necessary and what is not…can take a long time.

I really wish i had better advise as a new fly fisherman than the network of avenues presented on the www. Its both confusing and unfocused.

I would never rob someone of the joy of tying different patterns with different materials. That was not the note here. Its a note that we dont need to tie a lot of different patterns and we can still be effective anglers

1 Like

You are ok in my book.

Novice? I don’t think so…

Let’s enjoy sharing our unique experiences together.

It’s best that way.


You are ok in my book too. Your dedication and contribution to this sport is and always will be significant. I hope that you understand that I respect you and your contributions. Always.

My contributions or footprint in this sport will always be dwarfed by yours even if you stopped sharing material. So, so much good stuff. As I noted recently some of the stuff, I will have to continue to revisit as I grow as an angler. This is one of them that you posted on FB relating to the above.

My Novice title is accurate and there really is no argument you can win in convincing me otherwise. This does not mean I am crippled by this title and that I don’t have my own strong opinions, I most certainly do. I also exercise my own ideas and path. That said, I am a slow learner. I really need to see cause and effect with my own two beady eyes.

There is a thing about experience . Only experience can unlock true understanding on a topic. Your above article, is a crystal clear example. When I read it a few years ago, I took it at face value. Now I read other things into it that at the time I didnt have the experience to support or comprehend.

again…novice. Not a bad title, but appropriate.

Please be patient with me… as you have. There are so many things that you and others may take for granted in your experience. Pieces to the puzzle that some of us do not have. I would say I really do not have any understanding of western flyfishing philosophy, because I have not experienced it. I have used a traditional fly rod twice. As a base it might as well be nothing. That is my primary motivation to try to stick to a more tighter definition of tenkara. Like, as in learning a closer to traditional portions of the discipline, before mixing in others. Its better for me and my learning. As in academia it is often better to get to know the basics and discipline of a specific philosophy and technique before trying to modify it. Call it a 101 self imposed course…which even on its own may take a whole lifetime to master.

I hope that explains me a little better.

1 Like

Stephan, I’m new to Tenkara, but I think if there is a lot of material for knitting flies, you should use it. These materials need to find use in kebari.

1 Like

Yes. I can understand that. I guess I’m just trying to be more focused and interested in experimenting on how far I can go with fewer options.

Да. Я могу это понять. Думаю, я просто пытаюсь быть более сосредоточенным и заинтересованным в экспериментах над тем, как далеко я могу зайти с меньшим количеством вариантов.

1 Like

Thank you Todoroki san. All your flies are beautiful.

I have not experimented much with flies with tails. I suspect more motion and larger profile are key attributes. I may try a couple to add to my flybox.

What are your thoughts on tailed flies and when you might prefer them?

1 Like

I think that is normal in trying to understand it.

If you get a chance to talk and fish with the experts, you might find something different…

I’m just getting started with realizing that the two forms are the same and quite different at the same time.

Have fun with tenkara your way or whatever way you want.

It does not matter.

Thanks again for your kindness, I appreciate what you do.


I’m with you

In addition, the US tenkara community and Japan tenkara community is also

Posture stabilization and movement

It is one of various trial and error of the angler

“Kebari” also has various patterns

My preference is a bit old :joy:

The important thing is that each other has begun to find its own way

That’s why I introduce Japan’s old “Kebari” pattern

What you feel about the old “Kebari” pattern is your idea
If you have any questions, I will be happy to answer
・・・If you allow poor English :wink:


For hundreds of years, “Kebari” and “Fly” have influenced each other

The same is true of the feathers used

Chickens exported from Japan are also mixed in various places

“Phoenix” in Germany, “Yokohama” in the UK


Thank you for your kind assistance.

1 Like