One of life’s rites of passage: the broken fly rod

SLAMMED CAR DOORS are a particular enemy of the fly rod. (Jim Burns)

Modern life is full of rites of passage: first date, getting your driver’s license, graduation from high school, maybe college, and later, a first pay check, the one where you find out that gross pay and take-home pay are two radically different numbers.

If you love fly fishing, add to that list buying your first fly rod and – on the down side – experiencing your first broken section.

I feel at least somewhat lucky that my first broken rod just happened after years of fishing. True, my son lost his tip top way back when in Juneau, Alaska, which tried to teach me the lesson I still don’t follow: pack a spare tip top.

But losing a tip top, the very top ring on your rod, and breaking your rod all together are two different miseries.

Most premium companies will repair your rod no questions asked for a processing fee, one of the reasons big-name rods cost so much. You’re actually paying for that replacement rod as part of the cost. And, it turns out, that can actually be a lot of rods during the season. Field and Stream reported one manufacturer saw 500 returned rods per week!

So, how do you protect your rod against getting broken? Here are a few tips:

— Don’t pack your rod in your car unless it’s broken down and away from the door. That’s how I messed up, by keeping my rod strung and whole.
— Don’t pull that carp out of the river horizontally, putting all the pressure on the tip top. Instead point the tip of the rod at the fish and reel it in.
— Use your rod tube when driving to your destination. It’s made to protect your expensive purchase.
— Don’t put your rod on your truck or car’s roof. You might forget it’s there after a long day of fishing and – scrunch, it’s under the tires before you know what happened.
— Always carry a spare.

And watch out for ceiling fans in tropical climates! Lol

My first time fly fishing, the guide told me to always put my fly rod on the windshield of my car making sure the handle of the fly rod was underneath the windshield wipers. That way, he said, you won’t slam the tip in the car door, forget it on the roof and run over it or forget it leaning up against the picnic bench. I know it sounds crazy, but so far I haven’t lost a rod or broken a tip . . . . I’m keeping my fingers crossed 🙂

Now I’ll see how long it takes Sage to get me my replacement.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

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What are the odds for ‘tencarpa’?

tenkara

WHAT MOST of us don’t have: a Nissin Red Dragon carp rod. (courtesy TenkaraBum)

Who is using a tenkara rod on the river to catch carp? If you haven’t see this “experiment” from a couple of guides in Salt Lake City, it’s pretty cool. Have a look here.

My thought, though, is that if you can’t take some of the fight out of a carp, you’ll never land it, especially if your rod is geared for trout, at 4x or 5x. As our friends over at TenkaraBum said, ” Fishing for carp with a tenkara rod is like taking a knife to a gun fight.

Let me know if you’ve had any luck with tenkara and carp. My son gave me a one for Christmas (for trout), but I’ve yet to check it out.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

 

 

I am so excited to see this post on your blog Jim! This past season I caught my first carp on a Tenkara rod, the Tenkara USA Ito rod actually. I was using 5x tippet and kebari style fly I tied myself. This rod was certainly not made to fish for Carp and I was glad to have the 5x tippet, which theoretically should break before the rod does. The fight lasted a good 10 minutes but I successfully landed the fish without a net. The fish was pretty tired afterwards though and it took a long time for me to revive her before releasing.

ISSAC'S FIRST carp caught on a tenkara rod.

ISSAC’S FIRST carp caught on a tenkara rod. (Courtesy Issac Tait, fallfishtenkara.com)

A rod with more power (like the one you pictured above the Nissin Red Dragon carp rod) would allow you to bring the fish to hand much quicker, therefore reducing their stress. Chris at Tenkara Bum recommends 2x tippet for the Nissin Red Dragon carp rod so you can really put a nice bend in the rod with large fish and not worry about anything breaking. Here is a picture of my first Carp (right around 55cm long not sure on the weight though)

Easy steps to clean that dirty reel

If you've fishing the L.A. River, at least once a season, think about cleaning your reel. (Jim Burns)

If you’ve fishing the L.A. River, at least once a season, think about cleaning your reel. (Jim Burns)

Sand and gunk make their way into your reel. (Jim Burns)

Sand and gunk make their way into your reel. (Jim Burns)

Take the plunge, and soak your reel in mild dish detergent. (Jim Burns)

Take the plunge, and soak your reel in mild dish detergent. (Jim Burns)

Buy some light reel oil, or, better yet, raid the wife's Singer for sewing machine oil. (Jim Burns)

Buy some light reel oil, or, better yet, raid the wife’s Singer for sewing machine oil. (Jim Burns)

