One year ago, Paul Gaskell & John Pearson released the first European DVD about tenkara and one week ago I was delighted to receive the second volume titled "Japanese Kebari: Patterns & Principles".
This 87 minutes documentary is, as its titles states, totally dedicated to one topic which is Japanese kebari and the principles behind them.
As you probably know John and Paul are not only tenkara enthusiasts and guides but also scientists and the tone is set from the introduction with a gin clear explanation of the trout vision that is very different of the generally accepted theories from fishing magazines or fly fishing "experts". Moreover this introduction is followed by a fly-tying session by Dr. Hisao Ishigaki who explains to us why his kebari are so simple. He is also a scientist so his fly tying, as well as his tenkara technique, is based on a rational observation of salmonid behavior. As usual with Ishigaki-san the explanation is made with smile.
The documentary contains fly tying scenes by John and Paul of course. One of these scenes is the first I have seen that includes a tying of a kebari with the tippet incorporated to the body. I have been vey interested by this sequence as it is how the commercial tenkara anglers used to tie their flies.
The pattern chosen by Paul is the Takayama sakasa kebari which is one of the most iconic kebari known in the West, he ties it in the traditional way and gives his point of view about the incredible number of variations that have popped up everywhere these last years.
There is an interesting interview with Go Ishii about his tenkara technique and his concept of his favorite kebari. As you will see his pattern is definitely more the result of his observations of fish behavior than aesthetic choice.
I had the pleasure to watch Masami Sakakibara tie his "Yellow sakasa kebari". This scene is admittedly short but Paul and John are working on a documentary devoted to Masami-san. The introduction of Masami-san's fly tying session contains, at least in my opinion, a very important quote that one shall not forget: "there is no room for tradition for its own sake". Tenkara has evolved a lot during its transition from commercial towards sport fishing and it is still evolving. This fishing technique is not carved in stone, it is alive and will still evolve in the future.
A sequence is the opportunity to make the acquaintance of a very experienced tenkara angler: Makino-san aka Himano-san. He does an interview with a unfeigned coolness but there is a lot to learn from it. He ties his kebari which is very simple and very effective as Himano-san catches very big Amago salmons.
Thanks to Dr. Ishigaki John and Paul met Hirata-san who kindly accepted to tie a kebari without tools but a pair of scissors. I really like watching people tying kebari with the minimum tools. As you will see the absence of fly tying tools does not make the tie more ugly and less strong. I let you watch this scene to learn what Hirata-san uses as glue.
I will not detail here all the contents of this excellent DVD because it is important for each one to make his own opinion after watching it. This is very well done and there is really no useless scenes, everything in here is useful and contains interesting informations.
I am afraid that I will conclude this review just like I did for Vol.1 : When do you release Vol. 3 ?!