November 11, 2017

Shimotsuke Tenkara Gen 240 -- a fun little rod for tight canopy streams

I LOVE fishing small streams and creeks. The more technical the better. Certainly this is not tenkara, as it originated in Japan, but I don't care. Also, this type of fishing doesn't require rods that will cast a #3 nylon line (which seems to be all the rage right now), but it does have specialized requirements of it's own.

One of the challenges with rods that will fish creeks with a really tight canopy (creeks where even a 270 cm rod is too long) is that short rods tend to be rather stiff. This is great for after you've hooked the fish, but it makes casting a pain. The Shimotsuke Kyotaki 240 is a great little creek rod, but it is on the stiff side with a rod flex index of 6.3. The Zen Suzume is pretty nice in it's shortest configuration, but, well, it's pretty ugly in it's design and if you fall and break the lower section you have to buy the whole lower three sections all over again (since they don't disassemble).

240 cm rods are specialized tools that are not required very often, but when you really need one that 30 cm shorter length makes all the difference.

I recently received a rod that looks like a promising compromise. It's the Shimotsuke Tenkara Gen 240. It's a 240 rod that casts a light level line well, but it will also play trout in tight quarters. It's made well, looks good, collapses into a short length, and (a big plus) is inexpensive.

Here it is sitting alongside a standard length tenkara rod (Nissin Zerosum 360).

The cork handle is done nicely and is 23 cm long. The blank's finish is matte graphite (much appreciated when you are only 8 feet away from your quarry) with green accents on the tipward ends of the lower sections. The tip plug is wood with rubber insert and the butt cap is black nylon plastic. The lillian in red and the glue joint allows full disassembly of the rod for drying and cleaning.

Here are some of my measurements:

Fully nested: 50 cm
Fully extended: 246 cm
Weight: 42.6 g (without tip plug)
CCS: 13.5 pennies
RFI: 5.5

I've been fishing the Tenkara Gen 240 on some of my most challenging, tight canopy, creeks and streams. These are the creeks that hold trout in the 6-10 inch range, but can deliver a 14 incher on occasion. These creeks have very little room to cast, so the rod has to load casting a line under 7.5 feet long (total length, with tippet). Also, there is no room to fight the trout because the water is only 2 feet wide and full of snags, so the rod has to be just stiff enough to be able to control the fight. These are highly specialized requirements and not all rods will deliver equally.

The Tenkara Gen 240 casts a 6 foot #2.5 line really well. The flex profile is more mid flex than the Kyotaki 240, is more mid flex than the Suzume, it's much, much more mid flex than the Nissin Yuyuzan ZX 290 2-way (a zoom rod that fishes at 240 and 290 cm lengths), and, dare I say it, it's radically more flexible than the Tenkara Rod Co. blue broom stick, the Cascade! Also, it's more stiff in the mid section than the Daiwa Soyokaze 240.  The casts are smooth and you can feel the rod load, even with such a short line.

As far as fighting the trout, it does great. Small trout are more fun on it than either the Kyotaki 240 or the Suzume. Because it has a little more flex in the midsection than these two other rods, you do have to move your arm more to keep the trout in the fighting zone of the creek. That means the rod hitting branches and the line getting caught on those same branches -- but that's just a fact of life when fishing tightly canopied creeks.

Here's a video of two of the creeks that are very challenging for me to fish. The last fish of the video is a 14 inch brown. It's that size that really can challenge a small rod.

Conclusion: This is a fun little rod that works great for small, tight creeks. I like its looks, construction and function. It would probably also be a fantastic rod for kids, as it casts really well and weighs next to nothing.

Disclaimer: My opinion regarding this rod is just that, my opinion. Your opinion may differ.  Also, your rod may not have the same length, issues, or functionality as my rod. There are variations between rods, even in the same production run. No description can fully tell you how a rod feels or fishes. For this, you must personally hold, cast, and fish the rod then make up your own mind. 
I have no affiliation with Shimotsuke and I purchased this rod.

November 5, 2017

Hunting Trout: Fishing in Autumn

Like many of you, autumn is my favorite season for fishing. The water levels are perfect, the air temperatures are refreshing and the fish seems very cooperative as they begin to prepare for winter.

In my part of the world autumn seems to thin out the number of folks on the stream as well. Hunting season has begun and many who would be fishing are out chasing deer, elk or upland game birds. Also, the weekend campers have all gone home, and school has restarted leaving the previously over used camping areas empty. Amazingly enough, some of the best holding water is where weekend waders have modified the stream  making little weirs and dams that alter the stream flow.

I like throwing beadheads but I really like throwing unweighted kebari and sight fishing for selected trout. Autumn allows me more opportunities to do the latter. Sure, it can be challenging; if you can see the trout, it can see you. But that is part of the fun.

In autumn, while many are hunting large mammals, I hunt trout. I delight in stalking them, hooking them, and exercising them for a minute or two before releasing them back into their watery world.

October 22, 2017

Compact Thermometer Multi-tool

I like gathering data on the fishing sorties that I take. I gather information on weather, water and other stream side conditions and I record that data in my fishing journal for future reference. Why? Because that's part of who I am. I'm a scientist and my life revolves around accurate data.

One of the data sets that I look at frequently is air and water temperature. Oh, I still catch fish no matter what the temps are, but I still like looking back at the temperature data over the years to compare one outing to another.

For the last little while I have been using a compact thermometer to gather this data. It is the C&F Design CFA-100 3-IN-1 Fly Fishing Thermometer. I mainly use this thermometer in my small chest pack, as it doesn't take up a lot of room.

The C&F 3-in-1 has a compact thermometer, tippet waste coil and magnet all in one compact tool.

The thermometer is small and can be a little hard to read in the Fahrenheit scale, but the Celsius scale is easier to read. That's a little inconvenient but really not to bad.

What I really like this tool for is that it will also hold your tippet waste. It has a plastic coil along one side into which the line or tippet can be captured. This is great! It works well and is easy to use to capture that pesky waste tippet. To remove the tippet, just slide a knife or scissors up the groove on the back to cut the tippet, and pull out the pieces in one easy movement.

There is also a magnet on the bottom of the tool. I use this the least, but it can be used to pluck your fly out of your fly box.

I've read some complaints about the thermometer liquid separating over time, but I haven't seen that in my thermometer yet. I've been using it over a year now.

I like this tool - mainly for its thermometer and tippet waste holder. It's compact and well thought out. It comes with a small split ring to aid in attaching it to a zinger, but I've attached some micro-cord to mine and placed it in the front pocket of my Zimmerbuilt Strap Pack. The micro-cord helps me pull it out of the pocket.

October 14, 2017

One more trip...before the storm

I've heard that autumn has not yet come to a large part of the country. But it has in my neck of the woods. The tree colors have come and (almost) gone. We've had our first dusting of snow and the temperatures have dropped significantly.

Yesterday, after getting some last minute yard work done, I hit one of my local creeks for some pre-storm fishing. It had been forecast that we "might" get some snow overnight, and I wanted to fish before I had to change to winter mode.

The creek I fished is small and very tight. Last winter wreaked havoc on the creek, as the heavy snows from the winter of 2016-17 brought down a lot of trees. Many of my favorite pockets and pools were not fishable, due to lots of snags in and out of the water.

Still, I was able to find some reaches that were open enough to cast and catch a few fish. Here are a few of those fish and their lies.







I'm glad I went fishing yesterday, as this is what I woke up to this morning!  A good solid 4 inches on the deck railing. Winter has begun!