Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Suntech Tenkarabum Suikei 36 review, Tiger Trout & Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a great time of the year. I always have fond memories of spending time with family, drinking great wines, and of course, fishing! This year we haven't gotten much rain to re-fill the streams, so I may end up fishing some bigger water.

Meanwhile, I have some catching up to do here, as I've been distracted with work as well as setting up the NYC Tenkara Angler's Club. We launch on December 8th @ Orvis NYC - 7pm for a short intro meeting with wine & pizza. Please join us if you want to learn more about Tenkara and meet some other anglers to fish Tenkara with, locally!

Today's update is a bit of a review of the new Tenkarabum Suikei 36 by Suntech & Chris of Tenkarabum, and a jumble of photos from a few trips using it in the last month. 

This first set of photos is from a stream in PA that I visited with Tenkarabum. He and I were both really psyched to get a chance to fish his new Japanese-made Tenkara rod, the first to be sold here in the US and Japan, designed and built by an American. That's pretty cool!

There were many prime lies, but only a few seemed to hold fish...

The rod is really fun to cast, and I'd characterize it as a rod designed to throw Tenkara flies (soft hackle kebari, etc) but that also does really well with nymphs. This is a key hole in the market as I see it, because many of the rods we have access to are more clearly designed for fishing one style vs. another, and therefore you notice things lacking when you try to use it across different methods and with different flies.

I find many "Tenkara" rods that are really more like Keiryu rods...  nymphing-rods that can throw a Kebari. But usually you notice that they aren't as fun when casting a Kebari, mostly due to feel. Then we have a lot of actual Keiryu rods that can also throw a Kebari, but, same problem there. This rod doesn't fall into that category at all, and fishes much closer to my GM Keiryu Special 39 than I had expected. Its a winner, and I particularly like the foam grip. Who'd have thought?!

On the other side of the spectrum, we find a lot of really great Tenkara rods, and many Seiryu rods that we can use for Tenkara, that have a much softer feel and a more progressive flex. These true Tenkara & Seiryu rods do a great job at casting Kebari really well and feel amazing in hand - but just don't have the necessary backbone or the ideal flex to guide a weighted nymph in faster water; or to be able to get good hook-sets with these heavier flies in classic Tenkara water. This rod "solves" that problem for me.

The following day I got out to fish with Nelson, who is the real motivation behind starting the NYC Tenkara Anglers Club. This was to be our first outing together, and I wanted to take him to a really great small Tenkara stream.

Except that on arrival, we discovered there was almost no water. OUCH! We need some rain, badly. We each caught a few creek chub pretty quickly, but where were the usually plentiful Brookies!?

Well just as I was about to give up, I cast into the corner of this tiny pool, presenting my fly almost behind the rock to the right. I immediately got a solid hit, and a fish was on. I could see it in the shallow water, and had no idea what it was!? It was fighting harder than a fish of that size normally does, and I was intrigued, to say the least.

As I landed the fish, I was extremely shocked to see that it was my first ever Tiger Trout! Talk about luck... these fish are rare! A male Brookie must fertilize the eggs of a female Brown Trout for this to happen. Due to the fact that the Browns usually outcompete the Brookies, this does not happen often. 

Unlike some photos of these fish that I've seen, this one had a rather brilliant shiny-green/turquoise hue that ran all along the side of the fish. It was one of the most beautiful trout I've ever caught.

The Tenkarabum Suikei 36 did a great job landing this fish with ease, but at the same time it made the fight more fun. It is fantastic on the smaller fish, doesn't feel too big for the job, and plays the fish well.

At this point, I wanted to make a move to another river, so that we had a chance for some deeper, faster water. We headed towards the Saugatuck, in the hopes that the outlet below the dam would have more water.

More water, yes. More fish? No. For some reason, neither of us had a single bite.

I imagine it had something to do with the lack of regulations on this section of water... We didn't have much sun left, so we headed downstream to fish a nice catch & release section that at some points holds larger fish, and that neither of us had ever been to.

The water was also low here, but enough to hold plenty of fish. I fished the usual fishy looking spots and hooked into one fish which I lost, and then landed a sunfish. Just as the sun was setting, I hit the last section of the little plunges below, to the far side of the river. On the retrieve I hooked into a decent sized Rainbow.

