jeudi 31 juillet 2014


Three weeks ago I posted a review about John's latest book and today this review is about one he published last year and for several months was only available on Kindle format.
Titled "One man and his rod. Tenkara fishing in Dorset" this 103 pages books is presented as a logbook covering 2012.

Let's start by the beginning! The cover of this book is a drawing by the author and if I had understood the Japanese style appearance for the other book which is a general book about Tenkara I really do not understand that this kind of cover is also used for a book dealing with Tenkara in Dorset!
All tastes are in nature...Perhaps is it only a detail but I would have prefered a picture, a painting or something that illustrates the area where John fishes. 

This book is divided in three parts, the first one has 23 pages, the second 45 and the third 29. The first part is a kind of historical and theoretical presentation, the second is a John's Tenkara logbook and the third and last part deals with various topics. 
In the first of his book John RS Allen tries to make the most complete presentation of Tenkara's history and theory in only 23 pages; the exercice was perilous but the result is not bad at all and even if a lot of the subtleties interesting for passionates are not in the book most of newbies will find simple answers to most of their questions in this part. 

Although I do not intend to argue point by point what John has written in his book which is based on his knowledge and experience I did not understand why  he also exposes ideas and technics that he does not agree with and does not use himself. This makes this book pretty impersonal. The exact contrary of a title such as "One man and his rod".
One good thing in this first part is the fact there is not an overabundance of illustrations, every of them but one are useful!

As I did write in the introduction the second part of the book is a logbook covering 2012, from January 1st to December 16th. 
After I finished reading this part I had a strange sensation. For each outing John gives conditions, moon phase, atmospheric temperature and pressure, water temperature, wind direction and force and a small card to locate the spot. 

If John describes precisely conditions and the places where he fishes I regret that his logbook is only illustrated with cards because the text is interesting but really spoiled with an impersonal layout. Give this logbook without anything else to anyone and I am sure that almost no one will read until page 10.
It is a shame that this part of the book has absolutely nothing personal such a drawing or a picture by the author because the logbook should be the heart of this work. It is not unpleasant to read because John fishes in rivers, ponds and sea shores; there is a lot of interesting things for the anglers who want to try to adapt the Tenkara style of fishing in various biotopes or to target different species.

For my taste, this second part of the book really lacks poetry and philosophy and I sincerely think that some richer illustrations would have given more life to this logbook.  

The third and last part of the book is a king of tote encompassing fly tying, line spools, tackle shops and many other topics. That is not really a problem for me but as a reader I would have sincerely preferred only one or two topics but to see them covered better. It is not a problem to me to include a Tenkara glossary in your book but it is a problem to me when you do one with only one or two Japanese terms and not even a single mention of a Japanese Tenkara master. Give Caesar what is Caesar's. 

To conclude, I have been disappointed by this book, not that John RS Allen has nothing interesting to write, because it is too impersonal. 
If you want to read to read this book and make your won opinion you can purchase it here.

John RS Allen, One Man and his rod. Tenkara fishing in Dorset, 102 pages, Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013

dimanche 27 juillet 2014


I had done a blog post about this rod in March and this morning I had the good surprise to watch the first video with this rod in action. I really liked it, it is done simply, just for the fun of it: like any Tenkara video should be done in my opinion.

This rod was released in Japan in spring 2014 and will be available in the West soon!

vendredi 25 juillet 2014


The man behind the famous Casting Around blog has opened his own Tenkara tackle web store:

The shop has a complete range of Tenkara tackle products (spools, lines, etc.) including the Tenkara Times "Try" rods. Finally a European company crosses the pond! These rods have been reviewed in Tenkara TalkTeton TenkaraTenkara NormandieTroutrageousTenkara Friuli and others across the world. If so many people have the same positive opinion about this rods there is a reason: They are good!

I wish Anthony to meet success in this adventure because he is true Tenkara passionate and I will follow with interest the shop's evolution. 
 I do not take big risks in writing that this store will be a reference. 

mardi 22 juillet 2014

Tenkara Rod Co. | The Owyhee Rod

The Tenkara Rod Co. range of rods has a new member which bears the name of a river flowing through Nevada, Idaho and Oregon: the Owyhee.

It was an opportunity to release a new video!

samedi 19 juillet 2014


I share today two very good videos posted on Youtube and I think they are worth being shared because they demonstrate the uselessness of false casts.

Since I fish Tenkara I managed to completely eliminate false casts and replace them with "true casts", those who put my kebari in the field of vision of the trouts. As everyone knows salmonids feed mostly underwater and little on the surface. And never ten feet above the stream!

Some argue that false casts are used to cast a bit further but this argument which may be valid for fly fishing does not stand regarding a tenkara rod on which the line is fixed. 

If I fish only with unweighted wet flies it is because I am convinced that if some experienced Japanese anglers use this kind of pattern for decades they certainly have a good reason to do.

As said Masami Sakakibara in the interview I did with him in May: " Tenkara was done with a line and a fly and making the kebari sink was only done by using the streamflow."
These words are also included in many of the books published by Japanese Tenkara masters such as Dr. Hisao Ishigaki in his book "Very clear level line Tenkara":

I do not want you to fish tenkara like this or like that but it is inconceivable to me not to consider the experience transmitted by those who know the most about this technique. 

