David Noll, thanks for sharing this article. Always good to remind ourselves that there is more to presenting a fly with tenkara than the the dead drift and down and across swing.
In 2022 my goal is to work on my manipulations.
That’s a good goal. I just might have to do the same.
Thanks for sharing David. I started employing more manipulations last winter, after purchasing the download from Discover Tenkara, along with a couple of their digital books. I can safely say that my catch rate has increased dramatically. I often try “one more cast” from a different angle with a different technique and am repeatedly surprised how often it results in a fish. Sometimes I’ll skip the dead drift because I find the manipulations more challenging and engaging. Other times I’ll head to the water with a singular goal of catching a fish with a specific technique, even if I know I will be ignoring other fish.
Yes David, Thank You for sharing.
I have been using manipulation techniques as presented by Discover Tenkara since my first day with a T-Rod in 2018. That first day I was rewarded with an unusually large fish for the water I was fishing; significantly larger than any fish I’d landed in over 15 years fishing that stream with a western rod. I knew right then I was onto something special and purchased the initial DT How to Fool fish with Simple Flies book that contained a summary of the manipulation techniques they had presented (up to that time) when it was released. I am now going through the updated DT “Manipulations” Volume 1 bundle on the DT website. While I also occasionally skip a dead drift like Kris, I almost always will a fish a fly through a section of water on a dead drift first. If the water looks like it should hold fish and there was no response to a dead drift, then I’ll usually try a couple of additional casts using one or more manipulation techniques and am often rewarded with a rise or committed strike. I also seem to find that manipulation has cut down on the need-desire to change flies to find something that “works” as often as I would be tempted to without manipulation.
This spring I was teaching a friend how to Tenkara fish and was demonstrating dead drifts. As I stood there and confidently asserted that dead drifts are best, I casually dragged the fly upstream to illustrate the “wrong” way to do things. Naturally, I got a bite. We laughed it off as a fluke and then I showed off the “wrong” way again… I got a sold hook set and landed the fish. After that I don’t think I saw them do a single dead drift for the rest of the day. Funny how teaching works.
That reminds me of a time last summer when I was taking a video of a nice brown that I caught in a little stream…the fish was in the net as I was preparing to release it and I was holding the rod (Tenryu 39) between my legs and unhooking the fish, another brown hit my fly that was dragging in the run……I’ll call it a swing.
Nice article! I learned the power of subtle manipulation by accident. At the end of a dead drift, I slowly raised my rod tip to pull my fly out of the water… not because I was trying a leisenring lift, but because I was going to do a bow and arrow on my next cast. As I kept lifting I thought I snagged a rock/log, but it starting darting around! A 20 inch wild brown in a creek where 6-8 inches is the normal catch! I’ve been lifting and applying sasoi methods ever since.
There are so many techniques and details that are easily lost or forgotten by anglers who are not ready to absorb the instruction.
The wonderful thing is when you can come up with your own variations on presentation, from the building blocks noted in this thread.
Really these techniques i find most effective when using a futsuu style with stiff hackle. The last few seasons I rarely fish sakasa or soft hackle. If you have not tried it, you should, and i suspect you may never go back.
Daniel reposted this stuff but i remember the material from when I first started. The first was 7 years ago the second was 4 years ago. Funny how he delivered all this stuff in a very laid back way and the contribution is forgotten by our community . Where the discover boys overworked the same material and suddenly it all sticks with folks. It is not like it is complicated material, but sometimes success is found in marketing and making something seem more complicated than it is.
My favorite to draw a strike is a cross current skate. I have seen trout bolt from the bottom of a 6 foot crystal clear pool to annihilate the fly. Tweaking there tiny brains is what it is all about.
I remember when helping my son with his homework, I tried to explain concepts to him so he could understand relationships between the conceptual attributes and layers to develop reasoning as to the why of a correct answer. The key to success was the presentation to achieve understanding.
