We recently had the pleasure of taking Fred Goh of Rapala Asia Pacific, Daniel Wan of Fish On Magazine and Aaron Ang based in Singapore at our new location Kirinda in Southern Sri Lanka. We noticed that Fred and friends were fishing in a method that was very interesting and quite different from what we normally see. We decided to find out a bit more about Fred and his fishing techniques. We held a small interview at our guesthouse after a hectic day of fishing to find out a bit more…
GFI: A bit about yourself and what do you do?
Fred: I am the Sales and Marketing Manager for Rapala Asia Pacific
GFI: How long have you been with Rapala Asia Pacific?
Fred: This is my fifth year coming to the end of this year will make it 5.
GFI: Where are you based?
Fred: I am based in Singapore.
GFI: Could you tell me a bit about yourself? How and when did you start fishing?
Fred: I started fishing when I was a kid, maybe, 5 or 6 years old. My dad used to bring me to catch catfish. And my passion grew when I was studying in secondary school but I guess the biggest break through was in 1995 when I started to get involved in lure fishing. And eventually from lure fishing I went to jigging and popping as well. Anything to do with artificial makes me very excited.
GFI: Just like us, we love to fish with artificial lures. When did you specifically start jigging?
Fred: I was doing heavy jigging back in 2008. I remember my first serious jigging trip was in Bali. We were fishing with 500 – 600 gram jigs. And I remember guys saying that if you could jig in Bali you could jig anywhere else in the world. That was my first exposure to deep jigging.
GFI: What were the depths you were jigging at in Bali?
Fred: We were jigging at like depths of 120 – 180 meters. That was really really tough and then of course I progressed and got a lot more interested in light jigging. Basically, one of my favorite species of fish was the diamond trevally. I had seen people catching them on jigs and that caught my eye. We used to think that this fish could only be caught on live bait. But, after seeing people catching them on lighter jigs I got really interested in light jigging. That was in 2010.
GFI: Now that we are on the subject of light jigging, could you let us know a little bit more about the concept of Gomoku? What is ‘Gomoku’?
Fred: Basically, the Gomoku concept was started in Japan by Rapala, Japan. As we know Japan has four seasons and anglers needed four different techniques to catch the same species in different seasons. And Gomoku is the Japanese word for chess. It is almost like you are trying to play a game of chess with the fish by having different kinds of jigs to catch different kinds of species and for different seasons and we have come out with a concept where we have a very good chance of catching fish and the term that we use is ATEW. Which means ‘Any Time Every Where’. That is the whole concept behind Gomoku. And of course in the year 2010 when I started light jigging there was also a trend where heavy jigging was losing popularity because people found it was very difficult to handle the heavy tackle stuff. They could not jig for long periods of time let alone successfully catch fish. So more and more people are downsizing the jigging so Gomoku concept is also about fishing lighter jigs with lighter tackle. Lighter tackle and jigs also allow you to jig longer – increasing the chances of catching fish. That is the whole concept about Gomoku.
GFI: What is an ideal Gomoku setup like?
Fred: Since we are on the topic of light jigging…. Light jigging itself is further divided into light and micro jigging. When we’re talking about light jigging we are talking about 30 – 120 gram jigs and for micro jigging we are talking about jigs weighing 30 grams and below. So these are the jigs…. But now talking about the rods, you primarily have to match the rods to the lightweight of the jigs. For 30 gram and below jigs the rods used are like Pe0.2 to Pe1. For the 30 – 120 gram jigs, you have Pe1 to Pe3 rated rods. You can also use Pe0.8 to Pe1.5 rods, to be more specific as they are within the Pe1 to Pe3 range. These are the typical Gomoku setups.
GFI: What would be the ideal spinning reel size?
Fred: An ideal reel size for micro jigging would be a 1000 to 2500 sized Shimano reel and for the light jigging we would use a 2500 to 3500 sized Simano spinning reel. For overhead reels for micro jigging you can use a size 50 – 100 and for light jigging a size 200.
GFI: Now that we have spoken about the tackle let’s talk a bit about the kind of area we would fish… Where would you use this kind of a set up? Would be on a beach, from a pier or from a boat?
Fred: Basically, since we use very light jigs, we tend to fish water shallower than 20mts for micro jigging. Also depending on the speed of the current of course. Where as for light jigging you can fish as deep as 60 – 80m and in these deeper waters you can utilize a 120 gram jig.
GFI: So, we can safely assume that we can fish in a band of 20 – 60mts?
Fred: Yes, that would be ideal. We would fish off reefs, rocks, wrecks, FAD’s and any kind of structure. These are all popular places where you can use the Gomoku concept for light jigging.
GFI: What are the species you can catch with the Gomoku concept?
Fred: In our part of the world we specifically target pelagic species like Spanish mackerel, Queen fish, all species of trevally, Tuna. And if you are talking about bottom species we have Grouper, Snapper, Emperor and Tusk fish. There are a lot of species that you can catch using this technique.
GFI: Can you tell us a little about the design of the jigs? As you said there are 4 different seasons – do the designs of jigs also change based on the seasons?
