Akiyamago Kebari on Kebari in Focus
10 CommentsThursday, 1 March 2018 | Paul G
Akiyamago kebari: Step by Step instructions, Back-Story & Variations
If you break down the word “Akiyamago” you get Aki (Fall/Autumn), Yama (mountain), Go (generic settlements in this case) – or “Autumn Mountain Settlement” in Japanese. It is a scattered group of dwellings that dot the flanks of Mount Naeba on the border of Nagano and Niigata prefectures. It is the subject of the latest episode of "Kebari in Focus" (scroll down to watch the episode for free now)...
A "clipped hackle" body version of one style of Akiyamago Kebari (similar to the Yamada family tying lineage)
The first time that either of us saw the name was on Yoshikazu Fujioka’s website – and a kebari (fly) pattern from this area really caught our eye. We used a version of it in our first ever tenkara DVD to demonstrate basic techniques of fishing on the surface. Even though they are wet flies, these patterns do actually make excellent dry flies until you pluck up the courage to fish them wet!
As you’ll see in the information below the video, a number of different traditional patterns have been developed in the settlements in the shadow of Mount Naeba – some that are similar to each other and others that are really very different…
In this episode of Kebari in Focus, John ties one variant that combines features from a couple of those variations. He uses the stiff “furnace” hackle and body of peacock herl that Kazuyuki Yamada uses for his kebari. At the same time, the loop eye and tag are made from yellow silk (like some of those on Fujioka-san’s site) – rather than the white backing line that Yamada san now favours for its greater stiffness!
Although, Kazuyuki Yamada uses a peacock herl body - because it is easy for him to buy these days - it is interesting how his father Shigeo Yamada tied a distinctive body by clipping down the hackle. This method of tying produces a surprisingly similar appearance to peacock herl – especially with glossy hackles.
In Japan, hackles with a dark centre and pale tips to the barbs are known as “Shingoro” (such as the “furnace” and “badger” hackles we know in the West) – and these really do make excellent hackles and bodies when clipped.
Shigeo Yamada was one of the most renowned Shokuryoshi (professional tenkara anglers) and bear hunters in the Matagi tradition of Akiyamago. He showed his son, Kazuyuki how to tie flies and you can easily see the resemblance between their patterns. The main differences are the inventive, but more time-consuming, clipped hackle body and also the use of a tightly-rolled paper “straw” to keep the silk loop eye from closing.
That straw can also be an aid when tying in the hand (rather than having the luxury of a vice as John shows in this episode of Kebari in Focus).
Because Kazuyuki uses stiffer material (fly line backing) it is easier to maintain an open “eye” without the use of a straw. However, Shigeo favoured the "straw" method and some current tyers (like Kenzo Hayashi, as reported on Fujioka-san’s website) also keep up that traditional use of paper straw and clipped hackle.
You can see some hand-drawn step by step instructions of Shigeo Yamada's tying method (notice the "straw" with the silk loop eye cinched tightly around it at the head of the fly) in the third photograph below...
A precious Kebari tied by Kazuyuki Yamada used on an English trout stream
Although not identified in the description, I do wonder whether the tyer in the rare video that Email Tutorial subscribers get to see right after the dry fly lessons might be Hayashi san…
These similarities of course make it all the more fascinating to see other radically different “family lines” of Akiyamago patterns.
When we first started using these clipped hackle flies with either red or yellow cord loop eyes (so similar to traditional English grayling flies), we could never have imagined that one day we’d sit down with Kazayuki Yamada in his family guest house in Akiyamago itself.
Much less would we have ever imagined him demonstrating his kebari for us and also showing us copies of the 1970’s fishing magazine featuring his father. As part of our time staying at Yuzanso (the family inn).
Published September 1978, This Magazine features a multi-page article on Shigeo Yamada
Shigeo Yamada's kebari tying instructions with diagrams and pictures of him in his element
It was during one of those conversations that Yamada-san told us how, in 2003 a photographer had visited Akiyamago with the mission to try to uncover and record all of the fly patterns of the valley. We were incredibly lucky and honoured to be able to examine the full album of photographic records that were made as part of this project.
Here is an example of what was found:
Just three of many kebari patterns found and photographed in Akiyamago in 2003
We hope that you’ve enjoyed both the Episode which we’ll now add to the Kebari in Focus library – but also the extra blog details that give more background to the kebari patterns of Akiyamago.
If you have enjoyed this information, please do check out our Patreon page that we set up in response to our recent setback (there’s a short back-story explanation video on the page) and we’d love for you to join the TiF TRiBE of patrons. If just half of our Youtube Channel subscribers opted into the “silver” tier, we’d easily smash our target that would allow us multiple new episodes and broadcasts each week. The same number opting in at the “bronze” tier would guarantee several broadcasts per month.
Paul and JP (please take a second to click and share!)