Give true light wet flies a try and you will quickly understand the advantages over weighted patterns and false casts. 

mercredi 9 juillet 2014


Released in last March, this book by John RS Allen is the third he published about tenkara.
There are not a lot of books around in the west about this fishing technique so I did take my time to seriously and conscientiously read this book that deals with the topic (and reason to exist) of this blog:

This 190 page book deals with every aspect of tenkara, from history to casting techniques via making furled lines. Nothing has been forgotten and I think that John RS Allen is really a good tenkara connoisseur, he was introduced to tenkara in Japan by Hideo Watanabe. He also experienced a lot by himself as he writes several times in his book.

This book is interesting and contains a load of informations but in my opinion all the chapters are not equal; some of them are very well done like for example the one dealing with the making of tamos which is simply the best I have ever read about this topic. It is really a tamo making manual!

On the other hand some chapters are too much illustrated and by illustrations that do not bring anything; I can understand that it is useful to include a scheme of the making of the Davy knot but it is only a loss of room to include pictures of hooks or wool yarn!

I would have probably had a different opinion about the illustration overload if this book was laid out like are most of the  Japanese books about tenkara with text and illustrations separated. 
There is something about the illustrations that I did not understand. It is the use of gyotaku prints that one can find on many page footers. Gyotaku is not the topic of the book but that is, in my opinion, a pity that this form of art on which there is very little published in the West is reduced to fill in the blanks.
It would have been really more interesting to have a chapter about gyotaku as well done as the ones about knots or tamos. 

If the goal of John RS Allen was to publish a sum of what he has learned, has experienced and preferred about tenkara we can consider this book a success. 
I am not doing a review chapter after chapter with my opinion about every thing written by John in his book, it would be tedious for you and every reader will have a different opinion about any of the topics covered by this book. 

As I wrote in the introduction there are very few books about tenkara to date available from western authors so it can be interesting to confront our views and experiences with other people. 
You can purchase this interesting book here

John RS Allen, Tenkara fishing. Ancient and modern, 190 pages, Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2014

samedi 5 juillet 2014


There is some time now that I have known that some Japanese anglers were tying kebari with a dubbing whose fibers are from some plants including the Osmunda Japonica fern which is called Zenmai Watage.

Young shoots are harvested in spring to be cooked as these sansai are very popular among the Japanese anglers who roam the mountains in search of yamame, amago or iwana.

I have been really interested by the idea of using vegetable fibers and I find it is logical as in the past anglers certainly had to tie their kebari without buying anything so they were using easy to find materials...what more common than fern in forest covered mountains?!
The spring in my area was literally rotten so I hardly had time to harvest anything to do dubbing from but I am lucky enough to know a shop that is managed by someone who sells some...I did spend a few euros to buy a bag of zenmai watage.

The fibers of this dubbing have a "caramel" color, they are extremely thin and each "strand" is very dense so in my opinion a small quantity of this dubbing is probably enough to tie a huge amount of kebari. After watching carefully these fibers I think they are used as dubbing because of the incredible variations in the color that make these, when tied on hook, look like the skin of an insect  and we all know that bugs are not solid colored. Anyway I am convinced of the merits of these natural materials and they perfectly fit my approach of fly tying which not to use synthetic neither expensive materials.

Kebari tied with this dubbing are called "zenmai-dou". I offer to you a fly tying sheet:

1/ You will need these materials:
    -8/0 black tying thread
    -Zenmai watage fibers
    -Natural peacock herls
    -Cock neck feather (grizzly)
    -Owner shinobi hooks
    -Griffin natural silk (black)

2/ The tools you will need are:
    -A bobin holder
    -A whip finish tool
    -A pair of scissors

3/ Fix the hook in the vice and wrap the tying thread around the hook shank. Trim the excess at the bend of the hook if there is some. 

4/ Cut a strand of silk three times as long as the hook shank.

5/ Bend the strand of silk in half and attach it to the hook shank by tight wraps of tying threads to obtain a strong tapered underbody. Trim the excess of the silk strand. I personally do this to have a 4-5 mm silk loop to make the tying of the tippet easier. 

6/ Dub some zenmai watage fibers on the tying thread. 

7/ Wrap the dubbing around the hook, four turns are enough. Then fix on the hook two natural peacock herls with tight wraps of tying thread. 

8/ Twist the peacock herls together and wrap them two turns around the hook shank. Secure with the tying thread and trim the excess of herls. 

9/ Fix at its foot a cock neck feather on the hook.

10/ Wrap the cock feather around the hook shank. Two turns are enough. I follow the advices of Japanese anglers who do their  hackles sparse; as Rokumi Tsukamoto kindly reminded me not so long ago insects only have six legs! 
Trim the feather excess and wrap your tying thread tight for a few turns to make a strong head to your kebari. Use the whip finish tool to easily make the finishing knot and cut the tying thread. 

Your zenmai-dou is finished! 

In case you don't want to wait for next spring to harvest fern you can purchase this dubbing on the excellent web-shop of my friend Keiichi Okushi.
This dubbing is sold in bags that contain 0.12 oz for the price of 6.80 USD, each contains enough dubbing to tie dozens of flies so it is really cheap. 

mardi 1 juillet 2014


I have watched this video several times in a few days and that is probably the best I have seen in this time. One thing I like about tenkara is the fact that this fishing technique inspires a lot of anglers not only to simplify their gear but also to produce this gear themselves.

That is one of the topic I will deal with in the future but in the meantime I invite you to watch a traditional rod in action: