A slow process, but my first net is finally complete. I believe this sat in my shop for nearly three years before adding the net.
With quite a few years of tenkara fishing in alpine lakes and streams under my belt, I’ve found that the net should probably become an indispensable part of my kit. The art of landing fish with a tenkara setup is often physically more complicated than in Western fly fishing, namely because the line cannot be shortened and fish must be brought in with the rod and an opposite hand on the line. In real-world applications, combining factors such as a rocky shore, 7X tippet, an 11′ rod, ~14 feet of line, and balancing on a log with trees and brush behind you, it can be more than awkward to successfully land a large fish. Needless to say, I’ve lost many good trout at this critical moment.
I typically don’t fish catch and release (a topic perhaps worthy of another post). While the contemporary justification of a net is very often to cause less harm landing a fish prior to release, my use of net is more selfishly motivated; I don’t want to lose a good meal. Killing and eating fish aside, I still see it as an obligation not to cause any additional suffering prior to the fish meeting the knife; bouncing fish onto the shore has never been appealing.
This net is Jeffrey pine, known for pliable green branches that oppose each other, very forgiving to shape. Netting is fine .9oz no-see-um mesh. The tip is deer antler. While the Japanese apparently believe the antler provides a bit of “luck” or protection in the water, I’ve found that the smooth, pointed antler allows it to slide in and out of a belt at the small of the back quite easily. It also adds a pleasant weight as Jeffrey pine is fairly insubstantial. It’s hard to see in the pictures, but the bend in the handle also aids in the ergonomics of landing a fish; I find this style is easier to dip than the typical straight Western net.
Tenkara USA describes the build process quite well.
I have a few more branches that have been sitting and curing for years; like all things, I suppose the second and third nets will be more refined.