The Hybrid Fisher

The act of fishing has been practiced from at least 40,000 years ago. Many of its different forms are steeped in tradition and even culture. For this reason, we know to some degree why some people get upset about the way in which others decide to fish.

Now I know this can ruffle a few feathers as many are invested into their own idea of fishing.  However, I believe that it needs to be said before going any further, “its fishing!”  It is that simple. The end goal was always to catch fish for enjoyment or food. It can be boiled down to that one idea.

I do enjoy the different forms and love the romanticism of the traditions involved in each. However, I do not see the need to limit oneself to a specific style or technique.  As long as what you practice is sustainable and humane.

Even the forms of fishing we have today, have been fine tuned for centuries and have been evolving.  What we have today is not the end but, rather the beginning of some serious evolution.

The trend of slow information dissemination may be at its end for fishing if we are open to it.  The sharing of knowledge through the internet  has affected everything including the fishing industry.  Historically it has taken decades for fishing fads to catch on in the fishing world.  The world has had European nymph style of fly fishing for some time.  It is only recently that it has come into popular favor.  Similarly, the Italians and Japanese have been fishing “Tenkara” and “Pesca alla Valsesiana” for centuries and it has just now come to the international fly fishing limelight.  Favored techniques come and go and are recycled.  We are fickle to the newest trend according to the big media markets.  However, the other party that is so involved with our activity could care less.  The fish continue to bite what they think is the best calorie for energy expenditure meal.

Fishing is a sport of trade secrets. Before the advent of the internet, learning how to fish was only passed down from family or friends.  You would be hard pressed to find a fisher who was willing to give you any useful information.   And only the closest friends would even think to share their favorite honey hole.  Although we may not be able to get honey holes from the internet, there is an abundance of information on how to fish all types of different techniques.

Some techniques that may be useful in one location many times may not work in another.  However, with tweaking, it can serve a whole other function and you may just stumble upon a new way of fishing a different situation or species.  The key is to be open minded.

Something that we have been experimenting with recently is the use of a Keiryu rod for fishing trout streams much like a European nymph fisher. The Keiryu rod is similar to the popular Tenkara rods seen on the market today. The main difference is the stiffness of the Keiryu rod.  It is generally used to fish baited hooks as opposed to tied flies. However, to be quite honest, I believe a stiffer Tenkara rod would work just the same.  Conversely we have tried casting Tenkara line with a fly on the end of the Keiryu rod and it performed beautifully.

My frugality was what really led me to find out more about other ways to fish the European Nymph style.  Czech rods can be quite expensive and adding a reel and line compounds the situation.  I saw key characteristics in Czech rods that I found in the Keiryu rods.  First, the Czech rods are generally very long and light as the technique to fish these require them to be.  The Keiryu rods were of similar length and much lighter.  Second, we noticed that when fishing Czech style nymphing, you use very little of the fly line.  So little of the fly line is used, we decided, why pay the extra for the line and reel?   Without the added weight of the reel and line on the Keiryu rod, we were looking at a seriously light outfit!.  The rod we chose had a stiffer tip than most Tenkara rods, so it helped to cast heavy nymphs as well as make good hook sets when nymphing.

The technique calls for the line to be perpendicular to the water with no slack line in the water.  To do this, you need to extend your arm out and swing it along with the current.  This is why a lighter rod without a reel is needed.  Even with a light rod, your arms will start to feel the burn after extended periods of time fishing. If there is any pause or variance in the way the nymph drifts down the stream you set the hook. The fishing is close and very visual.  Although, I have found that with the sensitivity of the Keiryu rod, many times I can even feel the strike.  As hook sets are quick, the fish are always hooked in the mouth.

This technique is effective for a number of reasons.  First, trout feed primarily subsurface and when they do feed subsurface they are many times feeding at the bottom of the stream.  This method targets this zone effectively.  With the heavy nymphs, you can reach the bottom quickly where trout lay.  With so little of the line on the water, you can detect subtle strikes and the nymph flows down the stream more “naturally.”  You can work fast waters, where you were unable to before without split shot.

The added bonus to using a Keiryu rod is that it is extremely packable.  It breaks down to the length of a loose leaf paper diagonally and extends out to 10 – 15 feet depending on which size you get.  This makes it the perfect light fisher, or traveler.  It is a great way of fishing but obviously cannot be used in all applications.  However, in the right situations, it is a great tool for catching fish.  Some have concerns of fighting larger fish without reels.  It is a skill and it can be done quite effectively.

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Roamads Rich with a nice Rainbow caught on the Keiryu Rod.

This hybrid of fishing styles is definitely not in any way new. I am sure there are others using this exact method with similar rods as well.  There are those that won’t like the idea of it.  Heck! There are those that dislike the idea of Tenkara or dislike the idea of Czech nymphing on their own.  Well we have merged the two and have created an enjoyable and effective way of catching trout for ourselves.

We can stay within the confines of what has already been set forth. The other option is to venture out and try new things.  You may surprise yourself with what new things you learn about fishing and yourself!

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