Fishing, Photography, Tackle

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Jigging in Southern Japan

Straight after our Sea Bass adventure we jumped on to another ferry and headed west to seek some accommodation for the night. The soft bed in the heated hotel room was like heaven after our rough night sleep in the car on Hirasime Island the night before. We stuffed ourselves at a local restaurant before crashing out, exhausted.


Waking early once again we headed back east to the ferry terminal and loaded the car for a 2 hour trip to the mainland. Travelling on the ferry there was so much to look at; endless islands being pounded by strong current, birds working current lines looking for bait and the odd splash in the distance to get the casting arm twitching. You could spend half a lifetime exploring all these areas and it is easy to see why the Japanese have such an obsession with both fish and the art of fishing.



Arriving on the mainland we drove up and down winding roads for a couple of hours to get to a little harbour. Upon arrival at the marina there was a boat and crew of keen fisherman ready and waiting to head out for the afternoon.  The crew consisted of a few of Tsurusaki sans fishing friends which included as Tsurusaki san described  “The Prince of Tuna” & “The Prince of Jigging”.


Driving out to sea we passed some of the best looking water we have ever seen but continued straight past in search of fish. After about a 40 minute run from the marina we dropped some jigs and cast some stickbaits around a small island that came straight up out of 70m. After about 10 minutes with no action the captain called lines up and we motored out through rough seas for another hour.

On arrival, we were greeted with a fleet of pro boats working the area for big bluefin tuna as well as a few other charter boats chasing flocks of birds. The area varied in depth from 80m all the way up to 35m and was covered with bait, which looked very promising on the sounder.

Not long after the first drop The Prince of Jigging was folded over the gunnel fighting a nice size hiramasa (kingfish) on a FCL VM270 jig. It was pretty clear how he got his nickname!! Soon after the first fish was landed the fishing got a little quiet besides from a few bumps from noncommittal fish.



Many lure changes later Tsurusaki san cracked the pattern and managed to get some solid hiramasa and amberjack on a 130g Evergreen Wolfram jig. This compact tungsten lure has a very small profile in the water which seemed to get the fishes attention. By this stage light was getting low and the fish really started to turn on with a flurry of fish coming on board including a blue eye trevella and a hirame (halibut) which was fooled with a slow pitch retrieve.









As it got darker, the fish started biting with a little more aggression and a switch back to longer jigs were needed to get the attention of the hiramasa and amberjacks. After receiving a few tips from the captain he gave me a FCL FT220 to tie on and next drop I set the hooks on my first Japanese hiramasa. The hiramasa are short and stocky in comparison to our Australian kingfish and have a much higher fat content making them a highly prized eating fish which is most commonly served as sashimi.


A big cold snap had rolled in from the north west a couple of days previously, Prior to that, Bluefin of 50+kg were regularly hitting squid imitation stickbaits. 10 casting rods on the boat, all rigged with FCL Squidpens, gave the game away as to the favoured lure. Unfortunately the tuna didn’t want to play today, A few diving birds and splashes indicated their presence at times, but like fussy Moreton Bay longtails, they were not to be tempted by stickbaits or jigs. Even the Prince of Tuna gave it away, and he had travelled over five hours to come on the charter.



The sun went down and the cold really started to bite. Nonetheless we jigged into darkness but did not have any more luck. We then packed up and started the long trip back to the marina. On the way, we passed several hundred squid boats with their dazzling bright lights shining into the water. The sight was quite spectacular with the boats spread horizon to horizon like an ocean of giant bobbing lanterns.

It was another great experience in Japan and was a great way to finish off the fishing stage of the trip.

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Sea Bass- Part 2

We awake the next morning to quite a different day. The temperature feels like it has dropped 10 degrees overnight and the wind is howling! We’re here to fish, and Tsurusaki is soon piloting us down a narrow maze of roads, barely wide enough for the car, and some almost completely reclaimed by nature. I ask him how he found these remote spots many years ago, pre-google maps? He says laughingly: “I use the force!”

On the Track

We hike over hills through forests of bamboo, rhododendrons, pines and dense pockets of coastal rainforest, followed by boulder hopping and a little rock climbing for good measure. Thirty or so minutes later we emerge on some awesome looking ledges.


Brett is first in the water so I pull out the video to get a bit of footage of him trying to punch 30g minnows into 30 knots of breeze. I barely have time to turn the camera on before he is wrestling a good seabass from the surge at his feet. These blackfin seabass are much more bulky and muscular than the Japan seabass found in the bays and harbours. They put on a great fight, jumping, running and trying to bury you among the rocks. This one is around 75cm and 4-5kg. A fantastic start to the day!

