“The Art of War”, “the Art of Combat”, “the Art of the Renaisance” what about “the Art of Lure fishing” ? Quite easily the finest craftsmanship and originality in the world right now in lure making terms is in a small community of Thai “lure artists” and anglers. These creators produce hand shaped, finished and painted lures from fibre, hardwoods and resins that are like designer label mantlepiece items but at the same time being fully useable product to be chomped on by predaceous fish.
The popularity of Lure fishing here in Thailand could infact actually outweigh the popularity of bait fishing if you look at Thai sport angling websites and magazines and if not now then it soon will, although there is no way to actually know for sure it is still an obviously “Hot market” for lure producers. The explosion of popularity of this discipline in Thailand is in tune with the same growth in lure sport fishing that has appeared right arcoss South Asia through Japan down to Australia.
The fact that there are many predatory fish in Thailand both native and introduced that will hungrily chase and devour lures together with a huge amount of wetlands both fresh and salt, man made or natural means there is good fishing to be done all the way round and about the country and for centuries local people have used fishing methods that involved some sort of artificial bait techniques to keep food on the table.
A classic example of this would not actually be fishing but frogging. A small white or purple flower petal is baited onto a small hook and dangled infront of a plump and waiting amphibian. The last mistake that frog will ever make would be strike at that flower petal thinking it was a big tasty protein packed insect.
Fishing with surface or top water lures has become the prefered method for predatory fish species in Thailand and many cottage industries have grown rapidly by selling into an exclusivley non export market which has only continued to expand with the price of the popular and very user friendly modern looking baitcasting rods and reels becoming fashionable also more affordable to the general public.
The culture of home made top water lure making has grown over the past two decades helped along by a famous Thai fishing VCD that you can find at just about any Thai market stand which in detail goes through the whole process of producing a wooden buzz bait lure especially made for the purpose of catching a Giant snakehead for the rolling camera’s. The success of the hand made lure produces a massive hit from a big chado and the final battle scene played out over 3 or so minutes to a dramatic score makes for an inspiring end to a great video.
Its well noted that top water lure fishing is explosive with extremley visual and aggressive strikes that leave your heart in your mouth and hands desperatley working the drag on your reel. This sort of adrenalin pumping action could be another factor that has helped this noble sport to flourish in a country where many people may only have 6 days holiday in a year so they need somthing exhiting to do out in the fresh air in their precious spare time.
As the popularity of sport fishing in Thailand has grown then so has the hand making of lures in Thailand to a point of lures being sold as collectable artists work aswell as functioning merchandise and some of the best handmade lures in Thailand are starting to produce results on other continents.
Whether for food or sport, freshwater and saltwater lure fishing is on the increase in Thailand amongst Thai people aswell as a growing number of foreign anglers who choose to come to Thailand especially for, to name but a few, Snakehead, Giant Trevally, Grouper or Arapaima fishing. For visiting angler’s there are many places for lure fishing all around Thailand from the mountainous northern dams to the coasts of the south.It could be said that Thailand is among the best places in the world to pursue those big aggresive thrashers with the Snake like head that will so unmercilesly prey upon top water frog baits and popper lures.
Big game saltwater jigging and popping style lure fishing has also been fully embraced here in the land of smiles with new boats being fitted out for the sole purpose of running Jigging and Popping only charters.
The quality of tackle used is nothing but the best. Dont think that because Thailand is classed as a third world country that its anglers dont know a Sampo from a Shimano or an Owner from an Eagle claw.
You do however get the “tackle tarts”. You get them in all countries, in all sports and they come from all races and the Thai’s are no exception. The kind of people who have all the latest, best and most expensive equipment but without the genuine knowledge that such quality really commands. Shouldnt it be the presentation of the bait being more important than the name of the reel your using, after all unless you get really really close, the fish find it very hard to read the text of that combative brand name on your fishing pole.
Fishing tackle is actually one of those rare things where you actually can get what you pay for if you look hard enough. The demanding nature of the top end fishing here in Thailand on tackle items, especially rod and reel means you need to be using half decent clobber or face lots of wasted time fixing your busted reel while your handcrafted pieces of lure art gather dust in your box rather than streaming across the glittering surface of a bamboo infested inlet full of hankering Hampala barbs.