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Micro Fishing Starter Kit

The Micro Fishing Starter Kit contains what you need to get started in micro fishing - rod, line, hooks, floats, and weights. I've been thinking of doing a starter kit for some time and it seems the interest in micro fishing has finally grown enough to justify it.

Faithful readers of my various musings on fishing realize by now that I occasionally follow the path less traveled by. So it is with micro fishing. Most anglers want to catch big fish. I am just as happy catching little fish. And as someone who has fished for trout for decades since learning to fly fish in the mountain streams of Colorado, I find fishing for something other than trout to be an interesting challenge.

Many of the anglers drawn to micro fishing are pursuing a life list, which is the fishing equivalent of a birdwatcher's life list - a list of all the bird species seen, or in this case fish species caught. There are over a thousand species of fish in the US. Most are small - small enough to be classed as micros. A "micro" is generally defined to be any fish that when fully gown will not reach a pound in weight.

Duskystripe Shiner

I am excited about catching new species, but I am not really pursuing a formal life list. I am much more interested in just fishing small bodies of water that are often hidden in plain sight - places most anglers wouldn't look at twice but the kind I look at every time I see one and wonder what lives there and how do I catch it.

Nowhere was that more evident than the trickle across the road in North Central Arkansas. As I drove over it (slowly) I looked out the window at the little "pool" on the side of the road - and saw fish! I just had to stop. Then I just had to figure out how to catch one.

It turned out that what lived in that little pool were Creek Chubs.

Multiply that by a few thousand (probably a few hundred thousand) little pools or brooks or ponds and you soon realize that micro fishing opportunities are endless. Seriously, it's a case too many places and too little time. I know a guy in suburban New Jersey that keeps a rod in his car and fishes for 15 minutes on the way to the grocery store! (I do think his wife is on to him, though.) Another guy emailed me saying he finally decided to see if there were any fish in the little stream across the street from where he works. On his lunch break he caught a bunch of sunfish and a little smallmouth bass.

The Micro Fishing Starter Kit has what you need to get started exploring all those little, overlooked places to fish. Much of the gear I've chosen for the kit is tanago fishing gear. Tanago are any of a few different species of fish in Japan that are called "the world's smallest game fish." The goal of tanago anglers in Japan is to catch the smallest fish, not the largest.

Gear designed for tanago fishing works very well for micro fishing because it was specifically designed to catch small fish. But please, here in the US, call it micro fishing, not tanago fishing. Tanago is a type of fish, and if you are not fishing for tanago, you are not tanago fishing.

Kiyotaki 24

The rod I've chosen for the kit is the Kiyotaki 24. I've chosen to go with the Kiyotaki 24 rather than one of the tanago rods or the shorter Kiyotaki 18 for one important reason: it is a more versatile rod. There will be times when you will need a longer rod because the water is shallow and the fish are skittish. There will be times when you will need to fish over the top of fairly serious foliage that lines the banks. There will be times when you will want to cast further than you can with a 4' tanago rod. Also, there will definitely be times when you will catch fish that are not micros, and which could break a tanago rod.

There are those who recommend a much longer rod for microfishing, but they fish directly under the rod tip. I believe you can cast a small split shot and bait, or possibly a small float, split shot and bait rather than just fish directly under the rod tip. If you do that you do not need a longer rod. Plus, the Kiyotaki is so convenient to carry (about 15" when collapsed) that you could easily stuff one in a daypack and have it with you all the time.

After the rod, the most important part of your micro fishing gear is the hook (and more than a few people would say that for micro fishing, the hook is way more important than the rod). Small fish have small mouths and many of the smaller micros just can't be caught on larger hooks.

The hooks I've chosen for the Micro Fishing Starter Kit are Owner "Smallest" snelled tanago hooks. They are also available unsnelled, but since they don't have eyes, you either buy them snelled or you have to snell them yourself. Believe me, snelled is easier.

The line that is included in the kit is Maxima 5X tippet material. It has a breaking strength of 3 pounds, so it is overkill for micros, but as long as the rod is capable of handling an unexpectedly large fish, it makes sense for the line to be able to also.

The line that is used to snell hooks is about 1 lb test. To make it easier to connect the very thin snell to the main line (which itself is pretty thin) the Micro Fishing Starter Kit includes a package of Owner Tippet Connectors.

The main line is tied to the eye of the tippet connector, and the snell line is pulled into the tight hook part twice (pulled in, wrapped around and pulled in again). It won't slip and you don't have to tie a knot in the really thin line.

Two other critical items are floats and weights. For floats, I've decided to keep it very simple and include a package of Unibobbers in the Micro Fishing Starter Kit. Although the Unibobber was initially designed for fly tying, it does make a very functional float for micro fishing. They are quite small but they will support a #10 shot along with a tanago hook and a speck of bait.

You want the shot not only to get the bait down to the level of the fish, but also to leave the float just barely floating. That way it will take almost no effort for a micro to take it under or at least pull it to the side.

The Unibobbers can also be used with a small nymph when fly fishing for micros. Together with the single shot or a very small bead head nymph, they add just enough weight so you can effectively cast a line rather than just fish directly under your rod tip. That, in turn, allows you to fish very effectively with a shorter rod, which will be much more convenient and much less cumbersome than a heavy 13-14 foot fiberglass crappie pole.

If you use a float small enough for a micro to take under, it will be too small to use the split shot you can buy in a local tackle shop or big box store. The Dinsmore's #10 shot is small enough to use with the Unibobber and is still large enough to sink a hook and small bait.

The Dinsmore's shot is lead-free and is thus legal to use in places that have banned lead weights. It comes in a package that easily dispenses only one or two at a time, so you can't spill them all if the container gets tipped over or dropped.

The final piece of gear in the Micro Fishing Starter Kit is a pair of Fuji EZ Keepers. These allow you to keep your line attached to the rod when the rod is collapsed - either when you are moving from one spot to the next or at home between fishing trips.

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