Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hotshot by Isao Matsumoto

If I am asked who is the best handmade lure maker ever in Japan, I would say Isao Matsumoto is the man. Of course, Kazuma Izumi, the maker of H.M.K.L, has opened the gate of natural type handmade lure making, but Isao brought his original lures to the art level.

Hotshot 5cm

Mr. Isao Matsumoto was born in Kagawa in 1957. His father was a master craftsman of fishing rods and running a small fishing store called "Saogiku". Same as his father, Isao got into the world of fishing and succeeded his father's business.

 We just impressed Isao's craftsmanship in the details.

He enjoyed many types of fishing, but loved stream fishing the most. As he was dexterous and not satisfied with ready-made tackles, it was natural for Isao to start making handmade lures, too. His lures became famous for people around him so started selling his original lures named "Hotshot" on the second floor of his small shop.

Everybody who first saw Isao's handmade lures was shocked at their perfection levels without exception. Tstsuya Uehara, one of the current leading lure makers and a pupil of Isao, harks back his first impression about Hotshot as follows; "It was an unforgettably impressive moment when I saw Hotshot first time. They were totally different from other handmade lures in terms of the depth of production. Generally if you have a careful look at handmade lures, you will find some flaws. However, you may be just impressed in case of Hotshot. I still cannot find how Isao made Hotshot in some part of his producing techniques."

Isao produced a variety types of lures, but what he was specialized were minnows for trouts in small streams. The sizes of these minnows are 4 - 7 cm (2 - 3 inches) and Isao put all of his passion and efforts to these tiny minnows (all Hotshot shown in this posting are less than  5cm).
Especially, his painting skill was simply magnificent. Have a look at the backside of the below picture. The widths of these tiny mesh painting are less than 0.2mm each. Isao always did his painting work in the daytime, under the natural sunlight, and at his north side window of his room. 

The size of backside mesh painting is less than 0.2mm widths
Eyes are also his handmade (glass-made)

 Please don't misunderstand that Isao was just good at making tiny lures.

Not only the coloring, Isao tried various measures on Hotshot. Unlike lures for lake fishing, lures for narrow streams are very difficult to produce since they should be small but stable in the rapid flow. Some anglers who use Hotshot say they often experience situations by no lures but Hotshot they can fish. Others also say that the shape of Hotshot lessens the air resistance and absorbs the impact to rocks. However, we cannot find secrets of Hotshot anymore because Isao died by brain-stem hemorrhage on March 31, 2006 when he was 49...

Masterpieces of Isao's later years, "Hotshot Unlimited" model.
The wooden box is also his handmade.

He released very limited number of Hotshot to the market, and of course the number does not increase anymore, it's very difficult to obtain Hotshot nowadays. Especially, Unlimited models are rarely traded in the market and the price will be started from $1,500 or more. But it is sure Hotshot deserves it. If you have it, you will get soul-shaking experience with its quality.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

WOODBAIT by Tatsumi Endoh

WOODBAIT, made by Tatsumi Endoh, were the first "real" type minnows in Japan. Originally Tatsumi was a furniture worker but started selling his lures around 1985. Of course, there had already been other real type lures at that time, but WOODBAIT were very unique because of their three-dimensional shapes.

Not same as other typical handmade minnows, WOODBAIT are made from agathis wood, not balsa wood. 

What his great point is that he has been producing high-quality lures for more than 25 years. 

WOODBAIT were presented to George W Bush in 2008 as Tatsumi's friend heard President Bush loves bass fishing and arranged this compliment through American Embassy.

WOODBAIT are sold around $100 - $150 constantly in the market. You can purchase them from a couple of fishing stores' websites.

Friday, January 7, 2011

RIVET by Masahiro Hiramoto

Masahiro Hiramoto, a 58 years-old, was born and brought up in Kanagawa. His hometown was very close to Lake Tsukui, one of the most popular lakes for lure fishing in Japan. Therefore, it was quite natural for him to be familiar with lure fishing.

Old RIVET (Camber Type, 1987)

It was the influence from H.M.K.L why Masahiro's has started handmade lure making. But soon, he became a top-level handmade lure maker. What made him famous was camber type minnows with real fish skin.

Fish skin is put on the back side
He was also dedicated to writings about fishing-related books. "The Minnow Making" (introduced in H.M.K.L posting) was actually planned by Masahiro.

Silver Foil Finished Type (Present)

At the peak time in the late 1980s, Masahiro had more than 1,000 pieces of back orders, however, he fell sick and stopped making them for a long time.

Pencil Bait Type (Present)

Fortunately, as he recovered from the illness, he has come back to the handmade lure making world in 2001. Currently he is taking orders via his website on an irregular base. They are very expensive ($100 - $700 each), but every time they are sold out quickly. His old RIVET are also traded with premium among collectors. 

  Shell Finish Type (Present)