There's something about tenkara that encourages me to look for artisan made accoutrement .. wow.. that's four, wait - five languages in one sentence (if you include 16th Century Scottish). Which perhaps reinforces my point..
I think it's the direct, immediate and tactile nature of the tenkara experience that makes me want those little angling incidentals to be crafted, handmade, from natural materials.
If an item has some individuality and a good vibe about it, it doesn't matter to me where it's from. If you stay away from the fishing brands and keep an open mind you may find just the perfect thing in the most unexpected place. I love to support fair trade, socially responsible projects from artisan makers, and I think there's room for a little of that in all of our lives.
I'm looking at my recently acquired shoulder bag for tenkara. I wanted something small and light that would force me to stick to the minimalist path by restricting the amount of gear I could carry. It's just right for casual, summer visits to my local rivers. With a hip flask on my belt, I can fit every thing else I need in this little bag. Handmade in the Himalayas in Nepal it's from ethical trading company Namaste. It's sold as a Gheri Passport Bag, but I reckon it's perfect for a couple of spools, kebari boxes, phone and a few other small items. I might strengthen the light cloth shoulder strap when I get around to it, but otherwise it's pretty much perfect and I really like it. From their website -
Namaste is still a relatively small business with a strong ethical policy at its core. We aim to buy from small scale producers who use largely natural materials and traditional techniques to produce beautiful and interesting articles. All Namaste products are fairly traded. We believe that the best way to reduce poverty is through trade.
Purchasing this bag from Namaste also supports the children's charity Child Rescue Nepal. It's a simple thing and everyone wins, and now I have, to my eyes, a beautifully individual tenkara day bag. What could be better? Well, what could be better is some equally beautiful fly & tackle boxes to go with..
Sticking with the natural materials/minimalist theme, this lovely little wooden box from Tenkara-Ya caught my eye. It's a Keiryu tackle box made in Japan from native maple with a Kawasemi (kingfisher) kanji print on the lid. Measuring just over four inches by not quite three, it will fit beautifully in my new bag and will store a few kebari and some casting lines very nicely I think. Alternatively I might use it to contain my simple tying-in-hand kit which is fun to use to tie up some impromptu flies streamside from any feather I may find. My kit is really just a few hooks and some sewing thread - the only tools I use other than my fingers are the scissors on my mini haemostats.
To get really minimal with my kebari box I looked to Philipp at Beornidas. Philipp makes everything from cabinets to canoes using traditional Japanese fine-craft carpentry tools and techniques. I asked Philipp to make me one of his little wooden hinged lid fly boxes. Made from a section of heartwood, the base inside is lined with cork which can be used to keep hook points secure, (I'm happy though to leave flies loose inside). Mine has a maple burl veneer surface to the lid and it's rustic, simple and quite beautiful. The box arrived from Philipp with a good looking kebari inside that he had tied. The lid shuts securely with a magnet and the box holds enough kebari for a good day on the water. It's just so lovely and tactile in the hand.
Yes fishing, and specifically tenkera, is about so much more I think, than just catching fish..