Bretts 1st Seabass

Duncan and Rod

And so the day goes on: hike, climb, rockhop, and fish. The wind howls relentlessly and for good measure a few flurries of snow swirl around. Luckily the island has just enough protection from the swell to permit fishing in these rather severe conditions.

Duncans 1st Seabass

The bass come in bursts, no strikes for several washes then a hit on every cast in another. I do a great job of missing hook-ups and dropping fish, but eventually I get my first bass. Brett on the other hand is having a stellar day, landing bass over 80cm, a nice snapper on the FCL Shime Vibe over 65cm and getting smoked by a good size kingfish.

Brett Snapper

We end the day with Tsurusaki looking as fresh as a daisy; Brett and I are wrecked. Legs, knees, arms and backs screaming, faces red from windburn, but we’ve caught fish!

We will leave you with a few more photos of what was a great fishing experience.

Sunbeam Seabass

Tsurusaki Seabass

Snapper on Shime Vibe

Brett Seabass 4

Thanks for Reading!!

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Osaka Tackle Show 2014- Part 2

Beyond the huge stands of Daiwa and Shimano, other big players like Evergreen, Megabass and Jackall all had a large presence. Megabass showed off new topwater plugs, cranks, weedless frogs, and a bluewater stickbait. Evergreen had their new overhead jigging reel on display as well as a bunch of new Kaleido bass rods as well as a seabass rod featuring Daiwa’s AGS guides. Jackall had a smaller stand than usual after the giant bass tank they usually display was banned due to a tank cracking (not Jackalls) at a show last year. Jackall had new topwater lures, some bass cranks and interesting metal jigs for sable (hairtail)

There were so many other forms of fishing covered at the show, from traditional ayu and hera fishing to bait fishing the rocks with floats, burley and a multitude of accessories. Northcraft were showing off some heavy duty jointed swimbaits for hard crunching species like impoundment barramundi. Designer Kitade san (KD) was proudly showing off a pic of a 127cm Japanese barramundi caught on the test lure. Duo had an awesome new topwater cicada lure with rubber legs similar to some of the soft topwater bugs as well as a larger version of the Rough Trail stickbait that has earned them many fans in Australia.

Elsewhere it was obvious that some of the stands were not as over the top as previous years. Many of the regular exhibitors had downsized their stands, but they seemed to make that up with exuberant promotion including loudspeakers and plenty of attractive booth girls to draw the crowds in. At the opposite end of the spectrum, many of the exhibitors were working hard to draw in female anglers, with prominent placing of the professional women on the stands and in the presentations. There was also a lot more female oriented tackle and accessories on display.

The Crowds were plentiful on the Saturday when the show is open to the public.

Crowd at opening



Girls talking











Seabass Talk
























Akashi Brand1











Misuke and Honey1




















ito craft1







Booth Girls

Thanks for reading!

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Osaka Tackle Show 2014- Part 1

For a tackle junky like myself, there is not much better than checking out a heap of new fishing gear. Some of the best new gear appears at the Japan Fishing shows, starting with the Osaka show in February each year. The first day of this show is for the trade only, which gives a great opportunity to get a handle on new gear. The following two days are open to the public, during which time tens of thousands of local anglers cram the large halls to check out the new gear, listen to presentations and maybe meet their favourite Pro-Angler. Some of the top anglers are treated like rock stars here, with fans lining up for hours for the chance to meet their fishing idols

The two biggest companies Daiwa and Shimano came out this year with all guns blazing. Daiwa has released a new Saltiga including the largest spin reel they have ever produced, Their Mag Seal technology has been extended into bail rollers and bearings. At the other end of the spectrum, Shimano released a new Stella in the 1000-4000 size range with new gears, improved body design and balance. In baitcasters, daiwa has released super tuned Steez models at the top end and Japan spec versions of the Tatula reels.

Shimano has a new Scorpion baitcaster and a new version of the famous Conquest reel. The Conquest has been significantly redesigned so that the new 200 model reel is as compact as the old 50 size!

Daiwa Stand

The Daiwa Stand stood tall amongst the others displays this year in Osaka

Daiwa Morethan

The new Daiwa Morethan will be available in 3 sizes and features a Zaion body and magsealed bearings making it lighter and more durable.

