Archive | June, 2011


18 Jun

Whether one is a casual fisherman, a competitive angler, or a “weekend-warrior”, one’s state of mind is an all important element of successful fishing. The various states of mind experienced and cultivated by the martial artist can uniquely improve one’s success on the water and also one’s enjoyment of the entire fishing experience.

I had previously explored an omnipresent state of mind within the martial arts known as Mushin (pronounced “Moo-shin”) and how maintaining Mushin can enhance the fly fishing experience. (here is a convenient link to the article: (See endnote # 1)

There is an additional state of mind derived from the martial arts that can increase the productivity of a day spent fly fishing. This state of mind is known as Zanshin (pronounced “Zahn-shin”). The kanji (Japanese writing) of Zanshin translates as the “remaining mind”.

Kanji for ZANSHIN

Within the martial arts, Zanshin refers to a mental state whereby the mind “remains in the battle”. A very simple example of martial arts based Zanshin is as follows. One may strike or disable one’s opponent and victory may appear to be at hand. Although seemingly victorious, one’s mind must remain in the battle so that one is not lured into complacency by a wily opponent.

Zanshin applies equally to fishing. At the moment a fish strikes your lure or your fly, or takes your bait, invariably, one’s mind flashes thoughts of excitement and jubilation. It is at this most jubilant of times that Zanshin is called for. One’s mind must remain attentive to the circumstances that led to the successful encounter. What was different from every other cast? Was it a difference in specific location that led to success, or as it the manner in which the fly drifted or was retrieved. If retrieved, was the retrieve steady or was it paused? If paused, did the fish strike the fly or lure on the retrieve or the pause. If the fly  or lure is fished below the surface, at what depth in the water column did the fish take the fly?

Zanshin can foster a greater productivity when on the water and enhance your overall fishing experience.

Largemouth Bass caught with a #14 Bloody Mary Nymph

For the competitive fisherman understanding and using Zanshin means more fish in the live-well, which means more money earned. For the weekend fisherman, this means a more enhanced fishing experience. By being attentive to the circumstances that led to success, one can replicate the successful technique so as to hopefully once again be productive and lure a fish to the fly.

Until the next article I (and my mind) remain,

Sensei John



DOUBLE BLUEGILL (2Flies – 2 Fish), Link:


  1. For those interested in a more detailed exploration of the Mushin state of mind, here is a link to a four part article that I had previously posted on my Sensei John weblog:

Sensei John is available for lectures on the interrelationship of fly fishing and martial arts protocol, ideology and philosophy. Please see the “LECTURES & LESSONS” Page tab above for more information.

You can follow the DAILY adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

Please feel free to “window shop” our unique logo products by clicking on the “SHOP” page tab above.

You are also invited to read my martial arts protocol, philosophy and ideology weblog for non-martial artists at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.



8 Jun

Arizona, Valley Of The Sun –  May, 2011, turned out to be a difficult month on many fronts, including an unexpected return to New Jersey to attend the memorial and funeral for a very dear friend. For purposes of this fishing journal, time spent on the water was less than I would have preferred. Hopefully, things will turn around in June.

Having said that, the majority of species that could be lured to take a fly were a plethora of panfish, including crappie and bluegill. Although several large bass were seen, catches were of the smaller variety. There was an occasional rainbow or two. and small bass. I hope you enjoy reading about your favorite fishing waters.

PLEASE NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, all fish were safely released after being photographed.

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest, AZ

Given the unusual circumstances of this month, I was only able to fish the Lower Salt a few times. After water flows increased to summer levels, I concentrated my fishing at the Water Users Recreation Area. This area is above river from where float tubers launch and thus can provide extended fishing time in the morning hours. The fly rods I tend to use on the river (summer flows) are a 9 foot Sumo XS and 8 foot Fenwick Ferrulite. Longer rods for longer casts and fishing Czech-style nymphs.

