Saturday, May 29, 2010

Brookies, Browns, & the Sakasa Kebari

A friend and I met up to fish the Swift River this afternoon, we didn't end up staying there too long though. The river was high, and there was not a fish to be seen, so we let the threat of thunderstorms chase us off.

We made it back from the river around 5pm, and I decided to fish the stream down below my friend's house to try out some new flies and maybe perfect my technique with the sakasa kebari

To set the stage I have to describe the location: it's a beautiful brook flowing through a steep valley veiled in hemlocks and white pine, steep cliffs and rock outcroppings shape much of the brook's course. It is home to wild brown and brook trout which inhabit a few deep pools in surprising numbers. I've been fishing this stream for about a year on a regular basis, so I know a few of it's pools quite well; even on the worst day I can usually find a fish or two.

I negotiated the steep slopes down to the brook, got myself set up and approached the first pool I would fish that evening. I tied on a Miller's River bi-visible that a fellow fly-fisher had given me, now, this is supposed to be a great fly for brook trout, but I'd not had the occasion to fish it yet:

I quietly approached the tail of the pool and cast to a midstream boulder that usually holds a nice size brookie; and ... nada. By the time I'd worked my way to the head of the pool I'd not had so much as a strike. I scratched my head and moved on to the next pool. Again, I made a cautious approach, but only garnered a lone strike by a small parr who took the fly under for a brief moment. A few more casts with no interest and I felt it was time to switch gears [sorry Casey, I'm sure the fish meant no dis-respect to your tying skills ;)].

For the last few weeks I've been trying to fish the Sakasa Kebari flies more often in order to learn,  hopefully catch some fish, and get a better feel for traditional tenkara. It's been a mostly fish-less few weeks as I've gotten the hang of manipulating these wet-flies. When I tied on my new kebari I wasn't expecting to catch anything due to a) the low flows and b) my lack of experience with wet flies, especially these ones. Well, I tossed it out there, let the fly sink for a second, began gently pulsing the line and fly, and lo and behold a nice sized brown smacked the fly right as it reached the surface on an upward pulsing retrieve.

The pool that yielded the first brown trout of the evening

The next 30 minutes were probably some of the best trout fishing I've ever had. After that first brown I proceeded to the next pool and caught 3 more trout, had numerous hits, and had a fish or two wriggle off. I was in heaven, absolute wild trout nirvana. The sense of success with a new method and self-tied flies made it just that much sweeter.

This deep pool usually holds a good number of brook trout, and a good sized brown, or two.

The magic fly for the day...


  1. Very nice pics and great story. The sakasa kebari has been a good producer for me this year too.

  2. Nice post. Good to see you having some success with those reverse hackle flies.

  3. Thanks guys!

    Since Saturday I've fished the sakasa kebari featured in this post a few more times, and I'm quickly becoming convinced that this is truly a killer way to fish. Sooner or later I'll write a detailed post on the technique, it's a really fun way to fish, and from what I understand it's very true to the tradition and heritage of tenkara.