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Originally Published in the IAMC Newsletter, August 2012

Prior to picking up Adventure Riding as a hobby, my favorite extracurricular activity was fishing.  Growing up I fished almost every day at a pond near my house and more remotely with friends and family almost every  weekend.  Moving out to Idaho from Indiana when I was 17 really expanded my fishing horizons, opening up  several new methods of fishing and a whole new array of fish to catch, but the distances involved made it  tougher for me to get out.  When I started getting involved in riding, it seemed like a great way to get where I  was going, but the complexity of the tackle I was used to packing made it difficult.  Eventually I just gave up  fishing all together to focus on riding.


The problem is, the time we spend on motorcycles  takes us by so many great fishing waters, it seems  a shame to miss the opportunity.  The problem  was that I was riding to fish 3 just using the bike as  transportation, which doesn’t work particularly  well when you’re hauling a 996 = fly rod that breaks  down into two sections, waders, boots, a float  tube, vest, fins, and everything you need to camp.   It’s simply not practical to pack that way.  I  eventually broke down and bought a Stowaway fly  rod from Cabela’s and carried that on several rides. I only used it sporadically, but I always had a great  time getting out on the stream for a few minutes  after a ride.  My move over time toward lighter  and faster riding virtually eliminated my chance to  fish.

I recently discovered Tenkara fishing while browsing an online shop, and it instantly struck me how well it  would work with motorcycling.  Tenkara is a form of Japanese fly fishing which uses a telescoping rod, level  fishing rod, short tippet and no reel, which tends to be the heaviest and most complex piece of fishing  equipment in anyone’s fishing arsenal.  I picked up a Diawa Kiyose from for around  $130 .  The rod collapses to 15.5=, weighs 2.3oz and is 119 long.  Coupled with a 129 line and a 49 tippet, I have an effective casting range of about 259 3 plenty to pick up most pockets  and holes in the mountain streams of Idaho.  Because there is no reel,  it only takes a few seconds to set up and get ready to throw out a line.  

My first outing with the rod lasted about ten minutes, but in that time I  landed two nice fish out of the South Fork of the Boise.  I carry a small  fiy box with a few patterns and one extra line, so my <tackle= is about  the size of a digital camera.  Everything fits in my hydration pack and is  there if I ever want to use it.  There’s quite a bit of nonsense out on the  internet about what < Tenkara= is and isn’t, with some people  advocating for strict adherence to a set of rules, but frankly this rod is  an amazing fishing tool regardless of what line you cast.

The collapsed Daiwa Kiyose is short enough to fit inside a modest backpack.[1]
Cabela’s Stowaway 6/Prestige Plus Fly Combo.[2]

I’m pretty impressed with Tenkara fishing, but it’s not the end all, be all of fishing off a bike. I still have my  Cabela’s Stowaway fly rod, and it9s a great option for fishing off the bike that is quite a bit more flexible than  my Tenkara outfit in terms of casting range.  This, coupled with a few small flies, could keep you entertained for  quite a while on a long evening.  They pack down to about 20= with the included carrying case and only weigh  a couple of pounds with everything you’d need.  I found this rod didn’t cast as cleanly as my two piece handmade rod, but it was still very serviceable and did everything I asked of it.  There are other options for  pack down fly rods out there, but I don9t think any match the price to quality ratio as well as this setup does. 

Spin fisherman have it even better!  There are several pack down spinning rods on the market that can be had  for under $40.  I’ve used these in the past and found the quality to be questionable, but for a brief diversion  after dinner and before dark, they could be very entertaining.  Both Eagle Claw and Shakespeare make  telescoping rods that are very affordable although you tend to get what you pay for.  L. L. Bean and Okuma  build higher0end pack down rods that can be had for $600 – $200, depending on the model.  Again, a few  spinners, spoons, hooks and split shot are all that would be necessary to catch a few fish for fun or dinner.

I decided to write this article to spread a little bit of information  about what9s out there and to get people thinking about the  possibilities we have to fish while riding. In the small amount of  time I’ve spent on the bike this summer I’ve been around some  absolutely world0class fishing water and I can remember literally  hundreds of missed opportunities to wet a line over the last few  years. I think the biggest and most important thing is having the  proper mindset: Packing a huge tackle box with half a dozen rods  and waders isn9t practical to do from a motorcycle, but with one  rod and a few basic lures or flies, you can open up many evenings  of fun and can bring new life into the sport. And maybe save a  little weight on packing food too.

Shakespeare Collapsible Spinning Rod and Reel.

1. Diana Kiyose fishing pole.
2. Cabel’s Stowaway 6/Prestige Plus Fly Combo.

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