At Water Users Recreation Area

The beginning of the month (after flow levels increased) was a bit inconsistent. One day, catches of largemouth bass were reasonable with catches of bluegill plentiful (best pattern was a # 14 rooks blueberry nymph tied behind a # 12 claret wooly bugger). The next day would be nothing. But such are the foibles of fly fishing.

Below is the water flow chart for the Lower Salt River for the month from WWW.Watershedmonitor.Com.

CANYON LAKE, Tonto National Forest, AZ

I fished several areas of shoreline on Canyon Lake with consistent catches of small bass and plentiful panfish.  Given the steady stream of panfish, crappie & bluegill that would take a fly, I downsized my equipment to my 6 foot Fenwick Ferrulite fly rod, throwing a four weight line and ending in a 7x or 8X tippet.  The result was often some heart-stopping action provided by light tackle connected to some nice-sized panfish.

The areas that I primarily fished are:

The shoreline adjacent to and surrounding the fishing bridge at Boulder Recreation Area,


the rock ledge on the far shoreline from the bridge (use caution hiking down the rocks)

Di & a bluegill from the rock ledge

and the shoreline surrounding the first one lane bridge on highway 88 (use caution hiking down from the road to the shoreline).


The most productive patterns this month were the following: # 14 BH rooks blueberry nymph behind a # 12 BH claret wooly bugger, # 16 red serendipity nymph behind a # 12 sparkle shad streamer and a # 16 wire caddis nymph tied behind a # 10 apache lady wet fly. These flies were fished with a twitch and pause retrieve. As morning temperatures inched steadily to the triple digit range, there was fast and furious dry fly action to be found courtesy of a # 16 black/pink foam ant or a # 16 chartreuse/black ant.  I fished the ants drifting with surface wind currents with an occasional twitch. There were times that almost every other cast resulted resulted in a fish; every sixth cast or so in one that was nice size.

Chloe inspects a bluegill from the rock ledge before release

After a long morning at Canyon Lake, one tends to develop an appetite. To quell the hunger derived from a morning of flicking flies at the aquatic citizens of the lake, the FLY FISHING DOJO crew often stops at Los Favritos Restaurant on Apache Trail in Apache Junction for the biggest, best tasting and economical Burritos in Pinal County. Give them a try the next time you are in “AJ”.

Los Favritos Restaurant, Apache Trail, Apache Junction


Success on the Urban Lake system this month was somewhat inconsistent. Catfish were (and still are) being stocked by AZ Fish and Game. These fish are reluctant to take a fly, but were caught using various baits, including hot dogs reported by one fisherman I spoke with. It seems to me that during the stocking of the catfish, the other resident summer species of bass and bluegill bury themselves deep into the cover.


Small bass and bluegill were inconsistent but could be found with wet flies and nymphs that had some sparkle to them. Such patterns included: # 14-16 BH rooks blueberry, # 16 wire caddis nymph, # 14-16 rainbow warrior nymphs, # 16 red serendipity nymph, # 14 alexandria and # 14 apache lady wet fly.


Results that I experienced were generally the same as at Veterans Oasis Lake, including the productive fly patters. I did have one heart stopping moment when a large carp chased and was briefly hooked on a # 14 pink san juan worm pattern. I hope to explore this pattern on the resident carps more in June.


Fisherman As Warriors –  link:

Sanchin Kata For Fisherman –  link:

Until my next submission, I hope you continue to enjoy the articles I post on this weblog. Tight lines.

Sensei John

Sensei John is available for lectures on the interrelationship of fly fishing and martial arts protocol, ideology and philosophy. Please see the “LECTURES & LESSONS” Page tab above for more information.

You can now arrange for either a fly fishing lecture or lesson with Sensei John, please see the “LESSONS & LECTURES” Page.

You can follow the DAILY adventures of FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, See the Video & Media Page for details.

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


Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life. You may visit the weblog at WWW.SENSEIJOHN.WORDPRESS.COM.

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