Adam Rieger's Japan Trip Diary: Part 2
Wednesday, 28 February 2018 | Paul G
Adam Rieger: Sake and Snow-bound Rivers
The official trip visiting Sake brewries ended in Kyoto on a Saturday. My hosts were going to be doing some business meetings on Sunday and then going to visit another brewery on there own in Gifu on Monday. I really wanted to visit this brewery as I love their sake (the brand in the US is known as Yamada Shoten "Everlasting Roots" if you want to find it :)) so they invited me to join. Sadly the brewery is not located in the hollowed areas for tenkara in Gifu...
Tokyo Trout Country Here We Come
So...I was free on Sunday. I had wanted to fish in Japan and I think Go-san instinctively knew that. He had to deliver to me the bad news that February is not a good time of year to fish in Japan. Some places are closed to fishing, many are completely inaccessible due to snow and ice and others well are pay to fish places with stocked rainbow trout. The best time of year to visit for keiryu stream tenkara is probably July. For genryu tenkara it is probably September...well I will have to go back at one of those times of the year!
I chatted with Go-san on the phone prior to leaving the states and he told me about a place approximately 2 hours drive from Tokyo city center called Tokyo Trout Country. This is a pay to fish place that has both a trout pond and a small section of water with mostly stocked rainbows but a small chance for native fish. He explained to me that the fishing would be very slow and very difficult but if the weather cooperated and the roads were not closed we could do it. I thought about it for maybe 1/2 a second and said yes. For me, catching a fish was really not the important part, but the opportunity to learn from a master was...rainbows or fish activity was really irrelevant.
Trout Country: Pond and Part of the River
So the weather held out for us and we made the trip. We ended up sharing the place with one other tenkara angler that Go knew (he was doing quite well catching both native and stocked fish actually using clear flourocarbon level line so as not to spook the fish) and a spin fisherman who was struggling to get his lure to the proper depth with the currents and retrieve needed to not get hung up.
Beginning to Fish
We began from scratch and on the trout pond. Go-san set up his legendary Daiwa Rinfu 450 cm rod and we got to casting. I eventually traded over to his Karasu 360 because well I wanted to try out the Karasu! Let's just say it was a humbling experience...a master is well a master...and I was blown away by the ease and skill at which Go was able to fish. My home stream's posses much more tree and plant cover on the banks and over the streams. They also have less large rocks and less plunge character. The stream we fished had no casting issues other than if a boulder was behind you. The individual sections of the stream were also more complex than my typical home stream. In particular the currents, so reading the water presented some new challenges.
Responsive Grip (default is "relaxed" unless something else is needed!)
Go set up the 360 Karasu with about 6 meters of 2.5 level line, 4 feet tippet and standard soft hackle kebari. I tend to fish a much shorter set up...typically a line and tippet a bit longer than the rod. Go explained that I should really practice with a long line. The long line has no forgiveness for lack of technique and so by practicing that way you develop proper muscle memory and build your skill. When you go fishing if you use a shorter line you will then find your accuracy and confidence much better. He also suggested practicing on a pond with a very visible kebari (hook cut off) so you not only practice casting but also manipulations and see how the kebari moves in the water.
Go Ishii and one from the pond with a Karasu
Well after time on the pond and a few Asahi we hit the stream. Many of the things are learned are not so easy to cover with words but I will try to list them below. A lot of what I learned and list below is shown in video form or diagram by the Discover Tenkara guys (but see below for coupon! Ed.). I will say many of those videos and diagrams I had seen before and yet working with someone teaching them "live" and in person was not only much more impactful it actually helped me really understand them. I cannot say enough how we can surely catch fish doing things on our own...but if we fish with other anglers with great skills we can learn much more!
Reading the Water and techniques to get the fly to those places
I am sure I am forgetting many things, but if I can figure out how to actually do all these things I will be able to really up my game!
Adam Rieger, Feb 28th, 2018
Editor's note: Many thanks to Adam again for allowing us to share his insights, memories in his words and photos - you can catch Adam's third instalment very soon!
If you want your own Virtual lesson with Go (with a technical breakdown in diagrams and words) - I've just set up a half price coupon code that is Good for the first Five Folks to use it after Clicking "I want this" below.
The Half Price Discount Coupon (first five customers only) is: earlybird