September 28, 2016

Firehole Outdoors Sticks Kickstarter Project

For the past many years I have been using competition hooks exclusively. They have been a great addition to my fishing and I am convinced that they play a large part in my fishing success. In competition fishing you are given a section of stream to fish, a length of time to fish it with the number, length, girth of the trout being recorded. It's the opposite of fishing for relaxation. You must know what you are doing, how to read the water and be very efficient in hooking and netting fish. That's where the hook come in.

Nothing against traditional hook designs but I prefer competition designs. They are usually aggressive in the gauge of wire, the profile of the bend and especially in the hook point. Of course, they are all barbless.  Since I switched over to competition hooks in 2013 my hookup rate has gone up.

So it comes as no surprise that I am always on the lookout for high quality competition hooks. I've pretty much used all the available brands: Hends, Hanak, Dohiku, Gamakatsu, Fulling Mill, Tiemco, Umpqua, Orvis, Partridge, and a few others. But one thing that is a turn off, their price. Competition hooks tend to be more expensive.

Looking for good hooks at a good price is a passion of mine. Moonlit Fly Fishing has theirs and they are pretty good especially for the price, but I would like to see some innovative designs and more aggressive points. I'd also like to get rid of the standard 25 hooks per package -- I say, give us more per package. Here's where Kickstarter comes in.  There is a Kickstarter project for an American company, Firehole Outdoors, to design new competition hooks. They call them Firehole Outdoors Sticks and I like what I see so far. Innovative profiles, excellent wire gauge, and aggressive upturned points. All to my liking. And they'll cost $10 USD for a package of 50 hooks, I like that too -- both the cost and the hook count.

I would encourage you to take a look at competition hooks in general as the next step in your tenkara journey, and to look at Firehole Outdoors. If you too like what you see why don't you throw a little money their way and support their project. It should benefit us all!

Disclosure: I have no affiliation, formal or otherwise, with Firehole Outdoors. I just want to get some more good hooks!

September 26, 2016

Part II of my Sept 19, 2016 outing. Further Upstream.

Here is the video of further upstream when I fished September 19, 2016; the post entitled "Autumn Colors". I had never fished this reach before so I wasn't sure what to expect. Downstream I caught rainbows, cutthroats and brook trout. But on this section I caught mainly brook trout with a couple cutthroats.

Here's the video:

September 23, 2016

Tenkara Rod Hack -- Two rods from one

If you've got one tenkara rod, you've got two. No, really. You've got two. Most tenkara rods that are available in different lengths have interchangeable parts. What I mean is that you could swap the tip sections of a Nissin Royal Stage 360 7:3 with the tip section of a Nissin Royal Stage 400 7:3 without changing the rod at all. They are the same part.

So it makes (some) sense that if you have a 360 cm tenkara rod and want a 270 cm tenkara rod, all you have to do is take out the upper sections of the 360 and fish with them. I know, I know, the new  "handle" section would be hard to hold, I get it. But what if you could put a handle on that shorter rod? Let me show you how.

First, some disclaimers. Not all tenkara rods are the same. Many rods have a smooth or simple curve under load. These are the best to do this hack with. If your rod has a complex load distribution curve, like a stiff lower and mid section and a very flexible tip section (Gamakatsu Multiflex Suimu 40), then I wouldn't recommend doing this hack with it. It might not be able the distribute the force of a fish properly and break. But if you have a unsophisticated load curve or a "simple" curve then you should be fine. The best rods for this hack are inexpensive entry level rods. Think Tenkara Rod Co. , some of Dragontails rods, etc. Don't get offended by the word inexpensive, they are functional rods but they aren't premium rods.

In this example we'll make a 270 cm rod. You could make a 240 cm or a 310 cm rod , but for now we'll talk about a 270 cm one. OK, take your original rod and remove enough top sections to equal, when extended, 270 cm or there abouts. Now go to and order a 6" EVA Foam Grips (Tapered) (SKU : #TGV-6-1/4 EVA Grip Size: 6" x 1/4"). Also order a Rubber Butt Plug (SKU : #FP-0 Rubber Butt Plugs: 1/4" I.D. x 7/8" O.D.).  These will cost you $2.68 USD (at the time of this writing). Add a little shipping and you have your handle parts.

$3.95 for shipping

The hole of the handle will be a little too small to accept the lower section of the "new" 270 cm rod. You will need to enlarge it. The easiest way to do this is with a rod handle reamer. They are cheap and they will save you a lot of headache. Get the small and medium sizes, that should be enough for this project.

Ream out the handle as needed

My old handle reamers from my rod building days

Now, use the reamers to enlarge the central hole of the handle. Protect your hands with gloves or a cloth. Make the central hole just a little smaller than the diameter of the rod segment. Now slip the handle over the tip of the "bottom" rod segment and slide it down into place. You want there to be some resistance, but not too much. After all, this rod is only temporary. When you want to use your rod at its original full length you will need to remove the handle by sliding it back off.

Make sure when the handle is in place there is a little room in the end to accept the butt cap. Now, as for the butt cap, since you enlarged the hole in the handle the butt cap post will be too small to hold by friction. I used self-fusing silicone tape to make the post larger. Wrap enough of the tape around the post to make it fit with slight resistance into the butt of the handle. The tape is very robust and will not fall off, even if it gets wet, yet you will be able to remove the butt cap when you want to remove your handle. Insert the butt cap into the butt of the handle.

That's it! Now you have a second rod for around $6 USD! I made my Dragontail Shadowfire 360 rod (a great entry level rod, BTW) into a 270 cm small stream rod. It works perfectly. The 270 cm Shadowfire is non-glare and has a great action for fighting fish in tight quarters. I also made a 270 cm from my Allfishingbuy Hirame-ML-3909. This little rod is too soft of action, in my opinion, for most of my small trout streams, but it would make a dandy micro-rod (micro as in fishing for micro fish).

270 cm Hirame

240 cm Shadowfire

So like I said, if you have one rod you have two! I won't use this hack on my Japanese rods, as they are too expensive to risk, but for Chinese made entry level rods this technique is great! Have fun fishing smaller streams!

September 21, 2016

Autumn Colors

I was able to fish the other day in an area of stunning beauty. The aspen were rich gold, the maples were blazing red and conifers were deep green. To top it off, the sky was deep blue. It was such a beautiful day. As I walked upstream I couldn't help but be struck by the wonder of the place.

I fished two section of the same stream. First I fished lower down, where I normally fish. I caught cutthroats, rainbows and a few brook trout. After about an hour and a half, and after catching enough fish to feel content, I decided to go way upstream to a section I've never fished before. Up there the rainbows were gone but the brook trout and cutthroats still cooperated.

I hope you are able to get out among the autumn splendor where ever you live. Life is too short to miss it!

Here is a video of the lower section. I'll put together the upper section video soon.