My Tenkara journey began 4 years ago during the early fall just after most streams would be closed to fishing for the next 8 months or too high to fish due to annual fall-spring rain and snowmelt so I had a lot of time to study and absorb the concepts before I could try them out. TUSA’s presence on the web (i.e. Google search results) was huge! I’m a visual learner and watched several TUSA videos (marketing - creating and increasing a market, strengthening customer relationships). But I believe that was in the waning days of TUSA’s active production of instructional material. At some point I stumbled onto the DT abbreviated marketing presentations of the same concepts. Perhaps a background in academia influenced them to include a greater amount of detail with historical and cultural information in interrelated print, still image, and video content that was better suited to my learning style. But there was enough detail to be useful to demonstrate the concepts were productive for me and created a desire to learn more. The “marketing hooks” helped to persuade me that purchasing additional content was a way to do that.
Understanding how and when to use certain styles of manipulation will definitely shorten the learning curve. My absolute favorite is the pon-pon (what the DT guys call “ashtapazuri”) in eddys and slower water. It was always something I sort of dismissed until I started doing it consistently and started really seeing the results.
I kind of agree with @Gressak , I think most people already know the basic manipulations and the info is out there, but they may not know the terminology to describe or discuss them well in forums or social media. I think that keeps the info from spreading. (Heck, I was yokobiki-ing day 1 with my tenkara rod, well before I even knew what to call it). For whatever the reason the DT packaging seems to help. Maybe one retains it, or is motivated to evangelize because they pay for it?
Also, I’d note Paul from DT was kind enough to give my website Tenkara Angler a coupon code for discounts on their various tutorials. Reads like most of you have already viewed their Manipulations materials, but if you ever wanted to try one of their other offerings, using the coupon code TA10 should save you at least a few bucks (that paid content isn’t necessarily inexpensive).
Full disclosure, Tenkara Angler does get a small referral kickback on purchases using that code, but that’s not the motivation here.
Brian and Michael, good points regarding the psychology of paying for something vs getting a deal or something for free. There is some motivation in that and the audience may pay closer attention if it costs something. Also, repetition and over explaining concepts also really help new concepts to set in.
Of interest, The pon-pon is a well known technique in the largemouth bass fishery when drop shotting. When I lived in southern california, I even targeted halibut in the surf with a drop shot pon-pon. No one calls it pon-pon, but it is the same thing. Tapping the rod and the vibration traveling down the line to the presentation. The useful note here is that it works in other presentations for other species. I suspect it sends vibration that signals the presentation as a living organism. Lateral line stuff.
Similar technique but for a different purpose. One of my buddies shared a story where he hooked into a very large striped bass that was probably in the 40# class. The thing took off and headed right into a boulder field where to his horror he could feel how the fish wedged itself behind a rock. He could feel his line on the rocks, and it almost always ends in a lost fish. He said he would pull as hard as he could and the fish would move but then just reset itself in the safety of the rocks. Then he decided he would try annoying it. Hahahahha. He said he started twanging the line as if he were strumming a one string bass. He told me it did not take long for that striper to move out of the rocks so he could land it. It pretty much went from a stale mate to the fish packing its bags. Pretty funny stuff and though I have never been in that situation, I will reserve that trick for sure.
What irked me most about the DT marketing and footage of the DT fellas was how they spun the material as sharing exclusive secrets or making it seem overly complicated. That said, the other DT footage of the Japanese anglers is absolute gold. What an incredible gift. I think I would have bought their whole catalog if it was not for their presentation of themselves as experts. Just a touch heavy handed. Their material was shared with them by master anglers. That does not make the DT fellas master anglers, it makes them students. I bought their initial series, and just fast forwarded over their dialog to get to the stuff I liked. Their footage would have been perfect, if they just let Go Ishii narrate it all.
I always feel the best anglers… The ones who have mastered their approach are the quietest and most humble about their skill.
The most wonderful thing about fishing, is that there are so many techniques that cross over. I find that fishing in different disciplines and also fishing with many different anglers helps round out my vocabulary and skill when targeting fish in different conditions. The academic material is good too, but feel it is only contributes a tenth to improving what happens on the water.