Daiwa Branzino

Daiwa Expedition Stand

The new Daiwa Saltiga Expedition in the 5500H & 8000H sizes

Daiwa Expediton Spool

The new Daiwa Saltiga Expedtion feature a new body, gearing and mag sealed bearings

Daiwa Ryoga Bay Jigging

The Daiwa Ryoga Bay Jigging reels were unveiled in a few sizes and speeds. They are a light jiggers dream reel!

Daiwa Namiki Steez

Daiwa has realeased two Steez limited reels and the Namiki custom model is a stunning reel.

Daiwa Steez Ltd

Daiwa SS SV

The new Daiwa SS SV is the new ultralight baitcaster weighing in at an impressive 150g!

Daiwa Tutula

The Tatula was released at ICAST last year and the new JDM versions were getting a lot of attention at the show.

Daiwa Tutula Range

Daiwa Steez Rods

Stella Stand

The new Stella was the stand out spinning reel at the show.

Shimano Stellas

Shimano Stella 4000

The new Stella was both incredibly light and smooth in the hand.

Shim Stella 2500

Shimano Stella SW

The full range of Stella SW reels were also on show

Shimano Cardiff

The Shimano Cardiff is a Trout fishermans dream reel

Shimano Scorpion Front

Shimano Conquest

The new Conquest is very compact. The new 200 size feels like the old 50 size!

Shimano Conquest 101

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Sea Bass- Part 1

Heading south for a seabass adventure. In the past 24hrs we’ve done the ‘planes, trains and automobiles’ and now we’re adding ferries to the list. Travelling through the countryside I’m amazed at the amount of forest there is in this part of the country. After spending time around Osaka to Tokyo region you could be forgiven for thinking the Japan is just one vast urban sprawl.


Kyushu, like much of japan is pretty mountainous: towns, cities, and farms all vie for space in what little flat areas there are, especially close to the coast. The steep hillsides are draped in many shades of lush forest green. There are bridges aplenty to cross on the way to the ferry, I soon loose track of which island we are on now. The islands are intersected by channels of deep, clear water and ripping currents. These channels are home to seabass as well as kingfish, while a multitude of little bays and harbours are home to kurudai (black bream). Eventually we run out of bridges, and reach a ferry terminal to take us to Hirasime island.



The trip on the old ferry takes around 2.5hrs with a couple of stops on the way. The weather is pleasant, about 12 degrees and fairly calm, but the forecast is foreboding. Strong winds and temps down to freezing are predicted over the next couple of days. The seas are predicted to rise to 3m as well, but Tsurusaki assures us that the island is fairly protected from the open sea swells.  Eventually we pull into the small harbour on Hirasime, seconds later we are driving up the gangway onto the narrow island laneways. The word ‘hira’ means flat, but I can see nothing flat about this place. Evidently it is all-relative; if you don’t need ropes and cranes to access the island, then it can be considered flat! The island used to have a busy industry quarrying sandstone but the only business remaining now are a handful of commercial fisherman, mainly chasing squid. Most of the younger generation have left the island for work opportunities elsewhere, leaving a few hundred hardy islanders behind.


It’s getting late so we hurry to catch last light on the rocks. Aside from a few half-hearted hits on the lures, there is not much action this evening, however, we learn a lot about seabass. Firstly, you need the rock hopping skills of a mountain goat to fish these ledges easily. Tsurusaki san has a few years on me and plenty over Brett, but he leaves us for dead over the boulder strewn ocean shore. Secondly, the rock fishing boots he procured for us are absolutely indispensable. The spiked felt soles grip like nothing else, and are certainly no relation to the cleated shoes I wore on the Sydney rocks as a teenager.

Duncan Rocks

Most importantly, we get a lesson in Seabass psychology. They behave a lot like a cross between an aggressive tailor and a cautious barramundi. The first one or two casts can be fished quite fast to get the attention or a reaction strike from the fish. If they do not bite straight away, you then switch to fishing the lures very slowly with an occasional pause. The seabass get attracted in close by your first couple of casts then they hide among the rocks waiting to ambush prey right in the wash zone. Most of the strikes come just as you are about to lift the lure from the water. It can be quite a challenge to slowly and methodically swim the lure in the washing machine at your feet, but using the surge to help swim the lures along the rock face is a deadly technique here.


We end the day camping by the harbour, demolishing our instant ramen in seconds, before a fairly rough nights sleep in the back of the car.

To be continued….