Micro Tactics?

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Deftik's picture
Micro Tactics?

Well today, right around the time I slipped on a wet rock, smashed off it and fell into the river. I realized my skill in micro fishing is severely lacking. If I don't spot the micro beforehand, I rarely ever catch one unless I'm watching the presentation before my own eyes. This could be that my micro spots are limited to two bodies of water but i digress...

Anyone have any tips or tricks? Does everyone usually know what micros are in the water they are targeting or do you go to new bodies of water and just fish to see what you pull out? I've looked through countless biology reports, but after being not so kindly asked to leave the property the fish commision sampled from by a trout club, I've recently only stuck to my local, fairly fast moving river, I look for pools on the side of it that have formed seperate from the main river, but sometimes I fish the main river, trying to target the underneath of large rocks. Any help whatsoever would be appreciated!

TheHugbot's picture
most of the places I fish for

most of the places I fish for micros in are shallow and clear, this means that you can see any fish that are in the immediate area. if i can't see any fish or likely spots then I will probably try another hole.


if sight fishing isnt and option then i'll drift a small float through any likely looking spots, such as weedbeds, woody structure etc

I think fishing under the rocks is a good idea, It will only be a matter of time before your bait falls in front of a few micros...

Gunnar's picture
how light are the rods you guys use?

I'm wondering if I'll even feel a 2 inch fish's bite on the lightest rod I have. Or at least whether I'll feel it quickly enough to act. On the other hand, I've had no trouble feeling all the evil creek chubs and gobies that have teased me over the years, so maybe a little stickleback won't be too different.


Redhorse ID cheatsheets, gars, suckers: moxostoma.com

2019: 16 days fishing 25 species 7 lifers. 2018: 39/40/5 2017: 49/52/14

TheHugbot's picture
I currently use a 5'

I currently use a 5' telescopic pole, I made it by sawing the top 4 sections of a longer rod and removing all the guides. this rod is nowhere ear flexible enough to feel a fish under 2".

I have also made a very short pole for close quarters fishing and for vertical fishinh of a canoe.

I have recenty ordered a daiwa soyokaze 20SR, It's the lightest rod I've found so far. (I have read that it is equivilent to a 1wt fly rod, it will bend with the weight of a BB shot according to atenkley.a BB shot weighs 0.4gr) I think it will be great or tiny fish in small streams

TonyS's picture

pretty much any old rod will work - like any fish some will slam it and others are tough to feel.  of course there is a lot of value to sight fishing micros too.  you can get away with any rod, though I'd recommend using a ultralight or even one of those cheap chinese plastic telescoping rods.

TonyS's picture

the other end of the spectrum is the soyokaze that hugbot mentioned - which is essentially designed as a micro/tanago style pole.  I ran some tests on my 3.1 meter soyokaze tonight, here is what I found:


I know that each of the rods in the series is the same, each longer rod has an additional section added on.  This not only makes it longer but also more powerful (by adding to butt/power section of the rod).  It also makes the rod a touch faster in taper but these telescoping rods have a crazy fast taper already - likely owed to the fact that they are telescoping and as such must step down in taper quickly.  The Action Angle (a measure of taper) was at or approaching 90* - so it doesn't really get faster.  The rod is interesting in that the tip is insanely light and the butt fairly heavy - as such it bends a lot until the tip is loaded, then it takes way more to load the butt.  Anyway, knowing that dropping a section would get me the next rod down I tested them all.


This is the tip section of the 3.1 meter pole with one US penny in the bag...

Here are the ERNs and the respective "line weights" according to AFTM convention - do not get me started on those "00 wt" and "000 wt" rods that a certain manufactor felt the need to invent - especially when their "0 wt" isn't a 0 wt and sub-zero weight rods cannot exsist for practical purposes... anyway:


1.6m - loads to 1/3 with only 8 pennies - off the CCS charts, probably low 0 WT

2.0m - 0.6 ERN  midrange 0 WT fly rod

2.4m - 0.9-1.0 ERN high 0 wt or low 1 wt

2.7m - 1.5 ERN mid-range 1 WT

3.1m - 1.8-1.9 ERN high 1 WT


For fun the top 3 sections measured 45.5" long and loads to 1/3 with 4 pennies - ERN = wet noodle?


I'll agree with Chris who said the longer two are basically short-ish tenkara rods with very light tips (though the 3.1m is only about 8cm shorter than my 3.3m caddisfly - which is obviously not actually 3.3m).  They would make great trout/sunfish/chub rods that would double well for smaller species.


