Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tenkara on the Tooth


Gotta love Spring Time in Colorado! 

Mother Nature is spring cleaning in Northern Colorado and the rivers and streams are blown out of their banks. We have received precipitation in every form imaginable as of late to include everything from rain to snow. Flooding is now the concern in some areas! I am always in awe of the power of water and both the positive and negative impacts it has on our lives. 

Prior to Mother Nature getting her groove on, JT and I were able to get out on the water during a small break in the weather. The plan was to hook up the boat and be on Horsetooth Reservoir by 8:00 a.m. and chase small mouth bass. We typically try to chase smallies while the rivers are pumping out water at 3000cfs! 




The morning was overcast in the upper 40’s with a definite chance of rain and whatever else Mother Nature decided to thrown at us. Although the air was a little crisp, we did not have any wind.

We were caffeinated and loaded with our breakfast burritos. We pushed away from the dock at 9:00 a.m. after the required mussel inspection intended to keep the ‘Tooth from becoming invaded by the invasive zebra and qaugga mussels. The fly rods were rigged and loaded, to include JT’s 14’ Amago Tenkara rod. The plan was to land a smallie of a Tenkara rod from the boat. It would be a first for us.


The lake was calm and the water was a clear, 50 degrees. We only saw a handful of other fishermen on the water in everything from a canoe to a "bass racing car" 

Typically, JT and I get strange looks from the area small mouth bass fishermen and their hi-tech bass fishing rigs when they see us start sending fly line towards structure from fly rods. We can hear the comments and feel the strange looks thrown our direction until they see bass coming to the boat…suddenly it gets quiet and the next thing you know they decide to fish another cove.

You can image the comments when JT broke out his Tenkara!

We started fished with our 6 wt western rigs which consisted of  a 2ft multi-colored amnesia sighter tied between the fly line and a 9.5ft 2X tapered leader followed by a size 6 cone headed woolly bugger in a variety of colors;  however, our goal was to catch a smallie on the Tenkara.

In our minds eye, it would be a two person operation to catch and land the smallie in the boat; one of us would catch it and the other would net it. Made complete sense in our minds!












We had pulled alongside a drop off at the mouth of a cove and I had no sooner bounced my olive colored woolly bugger off the wall and JT laughingly said, “Fish on!” JT had caught the first smallie on the Tenkara. It was very fitting since it was JT’s rod. The catching was done now for the landing… JT had approximately 28 ft between the butt of his rod and the business end of the smallie to manage the fish and keep it hooked and get it to me and the net. JT managed the runs with the amazing flex of the Tenkara and I was able to net the first smallie with very little effort! This was the start of a very productive day on the 'Tooth for us.


Horsetooth Smallie on a Tenkara Amago















A resident rainbow felt left out and decided to not only slam the woolly bugger JT was using but then entertain us with a fashionable tail-walk and aerial acrobatics! Initially, we thought the small mouth was smoking crack until the fish came closer to the net!


Mother Nature gave us a break weather wise during our time on the 'Tooth! The smallies were more than willing to put the Tenkara through its paces and keep the net wet!

Horsetooth Smallie on a Woolly Bugger











Tenkara on the 'Tooth













Tips from the Trip:

Always have more than one fly: As the fishing Gods would have it, a specific dark colored woolly bugger was the fly of the day and we had one! We caught smallies on other colors just not the consistency of THE FLY and then of course…you guessed it; it became a member of the lost fly graveyard.

Tenkara is a blast! If you have not had the chance get on the water with a Tenkara rod…give it a shot. You are not committing adultery and your western rig will forgive you; however, you will open up an entirely new dimension to your fly fishing. I love fishing my western rig; however, I fish it better after spending some time on the water with the Tenkara! I am still trying to find the limits of the system and look forward to the journey – lakes and rivers of western size; wading; on the boat; big or small fish; and I am still looking.

Smallies on the fly bring it! Small mouth bass, regardless of their size, believe that they are not only going to break you off but believe they are going to send you home crying because they broke your rod!


Don’t pass structure: Cast to structure. Hit it. Let your fly sink and stand by! Whether it is above water or submerged, don’t pass the structure.

Trout get jealous! 




Happy Nymphing!