Tenkara type fishing on the Colorado River
I've been reading about John Veterrli's quest for Tenkara on rivers.
I have to say that my interest is piqued!
Early last year, I made a foray to the Colorado River, Lees Ferry with the Shimano Mainstream ZE. I didn't catch anything in the couple of hours I was there. I had a great time but now I am wondering again...
So I'm going to do it.
The winter brings on the spawn of the rainbows at the Colorado River at Lees Ferry and Marble Canyon. Fish are stacked up and readily taking scuds, midges and the fishing is excellent.
But you have to have a boat to get to the prime areas of fishing.
I don't have a boat and the group that I used to fish the ferry with has all dissolved, everyone getting burned out on fishing or moving away.
Recently, the weather has been nice and I have a coupon for a couple of nights stay at the Marble Canyon Lodge that is just up the road from the river.
So again I'm planning my trip.
The Colorado is a HUGE river, big flows.
I'm going to take the ZE and rig a couple of different lines for two or three techniques.
This time, I'm going to fish all day and then some. I'm going to take the GoPro and get into some fish with it on.
In all of my experience at Lees Ferry, almost all of the fish have been taken at least a foot or so deep, most fish in the three feet of fast moving water. I have caught fish, sight casting to cruisers in slack water. The reach of a long line Tenkara rod is within the realm but it is the depth that I am concerned with.
There is very little that is conventional "Tenkara" about the fishing in such a huge river. So I think I will construct a stealthy indicator line that will show me what is going on down there. I'll also construct a regular #3.5 long line with traditional kebari and I'm going to give the traditional approach plenty enough of my time to know if that is going to work for the skill level that I have within me now.
The river is coming off of a high flow so it might be a little tough with the bottom scoured.
On any account, I'm going, the place is an adventure to say the least.
There is also Cathedral Wash that I can hike down to the river.
I may have a guide take me upriver.
I don't know, I'm in the planning stages and I'm going to have fun with this and use this thread to detail it.
Below is the last time I was up there, April of 2011.
I raced the 250 miles to Marble Canyon after work on Friday. Fished exactly 2.5 hours Saturday morning using tenkara technique with reversed hackle fly, nothing to show the hook to. I didn't see one single fish. I also watched four fly fishers digging in their boxes with no fish.
I used a 17lb nylon in a cinnamon color, somewhat limp. I constructed the line at 4.5m plus one for a straight tippet. That was the configuration that suspended the best, I was not using a long line technique.
I did not learn much more about the rod that I already knew from casting in my back yard.
So for a while, I will keep the rod nested. Perhaps in a few weeks, I will split guide services with someone and go upriver or I will use the rod at Oak Creek which is a stream that can carry the length of the ZE.
This adventure served a couple of reasons to go. I wanted to get away, I had equipment that I wanted to familiarize with (wading system) and breakfast at Marble Canyon Lodge. I have so many memories there of countless fishing trips to the area. I have a lot of experience at Lees Ferry, the Colorado River in Marble Canyon.
Above and below are the vistas that I saw during the trip, I was home by 4p on Saturday. There is a little math in there.
I have never fished the Colorado but keep in mind that the Mainstream ZE is a big stream rod not a big fish rod. If the fish in that river are in the 20" and larger you would be better served with a rod like the Diawa LT44 SF (14.5ft) or TUSA Amago (13.5ft) Both rods have much more backbone and handle large strong fish in strong currents better. One of the better rods we have been testing lately are the Diawa Kiyose 43 and 53 MF rods. Although they are keiryu rods, they are fantastic big water/big fish tenkara techniques casting rods. The 43 and 53 MF can handle weighted streamers and heavy nymphs/euro nymphing rigs extremely well.
Just something to consider.
John, those fish are around 12" to 20"+
I have the Mainstream ZE and a Daiwa LL41 S-F. The Daiwa bends into the handle on a medium small stream fish. The ZE will handle a larger fish but not much.
These river rainbows in big flow are going to put a big bend into any of my rods except maybe my Hera rod but that does not cast a line like I want...
My problem is, I have two rods in the pipe that are about to be delivered. The ZL and an Oni rod, that is easily going to be $500 and I can't put those off.
I sent Mr. Ogawa a quote request for the 53 MF.
Thank you for your advice, I'm going to order one and I'll put the trip off until I receive the rod.
blah blah blah not Tenkara but blah blah blah can't wait till I get it.
p.s. Thank you so much for ringing in. I don't believe in re-inventing the wheel. You have the experience and I appreciate you sharing it with me. I know what to do, I just don't know what rod and I'm not interested in stressing out my Tenkara rods or breaking off.