The 2.4m would be a compromise - longer micro rod or short, soft trout rod


The 1.6m and 2.0m would be great dedicated micro rods, as would the top three tip sections  - depending upon how much reach you need

TheHugbot's picture
Thanks for the info, very

Thanks for the info, very useful. I think I will use mine mainly or close-in micro fishing/very small roach and perch. one thing I would like to try with mine is fishing or trout in tiny steams, the trout in the streams I fish average just 3" and the rivers are usualy between 2' and 7' for the larger pools.

since I won't need much length for most of my micro fishing,I think I might try using the tip sections only

atenkley's picture
Great details!

TonyS, thanks for taking the time to put together the evaluation of the Soyokaze rod.  The only fish I caught this week that I couldn't "feel" were the diminutive Mosquitofish.  I caught numerous 2"-3" Sunfish and Cichlids that were a delight.... I lost one small Mayan Cichlid to the weeds...just as you might a Muskie....except that it happens so much faster....!  I love this rod....mine is the 2 meter.  


I would think that my 2 meter rod, which has a larger butt section to incorporate the handle might behave a bit differently than a 2 meter rod made up of the top 5 sections of a longer rod that doesn't have the heavier butt section.  ...less of a wet noodle!


I must also add that my comment about the bend with a BB shot also included a small single piece clip, 3 small rubber float stops used as indicators under a very small balsa float.  (I have not weighed the rig)  This rig worked very well for me as I placed the split shot about 2" above the hook ( one of the snelled Tanago hooks).  I originally didn't start with the split shot, using only the weight of the clip, but I could not get the bait down fast enough to keep the Mosquito fish from snatching it...  The rubber float stops worked great as indicators as many of the fish were so small that you could not depend on movement of even the very small bobber to indicate the bite.  All of this was very educational for me, my first serious micro outing, as I could see everything with very clear water. If I saw fish deeper I could easily adjust the depth, and if they were very shallow, I could still make a presentation with the float and indicators not in contact with the water.  - Arlan



....visit  .....those other fish

TheHugbot's picture

did you use jintan indicators? I have them and I think they're great for detecting tiny bites. unfortunatly I lost a set to the snags today, but I have ordered some more.

TonyS's picture
atenkley - I suspect the butt

atenkley - I suspect the butt section would add a little stiffness but it is short enough that the number shouldn't be much higher (but they should be a little higher).  I'd say the numbers wouldn't be much different because a fairly large percentage of the handle section is supported  when measured in the CCS system - so handle stiffness vs. flex wouldn't effect much with the measurements. 

Either way the total power doesn't tell the whole story due to the stiff butt and extremely soft tip - a full CCS assessment with ERN, Action Angle, Frequency, etc, would tell the whole story but vague descriptions are good enough for those aspects in my mind - besides there are rods to build and fish to catch...

atenkley's picture
Rod and indicators

@Hugbot - yes, I use the float stoppers as jintan indicators.  I purchased them locally, though they are marketed as sinker stoppers.  You just thread your line though the "eye" of wire on the end and slip the stopper/indicator off onto you line.....very slick.  You can add as many as you like and slide them where you want.  The picture shows one of my rigs made up...though the float is much bigger than the floats I presently use.  The float has a diagonal hole through which the line passes, adding "strength" to the system.   I use the clip to attach the snelled hook.  I make sure my main line is stronger than the snelling so if I snag, I loose only the hook and not the rest of the rig.  Like I posted earlier, I then also use a small split shot above the hook.  I wrap each rig on a small piece of foam backing which comes with the meat from the market. A slit on each end gives a place to secure the line.


I  moved all the components on the line close together for the photo....


Micro-fishing rig


@TonyS - I agree - could not have said it beter myself.  - Arlan

....visit  .....those other fish

TheHugbot's picture
I can buy them over here too,

I can buy them over here too, they are sold as floats stops. they are a little smaller and camouflage coloured. I use the jintan markers from tanagobum, they come on a doubled length of line and are threaded on to your line in the same way as the sinker stoppers. those look like they would work fine for small sunfish and shiners, but for stickebacks etc, the jintans are best.

btw, nice float :)

catfishcain's picture
When I first started micro

When I first started micro fishing last summer while in the mountains of West Virginia on the Cheat River. I found that when it rained pretty heavy and the river raised and became quite muddy looking I would find a feeder creek and right at the mouth where they meet I would apply the smallest bobber I had and give a couple feet of line between the baited hook (either a chunk of worm or an actual ant egg with no sinkers). But would cast into the clear water right where it meet the muddy water and would let the bait sink naturally. It happened to pay off quite nicely with Silver Shiners.

