Making the World's Best Kebari Range: And How to Use Them?
20 CommentsFriday, 7 July 2017 | PG
OK, so that was the ridiculous goal, you can let me know in the comments if we got close or not!
Even if you think we missed our target, you might be interested in the reasons I also wanted to call this blog post “Why Close Copy Fly Tying Really Misses the Point for Fly Fishing”…Now, before you get the wrong idea – I think close copy tiers are awesome (and I even enjoy tying more intricate stuff from time to time)...
But in terms of FISHING, I believe it is actually a fairly crude “shotgun” approach.
What I mean is, it makes the mistake of believing that the features of a fly that we humans use to say “that looks like a mayfly” are necessarily the same cues that fish use to tell “food” from “debris”.
I call it a shotgun approach because it is a case of including as many details and features as possible – in the hope that the right triggers and cues to get a fish to eat are in that mix somewhere. Instead, in 2014 I started to try to make and teach a way to design and then use particular flies, in the right sizes and using the right presentations to give the best chance of success.
These are the decisions that excellent, successful anglers seem to make automatically all the time.
Whether it is modern competition anglers, the old professional North Country Wet Fly fishers (who needed to get a profitable catch onto the goods train to market before it left the station) or professional tenkara anglers, fishing for survival; all of them rely on great choices in the use of simple, impressionistic fly patterns.
Now all of those “schools” of fly fishing practitioners have a couple of major things in common:
Thankfully, now that we have the luxury of making fly fishing our hobby, Catch & Release dominates the ethics of the best fly fishers in most parts of the world today. That transition to a hobby is also especially fascinating to me in terms of tenkara. It is a brilliant model because it begins from the idea that the way you use your fly is equally/more important than trying to design different fly patterns to produce different imitations. I reckon that is both different from most anglers’ idea of “matching the hatch” and also probably a big clue to how the best anglers achieve their success.
So I wanted to use what I know about the biology of fish - and other visual-predators’ – behaviour to understand the choices that great anglers make. I also wanted to make a successful system that is easy for anyone to pick up and learn too. Overall, I am ESPECIALLY interested in the link between the physical characteristics of simple flies and how they can be matched to brilliant presentation methods (This was the central idea behind the “Discovering Kebari” e-book that I wrote and JP did amazing photos and materials documentation for).
Here, again, tenkara is a brilliant method to study; because of the rich range of presentation tactics (often with specific names) based around unweighted, fairly scruffy, impressionistic flies and a deep understanding of river current features.
Through researching that book (soon to become a physical print version…watch this space) and annual visits to Japan, JP and I were approached to design a commercially-available set of kebari (flies) that could be picked up and matched to the different, distinctive tactics of Japanese tenkara.
John took the lead on tying up some beautiful samples based on the range of physical characteristics that we’d identified through our experiences and research – and that I could directly match to the presentation tactics detailed in the book.
The difficulty (and the power) is always found in simplicity – so don’t be fooled by the modest selection of patterns that make up the Discover Tenkara Kebari range (tied on Fulling Mill hooks to exacting standards). Each one is designed to fit neatly into its “sweet spot” presentation tactic and the simple colour range lets each pattern cover a wide range of conditions, contrast and imitation functions.
There are even some tweaks to the names for our range that we have been able to add following our most recent trip to Japan. Here’s a quick introduction to the range, with more detail coming soon.
These are all primarily Wet Flies (even the stiff-hackled patterns) and come in three body options; Black, Cream and Peacock:
Futsū Kebari: “Regular” rooster hackled kebari, feather barbs generally standing perpendicular to the hook shank)
Jun Kebari: “Normal, Backward-angled” soft hackled kebari
Sakasa Kebari: “Reverse-angled” soft hackled kebari (note, some tiers only class more extreme "funnel" shaped hackles as true "sakasa" style...)
The weighted patterns we have termed “Honryu” simply because they tend to be more appropriate to the larger, deeper and faster honryu (main) sections of Japanese rivers:
More details on the characteristics of these kebari and how you can fish them (as well as how you can order them) are coming soon,
In the meantime, let me know what you think of this selection and also the idea of concentrating much more on the Function of flies than making photo-realistic copies of insects...
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