It’s been a while since I’ve been out with the WaterShed 330 (well it has been a while since I’ve been out at all). So with some small stream exploration on the to-do list I figured it was about time to break it out again.
I had heard rumors of wild rainbow trout in a small stream in my area – but had never taken the time to explore it. I bet I’ve driven over that stream 100 times in the last few years. From the road it just doesn’t look like much. There’s a metaphor in that statement somewhere. More than meets the eye – that sort of thing.
There’s a lot to be said for exploring new water. Sometimes it pans out other times it doesn’t. Sometimes you can’t believe what you find and other times you walk and walk over hill and dale through thickets and swamps and beaver dams and black fly swarms and tick herds and then the fishing sucks. When it turns out poorly at least you can check that one off of the list – but when it works out, it makes it all worth while.
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
It can be part of building your own tenkara— finding spots that other folks aren’t fishing. Often they’re going to be small streams (at least in my neck of the woods). When the lot is full at that popular fly fishing only special regs stream – these small streams are almost always devoid of anglers. With a little footwork you can find places that will feel like your own little piece of tenkara heaven.
So – long story short this little stream was a very pleasant surprise. Lots of great structure; pockets, pools, runs. It was small and the fish where proportional to their environs. But hey – wild rainbows are just not common in Pennsylvania. It was a treat.
Now, I’m all for native species. And I love my brookies. But for reasons that I don’t know, rainbows just don’t reproduce well in my beloved small Pennsylvania streams. I’m not going to begrudge them a stream here and there. They haven’t become a invasive scourge like they have in places like Great Smokies National Park – so rather than a problem they’re a treat. Let’s hope it stays that way.
I am a practitioner, in general, of using the longest rod that I can get away with when tenkara angling. This is a personal preference that I’ve come to over the years. If I can get away with a 13′ rod on a small stream then that’s what I prefer. Of course, on the other hand I’m often too lazy to worry about it all that much and I often end up with whatever rod I happen to have in my pack when I load the car. That said – I’m also a fan of the shortest line for the job. Also, I’m no masochist.
Knowing that I’d be hitting some small, potential very brushy water I figured that a short,full-flex, zoom rod would be the ticket – thus the WaterShed 330 2-way zoom (fishes at 8’8″ and 10’2″). Also I anticipated smallish quarry – the WaterShed 330 is absolutely not recommended for big fish – but when using good technique fish up to 12 or 13″ are no problem in small water (not in big heavy current though). And also then, I went with a short line. For bushy streams I often go with a line that may be as much as 2-3′ shorter than the rod. In this case it was about 7′ long and then I adjust tippet length as needed – adding more if I want a little more reach or depth.
In, tight brushy cover, the need for the shorter rod is apparent, and I found myself using it at the short length quite a bit, but often enough there were openings that allowed for the longer length to be utilized. The short line serves numerous purposes. It allows for normal style casting and sidearm casting in cover; it allows for bow-and-arrow casting; it allows for casting with no backcast; also it makes it easier to set the hook in cover than a long line would.
I’m not going to make too much of flies – because as we all know these small stream trout aren’t usually very picky and are often quite opportunistic regarding food. I fished primarily with three flies. A Gingersnap Soft Hackle, Golden Gram, and Pheasant Tail Hotspot Jig. The Gingersnap is available as part of the new Yarn Bug Assortment and the Pheasant Tail Hotspot Tungsten Jig is also available in the shop. The Golden Gram is not yet available – and may not be. I tied the Golden Gram on a whim when my mom (she’s my kids’ “gramma” so.. “Golden Gram”) found some vintage carded wool crewel yarn at an auction an picked it up for me – the golden color just looked so nice I couldn’t resist.
The fish were all over the flies in general and I was pretty happy with the way they caught the rainbows. I used the Gingersnap more than the others and it’s a keeper.
The Golden Gram, which has the nice bright gold yarn and fluorescent orange head was quite easy to see and follow in the water – which added a nice advantage when using it. In know there are always discussions of those fluorescent colors in flies – but I’l have to say I’ve caught tons of fish using fluorescent materials and I don’t know whether the advantage is that the fish like it or just that I can track it in the water and so see strikes.
The tungsten bead head Hot Spot Pheasant was absolutely killer in the deeper holes. I didn’t use it in the shallower runs and pockets – but i put it on when i got to a deeper hole that I wanted to explore. Fish pounced on it.
That brings me to another nice point of the WaterShed 330 – though it’s a full flex style rod – it responds very well with small and medium sized beadheads and sets the hook nicely. Don’t think that it won’t work with bead heads – it absolutely will.
In general I was very happy to get back on the stream with the WaterShed 330 and was reminded how light it is and what a joy to cast it is. And also how well it handles short light lines and how much feel it has when casting and when detecting strikes. I really could feel most of the hits, even by small fish.