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Most international flights have been cancelled.

There is no ETA for out-of-stock items that come from Japan.

Shipments to overseas buyers will take longer than normal - possibly much longer. Patience is a virtue - especially in fishing.

Wooden Bait Boxes

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

I suppose all endeavors have their share of paraphernalia - the bits and pieces of gear you need to do what you are doing. In tenkara, we are told you only need a rod, a line and a fly. In keiryu fishing (at least in the Japanese style, fishing with bait) you also need a bait box.

The bait boxes used by Japanese keiryu anglers range from simple utilitarian plastic bait boxes that clip to your wader belt all the way to intricately hand carved or hand painted wooden boxes that are truly works of art.

Simple need not be utilitarian. It can be artistic and beautiful as well.

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.

On one of my wife's visits to my supplier's shop in Japan, she saw the simple wooden bait box shown above. With the wonders of Apple's Face Time feature (the "video phone" that futurists had forecast for the last 50 years), she showed me the box and I bought it on the spot.

Les Albjerg's Traditional
Wooden Bait Boxes

Fast forward a couple years.

A customer, Les Albjerg, got interested (and then excited) about keiryu fishing - to the point that he started a worm farm (worm fishing for trout is extremely effective). About the same time, Jared K stated on his "Your Keiryu Stories" submission that he wanted one of the wooden Japanese bait boxes. Les asked about the boxes so I sent him a photo. He got excited again. 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 (to make it right you have to have one). He contacted me and offered to make traditional Japanese wooden bait boxes. It did not take me long to say "yes."

Les makes most of his 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 but most are a bit over 3" tall and a bit under 3" in diameter.

Inside view.

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. (Besides being highly toxic, traditional Japanese lacquer is not available in the US anyway.) 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. I've seen videos of Japanese anglers with more than one bait box, so they can carry more than one type of bait.

I hope you'll get as excited about keiryu fishing as I am (and as Les is). I also hope you'll try one of his bait boxes. You will need a bait box. May as well have a traditional wooden bait box that is as attractive as it is functional.

Traditional Bait Box
The grain pattern and overall shape of each box is unique.
Traditional Wooden Bait Box - $40

Short Myrtlewood Bait Box

The box pictured above is about 3" tall and 3" wide, which is a bit shorter and a bit wider than most of Les' boxes. The wood is Myrtlewood. In this particular case, the box pictured is the one you will get.

Short Myrtlewood Bait Box - $40

Redwood Bait Box

Redwood is a darker wood with a much more pronounced grain pattern than Myrtlewood. The grain pattern of each box is unique.

Redwood Bait Box - $40

Mahogany Bait Box

Mahogany is a darker wood with a unique but very subtle grain pattern. In this particular case, the box pictured is the one you will get.

Mahogany Bait Box - $40

Boxes made in the USA.


Domestic shipping is $4, via USPS First Class Mail (unless ordered with an item that must go via Priority Mail, and which has a higher shipping charge). The charge is added to your order automatically.

The charge for international shipping depends on the destination country, the weight of the package, the overall length of the package and the value of the package.

International purchases may be subject to import duties and taxes. I cannot keep track of all import regulations in all countries written in all languages. Understanding and paying import duties and taxes are the responsibility of the buyer.

TenkaraBum Home > Keiryu Accessories > Wooden Bait Boxes

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin

"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." Col. Robert Venables 1662

As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.


The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.

Beware of the Dogma

Currently processing orders that were received July 9.