Archive | July, 2010


30 Jul
 On a hot summer morning, a fly fisherman completed an anxious drive to his favorite trout river. He arrived at the river. To his satisfaction, he found that his favorite fishing spot was not already occupied. His anxiety disappeared and was replaced by anticipation. He walked to the bank of the river where the cool water gently swept by a rock filled bank. As the day would be hot, the river would provide a cooling respite, the fisherman did not need his waders. Shorts and wading sandals would do. He would experience the full sensory spectrum of chasing his noble quarry. In the manner of a Samurai warrior unsheathing a sword, the fisherman opened his fly rod case. The eight foot ultra light rod was unveiled and assembled. As the cool, crisp waters of the river churned and gurgled a symphony of nature, he tied a nine foot 6x tippet leader onto his floating double taper fly line. Out of the corner of his eye, the fly-fisherman saw a trout rise. Amidst the sound and wake of the rise, the fisherman added the finishing touch; a fly pattern known as an Adams Irresistible in size eighteen. The fisherman held his rod at his side. In a gesture of respect, he performed his tradition of bowing his head and torso to the river. With one last preparation, he allowed yet another fly-fishing odyssey to begin. There was one other final preparation. Before casting to his gracefully rising rainbow skinned quarry, the fisherman sought to prepare himself physically and mentally for the fulfilling task before him. The fisherman performed a Karate exercise called “Kata”. 

The fly-fisherman understood the physical, mental and preternatural benefits of preparing himself for fishing using centuries old Karate methods. These methods are revealed to Karate practitioners after years of arduous study. The Fly Fishing Dojo Blog by Sensei John will use the category Fly-fish Like A Karate Master to explore these methods so that you too can not only fly-fish with a greater chance of success, but also appreciate an enhanced fly-fishing experience and embrace all that nature has to offer.


Sensei John & Chloe in the Dojo, East Rutherford, NJ

 Please see the “BLOG INDEX” tab at the top of this page for a further description of the types of articles submitted in this Blog.  

Please click on the category “SENSEI’S REVIEWS” for a review of products that may be of interest to you.   The list of categories is on the right side of this page. 

Sensei John

You may also like to read Sensei John’s martial arts related Blog at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.


A Small Brook, Connecticut – 1971

28 Jul

1971 was an interesting year for me. It would be the year, that at age 10, I would start two activities that would remain with me until this very day. The first was fly-fishing. The second was Karate-Do.

The fateful day that marked the beginning of my fly-fishing journey started less than promising. My family and I were scheduled to drive three and a half hours from our home in Cliffside Park, New Jersey to visit some distant relative, a cousin of my Mother’s, at their farm in Connecticut. Like I said, not a promising day. Naturally, at the age of ten, I was irritated at the prospect of wasting a summer day traveling to see relatives that I would never see again.

I endured the entire road trip in silence. After an eternity passed, we finally pulled into the dirt driveway that led to the relatives farm. I met my distant relatives and underwent the obligatory tour of the farm. After the farm tour, my mother desired to catch-up with her relatives. My father asked my brother and I if we wanted to go fishing at a nearby brook. My brother and I had been fishing with my father many times before. We jumped at the chance of once again fishing; even though it meant we would not hear the harrowing tale of my mother’s second cousin (once removed) and the goiter on her neck.

In a few minutes we were at the brook. My brother and I hooked up our poles and began to dig for worms to use as bait. We found enough to keep us fishing for a while, baited our hooks and began to fish. As I fished, I noticed my father had waded into the brook and was doing something I never saw him do before. He was not casting a worm like my brother and I were doing. I could not see a worm on the end of his hook. In fact, I could barely see anything at all attacked to his line. He would not cast with one swing of his arm. Rather, he would swing his rod back and forth a few times and let his line settle on the water so that it drifted a bit and repeat the process. I was mesmerized. I thought, “What the Hell was my old man doing?” Then it happened. I saw him lift his rod up. The rod bent against the strain of something attached to the end of the line. My father did not reel in the fish. Instead he “played” the fish with his left hand using the slack line that fell from his reel. Just then a fish, a beautifully rainbow colored sleek fish had jumped from the water. Upon seeing that fish, momentarily suspended and shining in the sunlight, the words “Holy crap!” escaped my mouth.

