Sunday, March 26, 2017

Adding 'Wonkiness' to Your Kebari

Because I have been tying my own flies since 1993, my sense of craft and tidiness are always at the fore.  I don't claim to be a great tier, but I have noticed improvements over time and I take pride in consistency when I am cranking out a half dozen or more of some pattern. I am clearly aware that the need to make every fiber or hair lay just right, or every rib wrap have equidistant spacing is more for my pleasure than for the fish.  How many times have you heard someone say a pattern doesn't begin to fish well until it's been beat up by a few fish?

In my tenkara, I am finding that I derive the most pleasure from fishing it as was intended, with lightly weighted or unweighted flies, relying on stealth, skill, and manipulation.  As I continue to settle into this comfort zone, I have been absorbing Discover Tenkara's free and paid content (which I couldn't begin to recommend enough.)  There are two films dedicated to kebari, both in tying and practical application.  One thing that stands out when watching these films is the haphazard way that some very skilled and very experienced tenkara anglers tie their patterns.  They take the attributes that make a beat up fly so attractive to fish, and incorporate them from the get-go.  On the first viewing I cringed, but after multiple viewings, I began to see that something really interesting was going on. Back at the vise, I tied up a simple kebari in my favorite style, jun with short cock hackle and a dubbed body.  I just let myself go, wrapping bare thread over the previously dubbed areas, using a half-hitch tool to press the hackle back from the eye.  You may laugh, but it was incredibly difficult to be messy!!

Bare thread over dubbed body equals shudders!

 Another kebari from the DT series that caught my eye was a pattern tied by Makino-san.  The entire fly is formed from one feather, in the case of the video, a partridge feather.  The body is composed of the flue from the bottom of the feather.  This is the fuzzy, downey stuff that we typically strip off before tying in the feather.  Makino-san takes the flue, laying in on the hook shaft, and lets the thread do the rest.  "Anything goes" as he says in the video.  The result is a very buggy looking fly.  I found a random ringneck pheasant feather on the floor of my tying room, and thought, "why not give it a go?"


I was really pleased with the results, as I was able to achieve a buggy body, striking a nice balance between being haphazard and working with care.  I tied this particular pattern in the sakasa, or reverse hackle style for no reason other than whimsy.

To conclude this little experiment, I tested the patterns on some North Georgia wild trout.  I opened my little mint tin, selected one of these flies at random, and well, the results were favorable:


One of my favorite tiers has been Fran Betters. I have heard him described as a poor tier, but I have seen examples of his personal patterns versus ones he tied for his shop, and I don't think this is the case.  His personal flies are messy, out of proportion, and well, super-buggy.  To me they always looked un-godly-fishy straight from the vise.  Its funny to come full circle to this through tenkara, but no matter how you come to it, I think there are some valuable tying lessons here.  Add a little wonkiness to your kebari, or any pattern for that matter, and see if it adds to your tenkara experience. The goal is to add to, and never detract from your experience and education on your personal tenkara journey.

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