Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

I wish I could understand Japanese

Can you imagine if you'd been told at school that you were going to need to learn Japanese because later on in life you were going to wish that you could actually understand it. When I was about 18/19 my spoken French was pretty good, and although I can still get by, it has suffered through not using it that much these days. But I love having at least an ok grasp of a foreign language like French, indeed I love the fact that France as a country has come onto my radar so much over the last few years as regards bass fishing. And so has Japan, but I just wish I could understand their language a bit..........

I would guess that many of us are pretty similar in that we spend a "bit" of time on the old internet looking at various fishing websites, and of course the Japanese and Japanese influenced lure fishing tackle especially is without doubt becoming more and more an almost everyday part of UK and Irish fishing these days. Go look in your lure box and I bet you that many of them owe something to Japan. Now look at a nice shiny lure in a nice shiny packet and tell me if you understand one single word of what is written on the back in Japanese, because I don't. Look at the screen grab above from the MegaBass website - it's a lure that I would love to know something about for example, but I am just completely ignorant of what is written there in Japanese. And how I wish I could understand it.

But shiny fishing tackle aside, it's the whole sharing of fishing info and techniques that I think we are missing out on by this whole language barrier. The sport of fishing is just huge in Japan, as indeed it is in the US for example, and I am utterly convinced that we could learn a lot of good stuff from the Japanese anglers - as indeed I am sure that they could learn from us. If there is one thing that this whole social media explosion has done for fishing it has to be the ease with which we can share information and experiences on a global scale - but the simple fact is that different languages are a barrier, and especially when you have languages as different as Japanese is to English. I don't like being ignorant and to be honest it frustrates me that I have not one clue about the Japanese language.

Does it matter though ? Well it depends on how you see the world I suppose. Many years ago I thought that us UK anglers were on top of it when it came to saltwater fishing techniques especially, but that belief was purely me being ignorant of how other anglers around the world were fishing. Sure, we are pretty much on top of things when it comes to fishing for the species we have in our waters (or are we ? Look at how the wrasse was until only recently essentially a bait-only species), but over time I guess that I became more and more interested in how other anglers around the world went about their fishing. And then you go on from there and begin to wonder how some of these perhaps "foreign" techniques and ways of doing things might in fact be applied to some of what we do. And vice versa of course.

Some kinds of fishing are just more universal I guess. Fly fishing is fly fishing the world over. Sure, catching GTs and trout on the fly almost is beyond comparison, but it's still fly fishing at the end of the day. Staring at two rods on a tripod down on the beach is the way a lot of saltwater fishing is done in the UK, but it is simply not a global way of fishing. Lure fishing is though, and perhaps this is why so many of us see such symmetry between fly fishing and lure fishing. A lure can be almost anything, but at the end of the day you attach a lure to a line and put it out there the world over, and all lure fishing therefore is essentially similar in some way as fly fishing is. And if you are big into lure fishing in the UK and Ireland then at some time or another what they do in Japan as regards their lure fishing is going to come onto your radar.

Now as much as we perhaps see ourselves as some kind of superpower on the world stage, when it comes to fishing tackle I would guess that Japan sees us as pretty insignificant as regards volumes of tackle that is sold. Or at least they used to. Times are a changing though - check out a fully English version of the DUO website for example (see here). Huge credit to this fantastic lure company for doing this, and we can only hope that more follow suit. The numbers of anglers in the UK and Ireland is never going to stack up when compared to the numbers of anglers in Japan, but this whole lure fishing thing is just exploding with interest over here. And business is business. Look at the Japanese fishing tackle brands that are now so readily available for us to buy here in the UK and Ireland - and note that they weren't "over here" only a few years back. Another five years down the line and I bet you we see even more - and on the flipside I hope we see more UK fishing tackle companies getting serious about lure fishing and making gear for us that suits our needs. Perhaps some of this UK lure fishing gear will then begin to make a few waves abroad ?