The Driftless region of southern
Wisconsin is an area of excellent but challenging fishing. Most of the
streams are small, low gradient meadow streams. There is enough current
in many places to provide a broken surface, which gives tenkara anglers
at least some chance to catch fish.
In most cases the banks are devoid of any cover, and are often steep enough that your only choices are to wade up the middle of the stream or stay on the high bank several feet above the water’s surface. If you stay up on the bank and if water is clear, the fish can see you from further away than you can comfortably cast a tenkara rod, particularly if there is any breeze at all.
Many of the streams are narrow enough that if you choose to wade, though, the fish you spook will swim upstream, spooking all the water above you.
The Midwest Tenkara Fest, held last weekend in Coon Valley, WI, provided an excellent venue for introducing fly rod spoons to tenkara anglers. Many of the participants had heard of the Daiwa Presso Vega spoons but had not yet tried them. Sales of the spoons were pretty good considering the number of attendees.
feedback I received about the spoons was uniformly positive. Most of the
people who told me how they did were surprised at the spoons’
effectiveness (as I had been the first time I tried them). Zoan K
reported catching 11 fish in 15 casts. Mike L said he had fished a run
right behind an experienced tenkara angler who had said “there are no
fish there.” Mike said on his first cast, two fish chased the spoon, one
of which he caught. He said he thought they would be great for
smallmouth bass, and that he thought they would work better than
The only thing people said that wasn’t absolutely glowing was the wish that the spoons would fish a bit deeper. The Daiwa Vega .8 gram spoons will fish a bit deeper, but casting them will not be nearly as smooth. Casting the .4 gram spoons is no different than casting a modest bead head nymph. Casting the .8 gram spoons isn’t nearly as smooth, but the jerkiness can be minimized by using a heavier line.
The effectiveness of the Daiwa Vega .4 gram spoons more than makes up for the casting, though. While at the Midwest Tenkara Fest, I fished with two accomplished tenkara anglers. Most of the time I used spoons, one of them used flies most of the time, and the other fished both flies and spoons. I am pretty sure I consistently caught more fish than they did, not because I’m a better angler, because assuredly I am not, but because spoons just worked better than flies in those streams on those days. The guy who switched off between spoons and flies caught fish on both, but caught more on spoons.
I think spoons elicit a predatory response that flies do not. Trout chase spoons and slash at them over and over. They don’t do that with flies!
Also, you see many more of the strikes, whether it is a dark shape chasing it down or a silver flash as the trout turns on it.
Most of the attacks do not end in hook ups. I think trout often hit the spoon from the side
The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.