Tag Archives: Tanago/Bitterling

Tanago rod project

I’m lacquering a tanago rod for a friend (I had no part in the making of the rod).  It has some quirks but the bamboo is fairly sound and the hera-style grip is a novelty.  When working on another rod over the New Year holidays my raw urushi ran out so I ordered some more from Joboji.  This is the raw unprocessed urushi tapped from Lac trees and is the most hyperallergenic stuff I use; it also solidifies into the most amazingly rich colour and bamboo rods built using this lacquer end up with very strong, dependable joints.


Caught some tanago

On Teganuma today.

It was very cold and windy out today but at least the sun was shining.  The fish put up a fairly good show.

If you are not careful, some of the local residents may sneak up on you and attempt to eat your catch whilst your attention is devoted to the fishing!


Many thanks to Mr. I. as always for the great fishing on Lake Teganuma.

Saturday tanago fishing and unagi

My camera ran out of battery power after photographing my first catch, but my very obliging and generous host Mr. I. took a couple of photos for me on the day.

My homemade bamboo tanago rod is still giving good service, although I need to work more on my hook grinding!  Afterwards we indulged in a local specialty, unagi eel, of course with a few sundries beforehand such as homemade pickles, grilled eel livers, tamago-yaki and suchlike.

The pickles I suspect were salted rather heavily, to make sure customers order plenty of drinks; something we did without encouragement.  Later in the meal after numerous beers and hot sake,  the grilled unagi arrived.  Most good restaurants will keep their eels live in a tub and only butcher and fillet them once the customer orders it, requiring a wait of half an hour or more (in this part of Japan the fillets are steamed before grilling).  The unagi gourmand of course will spend this time profitably, consuming a variety of alcoholic drinks.

The unagi was received at table with much applause, yet curiously at the moment this photo was taken the deck took an immense lurch to port, even more curious as we were on dry land.  It was quite delicious, regardless.

Tanago fishing

Nice to catch some monsters on Teganuma!


Thanks as always to Mr. I., Mr. Redfeather, and especially Mr. A. for the gold hook!

New Tanago Rod

Whilst I like to think I can make my own tanago fishing gear sometimes the temptation is too great, to buy the rods made by professionals.  Whilst this rod is by no means the pinnacle of craftsmanship, it is still way, way beyond anything I can possibly make at home.  So I bought it.

8-piece tanago rod, with fitted baleen tip and spare bamboo tip (not shown) and the all fits inside a lacquered bamboo case.  Many thanks to Mr. M. as always, for the fantastic tackle.  I look forward to using this rod in the upcoming spring tanago season.

Tanago Tackle

Picked up some sundries at traditional Japanese angling outfitters Tosaku during the week, and set them to use.  First, I bought a traditional hand-stitched cotton bag for the tanago rod I have just made.


When folded and tied it will fit as easily into your pocket as  your tackle bag:


Next I bought a set of bamboo frames, the tanago angler’s version of a line-tidy, which keep your tanago rigs taut and trim and separate from one another.  I then made two rigs for Teganuma tanago angling, entirely from parts and tackle I have been generously given by various anglers on the lake, and wrapped them, ready for use.  For scale, I added a 1-yen coin, which is 25mm in diameter.  These rigs are far smaller than anything you can buy in the stores, and I am sincerely grateful for these gifts I have received – in particular, the craftsmanship put into the floats alone is astounding.


To protect the bamboo frames with their delicate cargo, these are placed in a specially made cotton bag, looking ever like little tucked-in bedfellows.


The whole thing folds up and is secured with a knot, and everything is ready for fishing!


Rod Lacquering

First layer completed.  This ground layer needs a few weeks to really fully polymerise and form a solid bond with the bamboo.