Micro Fishing is for Men*
by John Evans
(San Antonio, TX)
Sunfish on a Size 16 Screaming Banshee
*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?”
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!
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.
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.
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.
“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