Fishing creels like the one below used to be used a lot especially for trout fishing. It would see though that today most fishermen have resorted to canvas or nylon bags which seems a great pity as willow creels are very suitable for the task. Because of the structure water just runs through the basket so it makes little difference if it is raining or the creel is lying in a puddle in the bottom of a boat. The fish (if you are lucky enough to catch any!) seem to stay fresher than if you had put them in a plastic bag.
The creel on the left belongs to a friend. It is made of willow and centre cane (reed).
The frame being made from cane. There are various ways of making these baskets the easiest is
to use a mould around which the basket is shaped. This method however requires that you either have or
can make a suitable mould and is not practical if only one or two creels are required. it is more
practical to pre-shape the end posts and shape the basket just by eye.
The picture on the left shows the base (pre-shaped) and the scallomed base sticks. I usually drill holes in the base frame to hold the stakes but some basketmakers just make holes with their bodkin (quite hard work!). The next picture below left shows the scalloms in place and the base weaving started. You might also notice that I have inserted two pegs to hold the corner posts. I later found that it was better to insert the pegs into the ends of the base frame and fit the corner posts with a half joint. There are various methods of doing the end posts. In the creel at the top of the page the base frame and end posts are made of one piece of cane. I do not think that this method could be done using willow because of the taper on the willow rod. The two end stakes are quite important as they govern the shape of the finished basket and I usually pre-shape these before fitting. I like my creels to have a sort of rounded "J" shape. Once the base weaving is complete the scallomed base sticks are pricked up vertically and the corner posts and stakes fitted. The basket is then completed as a round basket either with french or english randing. Two slots or gaps are left at the corner posts to enable the carrying strap to be threaded through. The lid is made similar to the base usually with a sort of letter box hole worked in the centre to allow fish to be put into the creel without opening the lid.