Ishigaki Style Wooden Tenkara Line Spool

On August 2, 2012
Comments (9)

written by Jason

There were many unique tenkara items up for auction at this year’s Tenkara Summit and I was determined to come home with at least a few.  Among the gear up for bid was a series of wooden line spools similar to the one Dr. Ishigaki uses.  He generously donated several spools handmade by his friend in several variations.  They were all so gorgeous, I had a hard time deciding on which one to bid.  But here’s  the one I ended up with.

Wooden Tenkara Line Spool

This is one of the most beautiful pieces of fishing gear (let alone tenkara gear) I’ve ever seen.  The craftsmanship is superb and the style is beautiful, yet practical, staying true to the essence of tenkara.  The fish head that holds the fly in the center of the spool is meticulously painted and the eye of the fish is actually raised.  I liked the way the grey color contrasted with the brown wood of the spool so that’s why I bid on this one.

Wood Tenkara Line Spool


As a bonus, the line spool came with a #4, 4.5 meter level line and what I would call a “grey Ishigaki kebari” made of grey dubbing and grizzly hackle.  At first, I was more interested in the spool than the line itself until I got it home and examined it further to discover something more curious.

Wooden Tenkara Line Spool

Attached to the end of the level fluorocarbon line was about a 6″ loop of what I’m guessing is red silk bead cord (the stuff I usually use to make loops for tenkara flies that use eyeless hooks).  I didn’t have the foresight to ask Dr. Ishigaki about it but I can only assume the loop is connected to the lilian with a girth hitch connection, similar to the way I used to burn and glue dacron to my tenkara level lines so I could use the same convenient connections traditional lines employ.  This one is actually knotted to the line rather than my more gossamer method and it kind of makes me want to rethink it.  Yet in some way, it validates my original idea.  I had no knowledge of this type of connection before I came up with it independently.  It’s affirming to know that a Japanese tenkara angler halfway around the world values the same idea and that makes me want to re-explore it.

I’m adding this line spool to my growing collection of unique tenkara gear.  My only dilema now is, should I archive it as a precious artifact or actually use it and run the risk of losing or damaging it.

What would you do?  Use it or enshrine it?  


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9 Responses to Ishigaki Style Wooden Tenkara Line Spool

  1. Mark Cole says:

    Jason, I also came away with one of these line holders and I’m stuck on the same dilemma horns. Do I use it or archive it? Right now archive is winning.

  2. Jeremy says:

    I would use the line holder. Daniel imagine being on stream in the mountains sitting on an ancient granite boulder setting up for a rising fish. Then you could either pull out a plastic line holder or that hand made beautiful line holder that adds to your experience.
    What knot did Dr. Ishigaki use to attach level line to the silk cord? This interests me since I still use all but the first LL I cut from my spools. It would be easier to attach and better on the Lillian too.

    • Those are indeed way too cool. Now I may have to use one myself too.
      Also, just FYI, that’s not Dr ishigaki’s line. He doesn’t use the transition loop, and like me thinks it’s not a necessary thing. Not sure what knot is used with that line. I have tried to steer Jason and others away from using that for a few reasons:
      1) one more think you depend on. If you loose that Dacron line and you are not used to the knot you may find yourself slightly stuck.
      2) makes it harder to cut and join lines.
      3) one more thing to prepare ahead of time.
      Like with tippet rings, I take the view of using nothing but the essential. It’s much quicker I think to learn the knot and not have to rely on more stuff later.

  3. Kid Rieker says:

    Use it! You may enjoy owning it and looking at it…but not as much as owning it, looking at it, AND using it. Using it will give you a much more special connection to it and far more pleasant memories.

    PS…it is very, very beautiful.

  4. DARCY says:

    If it was mine , I’d seal it in single baggie and put it away for about a
    year ! . . Daniels climate in SF is much closer to Japan’s than ours . If after it has not split , then I would use it .

    Darcy in Albuquerque

  5. Lynn David says:

    Put it up in a place of respect in your home over the winter. Then when you go fishing after the ice goes out next year take it out the first time.

  6. USE IT!
    How can I get a hold of one of these beautiful line holders anyway?

  7. grey D says:

    I too won one of these at the summit last week. I have had this very same debate: Do I use it or just admire it? I think I am going to use it. To use it is the only way to actually enjoy the piece and have some sort of connection to it. It will be an honor to have it with me while fishing.

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