Thursday, December 23, 2010

MARO Lure Product by Yuji Minami

Mr. Yuji Minami, a 56 year-old, is also a pioneer of Japanese handmade lure making. He started lure & fly fishing when he was 20 years old, and he soon absorbed in them. It was the early 1970s and the beginning of the first boom of lure & fly fishing in Japan.

Yuji's interest in fishing brought him to open a specialized lure & fly fishing store, "King Fisher" with his two other friends in 1980. At the same time, he start making his original handmade lures named "MARO". MARO lures soon got attention as their beautiful shapes and really "good" for fish. Especially its pencil type topwater lure, "MARO Pen", was a legendary killer lure for bass fishers.


MARO old lures are very rare because Yuji didn't make so many lures after 1990 due to his health problem. 

When he was 40 years old (in 1994), he has moved to Hokkaido, where the north part of Japan with rich nature, and Yuji has started a small fishing shop. Maro lures became things of the past.

However, Yuji has restarted his lure making from this year after 20 years silence. You can order his Maro lures by on-line, but probably you have to wait for at least one year, as he has already had a lot of back orders...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Murase Minnow by Tatsuya Murase

Mr. Tatsuya Murase, 57 years old, has started his lure making career in 1970's. His home ground is Lake Ashio-ko, Hakome, where one of the originations of lake trout fishing in Japan. Therefore, Murase Minnow has been developed for trout fishing at lakes. Judging from its shape (the straight line of its berry side), you will understand that Murase Minnow is designed for long-distance casting.

Tatsuya has not changed the shape of Murase Minnow so much for more than 30 years, but tried different materials like balsa, plastic and wood (the present version is made from balsa).

Same as HMKL, Murase Minnow is one of the pioneers of Japanese handmade lures. Tatsuya is also a co-author of the book "The Minnow Making".

Currently he operates his own craft shop and produces not only lures but also fish mounts. You can buy Murase Minnow directly from his shop (BTO and domestic order only). The price is between $50 and $120.

H.M.K.L by Kazuma Izumi

Mr. Kazuma Izumi, a 55 year-old Japanese legend, has started his lure making career when he was in middle school. He is probably the first guy in the world to start making real-type balsa wood handmade minnows with aluminum foil finish.

He tells his traumatic experience for the reason why he has started making this type of lures.
"It was a bad day for fishing. I was trying to get bass using various types of lures but no bite at all. I got bored and changed to a Rapala minnow I picked up at the lake. And guess what, so many bites came to the lure. I was shocked and realized the power of real-type minnows. So if I can make more real minnows than Rapala... That was my start making H.M.K.L lures." Kazuma named his lure brand as H.M.K.L (Hand Made Kazuma Lure).

In 1980's, lure fishing got very popular in Japan. At the same time, lure fishers paid big attention to handmade lures since they were good, beautiful, and valuable. H.M.K.L had already been rarely offered in markets at that time due to its popularity and low production, but it became legend when Kazuma published a famous book "The Minnow Making" with other three handmade lure makers in 1984. In this book, he disclosed all the process how to make H.M.K.L without stint. Many people admired his originality and creativity.

Kazuma was also the first Japanese guy to participated in B.A.S.S. in the US (1987 to 1991). You may know him because he made famous "POP-R Izumi Version" at the request of Zell Roland. Also, Gary Klein loved Izumi's spinerbaits which were the first fish-type spinerbaits with eyes.

Currently Kazuma is operating his own shop in Tokyo and producing plastic H.M.K.L lures. Unfortunately, he rarely makes balsa handmade minnows anymore so his old handmade ones are very difficult to obtain and traded with premium ($300 - $2,000) by collectors.