Archive | September, 2010


22 Sep
OASIS. When one reads the word, one conjures up an image of the standard dictionary definition; a fertile spot in a desert. In actual life, the word leaps off the pages of the dictionary to take on a more meaningful definition. For an enlightened few, the word is used to describe a place of refreshment from the mundane. For myself and my Goshin-Do Karate-Do brethren, the Dojo was such an oasis. It provided not only physical refreshment, but also spiritual and emotional rejuvenation as well. For those that explore the art of fishing, such an oasis exists at the point where water meets the Earth. It is at that point that a man, in search of those denizens that reside below the water’s surface, can be alone with and explore his inner being.
One of my Goshin-Do brethren, Sensei Bob, is an active fisherman. In the past few weeks, he has found such an oasis buried deep within the humdrum urban sprawl of Hudson County, New Jersey. The oasis is the lake located within the boundaries of Hudson County Park. For those willing to visit this oasis, an escape from the mundane can be found.
Fly Fishing Dojo first broke the story of this lake in a post dated August 13, 2010 entitled Breaking (Fishing) News. Since then Sensei Bob has explored the tantalizing offerings of this overlooked and under appreciated urban asset. He has found that there are offerings of largemouth bass that would rival the population of the tourist encrusted bass “hot-spots”. Sensei Bob has also learned that this lake harbors within its depths exotic species of fish known only to those that pursue and subsequently release them. Sensei has personally seen photographs of species of fish caught and released that one would not expect to populate a pristine lake, let alone this urban oasis. Perhaps in the future, Sensei Bob will be blessed with catching such an exotic fish. For now, I submit some of Sensei Bob’s photographs of denizens of the depths of Hudson County’s oasis for your pleasure.



If you enjoy this blog, please tell a friend and check back often for more fishing reports, product reviews and most uniquely, an exploration of how martial arts protocols and ideology can enhance and improve your fishing experience and results.

Sensei John

You are invited to visit the Fly Fishing Dojo online store by clicking the SHOP tab at the top of this page.

For those interested in further reading of Goshin-Do Karate-Do protocols, concepts and ideology, please see my martial ideology blog at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.



18 Sep
September, 2010 and high temperatures here in Arizona are still in the triple digits. While fly-fishing, you have to stay cool, so, whether you live in Arizona or not, why not look cool too and catch more fish. How?
Purchase your own 100 percent cotton Fly-Fishing Dojo logo short sleeve T-shirt.  Just click the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page.  Official Fly-Fishing Dojo T-shirt 

You may also purchase a logo button, shown above, for your favorite fishing hat, or coffee mugs, beer steins, mouse pads, pillows, teddy bears and other products.

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.


13 Sep
 Labor Day Weekend. The last “Hurrah” for summer. For me, I had to get away from the heat of the Valley Of The Sun. I had made plans to visit Sedona, Arizona on business. I thought I would also include some fly-fishing on the Verde River. It was decided to stay in Cottonwood, Arizona as it is centrally located between Sedona and Jerome, AZ. I made reservations at The View Motel located on Main Street. Di, Chloe and I arrived in Cottonwood Friday night and smoothly checked in. The rooms were comfortable and clean. The scenery were spectacular and clearly the motel lived up to its namesake.
The general plan for the weekend was to include fishing the Verde River for about three hours in the morning and then attending to business and research for my upcoming seminars and book in the afternoon. In preparation for my trip, I used the Arizona Fish & Games website to investigate several access points to the Verde River. I felt that we could efficiently combine fishing and work each day.
I woke early Saturday and performed my usual routine of Sanchin Kata and other Kata of the Goshin-Do Karate syllabus (See Endnote # 1) against the panoramic backdrop provided beautiful and bountiful views at The View Motel.
  Scenery at The View Motel
Awakened and enriched by my morning Kata practice I reunited with Di and Chloe. After a fast cup of coffee and fruit, we drove ten minutes to the first location that I planned to visit. This location is called “The Jacks” on the Arizona Fish and Game Website. The Jacks is located immediately within the boundaries of Dead Horse State Park. Upon arriving streamside at The Jacks, I was struck by the lack of easy access to most of the Verde River and the difficulty of fly-fishing. To mitigate the dilatory effects of the terrain, I fished with my treasured six foot Fenwick Ferrulite Fly rod, Panther Martin 64 reel loaded with weight forward five weight floating line ending with a 6X tippet. Once you were able to trudge and blaze your way to a fishing location, tight roll cats and exact presentation would be the modus operandi. Deviation would prove hazardous and result in tangles and loss of flies, and fish. We were able to fish about twenty feet of shoreline and did so productively. Di used a pink Berkley Gulp Earthworm. I fished a few dry flies (Purple Haze # 16, Claret Klinkhammer “16 and Mosquito # 18) all with good results. My best action was on double nymphs including a Rainbow Warrior # 16, Bloody Mary # 14, Tellico # 14, Beadhead Hare’s Ear # 14, Ju-ju Bee # 16 and Red Ass # 16. Fishing was fun and we were rewarded with catches of perch, small bass (about 9 to 10 inches).

