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Ishigaki Style Wooden Tenkara Line Spool

Ishigaki Style Wooden Tenkara Line Spool
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.

 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?