Micro Fishing is for Men*

by John Evans
(San Antonio, TX)

*I assure you, the title for this article is tongue-in-cheek!

Micro fishing is for children, women, and men. It’s just that men have a hard time targeting micro fish or even admitting that it’s something they enjoy. After all, what’s the second question people ask after they say, “Are you catching anything?” That’s right . . . “How big are they?”

Small sunfish on man's palmSunfish on a Size 16 Screaming Banshee

But, if a person will just give himself permission to try micro fishing, and use the RIGHT equipment, it can be a world of fun.

For the past few months I’ve pursued smaller fish in smaller water (isn’t that what tenkara is mostly about?) and really enjoyed myself. I’ve caught species that I’ve never hooked before and fished water I usually pass by. It’s just too much fun to ignore!

Three seiryu rods that work well for micro fishing.Three Excellent Micro Fishing Rods, from top to bottom: Suntech Kurenai HM30R, Nissin Air Stage Hakubai 240, Nissin Fine Mode Nagare 330

Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Choose the right rod. Enjoyable fishing is all about matching the equipment to the species. Don’t take a salt water rig to catch a 3-inch bluegill. That same bluegill, however, will put a deep bend in any of the Japanese seiryu rods that Chris sells.

2. Use LIGHT tippet. Did I say that loudly enough? The fact that you are targeting fish under 6 inches (the loose definition of micro fishing) doesn’t mean that they’re the only ones that will strike. I frequently have the unsettling but exciting experience of a largemouth bass gobbling a little sunfish that I’ve just hooked. Understand that the bass isn’t hooked, but he is definitely on the line! In my part of the world, channel catfish will frequently inhale a tiny nymph cast in shallow, brackish water. You want the tippet to break, not the rod.

Small bass with seiryu rodMicro bass are too much fun to ignore

3. Don’t worry about the people who scoff at you. Has anyone ever poked fun at my micro fishing? Yes. A few weeks ago a lady hiker watched me work a little neighborhood creek and saw me land several little guys. Finally she laughed and said, “Do you ever catch anything bigger than bait?” I’ve learned how to handle these situations. I smiled, walked over to her, and let her handle the Suntech Kurenai HM30R. Then I showed her my little box of size 16 flies. Her sneer turned into understanding, and she got the point. Warning: If you try this approach, you may have a hard time getting your rod back!

4. Fish unexplored, neglected water. You know, that little creek that looks like it’s too small to hold fish? That neighborhood rivulet that you can jump across? Micro fishing opportunities are everywhere. It’s one of the last frontiers of fishing . . . and it surrounds us.

Scruffy fly in viseLearn to tie a few of your own flies

5. Learn to tie a few flies. I have bad eyes and shaky hands. I will never win any fly-tying contests. Yet, I have learned to tie a few of my own scruffy flies. The micro fish seem to like them just fine. Micro fish are almost always biting. There’s something about catching ANY fish on a fly you’ve tied that doubles the pleasure. Perhaps start with the simplest sakasa kebari fly, or maybe a Utah Killer Bug. Really, that’s all you need to begin.

So, give yourself permission to enjoy an overlooked aspect of our sport. No, I’m not talking about fishing the aquarium in your living room. Get out to a local trail, find some water that other anglers ignore, bring an ultralight tenkara rod and a few flies . . . and have a blast. It will take 20 years off your age, guaranteed.

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