Originally Posted by adam
The 53 MF is 17' at full extension. You need 2 hands to cast that rod, kind of like spey casting. It is a spectacular carp fishing rod! The 43 MF is much easier to cast and manage. Just like the Ito with more backbone and stiffer more like a 7:3 action. My business partner Erik regularly catches big fish (24-26 inch range) with the Diawa LT 44. If you want to stick with a true tenkara rod for bigger fish, that one is tried and true. Erik has been testing the LT 44 for several months now and I know he really likes it for big fish. I have only used it a couple of times but my memory serves, the LT 44 has much better balance point and casts with better precision than the Amago or the Ito. It feels lighter in hand when casting than the TUSA rods.
Originally Posted by adam
What sucks is sooner or later Chris @ Tenkara Bum is going to want the LT44 back. Thats the drawback to testing gear, you find stuff you really like and then you have to give it back. Good thing we have a pile of other cool rods to test. Lessens the pain a little.
Last edited by John Vetterli; 11-29-2012 at 04:03 AM.
Inquiries out for the Daiwa Enshou LT 44 S-F.
Quote for Daiwa Kiyose 43 requested.
Prefer a conventional Tenkara rod rather than a pole...
Waiting for quotes and return.
I'll be making this decision sooner than later.
I have a date with adventure in Marble Canyon and Cathedral Wash.
After your research, if you decide you would prefer the Enshou LT44SF and Mr. Ogawa is unable to get one for you, I could be persuaded to part with mine. I much prefer the Kyose 43MF.
That is a kind and generous offer.
I have not received word back from the source (allfishingbuy.com) that has them, or indicates they have them in stock.
If you would, let me know the details, I would like to start my trips up there sooner than later.
John, has your views changed on big water big fish rod?
I'm going to get set up for the spawn this winter.
Which single hand rod do you use for long line?
If you are looking for a traditional tenkara rod (cork gripped), the big Diawa LT44 is probably the best rod for the job for big fish (20 inch +) in strong currents.
The TUSA Amago is still a really good choice if the LT44 is not available or too pricey for the budget.
For keiryu rods that cast beautifully for tenkara methods, I still really like the Diawa Kiyose 43MF. Anthony has mine right now to play with. When he is done with it, I can ask him to send it to you if you want to try it out.
Another really nice rod that my partner Erik likes a lot is the medium stiff Nissin 450 ZX. I also like the 450 ZX Stiff. That rod comes in 3 stiffness models. Soft, Medium, and Stiff. I really like the Stiff for carp in the 15-20 pound range. It is kind of a beast to cast all day at full extension (4.5m), but the shorter length is very nice for one handed casting.
As far as long line casting, to me it really is a matter of matching line weight to the rod. My Nissin Airstage 360 5:5 will cast my furled fluorocarbon lines very well out to about 24' with 16' and 20' being the sweet spot lines for that rod. The same rod will shoot 2.5 level line at 30' very well. A stiffer rod like a 6:4 would make keeping that much line off of the water easier.
I have done a lot of long line experimenting over the past 2 years and any good quality tenkara rod will cast long lines. The hard part is finding a rod that casts well for you and is stiff enough to keep your long lines tight.
Also, people have very different definitions of what a long line is. My definition is once a line is 20' not including tippet, that is a long line. Any line shorter than that is a standard line.
I have also been looking at balancing level line weight to match line length. I will use the Nissin Airstage 360 5:5 as the rod for this example.
For that particular rod, if I am using a line the same length of the rod or slightly longer (12'-16') I use 3.0 or 3.5 level line.
For lines shorter than the length of the rod (10'-12') I move up to 4.0 or 4.5 line.
For long lines (18' on up) I use 2.0 or 2.5 line.
I think that people forget that your line needs to have enough mass to load the rod effectively. There is a large misconception in the USA that 4.5 level line is just for windy conditions and that all you need is 3.5 line for everything else. Well, depending on the rod you are using, a short 3.5 line may not have enough mass to load the rod tip and it just does not cast as it is designed to. Same is true of trying to cast a 25' 3.5 line. It may have too much mass and make everything all jacked up in the casting.
To get the most efficient use of the energy the rod generates, you should match the mass of the line to the rod for the conditions or line lengths you are using.
If I my testing results are correct, then I would not be surprised if Sakakibara would probably say something similar when it comes to long line casting. For me, long line management is all about getting every ounce of power out of the rod so I can focus on accuracy not power management.
Once you get the rod and lines balanced, it all comes down to economy of motion and the casting takes care of itself.