I just got back from a backpacking trip to Mt. Whitney with fellow tenkara enthusiast Brian Green of Brian’s Backpacking blog. We were both as excited about the hike as we were about the prospect of fishing some of the high mountain lakes on the way down with our tenkara rods.
I brought my Tenkara USA Iwana 12 ft. rod and my Trico ultralight fly fishing pack filled with a selection of my usual dry flies, plus a few sakasa kebari and lake specific-streamers. I hadn’t fished there before so I didn’t really know what to expect.
On the way back down, we hit Mirror Lake—a small, crystal clear lake brimming with small brook trout. The day before on our way up, we had seen tons of rises from cruising fish and all I could think about after that was pulling out the tenkara rod on the descent (I’m sure Brian was too).
When we finally returned, there weren’t as many rising fish and the wind had picked up making sight fishing a little tricky. Brian tied on one of my epoxy sakasa kebari flies while I tied on a small Griffith’s Gnat to target the few rising fish.
I got a few refusals on my dry fly but Brian hooked a fish almost immediately with the epoxy wet fly so I switched to a peacock and starling sakasa kebari.
It had a peacock herl body, gold wire ribbing, and starling hackle. Right away, I hooked my first fish. From there on out, I was getting a fish to at least follow on almost every cast. I would cast out, let the fly sink a few inches, then start slowly pulling back as I twitched the rod tip. While I couldn’t see the fly, I could see when it caught a trout’s eye and they turned to follow it, then felt the strike. It was like micro bonefishing.
I caught several nice brook trout and even though I normally fish a Tenkara USA Amago for lakes, the Iwana was a good choice since the fish were pretty close to shore and fairly small. The Iwana 12 ft. is probably the best all around backpacking rod.
I also got to try out the Daiwa tenkara line I wrote about in a recent post. As suspected, the line cast very well, but the visibility was not as good as the Tenkara Bum lines. It definitely would have been easier to detect strikes with the Tenkara Bum line. You never know until you try I guess.
All in all, it was a great trip. I finally got to hike and fish with Brian, I learned that sakasa kebari can be effective lake flies, and I soaked up some spectacular scenery while catching some beautiful fish. You can’t ask for much more than that–and if you do,