I usually try to fish streams reaches with around a 2%-3% gradient; the lower limit of “high gradient”, that typically has riffle run pool structure. At about 4% there are frequent small plunge pools. Yesterday a buddy carrying a collapsed - unrigged western fly rod in his pack and I were scouting new access to a subalpine river we’ve fished before. We crossed a very small creek with a 20% gradient on a bridge just below an 8’ to 10’ cascade into a small pool below the bridge, 1 mile and 1200’ elevation below a subalpine lake, and 0.3 mile and 250’ elevation above the river.
We’d been hiking for about 1 hour and 2.5 miles so it was time for a water-snack break. I looked at that pool and told my friend “That looks fishy, I’m going to try dipping a fly into it.” My friend laughed; probably thinking I was nuts, and walked away to pee. I rigged up the 390 cm rod I brought for the river, and seeing there wasn’t room for an overhead cast I “slingshot” a Takayama pheasant tail-olive ice thorax kebari into the middle of the pool. When the fly reached the tailout where there was another cascade under the bridge, a 3" fish came up and slapped my fly. I let out a yell of excitement. Next cast, I didn’t see a fish but felt a small tug or bottom tick and let out another yelp. He came back and began watching me. Next cast, a good tug, I set the hook and pulled a 5" rainbow trout up into the net.
I was both amazed to find 3 fish and one that size in that pool, at that location, and delighted to land one! Since I couldn’t keep the fish wet I decided not to take the extra time to get out my phone to snap a photo, and lowered the long handled damo as far as I could to release the pretty little fish.
My friend asked, “Did you have 3 fish take your fly??? I thought maybe you fell into the water.” I responded, “Yes. I LOVE TENKARA.”
We did 6.9 miles total. It was our only fish of the day. The river was at 2X the highest CFS I’ve ever caught fish in it.
My friend is now thinking about trying a T-rod.