Monday, 8 December 2014

Keep it Real!

Being a non-driver in the sticks of Snowdonia means that most of my connections with other anglers are largely formed online, mainly through various forums and Facebook.
I have made some good friends through such sites too, but it is not on the value of social media I wish to write this post, I actually wish to write about a seemingly ever present issue relating to LRF in the UK.

What is lrf?
Light Rock Fishing, how do you define it? These questions I have asked myself and they are being asked continually even now, years down the line.
The trouble with any question is not the question itself, but the motive behind it and this is where I perceive error being perpetuated time and time again. The motives of those asking this question already seem to have a rehearsed proposition and answer ready for the unsuspecting inquirer.
"Light Rock Fishing is a term that open to interpretation" People say, but what do they mean by this?
Well all too often it means leading the consumer up the garden path!
Many believe the term can be taken literally; 
Light means anything lighter than what people are traditionally used to on the rocks in the UK.
Rock means fishing from or over rock.
Fishing means anything fishing related; bait, freshwater etc.

Often coupled with this erroneous view comes a load of tackle which is completely inappropriate for any task, let alone 'the' task!
Many will already know of the massively misleading article published in the Sea Angler Magazine some while ago, written by the well respected angler Alan Yates. A supposedly informative article on LRF as a discipline, that was not even a distortion of the truth but a complete lie and which enraged many respected LRF anglers here.
A similar thing can be seen here if viewed from 18:30;

And here;

The History
So seriously what is LRF?
I think personally that LRF can be a problematic term for many and I sometimes wish Light Game would be used more widely, though even 'Light Game' is not without its problems, like LRF it is a Japanese term that can be diverse in its interpretation.
The key I feel is to knowing the history and origins of LRF, admittedly I am not 100% clued up in that area either, but I shall go someway into explaining it as I understand it.

It ought to be well understood by now that LRF originated in Japan as an 'out of Bass season' discipline, for targeting Pacific Rockfish species such as Mebaru.
In its inception, anglers fashioned 'Kabura' from dried and dyed fish skin which was either tied to jig heads or in a sabiki like string.
As the disciple became more popular, especially as Mebaru are good to eat, tackle refinements and innovations became to appear. Lighter SW specific lines, UL saltwater rods and bespoke lures mimicking seasonal prey and plankton appeared, with certain people and tackle brands leading the way.

The tackle was designed to get the most sport out of the Rockfish species, to fish effectively and to protect the hook hold too. It all became refined to present a wide range of UL/light lures effectively, the discipline is a lure discipline and has been since its inception.
Yes you could argue that dried fish skin is a bait of types, but natural materials are used in fly fishing, we couldn't very well call that bait now could we?!

So are people right about the fishing from and over rocks then? Well no, not entirely.
As Mebaruing メバリング grew in Japan, the tackle also became effective to target other species, as in its ethos, rockfishing is about effectively presenting very light lures to small game fish.
Aji (Pacific Horse Mackerel) would be a prime example, would we consider our Scad to be a rockfish in the purest sense of the word? I don't think so, yet Ajing アジング also fell under the same banner 'Rockfishing'.
So what about Light Rock Fishing (LRF) as a term, where did it come from?
LRF was a term pretty much coined by Daiwa to launch their range of tackle aimed at Aji and Mebaru anglers, a clever piece of marketing to make a distinct name for themselves in the Rockfishing world. With Daiwa's rods, reels and other accessories came marketing and instructional DVD's and it is these DVD's that were exported here to the UK, along with Daiwa's discipline names.

From the many Japanese blogs and sites I have read, the term 'Light Rock Fishing' is actually seldom employed, rather 'Light Game' or 'Rockfishing' is, yet here in the UK, LRF became the number one recognised term.
The people who originally bought LRF to the UK did their very best to explain both the disciplines history and its tactics, it is fair to say that so many would not be enjoying this awesome game now without their sacrifice and input. In someways keeping Daiwa's terms was at first helpful because they distinguished HRF from LRF and both arrived in the UK pretty much simultaneously and were simultaneously being applied, taught and promoted.

The Industry
So why has this all become so confused here in the UK? Why are people suggesting that 7' rods rated 5-30g and 4000 sized reels as suitable for LRF.
Well I can think much of it is purely down to industry greed and not just ignorance.
LRF has grown tremendously in popularity and has become become a buzz word, a fashion too. Many people want in on the LRF game and quite rightly so; its great fun, social and pretty accessible for anyone. But some in the industry want in purely because there is money in it, yet even 2 years ago they couldn't give a stuff about LRF, "It won't last" they said, "won't work", "a fad" and so on.
Well here we are approaching 2015, LRF is here to stay and many missed the boat, failed to understand it, so what now?
Well it appears people want to take the name and apply it to something completely different, whether it be fishing for fresh water Perch or using scaled down bait rigs in the sea. Most of it, like the videos above is about selling tackle and not really for the love of LRF at all, these companies realise they  have "rejected a chief cornerstone".
Largely, proper anglers with history in Rockfishing have addressed these issues, but the damage is still being done. People are still looking to find fame and fortune completely the wrong way in what has become somewhat of an angling sub-culture here and its just not on.

I actually do not have a problem with people using whatever tackle they want to fish bait in the sea, if that floats your boat great, but why try and make LRF fit what you are doing? It just doesn't, never has and never will.
LRF is a saltwater game that borrows many of its tactics from freshwater fishing and employs them in the sea. Mainly (but not exclusively) LRF is about catching what can be considered as 'small game' on ultra light tackle, but is always lure in its methodology.
Don't be fooled by those who seem more 'open minded' as to LRF's application and telling you its about bait too, most were completely close-minded to LRF not so very long ago at all!

Keep it Real
For my part I am pleased to be now part of the HTO team in the UK, among us we have some real LRF heads who seek to grow with this firm and produce proper kit to serve the needs of the UK angler. Keen to stick to the ethos and build on the foundations others have laid, we seek to bring our own flavour to this revolutionary angling discipline. But my business here is not to promote a brand as such, it is to promote the game, to try and stay faithful to the roots, the real scene and the anglers who made such sacrifices to bring UK LRF to the masses.

So look, if you are a newcomer to LRF then my advice is to speak to the longstanding LRF anglers or those that have been mentored by such. Do your own research too and make sure that the information you are getting is the right information! Check out some of my recommended blogs and links too, theres some real good stuff there for you to get your teeth into.
I think I shall add a new page to my blog shortly, to hopefully inform the reader better on LRF tackle and hopefully to make the minefield of information and misinformation a little bit easier to navigate.

For those LRF long-standers in the UK, to them I say "Keep up the good work, keep informing and promoting and above all; Keep it Real!