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Never knew I needed it

CASTING DEMOS AND SEMINARS are an important part of the fly-fishing show. (Above) Craig Nellson offers some tips for Spey and switch rod casting. Bill Lynch/Index-Tribune

CASTING DEMOS AND SEMINARS are an important part of the fly-fishing show. (Above) Craig Nellson offers some tips for Spey and switch rod casting. Bill Lynch/Index-Tribune

By Bill Lynch

I spent part of last Sunday at the Fly Fishing Show (flyfishingshow.com) in Pleasanton wandering from booth to booth, outfitter to outfitter, talking fly fishing.

I found stuff there that I didn’t know I needed. For example, the Tenkara USA company was showing off its latest rod versions of a two-centuries old Japanese fishing method – tenkara, which translated means “from heaven.”

Tenkara USA (tenkarausa.com) is riding a popular wave of tenkara fishing generated during the last few years by well-known fly fishers like Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia.

A tenkara rod is nothing more than a long pole with a piece of line tied to its tip and a leader and fly on the other end. There is no reel. You fish with it by simply flipping the fly into the water.

Today’s telescoping tenkara rods are incredibly lightweight and compact. They collapse, one section inside the other down to a back-packable 20-inch cylinder. When fully extended, the rods run from about 11 to 14 feet. They are very slender, with a significant whip action.

You can carry the line, leader and a few flies in your shirt pocket and that’s all you need.

The prices for a complete rod-line-package runs from around $100 up. Orvis has a Tenkara USA rod, line, leader and fly set for $215.

I need another fly rod like I need another hole in my head, but I want one.

There are always new products or new versions of old ones at the show.

Chota Outdoor Gear company (chotaoutdoorgear.com) out of Belvidere, Tenn., displayed a super, light-weight, adjustable stocking-foot “Hippie” that is perfect when you are drift fishing and don’t need to wade deep, but want to keep your feet dry. They work in three different positions – knee height, above the knee and hip high. They seal tightly in the knee high position so water won’t get in even if you wade too deep.

I couldn’t resist, bought a pair for $125.

And speaking of waders. there was a guy at the show selling the EK Outdoors Stay Clean Boot Puller and Storage Shelf (staycleanbootpuller.com). This product, priced at about $19.95, is something you can stand on to put your waders and boots on, has slots to help you get them off, and can be mounted on the wall to hang your waders for drying out.

Fishing resorts, outfitters and guide services were plentiful at the show and I checked out several, including a slide show and presentation by Cecilia Kleinkauf, owner of Women’s Flyfishing Alaska (womensflyfishing.net). Cecilia leads about a dozen different Alaska fly-fishing adventures every year designed to appeal to women, but spouses are allowed to join in some of them.

I thought this might be something I could persuade Dottie to try (and let me tag along). It sounded very interesting until Cecilia mentioned how many grizzly bears they see on the trips. All she carries for protection is a can of bear spray. I had this visual of me standing knee deep in an Alaskan river with a grizzly peering down on me and Cecilia bravely stepping in with little more than a can of bug spray to ward off the growling monster. Yet, nobody on her trips has ever been attacked by a bear, so how about it Dottie?

An American horse veterinarian turned lodge owner/operator was touting his Puma Fishing resort (pumafishing.com) in Chilean Patagonia. To tease anglers into considering it, he showed a photo of himself holding a 35-pound rainbow trout caught on a fly in his waters, which include some rivers and a large lake.

Closer to Sonoma, Morrison’s Rogue River Lodge (morrisonslodge.com), a show regular, has been on my list because of its fall “half-pounder” steelhead fishing combined with stays at their historic lodge in southern Oregon. Maybe this fall we’ll make it.

The Fly Fishing Show is the ultimate place to create your bucket list for years to come. I’ve run out of space already and barely scratched the surface.

Weather is the big question for local anglers this week. It may be too wet, cold and windy to do much for a few days. But the hardy guys can still find some striped-bass fishing off the banks of the Napa River near Cuttings Wharf, and off China Camp in Marin County.

If it is not too rough, Capt. Rick Powers, of Bodega Bay Sportfishing, is still offering his combination crab and sand dab trips and coming home with crab limits and lots of dabs on every one.

Rick is already gearing up the opening of salmon season in April.

San Francisco and San Pablo bays could also offer decent striped bass and sturgeon fishing. Check with Keith Fraser, at Loch Lomond Bait Shop in San Rafael, to get the latest reports and to book a party boat, 415-546-0321.

Lake Ralphine in Santa Rosa and Bon Tempe in Marin each get a load of rainbow trout next week.

Northern California and Southern Oregon rivers are going to rise this weekend. The question is how much? It that happens, steelhead action on the Trinity, Klamath and Rogue could improve once the water clears.