The minimalist approach of tenkara doesn’t require you to put on the whole “Captain Angler” superhero wardrobe. Nobody needs a 106-pocket vest, filled to the brim with stuff you will never use. It is simply fishing, and not a fashion show. Your choice of gear should be, above all else, practical. Every item you carry should serve a purpose if not two or more.
Gear management on the stream is a big deal to me. Most times I leave my sling pack behind unless I am going in deep and want the security of certain extras. I usually just stick to the basics and keep my tackle stowed in my shirt pockets. We all fall in love with fishing shirts, don’t we? I like the ones with the vertical, side access, breast pocket. But even these have their shortcomings.
Near the end of last year’s season, I was fishing the shallows in a side stream. After landing and releasing a fish, something in the water caught my eye. Three feet from where I was standing, I saw something small and rectangular at the bottom. A familiar light green color… “Uh-oh, somebody lost their driver’s license.” I pulled it up to see the face of the “loser” on the license…. Yup, it was mine. I forgot to zip the pocket up and the license fell out at some point. On another occasion, I dropped my phone into the stream in this same way. Thankfully, my phone is water-resistant to a foot or so. Shirt pockets are nice but are not perfect.
A simple design…
The whole unit is compact and can be folded up when not in use. It can be worn on either side of your belt or even close to dead center of your belt depending on your belt buckle. The basic design of this pouch Puts everything in one pocket that is easy to access and yet also can be closed tight with its drawstrings, so nothing falls out.
Easily attaches to your belt with snaps.
The utility of this pouch is in its simple design consisting of a few straps of leather with some snaps attached all connected permanently to a waxed canvas bag. The leather strap is designed to attach to your belt with two solid ½” snaps. The snaps open and fit around your belt so that you can add and remove the pouch easily. When not using the bag you can fold it into thirds and then thirds again and snap the pouch closed into a nice square packet.
Waxed canvas pouch with drawstrings
The bag is 9” deep and 8” wide. Sturdy and well made. It can easily hold a sandwich, your phone or camera, line spools, water filter straw, etc. The wax adds a level of water resistance as well as a stiffness. On the version I purchased there is a double drawstring set up with small leather leaves at the knot ends. Pulling on these tightens the mouth of the pocket and closes the bag. I made one modification. I felt the drawstrings were a little longer than they needed to be, so I trimmed them down. Now when the bag is fully open the strings are inside the bag with just the leather leaves hanging out. When they are pulled the bag closes and the tags and cordage is longer. The cordage that came with my bag is probably going to get changed out for some paracord down the road, but for now I am happy with the ones that are on there.
A field test
I took my tenkara pocket out to field test it and it worked better than I could have imagined. I previously had a 18”-20” length of paracord that I had tied my hemostat to one end and my nippers to the other. I was able to attach this line to the cover flap that snaps inside the bag when in use. (See photo.) My hemostat stayed in the pocket and my nippers could dangle out until I needed them.
Where to buy a tenkara pocket?
I mentioned earlier, I found mine on an ad on social media. I have since done a little research into sources for these “foraging bags.” I figured I might want to add them to my etsy store. I found several by doing a google search for “foraging bag” including etsy, ebay, and Walmart’s website. Walmart had the best price I could see at just $12.99. I can't compete with that kind of pricing and there are already a few places to get these. I try to keep items on my etsy store "unique" to me. In my search I found some different colors that I liked better than the olive drab one I purchased. I may get another for comparison or to loan to someone who I am introducing to tenkara. Wherever you purchase yours from, look closely to make sure about what you are getting. Look for quality leather and a double draw string. I hope that you find this new idea useful. Let me know what you think in the comments below. These really seem like a "no-brainer" hack that everyone could find useful.
See you on the stream!
Dennis Vander Houwen lives in Colorado with his patient and supportive wife, talented artist son, a smart older dog, a new river puppy, and a very lucky cat.