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Coulda’ Knocked Me Over With A Hackle Feather!

Posted by on April 17, 2013


preparing to go mano a mano with the Bully of the Boulder

In the almost three years I’ve been tenkara angling on Spring Creek, I’ve yet to encounter another tenkara fisher.  But yesterday I met two anglers who recognized the type of rod I was using, one referring to my Iwana as “one of those Japanese rods” and the other actually calling it “tenkara” by name.  In fact, he informed me, one of the flyshops local to Spring Creek has begun selling tenkara rods. Wow,the tide is turning.

Spring, in these parts, is fast winning its tug-of-war with winter.  Color has returned to the riparian forest–bits of green, white, and lavender smoke among the still-predominant browns.  Come dusk, the spring peepers begin an all-night bacchanalia of song,  My wife and I awoke in the wee hours and were rewarded with the most dazzling display of stars one can expect in this region, abetted by the thinnest sliver of a moon and a sky of uncommon clarity.

As I suggested in the last post to this blog, I was interested in trying the sakasa kebari variant of the white fly.

white fly, sakasa kebari variant

I can’t think of a simpler fly to tie, consisting of just thread, hackle, and hook.  This day the trout were playing their cards close to the vest.  As is my custom, I started fishing the Boulder Pool, where a VW-sized rock juts into the stream.  Where the current stacks up against its upstream edge is always a good spot to try one’s luck, especially at the corner of the boulder where the current resumes its downstream course.  Just before the river makes that turn is a small recess where a trout always lurks.  Not just any trout.  Not a pushover trout, but a wily fish who zealously guards this lair and is as picky in accepting flies as is a three-year-old at the dinner table.

Although sparse, the usual suspects were in evidence, a hatch of small, light-colored mayflies, floating on the water’s surface, then lifting off, oh so daintily.  This event was not lost on the trout.  I tied the #18 sakasa kebari-style white fly, applying floatant just to the hackle so that the thread body rode more or less vertical below the film,  and cast within inches of the boulder’s upstream edge, allowing it to establish its drift four of five feet until reaching that indentation guarded by the trout.  To trigger a strike, the fly must literally float within an inch of the rockface.  After a few casts, I was able to hit that sweet spot, and he STRUCK!  Reflexively I yanked the fly from his mouth.  Damn!  This trout will not be fooled twice, as a number of subsequent perfect casts proved.  Nobody home.

Continuing to fish the same fly, I picked off a number of less educated rainbows.  The appeal of this fly seemed to differ little from the parachute style I usually employ.

Tastes Just Like the Parachute

Later in the day, I returned to the Boulder Pool.  Attaching a #18 Deer Hair Caddis, I cast again to the rock.  Good drift, good drift, here we go, BAM!  He took it.  Time to go.

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