Di with an average Bass for this trip.

I had a rewarding thrill when I hooked into a very nice size rainbow trout. Based upon a fleeting glimpse, I would estimate its length at about 12-14 inches. Ironically, this swimming, finned rainbow had been tantalized and seduced by a nymph bearing its namesake, a rainbow warrior, size 16. As if to tease me with its magnificence, the rainbow jumped twice. Upon returning to the river, it made such a loud splash that Di began to trudge through the underbrush with camera in hand. Alas, it was to no avail. Indignant at succumbing to the lure of the nymph, the rainbow dove deep so as to sulk within the branches of a submerged tree. In doing so, the colorful pouting creature broke my fragile 6X tippet. Thus my nymph was sacrificed to the ancient River God that oversees all fly fishing grounds. That fish would jump again and again in my memory all weekend.
           The Jacks          
After two hours of The Jacks, we drove further into the park and fished the two small lagoons. These lagoons readily produced respectable sized blue gill. In talking to a few fisherman fishing from jon-boats, I was informed that earlier in the morning, largemouth bass were plentiful.

Sensei John fly fishing the lagoon from a short pier.

It was soon time to attend to business so we left Dead Horse Park and returned to the View motel to shower and change. That afternoon, business took us to the scenic town of Jerome. We returned to the View and relaxed poolside. After a hard day of early fishing and business we soon returned to our room and hit the sack. As I lazily closed my eyes, my mind wondered to thoughts of that lost aquatic rainbow.

After a hard day of fishing & business, even Chloe snored at night.

Sunday morning we were again at the Verde River. We stopped at The Jacks for about an hour. After connecting with a few perch and with the lost trout no where to be found, we were on our way to the second location I had investigated. This access point is further along Highway 89A and located under the bridge leading to the Tuzigoot monument. Access is via a dirt road that requires some maneuvering. The stretch of river access was about thirty feet long and was composed of a rock and tree lined shore.

Sensei John fly fishing the Verde River at Tuzigoot Monument Bridge.

We fished this area for about an hour and a half with mixed results. Mostly perch and bluegill. We were joined by a local angler named Leonard and his grandson. Leonard, who fished the Verde for several years, informed me as to river access and species to be caught; including bass, perch, carp and channel catfish. He told me trout fishing was good when the river is stocked. I was required to be in Sedona early that afternoon, so we had to cut fishing short and once again, take care of business. (See Endnote # 2).

Monday morning dawned bright and beautiful. This was the day we would return home. Checkout time is eleven o’clock so we had a few hours. As we woke early, we decided that a quick trip to The Jacks would be possible. Like Melville’s Captain Ahab, I had to pursue my fish; I had to once again try for the rainbow trout, the one that got away. Ahab eventually met his white whale. This last day of fishing the Verde, my rainbowed fish was a mere illusion, a whiff of smoke, glimpsed and seen no more. Like a spurned lover, I knew it was time to leave all hope of a successful encounter. It was time to go home. Soon, we were again on the highway bound for the all to familiar heat of the Valley Of The Sun. The 2 ½ hour ride home was mundane, except for the seductive memory of my “white whale”, that nice rainbow, the proverbial “one-that-got-away“, that virginal fish that would remain but a fond memory and a knowing smile upon my face.

Every fly-fisher-journeyman knows that no fishing expedition is complete unless accompanied by satisfying, hunger-sating food. During our journey, Di and I had several memorable meals at the following establishments.