After a few more minutes passed, my father gathered the fish into his net and showed my brother and I his prize. It was the first time I saw a rainbow trout and it was glorious. I asked my father what he was doing and he said “Fly-fishing”. Since I was “old enough” he asked me if I wanted to try. I took hold of the fly rod. It seemed as tall as a tree. I swung it furiously back and forth like my father did. While my father’s casting was graceful, my first attempt was spasmodic at best. With practice, I was able to cast a long distance of about eight feet. But, it was enough. I hooked my own prize, my trophy. I had captured my quarry. It was a magnificent five inch bluegill. A wondrous moment. That little fish had answered the twitching, jerking, spasmodic call of my casting a delicate fly. It had invaded my mind. I myself was hooked on fly-fishing.

Needless to say, the ride home was more joyous than the ride to the farm. In two weeks, my father took me to the local Two Guys (a now defunct department store) and for the extravagant price of $ 9.99 I secured my own South Bend Junior Fly Rod and Reel Combo (line, leader and three of the “Guaranteed” World’s Best fishing flies included). Two months later, after a weekend of fly fishing, my father took me to the door of Sensei Thomas DeFelice’s Goshin-Do Karate-Do Dojo in Palisades Park, New Jersey. The year 1971 was to be a remarkable year in my life.

This Blogsite will continue to explore the symbiotic relationship between martial arts physical techniques, protocols and states of mind and the enjoyment of fly-fishing and the natural environment.

Young (one day Sensei) John’s Equipment Inventory:

Rod, Reel, Line: Unknown – borrowed from my father

Flies used: something with a hook and fur in a fly pattern called “Just cast the damn thing already”

Sensei John

Please feel free to view my other blog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life. You may visit the blog at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.


26 Jul
BOOK REVIEW: Hemingway On Fishing, Lyons, Nick (Editor), (Nick Lyons Pres, New York, NY, 2000).
New rating system:  This book rates a
 karate-belt-black    Black Belt, a must-have!!
 Old rating system:
TORII RATING: (Please see the description of my Torii Ratings System on the prior page of this category) 
 5 Torii – A MUST HAVE
But if you land a big (fish) . . . Fight him man against fish when your muscles are nauseated with the unceasing strain, and you finally bring him (in), you will be purified and able to enter unabashed into the presence of the very elder gods and they will make you welcome. . . . For the cheerful, brown-faced gods that judge over the happy hunting grounds live up in the old crumbly mountains that wall the bright blue bay of Vigo. They live there wondering why the good, dead fisherman don’t come down to Vigo where the happy hunting grounds are waiting. (See Endnote # 1).
Ernest Hemingway. The name invokes thoughts of an iconoclastic writer. Invariably when one is asked to name one of Hemingway’s works, perhaps because of the memorable movie adaptation starring Spencer Tracy, one would name The Old Man And The Sea. Maybe one would recall A Moveable Feast or perhaps The Sun Also Rises. Few; however, would recall the plethora of articles, letters and notes Hemingway wrote on the topic of fishing. He wrote profusely on fishing in all its varied forms, including fly-fishing. There was a time when Hemingway‘s tales of fishing adventure were cast to the literary winds. That has been remedied.
  This product review discusses a wonderful hardcover compilation of Hemingway’s fishing stories entitled Hemingway On Fishing. It is edited by Nick Lyons with a foreword by Jack Hemingway. This tome, it is far too wonderful to merely be called a “book” was first published in 2000 by The Lyons Press, New York, NY.

I was given this book from my youngest daughter, and one of my Black Belts, Sensei Kimberly Szmitkowski, as a Christmas gift in 2000. It has never left my coffee table. Unlike the many other books I have read and stored on a shelf of my library, perhaps to re-read again and again, this marvelous compellation is always at hand. Like a fishing Bible, it is one of the few books that you can refer to a passage or two, or even a full story, daily.

Hemingway is the personification of the phrase “Soul-fisherman”. He looks at fishing as not simply a pursuit, by a way of life. From his earliest days fly-fishing to his later years spent hunting the mighty salt water game fish off the coast of Cuba, and his final return to his fly-fishing roots late in life, Hemingway’s tales recount the simple act of casting an anticipatory lure, attached to a fisherman through a hair-like line as if telling a mythological tale or a heroic battle, or a Shakespearean play. In some of his tales Hemingway analyzes fishing and more importantly the act of preparing to fish with scientific precision. Take for example the following excerpt from the short story, Marlin Off The Morro: A Cuban Letter, containing Hemmingway’s recommendation of a preferred breakfast to be eaten before fishing.

