I climbed out of the river, enthused by the presentation I felt the Tenkara gave me when nymphing. A fish would have capped things off perfectly, and maybe I could have experimented more with different patterns and weights of bug, but this wasn't necessary. This first Tenkara experience had enlightened me to the exent that I'm not so sure I'd have he same confidence nymphing the Alyn with my conventional rods.
Simon and I wandered up river to find Sonia. Sonia asked the obvious opinion based question when we found her and my reply was suitably enthusiastic. I was sold on the Tenkara's nymphing abilities. Would dry fly have the same effect on me?
The bugs were removed, new length of tippet fitted, perhaps four feet long, on the end of which Simon tied a stimulator type pattern. There was no intention of bringing any fish up with this fly, it purpose was to be viewable during turnover(if I got any) and assessing fly position on the water.
So Tenkara in hand once again, same furled leader I attempted a cast upstream. There may have been a tiny fraction of a chance of a fish being in the vicinity however, not now. I seemed to be having a tendency to drop the rod too low at the forward stop position. Thus hitting the water in a relative hard pile of leader. Alyn instinct does tell you to often cast from the hip at a low angle, and this affected my first couple of dry fly casts. So, forgetting I was on the Alyn and in an un-Alyn like open area, I moved the casting plane to the vertical and stopped the forward cast earlier. Perfect, the furled leader duly obliged with lovely turnover, flicked the dry out in front and by a controlled lowering of the rod tip it all the necessary bits appeared to hit the water together.
I performed a couple more quick casts to make sure this was no fluke. Feeling happy with my casting technique now was the time to assess line control during a drift. A cast into the preferred forty-five degrees up and across area, I then lifted the Tenkara's tip as much as I dared to prevent disturbing the fly. I was able on this instance to only lift about fifty percent of the leader off the water immediately. Not what I wanted really, but this was probably due the ‘perfection’ of my casts. Think about it, a near straight presentation of leader and tippet, followed by the careful lowering of the rod tip, mean’t I was reaching the furthest extent of the Tenkara. Also I was in almost perfectly straight contact with the fly. The amount of leader I was lifting off the water was only compensating for the amount of immediate drift I had. The Tenkara’s perceived advantage is in its length and ability to keep much of the leader off the water, to prevent drag on varied flows. Your casting should stop early enough to enable tunover, but also I would argue it should enable at most fifty percent of the leader to land. Its not so much puddle casting or similar, but you just have to use the rod length for what its designed to do. I doubt when casting upstream that you would ever have your Tenkara below the forty-five. Using the twelve feet to your advantage when upstream, it should eliminate lining your quarry.
Generally happy with upstream, I moved my position to see how I should handle things straight across. So applying what I’d discovered so far I made the cast straight across, held as much of the leader off the water as seemed relevant and watched the path of the fly. Obviously, to maximise travel one is lowering the rod tip at this point. This means you are now putting leader/line back on the water. This wasn’t the best thing to do, on this part of the river as the flow rate was that little bit quicker beween myself and the percived feed lane. I needed to experiment here. Using my conventional equipement, usually a seven and a half foot rod on the Alyn, I would have put a little reach mend upstream whilst shooting a little line. The shot line is what is positioned upstream to give me that extra drag free distance. So upstream reach it was. The way I did this with the Tenkara is with more of an upstream flick at the appropriate moment. It worked to a degree, but the lightness of the furled leader didn’t give me the result I would have liked. In this situaltion, bizarrely with he longer rod, I would have waded that little bit closer to enable more line to be held off the water. The Jury is still out in this situation.
Now one method of dry fly that is often overlooked and should be in the armoury on the Grayling populated Freestone Rivers, is the downstream dry fly. This works a treat when you are wading, as quite often some fish will move below and in the wake of your position in the river. With rod and line the method is to pull the rod back and up when shooting a small amount of line, then lowering the tip immediately to the water surface. This causes an upstream loop in the line enabling the dry to drift down stream without drag. Good tactic if you need to rest the area across you have just been fishing. With the Tenkara this was a cinch. The light furled leader enables you to just drop the dry onto the surface and lower the rod in time with the drift. If you tried this with a shorter conventional rod, the weght of the flyline feathers the drift of the dry unnaturally. You may not get the distance that you would with rod and line but hey, every method and setup has compromises.
If you tire of nymphing at arms length all day, the light Tenkara is the solution.
Next time: Tenkara conclusions