Murphy’s Grill, Cottonwood, AZ. Located directly across Main Street from the View Motel, Murphy’s Grill provided convenient, satisfying, tasty dinners. If patronizing this establishment, I would highly recommend the traditional Shepard’s pie, the Verde dip sandwich (a western play on the French dip sandwich), the corned beef with cabbage and the fish and chips. I am not usually one for desert; however, I would recommend the bread pudding for desert.

Marmalade Café, Jerome, AZ. This eatery features good wholesome food and wonderful views from their outdoor patio.

The view from the Marmalade Cafe Patio.

I recommend the either the veggie sandwich which features vegetables and hummus or the Caprese sandwich with fresh Mozzarella cheese, a rarity in Arizona.

Bing’s Burger Station, Cottonwood, AZ (WWW.BingsBurgers.Com) .

Bing's Burger Station

Bing’s is a tribute to old time burger joints; they offer a limited burger, fries and drink menu and they do it right. I recommend the burger which is fresh, tasty and clearly made from good quality beef. The chicken sandwich was flavorful and moist. Either way, you must order the French fries. They are made fresh cut and fried in rice oil to a crisp, non-greasy, texture. The hand mixed peach soda and root beer freeze will provide the coup de grace to a nice dinner.

George’s Café, Cottonwood, AZ. This is the place for a truly gratifying breakfast. I recommend the home made corned beef hash with an over-easy egg or the pastrami and eggs.

Until the next article about chasing fish, wetting a fly and the inevitable one that will get away, I remain,

Sensei John


1. For those interested in benefits of Sanchin Kata, please see my website WWW.Dynamic-Meditation.Com.

2. For the portions of my trip as they relate to Sedona, Arizona and my research, please see my blog at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.   This aspect of my trip will be posted shortly.


7 Sep
Arizona, August, 2010, summer monsoon season was upon us, not only was it hot, but humid as well with dew point readings very high. The National Weather Service posted excessive heat warnings and excessive ozone warnings almost daily. Weather was not fit for fish or fly-fisherman. Fishing may best be described as a sweat-filled quest for sporadic fish. Due to the heat and other factors, I was only able to average 2 ½ days a week of fishing.
I knew that the size of any species caught would be getting smaller and smaller as the heat grew worse. So, to compensate, I adjusted my tackle accordingly. My equipment for the urban lakes was a 6 foot ultra-lite Fenwick Ferrulite Rod ( 2 5/8 grams), a Panther-Martin # 63 lite reel, Cortland 444 floating 5 weight double taper line and at least a 9 foot leader ending in an 8X tippet. In addition, I finished field testing a new rod. The review will be posted shortly.
At least in the coming weeks, I can look forward to temperatures below 100 degrees and hopefully better fishing. I hope the following fishing journal encourages you to beat the heat and wet a fly.  

Veterans Oasis Lake, August 29th seeing a distant hot air balloon stirs memories of cooler temperatures.

LOWER SALT RIVER, Maricopa County, AZ

With the heat and humidity, tubing pressure was great on the Lower Salt. As such, I usually ended my mornings of fishing by 10:30 or 11:00 am. Fishing was sporadic at best. Catches were mainly bluegill and small bass. There was dry fly action to be found in the early morning, particularly between the hours of 5:30 and 6:30. The two patterns that produced were a # 16 Adams Irresistible and a # 16 Purple Haze (parachute style hackle). Fishing conditions was so difficult that I often drafted my dog Chloe, a fish-finding Min-pin, to act as a guide.

Chloe helps locate fish on the Lower Salt River.

The deviation in water flows were less dramatic than in July, but there was an occasional spike or two. Here is the August water flow chart for August obtained from WWW.Watershedmonitor.Com.

Lower Salt River water flows for August, 2010.

My equipment list for the Lower Salt generally included longer rods. I used either a 7 ½ foot Cortland Pro-Crest or an 8 foot Fenwick Ferrulite. I also interspersed a 9 foot rod that I was field testing. With all three rods I used a Cortland Pro-Crest reel throwing a # 6 floating weight forward line. My leader was always 9 foot ending in an 8X tippet.

On the Lower Salt River wearing the official Fly-fishing Dojo logo T-shirt.


Many of the people I have met while fishing the Arizona Urban Lake Program are surprised to see a fly-fisherman. Most people that I encounter fishing these lakes are bait fisherman and a few make use of artificial lures. The majority find a spot on a lake, set up shop and generally spend most of their time fishing in that one spot. They may fish in another spot or two before calling it a day.