Yuck! It's a dirty world out there, so as you oil, also use your cotton tip to clean those hard-to-get-at places. (Jim Burns)

Yuck! It’s a dirty world out there, so as you oil, also use your cotton tip to clean those hard-to-get-at places. (Jim Burns)

Man, that's shiny clean! Time to put it back together. (Jim Burns)

Man, that’s shiny clean! Time to put it back together. (Jim Burns)

Easy steps to clean that dirty reel

If you've fishing the L.A. River, at least once a season, think about cleaning your reel. (Jim Burns)

If you’ve fishing the L.A. River, at least once a season, think about cleaning your reel. (Jim Burns)

Sand and gunk make their way into your reel. (Jim Burns)

Sand and gunk make their way into your reel. (Jim Burns)

Take the plunge, and soak your reel in mild dish detergent. (Jim Burns)

Take the plunge, and soak your reel in mild dish detergent. (Jim Burns)

Buy some light reel oil, or, better yet, raid the wife's Singer for sewing machine oil. (Jim Burns)

Buy some light reel oil, or, better yet, raid the wife’s Singer for sewing machine oil. (Jim Burns)

Yuck! It's a dirty world out there, so as you oil, also use your cotton tip to clean those hard-to-get-at places. (Jim Burns)

Yuck! It’s a dirty world out there, so as you oil, also use your cotton tip to clean those hard-to-get-at places. (Jim Burns)

Man, that's shiny clean! Time to put it back together. (Jim Burns)

Man, that’s shiny clean! Time to put it back together. (Jim Burns)

Bam! Four kinds of fishing on the L.A. River

WINGING IT: Two locals affix this beautiful rendition of a Great Blue Heron, a reminder of all things riverly. (Jim Burns)

WINGING IT: Two locals affix this beautiful rendition of a Great Blue Heron, a reminder of all things riverly. (Jim Burns)

Yesterday, I came upon three fishermen on the Los Angeles River. Since this is opening weekend in the Sierra, you might ask yourself, “Only three?” Literally thousands of winter-weary anglers invade Bishop, California, the third Saturday in April in search of trout. Lots and lots of hungry, not-too-picky trout.

So, why would coming upon three anglers on our own river be in the least bit unusual? To clarify, it wasn’t actually the number of fishermen as how they were fishing:

— spin cast

— Tenkara

— line tied to a tree

Of course, if you also counted my son and me, you’d have to add fly fishing to the mix.

Earlier on, we’d gotten advice from a young dad, who was pushing his two toddlers in tandem along the bike path.

“Lots of fish in there, but you gotta use the right bait,” he said. “Bologne sandwich. Or tacos.”

And he was serious.

Whether the spin caster was using either of those, or the more traditional masa mix, I didn’t ask, but we did manage to make out in a mixture of Spanish and English that he’d just hooked a 20-incher, and released it.

Meanwhile, under the bridge, a dapper Asian gent explained that he was fishing with a Tenkara rod, which he had extended all of its 15 feet in length over the water, suspended in a type of harness, so you could just make out the colorful backward-hackle fly.

CARPILICIOUS: River Wild hosted a pop-up cafe that served Pig + Pastry meat pies.

CARPILICIOUS: River Wild hosted a pop-up cafe that served Pig + Pastry meat pies.


“I’m not sure of the name in English,” he said, but the fact that he used no reel told me this was my first time to see this newcomer to the states in action. Created some 200 years ago for fly fishing streams in Japan, the name translates intriguingly as “from heaven.” Tenkara USA opened in San Francisco in 2009.

“Hey!” my Tenkara reverie was interrupted from the other bank as a man with his dark hair pulled back stuck his head out of the bushes, smile on his face, big, bruising carp occupying his hands.

“Want it?” he asked. “People say you can’t catch ’em, but what they eat is worms, worms from the river.”

I shook my head and he respectfully tossed the fish back and disappeared.

I ran into my son a few minutes later, who told me a guy had just asked him if he wanted a fish. “And look,” Will said, “he’s already got another one on the line.”

Sure enough, across the water, a large carp tried to free itself from a line tied to a tree.

“I watched him get his bait on. As soon as the hook went into the water, he had another fish on.”

For our part, all we got using fly lines with a variety of flies was a vicious bite off. I’d carefully maneuvered my crawdaddy imitation close to the mouth of a waiting carp, one who, with at least four friends, waited outside of the strong current.

Will and I watched as the fish inhaled the fly, felt something amiss, turned to run and then jerked his muscular front section, as well as his mouth, dislodging the fly. My No. 3 tippet severed without much of a fuss.

It’s all true.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

How to clean your fly rod cork