On day two of the Tackle & Guns Trade Show I had the absolute pleasure of spending 20 minutes or so with Peter Koppman of Marukyu (thanks to Ben @ Art Of Fishing for the recommendation). Peter works for Marukyu, but more specifically on the Ecogear and Nories sub-brands – I guess you could say, the lure side of things. Peter is an Aussie and resides in Japan – the homeplace of Marukyu. He’s an angling nut from an angling family (his parents ran fishing tournaments when he was a kid) and he speaks Japanese. In short, he’s a pretty interesting guy and no doubt a wealth of angling insight and information.
Peter was kind enough to take me through the ethos behind Marukyu, the positioning of the Ecogear and Nories sub-brands and a little insight into how angling is progressing in Japanese and Australian markets.
I consider Marukyu as chemists and scientists. Their products are pure science. Without getting too over dramatic, I truly believe the real life benefits a company like them can bring to angling. This is 21st century fishing. With their tried and tested scientific methods producing synthetic baits, literally better than the real thing, the fish don’t really stand a chance. And as the fish become accustomed to these baits, Marukyu has the ability to evolve and adapt, meaning there will always be something new that fish find naturally irresistible.
It’s no wonder Marukyu is making such a good name for itself in a reasonably short space of time. After all, Japan probably has one of the most pressured fisheries in the world.
There’s another very interesting principal in the Marukyu ethos and this is very visible in the Ecogear and Nories ranges. That is, the notion that every sport fish species deserves its own lures; tactics; bait. As Peter guided me through the walls of lures on display it became apparent that in Japan, this is the way anglers fish. Species specific angling is the norm, and while in the UK we obviously have Bass anglers, Pike anglers and the like, the Japanese take this to another level, with some anglers specifically targeting fish like Scorpion Fish and Chinu (Black Bream). I’m not saying that every UK angler now needs a complete new set up for every fish in the sea/river, but I find it interesting that anglers in other parts of the world take pleasure in targetting specific species – and not just trophy fish. It’s a ‘game’ to them. Game? Sport? There isn’t really any difference. It’s fun to those involved.
Also, I can understand the logic that when you adapt your technique and fishing tackle to a certain species that you increase your catch rate for that species. This is Formula 1 mentality. A species specific hook might increase your hook up ratio by 10%. A rod to detect a specific type of bite 5%. A lure 12%. You get the picture. Without getting too philisophical, in life, whenever we aren’t specific, we compromise. And whenever we compromise, ultimate performance and results suffer. Marukyu, Nories and Ecogear are without compromise. (That’s not out the catalogue by the way, I can actually see the real life benefits here). I’d like to clarify that I don’t think what we’re talking about here is necessarily about competition angling (it probably is in some Australian and US circles – think Bream (Brim) and Bass Tournaments). It’s a game. A video gamer doesn’t necessarily require a human competitor to have fun.
How far is this being pushed in Japan? Well, Peter showed me an Octopus-specific lure from the Japanese catalogue. That’s a first for me.
So to explain the different brands. Marukyu is a the parent company, a bait manufacturer, and perhaps the most well known brand in the UK, due to their inroads into carp and coarse bait markets over the past 12 months. Nories is the premium lure brand. The majority of the lures are hardbaits and the range of products encompass rods and accessories too. Ecogear is predominantly a softbait brand although there are quite a few hardbaits and jigs in the range also.
Ecogear was one of the first lure manufacturers to make saltwater specific lures. Peter explained to me that this specification comes mainly down to colour overseas. An identically sized/shaped lure in Watermelon maybe considered a freshwater bass bait, while in black and red fleck is a saltwater bait – and anglers get this. It’s a fashion of sorts, I suppose.
As an interesting sideline, if you’re aware of the amazing Power Isome artificial worm range of baits – which many, including myself consider ‘lures’. They actually sit squarely under the Marukyu brand. Not that it matters to our fishing, but does this mean this is actually a bait – more flavour, than action? Apparently, in Japan, Marukyu manufacture a frozen variation of Power Isome, exhibiting even more suppleness and favour dispersal properties. I’m guessing it has to be frozen to prevent it from degrading – surely a bait? None of this matters. They are tremendous fish catchers. If you haven’t tried them, you should. And as a bit of heads up, some very good carp anglers have now started to look seriously at Power Isome as a highly viable option ;0)
In lure fishing, it’s currently starting to feel like lure sizes are creeping down at the cutting-edge end of the sport. I don’t really know whether this is being driven by the angler’s requirements or increased choice from the manufacturers. Regardless, from what I’ve read, the results are good across a number of lure disciplines and species. I learnt something interesting from Peter. Small lures are harder, and consequently more expensive to manufacture. It sounds like the main reason is that a smaller hardbait requires more attention to tune, before being boxed and made available to the customer. If you’ve ever seen ‘individually tank tested’ on a lure packet and dismissed it, it’s actually a very important feature of any hard lure. Especially for the uninitiated angler that doesn’t know how to tune a lure straight themselves. Reading between the lines, this is probably why the largest lure manufacturers like Rapala don’t sell a wide range of smaller, finesse lures. It makes Rapala’s launch of their new Ultralight lures more poingant for me. Certainly a nice niche to target in a sector growing in popularity. It also goes some way to explain the sometimes higher costs of these smaller lures. It’s changed my perception of value certainly.
Clearly, being a self confessed tackle geek and someone with a recently re-ignited lure obsession, after 20 minutes with Peter my mind is racing. I’m thinking, what does this mean to the sport in the UK? What does this mean to my angling?
Well, I have my suspicions on one thing. If the growth in UK lure fishing continues at a good pace, we might start to be recognised as a valuable market for exciting brands like Nories and Ecogear. And once we’ve got that attention we might expect to have UK-specific products made for us. I think it’s likely. It’s what we’re seeing from Marukyu in the massive UK carp market with highly innovative new baits. Australia already has Bream specific lures designed for them, like the Ecogear Aqua Bream Prawn – winner of Best Soft Lure at AFTA this year (the main Australian tackle show). The question left in my mind is what species would they focus on? Our saltwater Bass stands out. As does Pike. But traditionally, UK anglers match fairly large sized lures to these species. That isn’t really what Nories and Ecogear do (although there are exceptions to the rule). Perhaps we’ll see something for Perch. Perhaps we’ll see lures for the other, more forgotten about species – I’d love that. The answers will depend on how the UK market develops from here.
Thanks again to Peter and Marukyu for their valuable time.
You can follow Peter Koppman on Facebook HERE
The UK Marukyu website is available HERE
The excellent Ecogear, Nories and Power Isome are available from Art Of Fishing HERE