Fred: Yes, definitely. The whole thing with fishing is that you never know what it is that the fish actually want. So, with the Gomoku concept we have different styles and actions of jigs to match the species of bait that larger fish maybe feeding on. Carrying on, firstly, there are jigs of different weights for different situations, which fulfill the ATEW concept. Now coming to jig actions – you can have casting jigs, jigs that are meant to have a casting actions and then you have speed jigs which are designed for high speed jigging and then you have bottom heavy jigs which allow you to drop down to the depths quickly and are fished primarily at the bottom. You also have center weighted jigs which are also called fluttering jigs. And lately, there is a new design called the slow fall jig. The slow fall jigs are basically for the bottom species and is usually designed center weighted to enable the fluttering effect on the drop.
GFI: We forgot about this, but is quite crucial – what pound line and leader would you use while fishing Gomoku style?
Fred: In the Gomoku concept we try to get the jig down as fast possible and stay in the strike zone for as long as possible. So my recommendation would be to go as light as possible. We can use Pe0.6 to a maximum of Pe3. That is what we use for the main line and now for leader I use as light as 15pound fluorocarbon line with a maximum of 40pound fluorocarbon if I am targeting big Groupers of reef structures. The length of the leader plays a part as well so do not have very long leaders because the whole idea is to keep the jig as close to the strike zone for as long as possible. I like to keep the length of my leader the same as the length of the rod I am using. So we are looking at a 1.8mt leader.
GFI: Roughly what size of assist hooks would you use with these jigs?
Fred: Regarding the assist hooks you need to match them with the shape and the length of the jig. We are talking about assist hooks as small as size 1 to as big as size 7/0. And for bigger hooks 3/0, 5/0 and 7/0 you can use Kevlar. For smaller hooks that we use for micro jigging, we like to use 100-130pound braided line to tie our assist hooks.
GFI: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in the Gomoku concept? And has never fished in this style before? Are there any tips, hints, advice that you would like to share?
Fred: Yes. The first one would be to choose a suitable set up. There is a micro jigging set up and light jigging set up. I would advice someone to choose something in between. Micro jigging needs a little more experience specially since everything is so light. I would suggest one to start with a Pe0.8 to Pe1.5 would be most recommended by me. Secondly, choose an outfit – be it spinning or casting that you are most comfortable with. If you have been fishing mainly with a spinning reel it is best to carry on fishing with a similar reel. Very importantly, do not hesitate or be afraid to use light lines and thin leaders because the whole idea of Gomoku is presentation and catching more fish. If you talk about this Gomoku concept it is pretty much like finesse fishing. We know in finesse fishing we have to downsize everything so in a way do not be afraid to use light tackle. My advice is also to be more careful, take extra care while tying your knots. Invest in the best terminal tackle you can find especially for the smaller sizes. Lastly, regarding technique – be daring to try various techniques and experiment. Using one method may result in fish at a particular time but may not work later. As fish may react to slower retrieves, slower jigs.
GFI: What would the price range of a Gomoku set up be?
Fred: The Gomoku rods roughly retail at $120. They come with a Fuji reel seat and Fuji guides as well. Currently, we have 3 ratings. Pe0.4 to Pe1, Pe0.8 to Pe1.5 and Pe1 to Pe3.
GFI: Where can these Gomoku concept rods be found?
Fred: Currently, these rods are available only in SE Asia. Countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Singapore would be one of the best places to find these rods. We are hoping to these Gomoku concept rods will be more widely distributed soon and as we speak they will be available in the Australian market.
GFI: What do you see as the future of jigging? What next after Gomoku?
Fred: Ha ha, very interesting question. At the moment, we have not really thought about the future as we found that currently we find that the Gomoku concept is here to stay. We will most likely see developments and improvements in jigging techniques and jig design. The Gomoku concept rods are ideal for slow fall jigging which currently is the rage in our region. It started in Japan late last year in 2012. Slow fall jigging is basically using a leaf shaped jig and you do not need to jig at high speed as you need to make use of the falling action of the jig to target your species.
GFI: We have been talking about Gomoku all along as being highly specialized and something new. But would Gomoku be something that a child could use given the fact that it is a very successful fish catching technique. Would you advice a parent to buy a child a Gomoku concept set up as one of their first fishing rods to start fishing with?
Fred: If you are bringing out a child out on a boat to fish, choosing to fish with a Gomoku set up is highly recommended. I’d recommend the Pe0.4 to Pe1 set up for a child. Interestingly the whole concept about the Gomoku set up is not only about downsizing gear and catching more fish but also making it more user friendly so children, women and even elderly anglers can enjoy jigging.
On a day like this when we are out fishing with other clients, say European clients we would have had a very difficult day. But then if we had a couple of Gomoku set ups, we would ask them to bring something like this with them. It would change a day from zero fish into a day with 20 fish in half hour. And it is a lot a fun. Even while waiting for a tide to start before we pop for big GT, Gomoku could keep anglers busy catching fish. We normally halt half way through the day for lunch on the boat after which they can relax for a while, especially when the sun is the hottest – by using the Gomoku set having a blast catching fish.
We’re hoping to fish again with Fred and friends at a new location and run an exclusive GOMOKU trip…
Watch this space for more and keep on fishing…..