My SUMMER tactic for the urban lake program is to cover as much water as possible. It is a tactic that goes back to my days of tournament bass fishing. During those days I would cover water fast with either a spinner bait or a crank bait until fish were found and then fish productive water slowly. Applying that concept to fly-fishing, I quickly cover water with a double set-up of wet flies and nymphs to find fish.

Patch from my time as a member of the Bassing America Grand National Tournament Circuit.

Generally, once at my desired lake, I fish my “honey-holes” first and begin to make my way around the lake. In this manner, I can cover the entire shoreline of a lake in about 1 to 1 ¼ hours. It is “aerobic fly-fishing”. During this stage I am looking for bluegill. If I find that bluegill are present, then I concentrate my fishing for any bass that are present. I especially concentrate around the reeds that are found in the lakes, sub surface vegetation and the moving water found at the point at which the lake is filled via the recharge system. The goal is to find an catch a few bluegill. The thrashing of the caught fish excites the remaining bluegill and usually lures a bass or two out from within the reeds. Then the trick is to entice the bass to the fly.

VETERAN’S OASIS PARK LAKE, Chandler, AZ (See Note # 1)

As my “go-to” fishing location, this lake still produced, but it took some work. Bluegill were always plentiful and eager to take a fly, including a few dry flies. As the heat increased throughout the month, the bluegill provided the only tug on my line. Early in the month, average size bass could be seduced into taking a variety of flies ranging from size 14 Woolly Buggers, # 14 Tellico nymphs, size 16 Ju-ju Bee nymphs and wet flies in the Adams, Blue Dun and March brown patterns in size 14.

August 4th an average size bass on a # 14 Woolly Bugger.

As the month progressed, lake levels fell and the size of bass taken dramatically decreased.

Veterans Oasis Park Lake levels by August 17th were low.

By 7:15 most mornings, I was already soaked with sweat from walking the lake looking for first bluegills and then the bass that hopefully were within the same location. On the ultra-lite equipment and tippet, even small fish made the hot mornings semi-bearable.

A small bass poses with the Fly Fishing Dojo logo

WATER RANCH LAKE, Gilbert, AZ (See Note # 1)

Water and fishing conditions on this lake were generally like the conditions at Veterans Oasis Park. I will note that the bluegills found at Water Ranch tended to be more aggressive. On a few occasions, I actually landed doubles. Admittedly, the fish were small, but again with morning temperatures skirting triple digits, relatively high humidity and ultra-lite equipment, even a double of small bluegill are fulfilling. Hey look at it this way, it beats sitting home.

Small bass on a # 16 Adams Irresistible Dry Fly fished close to the reeds.

One highlight of my fishing at Water Ranch is looking for the large Koi that inhabits this lake. This Koi, which is well over 24 inches is a bit of an urban legend. I nicknamed the Koi “Oishi” after the leader of the rebellion by the 47 Ronin.

Water Ranch Lake. The urban legend on film - a rare photo of the Koi I call “Oishi”.

Another highlight of my fishing was meeting the noted author, Al Schneider. Al is another former New Jersey resident who found his way out west to Arizona. He would come by often and we would talk a bit as I fished. One day he surprised my with a signed copy of his breakout book, There’s A Better Place. Thanks Al. It is definitely a recommended read.

Many thanks, Al. See you next week.


I found about this lake from a friend. It is the newest park and lake constructed. It was finished in or around December 2009. My understanding is that it will be part of the Arizona Urban Fishing Program. There are two man-made lakes at the park. Both are relatively small. These lakes differ from the other Urban lakes that I fish. The lakes mentioned above have a natural bottom and mostly natural shoreline with a portion being concrete walkway and access points. The lake in Discovery Park appears to have a concrete bottom. On the two visits to this lake, I was able to temp small bass into taking a fly. Like a fine wine, fishing and size should improve with aging.

Small bass on a # 16 Wet March Brown.

Until my September report, I hope you continue to enjoy the articles I post on this Blog. Keep your flies in the water.

Sensei John


1. These lakes are part of the Arizona Urban Fishing Program. The program which provides man-made fishing lakes in close proximity to major population centers is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Please feel free to shop unique Fly Fishing Dojo logo wear by clicking on the “SHOP” tab at the top of this page.

