In its simplest form, microfishing is a fishing for small fish with downsized tackle. Microfishing has started to become more popular around the world over the last few years. This isn’t so surprising, as it opens up countless waters and species of fish to anglers.
Microfishing is popular for people with a lifelist of different fish they want to catch. They get a book like Peterson’s field guide to the fish of North America and try to catch as many of the listed species as they can. And it can be just as popular with people who just want to catch whatever fish swim close to them. There are a large number of fish in waterways that other anglers may never even visit. For those of us who enjoy angling, why not try to find out which fish swim these creeks and canals?
While microfishing has just started to pick up steam in the United States, many anglers in Japan have been pursuing tiny fish for years. Mainly they fish for bitterling or tanago. The goal with tanago fishing is often to catch the smallest specimen possible. This differs from people in the US who are more likely to pursue microfishing to catch varied species or simply fish what they find close to home.
Because tanago fishing has been going on for so long, most specialized microfishing equipment comes from Japan. It can be difficult to locate in the United States and other countries. So many people just make do with whatever they find. But these days it is getting easier to buy purpose made microfishing gear. Using the specialized gear makes it easier to catch micros, and easier on the fish too.
If you want to work with what you have, you can catch microfish with a standard fishing rod. You might not even have to change many things around. The main thing is using a hook small enough to catch micro fish. The Snelled Owner Tanago Hooks are a great choice in this case. Whenever you want to catch small fish, you can actually just tie the end of the leader right to your regular hook. Then just bait the micro hook and dip the whole rig into the water. You’d be surprised how well this can work!
It is also possible to fashion your own microfishing rod. You could use anything from the end section of a fly rod to an ice fishing rod blank mounted on a cork handle. There’s room for experimentation there. But the specialized microfishing rods can make things a lot easier, and fun. Believe it or not, but even a two inch long fish can put up a fight on a micro rod!
Specialized microfishing rods range from low end fiberglass rods to expensive custom made microfishing poles. Then there are the midrange microfishing poles like the Hachikan from Tiemco that cost about the same as a decent spinning rod. You get what you pay for, but in most cases the inexpensive rods will do just fine.
A 5 or 6 foot (150 to 200 cm) rod can cover most microfishing situations. They’re all telescopic and easy to carry, so they don’t get in the way. If you are pursuing very tiny fish in small waters that you need to get right on top of, you can get an 80 centimeter rod. There are even smaller rods available, but they are quite specialized. Some microfishing rods like the Hachikan mentioned above even have adjustable length to match various conditions.
What about the tackle? Of course it has to be downsized to match the fish. If you use the snelled hooks mentioned above, you can just tie them on to the end of whatever hook is already on your line. The snelled hooks are on very light line, so that allows you to just go ahead and start microfishing.
If you want to make due with what’s around, you could use a 1 pound test leader material like this Maxima Mini Pack for line. For a hook, you could use something like a small size 24 Daiichi fly hook. Then you could put on micro split shot for weight, and use the smallest float you could find.
Or you could use specialized microfishing gear. In that case you could use Owner tanago fishing line. You cut off a length of that line as long as you want to cast. Then you tie one end of the line to the end of your microfishing rod. On the other end, you tie an Owner tippet fastener. Finally, you take a snelled Gamakatsu microfishing hook and slip the loop over the tippet fastener.
You can also get even more involved as they do in Japan. That means adding a microfishing float. Then adding various colored strike indicator dots along your line. That way you see when a tiny fish takes your bait and set the hook. It can be as involved as you’d like to get. But the basic setups mentioned above will all allow you to catch micro species.
Finally, there is the bait. You can use a wide variety of baits and even flies for many micro species. But they do have to be small enough for the fish to bite. So if you want to use a fly, you should aim for small sizes from 16 down to as little as size 26. Basic flies often do well, so try patterns like the disco midge.
Organic bait does seem to work better for many micro species however. And some species are difficult or even impossible to catch without using something organic or at least soft to the touch. There is specialized microfishing bait as you might expect. But a simple piece of white bread can work well too. A tiny crumb of fresh white bread can be easily molded around a tiny micro fishing hook. So can other types of dough, a tiny tip of a soft plastic lure, or a piece of red worms.
All sorts of things can catch micro species. People who regularly go microfishing use everything from tiny pieces of yarn to little balls of dough bait. Getting the bait to the fish simply requires dropping the hook in front of them. A lot of micro fish species will allow you to get close to them if you move in a slow and deliberate way. It can be a lot of fun watching the little fish spot then take your tiny hook. Just make sure you are swift yet soft with the hook set and you’ll be starting your microfishing on a high note.