Micro-Fishing is a term used to describe angling for small fish. These fish are often small by nature, meaning that they do not reach mature sizes much beyond 6 inches in length. Although we may commonly think of the small fish we see in creeks, ponds, rivers, lakes and the like as minnows, baitfish, or some other general small fish, the fact is that most of the fish species in North America are small fish.
Micro-Fishing for recreation has been very popular in Japan for many years. They have developed short rods without reels and use extremely fine line, or by tradition a long woman’s hair, hopefully one for who you hold affections. They also use very small hooks; similar is size to the tiny fly hooks used by tout angler. Some of these hooks are custom designed, and have a specific shape that allows them to fit in the mouths’ of little fish.
The Japanese have great skill in Micro-Fishing. The wide popularity of the sport has pushed the Japanese to refine and develop their fishing tactics and equipment. Most of the American anglers I know who micro-fish use small Japanese made hooks, as well as very light fishing line, also from Japan < 1Lbs test or < 0.5 test (pretty impressive when you consider your ‘re likely losing ~50% strength at the knot). This type of Micro-Fishing is certainly done all throughout America and all over the world. The Japanese are also pioneers in Urban Fishing, which urban fish (outside of legend and folklore) are largely micro-fish. These areas for Urban Fishing allow people otherwise unable to fish as a consequence of living in large cities, the opportunity to enjoy fishing, some restaurant even insist you catch your own fish before they prepare it! Fish doesn’t get much fresher than that!
However, outside of Japan, many anglers do not target these many fish species due to their small-size. Micro-Fishing opens up the world of angling to many more species of fish, and many more places to fish for them. In addition to the many species of small fish all throughout America, it also exciting to fish for small or juvenile game fish such as trout, bass, catfish, pike, walleye, and so on. This can often be done at your favorite fishing hole, just the think of the 10 feet right off shore your are usually casting over as a whole new hotspot!
Micro-Sport fishing can be incredibly challenging. Some anglers target rare species of fish, or sub-species that may only exist in small areas of certain river systems. Some will hike deep into the mountains to find the small pristine lakes, and ponds that are home to small, eager trout. American Micro-Fishermen and Fisherwomen have developed their own sets of diverse tactics and strategies, and these are diverse as the countless species of little fish these anglers are after.
Fundamentally micro-fishing is just like regular fishing, and like fishing the gear i.e. rod, reel, line, and bait must be matched to the fish being pursued. You wouldn’t take your heavy catfish rig to go fishing for foot-long trout, would you? Similarly you want to make sure if you are micro-fishing you have the proper gear and tackle. More on that later. First a note on tactics.
Micro-Fishing does not really require special tactics. If you are fishing your local fishing hole, then simply by scaling down your tackle appropriately for smaller fish you have taken the first steps to micro-fishing. Small wild game fish such as bass, perch, bluegill, sunfish, trout, pike, gar, catfish etc. can be fished using the same bait and tactics as their older siblings. People are often surprised how close to the shore micro-fish are, do not think that you need to be casting out for the micro-fish. Often micro-fishing 1-8 feet of the shore, or directly off of man-made structure will often result in some very good micro-fishing.
My advice is that it is often good to start close to the shore and then work out if in shallow water, or start out 6-8 feet and work in toward the shore on a deeper bank. Another obvious tip is to go somewhere you regularly fish, or somewhere you know there are little fish, usually because you can see them swimming (or often chasing your bait on your big rod as you bring it in). I mention this because it can be frustrating to go micro-fishing for the first time in a little creek or stream with no fish. It can be surprising where, and where the little fish are at. Pick a good spot, and you’ll be catching micro-fish in no time!
Now for my favorite about fishing (aside from catching fish of course), the gear & tackle! Micro-fishing can certainly be done with simply a very small hook and tiny split-shot weight. The Japanese often use a small pole, some with a soft rubber tip for the last few inches and just a few feet of line. The use small indicator beads for see the bite, as well as a sensitive sense of touch, and then lift the fish out of the water.
Here in America the types of micro-fishing rigs are incredibly diverse. Largely as most anglers have built and developed their own systems. Fishing is always a sport of innovation, and developing new tackle, and tactics. This is certainly true of Micro-Fishing. There are many options to choose from, and no right answer. You can have a ton of fun catching micro-fish on a variety of different types of rigs.