As we near the end of fishing season and I looked for more things to do around here, I saw several branches sitting in the garage and decided it was time to resume my tenkara net making.
Until earlier this year I spent a lot of time working on tenkara nets in my free time. I got about a dozen made and learned a lot along the way. Some were very exquisite, some I consider a learning experiment and a couple that I’m super proud of, like this and this. Then, time became very scarce, and I took a break. I was able to cut and work on a couple of branches when I was spending time in Japan. I also spent invaluable time with a master net maker in Japan, where I learned a lot that I have been hoping to put into use since my return. But, I just couldn’t find the time.
When I first learned that the recommended amount of time for drying and seasoning branches was about one year, I thought that was crazy and I would never be able to wait that long to work on them. That was true for my first few nets, but now I realize one year goes by extremely fast and that is very noticeable when you have a marker such as a net waiting to be worked on. A few branches were collected over a year ago and have been drying since. I had been really looking forward to working on a couple of them and am truly excited to get to work. These are the two waiting to be finished:
Whereas last year I worked from a tiny corner in my office, this year I moved to a new place and found some space in the garage to setup a proper working area. I still don’t need many tools to do it, but this will keep my wife happy and my office much less dusty. I’m truly excited to get to work on them again, in a proper space this time.
Soon after I setup my working area I had a chance to visit an area I knew to have the right types of trees – I use Jeffrey Pine – and a grove where many of the trees tend to have branches with the right shape. For an entire day I must have inspected every single tree in the area, and the work paid off with 14 new branches. These will not be considered nets for at least one year, as I now must remove their bark, steam them into shape, let them dry…splice their arms and join them, then sand, sand, sand, and finish.
This should keep me busy for a while.
People often ask me if I sell these nets or what will I do with them. Tenkara nets for me are just a hobby, a new passion that keeps me from having “down times”, something I don’t feel is work. If I’m bored, or a bit depressed, I just work on them and time goes by quickly. A couple have found themselves to the hands of people that earned them and I hope to give a few more away down the road. But, the main justification I have found for devoting to much time to this craft goes back to what my grandfather has always said to me, “knowledge is the only thing no one can ever take away from you.” It is very nice to have a skill, something that I can do with my hands and very few tools. Should the world go totally nuts I guess I can become a professional angler and trade fish and nets for other food and necessities.