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My friend Coach, with whom I fish fairly often, suggested that we have a species challenge - how many different species of fish could we catch in a day. He'd made a list with over twenty species that he thought were possible, and said at the outset that he though we should be able to catch 15 or 16. We ended the day having caught 14 (and it would have been 15 had I landed the carp that broke my line).
We had done species challenges before, but all our previous challenges were limited to flies fished with tenkara, keiru or seiryu rods. This time, though, it was open to flies, lures or bait. Also, this time I had a spinning rod with which I really wanted to catch some micros. Any species contest eventually turns into a micro fishing contest because of all the species in the US, most are micros!
Micro fishing has really caught on in the US over the last few years (aided at least in part to the availability of tanago hooks
from Japan). Tanago are any of several closely related species that
don't get over a few inches long. Not only are they small fish, they
have very small mouths. Tanago anglers in Japan share a fairly unique
goal. They do not try to catch the largest fish, they try to catch the
smallest fish (which of course have very, very small mouths). There are
no tanago in the US, but the idea of catching small fish on purpose is getting more and more popular.
Tanago anglers in Japan use fixed line rods, but by far, most anglers pursuing micros in the US use spinning rods. The spinning rods available in the US, even ultralight rods, are overkill for small fish. The challenge of finding, catching and identifying micros is interesting (almost to the point of being addictive). Still, having a rod that a small fish can actually bend does make it more fun. I think I've found that rod.
Common shiners are not very large, but they will put a bend in an Iprimi 56XXUL-S. The easiest way to catch shiners is with a small hook (I used a tanago hook) and a tiny speck of bait. A tiny bit of worm works very well, but you can also use a little wadded up ball of bread or a little bit of paste made from flour and egg yolk, or a little bit of cheese from your lunch sandwich.
You do need a little weight to cast, but the Iprimi 56XXUL-S is rated for lures as light as 1/70 oz. A Nakazima 3/8" float and a couple size 10 Dinsmore split shot weigh that much. A Nakazima 1/2" float, which a common shiner can certainly move, weighs more than that and is easier to cast.
Satinfin shiners are smaller, but they can still move a 1/2" float enough to signal a bite. With a Daiwa Iprimi 56XXUL-S you can make the cast, see the hit and feel the fight. Granted, it's not a big fight, but you can feel it!
Although we did catch some shiners, most of the fish we caught were the seemingly ubiquitous sunfish. That particular stream has lots of redbreast sunfish and a good population of bluegills and green sunfish. Although a common shiner can bend the rod, at least a little, a small sunfish actually puts up a pretty good fight on an Iprimi!
One of the redbreast sunfish I caught is shown above, caught with a bead head nymph. The only thing remarkable about that is that I was still fishing with the Daiwa Iprimi 56XXUL-S. The bead weighed .4g, right at the lower end of the lure weight rating for the rod. Most people don't even think of fishing bead head nymphs with a spinning rod. With the right rod, though, you can.
Since we were in a species contest, and we had caught the easy species for that particular stream, we moved in search of other fish. A nearby lake held golden shiners, which actually do put up a pretty good fight.
Another move, another fish. I didn't know there were yellow perch in this particular pond. I was trying for a bullhead. Still, it counted (and I never did catch the bullhead).
The last fish was this little black crappie, caught in a very brief stop on the way to the station to catch the train back to NYC.
The two of us together ended up catching 14 species. I didn't get photos of all of them but it doesn't really matter. It was a good day and we caught a mess of fish. There was a lot of running around from one spot to another, but that's what you do when your goal is to catch as many species as you can in a day (and not miss your train).
I'm glad I took the Daiwa Iprimi 56XXUL-S, although I didn't fish with it the whole day. (Certainly not for the carp!) It is a very fun rod for modest fish, and you can find modest fish just about anywhere. At least on that day, we found modest fish everywhere we looked.
The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.