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.


2 Sep
   4 ½ A MUST HAVE
Rating using 2011 Rating System:

I recently obtained the Sumo XS Fly-fishing rod (9 foot length, 3 piece, 6/7 line weight) available from tackle discounts. The numerous products, including this rod, sold by tackle discounts are available via their website Many, including this fly rod, are also available via online auctions at WWW.Ebay.Com. My cost of this fly rod, including shipping from the United Kingdom was under $ 65.00 making it a very affordable fly rod.

The Sumo XS 9 foot, 3 piece, 6/7 fly rod.

Tackle discounts website lists the Sumo XS series for 45 pounds sterling (about $ 75.00 depending on exchange rates) plus delivery. The listing and description of this rod by tackle discounts suggests a recommended retail price point of about $ 250.00 British pounds Sterling (around $ 400. depending on exchange rates). The listing also compares the Sumo XS to other noted manufacturers offerings, including the Sage TCR and XS series, Loomis and Grey. Some mighty large company indeed.

A nicely embroidered case is included with the Sumo XS.

I obtained my Sumo XS via an online auction through E-bay. After winning the auction, I received various e-mail notifications and confirmations from tackle discount. The communication was excellent. I expected that I would receive my fly rod within about 10 days after payment was made. To my very pleasant surprise, I received my fly rod in only 4 days. Not bad from the United kingdom to Arizona via standard mail service. I immediately opened the package and found the fly rod arrived in good condition. The Sumo XS is sold with a rod sock and a very nice sturdy rod case. The case is fittingly embroidered with the Sumo XS name and all details of the enclosed rod. The rod itself is in three sections, green in color. The rod guides are nicely spaced and manufactured with care and quality. The only cosmetic flaw was a minor bubble, less than ¼ inch in diameter, in the lamination. I note this only because of the comparisons made in the advertising and listing for the Sumo XS.
With great anticipation, I set about fishing with the Sumo XS. I combined the Sumo XS with my favorite Cortland Pro-crest reel and a 6 weight floating weight forward line and set off for my favorite fishing waters.   I made my first cast and smiled. This rod is a monster caster – a real rocket launcher. The Sumo XS effortlessly laid out long casts with tight loops.

Sensei John wields the Sumo XS.

Lower Salt River, Maricopa County, Arizona.

The Sumo XS nicely presents a delicate dry fly, regardless of the distance the fly is cast. Additionally, on rivers, the Sumo XS facilitates high stick nymph fishing techniques such as the “Czech-style” of presenting nymphs. Whenever a fish accepted my offered fly, the rod responded well and provided a very nice sense of “feel” and connection with the fish at the other end of the line. The Sumo XS is a very user friendly fly rod.
As I have no inclination to spend between $ 600 and $ 800 on the competitors fly rods that Tackle Discounts compares the Sumo XS to, such comparison is not part of my review.

After several weeks of hard fishing, the rod holds up well cosmetically and continues to perform. The Sumo XS 9 foot 6/7 rod has earned itself a place in my fly rod arsenal.

I believe you will not be disappointed wit the Sumo XS fly rod, especially at the price it is presently being sold at. Even better, if you have the patience, try obtaining the Sumo XS via the online auctions available through E-bay.

VIDEO AVAILABLE: To see the Sumo XS in action, you can click this convenient link to view a video entitled


So, why only 4 ½ Torii out of a total of 5 possible. Two reasons. The first I have already mentioned, namely the minor cosmetic bubble in the lamination. Again, given the comparisons made in the advertising, this small flaw must be addressed in my review. Second, after about ten weeks of steady, almost daily, use, the zipper on the rod case malfunctioned. The zipper no longer closes properly. The teeth of the zipper no longer mesh; however, it will still hold the rod case closed. In all fairness, given the time between my purchase and the zipper malfunction, I did not contact Tackle Discounts as to this issue. Further, the rod case was what I consider a “freebie”, an extra, as such, in my opinion it is not fatal to my opinion of the Sumo XS. For these two reasons, I deducted a ½ Torii from my rating of the Sumo XS.

The Sumo XS nine foot, 3 piece, 6/7 weight fly rod is a welcome addition to the Fly Fishing Dojo equipment inventory. I look forward to firing up this monster rocket caster.

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.

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