Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Monday, September 5, 2016

Tenkara Update, Olives, And Slow Down

"The Blue-winged Olive is my favorite mayfly if only because I've fished the hatch so often and for so long. I think it was the first mayfly I identified and I know it was the first dry fly pattern I got into after deciding that maybe a guy should have something besides an Adams in five sizes." John Gierach

Ok, this is for all of you that currently have a Tenkara setup or for anyone who is ready to take the plunge: Consider using a very long leader INSTEAD of the accepted Tenkara lines. Those lines are the furled line and the level line. The furled line casts very well but gets heavy quickly making it kind of difficult keeping it off the water plus it's bulk will contribute to drag on long casts which is to be avoided. The level line (straight monofilament) stays off the water and contributes nothing to drag but can cause some accuracy concerns especially with any wind. Well, the topic came up in a conversation with my friend Brad and he mentioned that the is a new TAPERED mono casting line for Tenkara. That statement caused the wheels to spin in my head and out came the question: what about using a LONG leader for a casting line? It just so seems that I had a few 15 ft 1x salmon/steelhead leaders kicking around. So, off came four feet on the tippet end to be replaced with a leader ring and five feet of 5x. Would it work?

The next morning (today) found me at Cady Lane laying out the MAXIMUM distance that I could cast with my new "line"! And when a hatch of Olives began around 11 am I could put that size 18 dry fly exactly where I wanted it. And without the floating fly line I had no drag concerns. I was able to paint the bankside with a fly that landed like a feather on the water. I decided to really test this set up by tying on three feet of 6x. The fly STILL turned over!!! It will be my line of choice for Tenkara fishing going forward.

BTW, I caught fish above and below the surface and had a ball. In fact, dries on a Tenkara rod may be the most efficient method of playing with brookies down in Cady Lane. Contact me if you want to give it a try.

Autumn is coming and so are the Blue Winged Olives. You will find them everywhere including the Swift (a good hatch this weekend), the Millers and the EB. The Swift group is small from #20 through #24 whereas the Millers family comes in from #18 to #20. The EB tribe just seem to be bigger from #16 to #20. A size #20 will get it done anywhere. Look for a cloudy cool day. That's BWO weather!

Today I saw someone doing what a lot of anglers do. This fly fisher walked quickly along the high bank, would stop for 20 seconds, walk another 100 feet, stop and stare for another 20 seconds and then disappeared downstream. In a short while he reappeared and repeated the scenario. He finally left. I don't know what he saw or didn't see BUT the spots where he stopped for a quick look were home to some big trout but big trout that are not in clear view. My advice would be to SLOW DOWN as you walk the bank and really scan the water. TAKE YOUR TIME. The best fly fishermen that I know are very quiet and they all walk slowly as they scan the water. They see more fish and catch more fish. If the guy I saw had actually seen what I saw when I got down to that spot he would of fished it.

Pray for rain!!


tincup said...

Some one needs to know??? With the swift going up and down like a yoyo we only get to see the chart or the water rising on our boots. So someone has the information when the valve opens up and when it closes. Only reason is I hate to drive 4 hours round trip on a change day when fishing kinda slows down or they wait for an adjustment and get lock jaw. The salt surf is going to be slow until this blow gets by. The margaree was words can't describe. Just can't wait to go back.


Millers River Flyfisher said...


The valve opens when the flow at Montague on the Connecticut River gets a low reading in the low 2000's. They've had some flushes of water in the big river of late which drops the flow. We will not see that again this week. The Swift will be around 115 cfs for a week or more. Still very fishable but not my low flow that I like. If it stays steady, high or low that will be good for fishing. If it stays high through October that could be bad for spawning brookies.

Seems salmon fishing in Nova Scotia was good. Good!!!


Anonymous said...

First of all just wanted to say that I enjoy your blog and agree with most of your observations especially the ones which are not conventional wisdom.

Your last post was interesting to me because I have been fishing tenkara for the past 3 years. Most level lines are fluorocarbon since it is denser and stiffer than mono and can turnover better. I think a tapered fluorocarbon line might work better than your salmon leader - have you tried such a thing? Fishing dries with a tenkara rod in the wind is always a problem especially if you are lazy like me and hate to change lines on the stream.

CT steams are in big trouble with the drought hopefully we can salvage ssome good fishing yet

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken,

First off, thanks for the fantastic blog. I have learned an incredible amount from reading it. With the drought and current low flows, is the Swift the only river you currently recommend fishing in MA? I was thinking about exploring the Millers or the Deerfield but am not sure if it's feasible.

Thanks for any info,


Muggs said...

Dear Ken,
I hope that you have been well and that the fishing has been good.
I did not make my typical summer trip to the east this year, and therefore haven't been keeping up with your chronicling of the Westfield and Millers, as I have in past years. I'm writing to you from Helena, where the fishing is at it's best in weeks. I wanted to comment on your recent thinking and writing about angling in the Tenkara style. At the outset, let me say only that I was very skeptical of Tenkara as it rose in popularity and I began seeing them on the rivers I fish. It was as much aesthetic (what does fly fishing look like) as much as it was sticking to tradition (88 years will do that to you). My point - My grandson has been teaching his boys to fish this summer - and he chose to start them off with short Tenkara rods rather than traditional gear. There must be 100 fine rods in our barn, but any excuse to buy something new and flashy is all these guys need to head to the local shop. Shyly, and sure that no one was watching, I began using the rods when the boys weren't around. It turns out, perhaps little surprise to you and other that have used them in the past, that they are fun and simple and lovely, and most importantly are indeed still fly fishing. Important for the boys - I can cast unencumbered while holding a wading or walking stick. Like you, I discovered that I could build leaders that work well for casting any size, both dry and in the dark water, and the set up is as easy as one could ever imagine. I'll also note, that by the numbers I see little difference in my catching. This is all to say, that for those who fear the transition you are in good company, but I would suggest that folks give this a try, it is good for beginners and oldies alike, and for those who appreciate simplicity in life, you will find this a welcome change.
All the best to you as the fish begin to color up and regain their eagerness. I do miss the Berkshires this time of year.

Mike from Andover said...

Hi Ken,

For Len - for the Deerfield, the flow has been cranked down more often than is usual, and some days (like this past Monday) it has been off completely - watch the Waterline forecast. Water temps in the mid-60s, try fishing from Fife down to the campground. Had a decent day there on Labor Day, though twice as many fish were missed/lost than came to the net (that will happen with 6x and #24 thread midges). On the Farmington in CT they dumped in 2000 fish for the Labor Day weekend - had a good day Saturday there with a few big browns nailing a pink hopper on top. Fish up near the dam where the water is still cold.

Good Luck!

DS said...

Len - I was at the Miller's River last Friday. Water was very warm. Caught a bunch of decent smallmouth bass on a wooly bugger. No trout, but that's not to say that they aren't there.

Millers River Flyfisher said...


Good to hear from you and glad that you have had a positive Tenkara experience.