Traditional Wooden Bait Box
Traditional Wooden Bait Box (inside view)

Traditional Wooden Bait Box

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Japanese wooden bait boxes (esa bako) are as beautiful as they are functional.

Traditional wooden bait boxes are worn around the neck. The cord runs through the lid so the lid can't be lost. The lid is held closed by a combination of gravity and friction.

A customer, Les Albjerg, got interested (and then excited) about keiryu fishing. As it happens, he is a woodworker who has learned the Japanese method of wood turning. He currently makes duck and goose calls, and tampers for espresso machines. He contacted me and offered to make traditional Japanese wooden bait boxes. It did not take me long to say "yes."

Les makes the boxes from myrtlewood, a hard, light weight wood that is ideal for bait boxes. The wood has a subtle grain, and Les makes the bait boxes so the grain in the lid is a continuation of the grain in the lower part of the box. Each one is a bit different.

The inside of the box is finished with a clay pigment. The early Japanese wooden bait boxes were finished with a clay pigment before they started using lacquer. The outside of each box is finished with a urethane that will stand up to the elements.

Use the box for red wigglers, wax worms, meal worms, salmon eggs, nymphs taken from the streambed (where legal) and kept moist with damp moss, etc.

Please note: Each bait box is unique. The grain pattern and overall shape will be different than the one shown.