When the river was normal and rather shallow I would find a rock sticking out of the water and cast a baited hook with split shot just down stream of the rock and let it sink to the bottom. With 4 pound test I was still able to feel Shiners and chubs hit as long as I kept the line tight and a finger on my line. It wasn't a jerk but a tap feeling from the line.

Moving up the feeder creeks or Runs I assume they were called there in the mountains of West Virginia I would look for where the Run dropped in elevation leaving a little waterfall and creating a nice little hole about 2' or 3' feet deep. I would use a normal hook and split shot set up and drop my bait down with the waterfall and the Dace and Chubs would quickly take the bait and even at 2" I was able to feel them as long as my finger was on the line.

Here in North Carolina I have really down sized my equipment and have lighter line, tiny floats and smaller hooks along with telescopic rods. And I find night fishing with a small powerfull LED light is extreamly effective while sight fishing the creeks and rivers. Fish that during the day usually scram if you get to close will stay put a little longer at night when hit with a beam of light. Plus there are some species not just the bullheads and madtoms that are more active at night. Usually when I night fish I mainly sight fish and put the bait right on the nose of the fish. And some times just incase will have a baited hook cast out sitting on the bottom and will put a bell on the tip of the pole and put the line around the bell so it will sound with any movement of the line. I use the bell cause Im usually sight fishing with another pole at the same time.

For the most part without going into detail about the individual techniques that I use for each species I target. My tactics can be broke down into 3 catergories:

-Float fishing (tiny float with a baited hook below and allowed to drift with current)

-Sight fishing (spot the fish and place the bait right on the nose of the fish or infront of their path)

-bait fishing the bottom (like for catfish only micro sized)

You could also fly fish for micros just use a tiny fly

Oh and I find for shiners either at night or day using a long pole. Without a float or any sinkers to bounce the bait off the top of the water as a bug might hit the surface and attempt to fly away. But bounce the bait a little and then let it sink naturally (usually pretty slow) and watch your line for any movement. If you see any movement just tighten the line and pull the bait up a couple inches and if there is a fish then you will be able to tell.

Life list total 235

Cast_and_Blast's picture
To get back to Deftik's

To get back to Deftik's question about where to fish for micros: Here in WI we have a great online resource that gives sampling data on a map of WI for each species including micros.  This tool is invaluable when it comes to targeting certain species, however it is only for WI unfortunately.  http://infotrek.er.usgs.gov/wdnrfish/map/index


Another place I have found where to target micros is in the DNR trout regs book.  Our trout regs book is really nice because it is basically a map of the state and it colors every trout stream with different colors indicating different regs for each color.  I look for the streams that are not colored at all.  Not only are these streams troutless but they are too warm for a predator trout to live in.  They are usually full of a variety of micros.  My advise to you is to find your non-trout waters and start there.


Also, most of my micro fishing is sight fishing.  If the water has poor clarity then I probably will not spend much time on it. 

fiddleFish's picture
Micro habitats

Microfishing leads you to looking at the variety of habitats within any waterbody in new ways.  Within a pool you will have a wide variety of micro habitats and you can expect to catch different species from each.  I tend to do as much blind fishing as I do sight fishing for micros.  If I drift a float rig through the fast water at the head of a pool, for example, I might find emerald, carmine, or comon shiners.  But if I fish 2-inch deep water at the margins of the pool I will catch a completely different set of species.  And if I switch to a bottom rig and probe the depths of a fast run, yet another group of species can be caught.  So take your time, learn to identify micro habitats, and work them over.

One of the most attractive features of microfishing is how the thirst for new knowledge leads you into a very broad-based understanding of the speciesand their habitats.  When you try to catch as many species from your local water as possible you learn to use every resource at your disposal to learn where they are found, what they eat, what their ecological niche is, etc.

A lot of great insights have been posted here.  Start simple, maybe find some small, minnow-infested warmwater streams where you have the place to yourself and you can see what is going on. Its fun to just go out and just see what's there, in out-of-the-way places you'd never dream of fishing if you weren't afflicted with micropiscivitis.  And its rewarding as you grow to set goals for yourself.   So let the bug bite, then curse us all later!




TheHugbot's picture
a 28-30 hook would be great

a 28-30 hook would be great for fish that size, but a 24 would work too if thats the smallest you can get. I you may have sticklebacks that size on hooks as big as 22 so a 20 would probably suffice, but you will probably end up missing a lot of fish.