The rod also handled this fish quite well. It was a rather fat 11" rainbow that looked like it had been stocked... the fins were plenty beat up. But it had nice color, and I was happy to have landed a larger fish with the rod after small ones all day.

Overall I'm extremely happy with the Suntech Tenkarabum Suikei 36, and I recommend it as a very good "all around" rod for Tenkara anglers everywhere. You really can fish it with whatever flies you want, many different weights of line, and for fish of all different sizes. I lost one nice landlocked Salmon that must have been a bit over 12" on the farmington... in fast water. Until that fish worked its way off the barbless hook, I had no trouble guiding it the way I wanted to. I think this rod will surely make it into my quiver on a regular basis.

For a more comprehensive review, check out Tom Davis' write up of the rod via Teton Tenkara:

You can find the Tenkarabum rod, as well as many others at

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Beautiful Ravine & the Appalachian Trail

Last weekend was beautiful and I knew it would be the end of the Fall colors. I decided to hike along the Appalachian Trail and figured I'd bring my rod to fish a possible small stream along the way.

The Appalachian trail crosses the border of CT and MA near an AMC cabin. You can access the trailhead by parking in a designated lot nearby. The stream in the Ravine had no name on the map, and that's what I like to see!

The hike in is a couple of miles and has some altitude gain and loss. Its not a really hard hike, but it turned out to be a little long for it to be a fishing spot alone. When I arrived at the stream, I saw a scary sight... the photo above shows the streambed. I knew it would be low, but dry!?

I followed the sound of water, and about a quarter of a mile down the stream my confusion was met with an explanation, as water flowed between the layers of rock and poured out of a waterfall between those layers. It was a beautiful site to behold. Farther up, the stream was running as it should be, low but enough water to hold small trout.

Most of the fish I caught this day were on the very small side, even by small stream fishing standards.

I lost a slightly larger fish in the lower pool, below, but got a nice dark one in the pool above the plunge.

This was a beautiful fall fish... dark colors, bronzed belly, a small "king" of this little tumbling brook, if you will.

The fish in this stream were very toothy, and my unwaxed silk-threaded flies suffered because of it.

The nicest fish of the day came from this little calm spot behind the rock, center stream.

There were many holes like this, but the water was very shallow and slow-moving, making the fish much easier to spook than usual.

I spent a lot of time enjoying the contrasting colors of nature around me. The light caught this aspect of fall just perfectly on a sunny afternoon.

And a few nice Brookies rounded out the day for me.

This fly was the go-to for the day. It is also my go-to fly for almost every day. People talk a lot about "one fly" in Tenkara fishing, but I know this isn't what they have in mind...

...which is too bad, because it works on every stream in every state, as well as many countries around the world! This Brookie was fooled, too.

Getting into the ravine proper, I was reminded of just how little flowing water is needed to create the right conditions for holding wild trout, as long as the water temp is low and the hiding places are many. And that's exactly what I found here, too.

Don't skip the small pools, one of the prettiest fish of the day came from the dark hole in the back, almost hidden between rocks.

As the sun started to dip, I came upon the steepest section of the ravine I had yet encountered. The map showed more of this kind of terrain, and I decided rather than climbing around and back down into the next pool, that it would be a great time to call it a day.

I spent some time eating a late lunch and watching a few trout attempting to spawn in the pool below me.

It was the first day I had a chance to bring my new Fiddleback Forge knife out on the trail, so I got a picture of the knife, which happened to match the moss rather nicely. I see where Andy must have gotten the inspiration for his lime colored liners on this one ;)

The walk out provided some wonderful views from a different perspective. The trees were tall and thin, only some still clinging to the colors they had so vibrantly displayed in recent weeks. But even on their last legs, the stark contrast of grey and black bark against the fiery-red and yellow leaves left an emotional imprint that lasted for days.

I look forward to returning to the area, mostly for hiking, as the fishing wasn't as great as I had hoped. But I have a new goal for my return... I have since read a lot about sightings of mountain lions in the area, and I am hoping to catch a glimpse (from a safe distance, of course) some day soon.