There are two opposing schools about breakfast. If you knew you were not going to be into fish for two or three hours, a good, big breakfast would be the thing. Maybe it is a good thing anyway but I do not want to trust it, so drink a glass of vichy, a glass of cold milk and eat a piece of Cuban bread, read the papers and walk down to the boat. I have hooked them on a full stomach in that sun and I do not want to hook any more of them that way.(See Endnote # 2)

In addition to such analysis, Hemingway’s tales are filled with human emotion, sarcasm, wit, humor, introspection and reflection. The following is an excerpt from an article that first appeared in 1923 in the Toronto Star Weekly, where Hemingway uses his acerbic sense of humor to mock those that transformed the purity of fly-fishing into nothing more than an ostentatious show of materialism.

Bill Jones went to visit a French financier who lives near Deauville and has a private trout stream. The financier was very fat. His stream was very thin. . . If undressed and put back on the shelf piece by piece the financier would have stocked a sporting goods store. Placed end to end his collection of flies would have reached from Keokuk, Illinois to Paris, Ontario. The price of his rod would have made a substantial dent in the interallied debt or served to foment a central American revolution. . . The financier flung a pretty poisonous fly. (See Endnote # 3).

Hemingway also used his keen sense of observation to admonish those that were then and still are ambivalent to the magnificent quarry pursued by our beloved art of fly-fishing. Here is one example from Big Two Hearted River, Part II which is excerpted in Hemingway On Fishing.

He had wet his hands before he touched the trout, so he would not disturb the delicate mucus that covered him. If a trout was touched with a dry hand, a white fungus attacked the unprotected spot. Years before when he had fished crowded streams, with fly fisherman ahead of him and behind him, Nick had again and again come upon dead trout, furry with white fungus, drifted against a rock, or floating belly up in some pool. Nick did not like to fish with other men on the river. Unless they were of your party they spoiled it. (See Endnote # 3)

This treasured Hemingway compilation also contains 32 black and white photographs of Hemmingway fishing throughout the years starting with a picture of Hemingway, at age 3, from fishing off a dock along Walloon Lake through many years of fly-fishing, the years fishing off the coast of Cuba from his boat the Pilar, to a last photograph with a great Marlin taken in 1948.

For reasons often speculated at, but known only to him, Hemingway ended his life on July 2, 1963 in Idaho. This wonderful, perhaps miraculous, compilation, will allow the spirit of Hemingway, The Fisherman to live on forever. Whether you be a fly-fisherman, a saltwater game fisherman, weekend angler, or simply walk the same Earth as such fisherman, this is a MUST read. 



1. Id. P. 90 (Edited for review purposes).

2. Id. P. 102.

3. Id. P. 95.

4. Id. P.17.



26 Jul
I will use the Fly-Fishing Dojo logo as a visual depiction of a convenient rating system. The basis of the logo is a Torii. Each product will be awarded from one to five Torii. The ratings ascribed to each Torii is as follows.
 I would barely recommend this product. If the price of this product is not excessive for your budget, then I would say it is worth buying and trying.



This product performed either as represented in the manufacturer’s advertising ( as in the case of a rod, reel, line and other hard tackle) or as I had expected or anticipated (as in the case of a new fly pattern or other product with esoteric expectations), or was other wise enjoyable (as in the case of a book, movie, etc).




This product exceeded all expectations, see above. However, there were some limitations as discussed in the full review.




This product went above and beyond all expectations. It is one of those products that I anticipate continuing to use and enjoy as a permanent part of my collection.


I will use one-half of a Torii for any product that does not fit squarely into one of the five categories above.

I hope this symbolic system will provide you with a quick reference prior to reading my full product review.


8 Jul


To the newest Blog by Sensei John entitled Fly Fishing Dojo

This Blog will explore the “Do”(pronounced “Doe”) or “Way” of fly fishing. 

There will be numerous topics exploring fly fishing from various standpoints, including BUT NOT LIMITED TO:   

Fly-fishing Do – Fly-fishing as a way of life,  

Fly-fishing Jitsu – or, the Art of Fly-fishing – Concepts, ideology and physical mechanics derived from the martial arts as they apply to fly fishing, 

 Sensei John’s a fly fishing journal,  – Sensei shares his fly-fishing experiences, and  

Sensei John’s Reviews – Sensei reviews various products related to fly-fishing.  All designed to enhance your fly fishing success and experience as you enjoy this wonderful past time. 

Expected start date is August 1, 2010. 

In the meantime, please feel free to visit Sensei John’s Jiriki Kata-Do Blog exploring martial ideology, lessons, protocol and concepts as they apply to daily life. WWW. SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.   

July 4th 2010 I was fly fishing on the Lower Salt River, AZ when a small herd of wild horses came down to drink.

Sensei John's offical Hanko seal to be used to authenticate all submissions.

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