Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Fishing With A Dirt Cheap Rod

Last year when I started to get back into fishing I became aware of Tenkara, including some very inexpensive rods imported from Asia. By inexpensive I mean that I saw them for $5 with free shipping from China when bought on eBay.

Earlier this week I ordered a very similar cheap rod made by uxcell from Amazon, for the princely sum of $10.47 on Prime. Uxcell offers them in several lengths. Since my good Tenkara rod is 12 feet long, I decided to go shorter and got a 2.5M / 8.2 foot rod. I figured it might be easier to use when there are a lot of overhanging branches. That's common along creeks in Southeastern PA.

Actually, based on what I read on tenkarabum.com, this might be more properly classed as a "keiryu" rod due to the lack of a cork handle.

The fit and finish of this rod are nowhere near as nice as my Wild Water Tenkara rod, but it was about 1/9th the cost. Before I took it out I added a couple layers of plumber's Teflon pipe tape to the threads on the base plug, because it seemed a little loose. I also added a couple drops of super glue to where the lillian attaches to the tip. Then, I added a lanyard of day glow line to the cap to make it easier to find if I drop it in the woods. Finally, I added a line winder from the 3-pack I got a few weeks ago. I much prefer this type to the foam disks.

Collapsed, the rod is 15-3/8" long. Weight of the rod itself without the line or winder is 59g / 2.08 ounces.

Closeup of the markings:

I was pleasantly surprised to see "Made in Japan" on it.

As a proof of concept, I decided to try something different. Instead of rigging it with a Tenkara line, tippet, and fly, I attached about 10 feet of #18 tarred bank line terminating in a swivel. Tarred bank line is intended more for catfishing but I had a hunch that it would work OK in lieu of level line, especially if using the rod with bait. Bank line is very popular with bushcrafters and I thought it would be interesting to try the new rod with something that many bushcrafters will already have on hand.

When I got to the Wissahickon Creek tonight after work, I attached a snelled and debarbed #6 hook and put a piece of a Slim Jim on it. After I got the hang of casting with the rig and getting several nibbles, I pulled out a decent sized sunfish.

After awhile the fish stopped showing interest in the bits of Slim Jim so I switched over to wet flies. To do so I left the swivel on the end of the bank line and attached a few feet of tippet to it, then tied on a fly. (I don't know the name of any flies except for Killer Bugs, which I was out of. I have some more being delivered tomorrow.)

Anyway, after a few casts this little bluegill took a bite:

Because I used debarbed hooks and neither fish swallowed the hooks, I was able to release both of them easily.

The uxcell rods are a good way to try out Tenkara / Keiryu type fishing on the cheap. They are inexpensive enough to leave in your car, bugout bag, or get home bag.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

The Surprisingly Solid Mathematical Case of the Tin Foil Hat Gun Prepper

This piece from last year is well worth reading.

As gun policy discussions unfold in the wake of mass shooter incidents, they routinely end in three buckets. There’s the “tyranny can never happen here” bucket, which the left has mostly abdicated in the wake of Trump winning after they called (and still call) him a tyrant. There’s the “you can’t fight the army with small arms” bucket, which is increasingly unsound given our ongoing decade-and-a-half war with Afghani tribal goat herders. And there’s the “what the hell do you need an AR-15 for anyway?” bucket, which, by its very language, eschews a fundamental lack of understanding of what those people are thinking. I am not a prepper. But I know a few. Some of the ones I do know are smart. They may not be doing as deep an analysis as I present here, on a mathematical level, but the smart ones are definitely doing it at a subconscious level. If you want to understand the perspectives of others, as everyone in my opinion should strive to do, then you would do well to read to the end of this article. To get where we’re going, we will need to discuss the general framework of disaster mathematics.


If we look at raw dialectic alone, we reach dismal conclusions. “Do you think the United States will exist forever and until the end of time?” Clearly any reasonable answer must be “no.” So at that point, we’re not talking “if,” but “when.” If you don’t believe my presumed probability, cook up your own, based on whatever givens and data pool you’d like, and plug it in. The equations are right up there. Steelman my argument in whatever way you like, and the answer will still probably scare you.


Read the whole thing.

Monday, June 03, 2019


I've never been a big fisherman, my brother held that title in my family. However, in the past year my younger daughter has really gotten into it. I've gone with her several times and mostly used either a Zebco 202 spincast setup, or a Zebco Dock Demon spincast rod.

I've always liked spincasting reels because I wound up getting fewer tangles. My brother and daughter like spinning reels, while my brother also has some bait casting and fly fishing rigs.

Last year I learned about Tenkara fly fishing and the simplicity appealed to me. Tenkara rods have no reel. Instead, the line is attached to a short piece of cord attached to the end of the rod, called a lillian. The line is about the same length as the rod. A lightweight leader, or tippet, is then tied to the line, and a fly is then tied to the tippet.

Last Fall I bought a Wild Water Fly Fishing Tenkara Starter Package. However, I didn't get a chance to try it until last Saturday when I took my daughter fishing in a local creek. Using a "Killer Bug," I caught my first fish ever on a fly. It was a small bluegill but it was a neat experience.

I like the WW Tenkara package a lot as it includes pretty much everything you need to get started. However, I don't like the line winders they include, which are of two types. First is a foam disk that slips over the rod. It's easy to use but prevents the rod from fitting into the storage tube. The other type is two doohickeys that are held on with O-rings. They weren't very well made, one of them broke, and in any event, they are a major PITA to put on the rod.

So, I got this Seaquest set of 3 clip-on line winders, lines, and tippets, which came today. You can see one of the line winders on my rod below, with the other two laying next to the rod on the right. On those the green is foam which is there so you can stick a fly into it.

You can also see the Killer Bug fly I put on tonight. It is stuck into the foam part of the line winder.

Also shown in the pic is the day glow green paracord I added to the plug for the telescoping rod. The main reason for that is to make it harder to lose but it also makes it easier to pull out the plug.

Setup as shown it fits nicely into the dark green storage tube so that I can just grab it, held to a local creek, and start fishing immediately.