honey I pimped my tenkara pack

Actually it's not a tenkara pack, well it is now, but it didn't start off as one (if you see what I mean). 

This betrays the fact that after a prolonged and fruitless search for the right pack from fly fishing outfitters, I've cottoned on to the potential of products from non-fishing brands.

I've checked out all of the regular fly fishing pack makers, but none, as far as I can see, fit my criteria. I want robust, versatile, user friendly, but above all minimalist. Everthing I've been looking at, or already own, is just way too big for my purposes.

I really am on the minimalist path with this. Tenkara is pretty slimmed down at the best of times but it's still possible to go out on stream over-encumbered with too many fly boxes, too many casting lines, too many spools of tippet. My pack list has been refined down to:

one fly box 
one spool of casting line
two spools of tippet
nippers/hook hone

..and a meiho line holder on my rod

I want a pack that would allow me to take these, plus my phone and the odd energy bar, with perhaps only a little room to spare. There's not a lot of forward planning with my tenkara trips, so together with a hip flask of water to put on my belt, lightweight wet wading gear and my trusty nomad net, I can be ready to strike out at a moments notice should the stars align. 

Enter the very sturdy Carhartt Watts Essentials Bag. In the U.S. Carhartt seem to be a rugged workwear brand, but here in Europe they are aligned more with the fashion market. The Watts Essentials Bag isn't sold here as an outdoor pursuits pack at all but as an urban accessory for the cool dude or dudette about town. So it would be easy to miss it. I bought mine from an online fashion outlet.

Thing is, with a bit of pimping it makes an excellent tenkara micro sling pack. Here's what I've done with mine.

The front pouch pocket with velcro closure makes a great haemostat dock. I added a heavy duty Orvis zinger inside the pocket and it all stows away again after use if you don't want the haemostats jingling about..

..while the nippers & hook hone are clipped onto the strap fastener.

On the opposite side strap ring I attached a tippet spool caddy by girth hitching the lanyard borrowed from my nomad net..

But the pimp I like the best is the beaded carry strap and foam fly patch, appropriated from an old Orvis lanyard.

The Carhartt Watts Essentials Bag is small (about 17cm x 15cm x 8cm) but still roomy enough for my modest needs, plus a little more. It's also incredibly well made, pretty much bomb proof in fact. It has an adjustable shoulder strap, two main zippered compartments, one of which has an internal zippered pocket for small items like bank cards, permits, that kind of thing. In addition to the front pouch pocket that serves as my haemostat dock, there is also a front zippered pocket to slide in fairly flat items. I use mine for stowing a lense cloth and a couple of little squares of carpet gripper fabric. All of which comes in handing for drying and putting down a wet tenkara rod. A neat little kit that came supplied with my first Karasu rod.

The fabric is highly water repellant and while the contents would get wet if the pack was fully submersed for any length of time, the bag will see off all but the heaviest of rain showers (I take the added precaution of stowing my phone inside a ziplock freezer bag). The bag is available in a variety of colours, including old school camo if that's your taste, mine's in Adventure Green. I paid thirty quid for mine from a UK supplier, which I think is pretty good value.     


  1. I love that! As I carry a little more than you (I add a camera, since my cellphone betrayed me on water once...), I bought one of the smallest bags of a fishing brand. It works fine to me as it also holds a bottle of water - small size one or my tenkara rod..., but I was thinking of a little tuning, and you gave me good options (and I totally love the foam fly holder...)
    Great read, as always!

  2. That's a really nice solution. Looks like a really functional and durable bag.

    I've tried the same in the past with an Eddie Bauer bag that was intended to be used for travel - small fly boxes and passports are luckily around the same size! My buddy has also been known to shop garage sales for used women's purses for his fishing tackle...


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