New Product – Sabiki bait

New Product – Sabiki bait

Jul 31, 2014

Sabiki baits move from sea to pond!

By Mike Pehanich

Catching your own bait is a whole new game when you add a sabiki rig and an attractant like Marukyu’s krill-based chum.

If you are unfamiliar with the Sabiki Rig concept, relax. You are not alone!

But you are in for a treat!

Saltwater anglers use the multi-hook sabiki rig to catch baitfish. It is a killer technique that is as much fun as it is effective.

The long pole and sabiki rig tactics of Kouichi Ogasawara, a.k.a. Mr. Oga, quickly attracted a crowd of young fishermen anxious to get in on the hot action.

Catching your own bait is becoming a lost art in freshwater angling. Not so with saltwater anglers, many of whom begin their day by capturing baitfish with seine or hook and line. But veteran anglers and newcomers alike often find that there is great fun and satisfaction in catching your own bait, then catching gamefish on the bait you caught!

The Sabiki Rig is a hook-and-line bait capture technique. The rig consists of a set of six to 10 tiny lures on short dropper lines, suspended from a leader that is anchored by a lead weight. The lures are generally like the flies of fly fishermen, often distinguished by flashy plastic or tinsel-like materials like mylar or flashabou.

The victims of such rigs are not always baitfish. Fish of modest table fare dimensions frequently fall for the sabiki ruse as well.

Freshwater fun

Early sabiki rigs were hand-tied. Even today, making them is a project for dedicated anglers with sufficient time on their hands to undertake the painstaking task of gathering terminal tackle and tying and securing all those lines. The good news is that today you can get commercially tied sabiki rigs from major tackle manufacturers or Ma & Pa operations that tie them for local bait shops.

A couple of years ago, I came upon a sabiki rig from Owner that included a small chum bucket. I wasn’t sure if the concept was original, but it made immediate sense! Seed the water with some type of natural baitfish food and attractants and baitfish will materialize quickly!

Team Marukyu’s krill-based chum with a sabiki rig and the baitfish will rush to your rig.

At ICAST 2014 in Orlando, I had the pleasure of spending time with one of Marukyu’s senior scientists, Kouichi Ogasawara. The genius behind Marukyu’s popular JPZ gel baits, Mr. Ogasawara kindly answers to the name of “Oga” for tongue-tied North Americans. He loves to fish, and, most important to us, he loves creating packaged foods that fish love!

He and Munenori Kajiwara, owner of Japan Import Tackle, set out to test one of Oga’s latest fish concoctions, Marukyu’s Sabiki-style chum, not only on East Coast saltwater species but on some freshwater baitfish and panfish populations, too. They were prepared to squeeze in as much business, research and fun fishing on these lightning-strike stops as their post-ICAST schedules permitted.

The first stop was a pier in St. Petersburg. Out came Oga’s long telescopic pole designed for serious shore anglers. It looked to me like the Tai pole used by anglers in China and much of Asia. Oga packed the tiny bait bucket with the krill formulation in his High Power Amiebi package, lowered the offering into harbor waters, watched the water cloud with chum fragments…Then he waited.

But not long! Several baitfish varieties came quickly to his hooks, first in singles, then in pairs, each neatly clipped at the lip to one or more of the dropper lines. Oga dropped the fish into his bait bucket, filled the chum bucket again with the Marukyu fish attractant, and repeated the show.

Success was a foregone conclusion. Mr. Oga and his Marukyu associates had seen the proof countless times before, and the fact that half a world separated the first Atlantic Ocean test from the prior trials in Japan’s Pacific waters added little suspense.

Freshwater sabiki

The sabiki experiment picked up at Turkey Lake near Orlando next. Mr. Oga’s long pole quickly attracted a group of curious youngsters anxious to see the visiting angler’s chum bucket and sabiki rig go to work.

Mr. Oga did not disappoint his onlookers. The “amiebi” cloud called in recruits, and soon Oga was swinging bluegills and other sunfish over the rail. Cameras flashed as the boys jostled each other for the chance to remove the hook and add the sunfish to the bait bucket or return it to its home. Mr. Oga allowed the boys to take turns landing the fish themselves. Every time Mr. Oga refilled the sabiki chum bucket with his magic fish dust, the pace picked up.

See clips of Mr. Oga fishing in St. Petersburg and at Orlando’s Turkey Lake using Marukyu sabiki-style chum


Kriller” bait

Marukyu’s secret ingredient isn’t really secret. The sabiki bait is a krill-based formulation. Yep, that’s “krill,” as in tiny shrimp!

All of God’s creatures love shrimp, and Oga’s Florida sunfish experiment only validated this primal truth.

The bluegill clan made sure the boys on the dock had plenty of action.

“Marukyu saw a great opportunity in premix bait for sabiki rigs,” noted Munenori Kajiwara, whose company, Japan Import Tackle, is the exclusive U.S. distributor for Marukyu. “Our tests have demonstrated them to be the best sabiki rig baits. Marukyu’s packaged krill formulation has long shelf life and the kind of fish attraction no one can duplicate.”

Maybe the smile on Mr. Oga’s face was one of pride, but it was hard to separate his expression from the smiles of the young men who had rallied to the action that he and the Marukyu “High Power Amiebi” contents stirred in the waters below.

Mr. Kajiwara, who is a member of Japan’s national ice fishing team, originally intended to bring the Marukyu sabiki-style chum to North American ice fishermen. This past winter, he did just that, proving the chum’s effectiveness in tournament competition on the Madison Chain in Wisconsin among other events. Now he is excited about the opportunities the sabiki bait brings to freshwater shore anglers during the open water season.

“Originally, the bait was made for saltwater, but, as we have seen, it works extremely well in freshwater, too,” he said. “And it adds so much to sabiki rig fishing wherever you fish. We saw several fishermen with sabiki rigs without bait  in St. Petersburg, but no one else was catching fish. We came out at noon with the Marukyu chum, and we started catching fish immediately!”

The baits come in 1-kilo (2.2 lbs) Sabukikun bags that retail for $10 and 600-gram High Power Amieni bags at $8 each. The bait require no refrigeration, and it will not spoil even in hot, humid Florida conditions.

I predict that more Florida anglers who fish with giant golden shiners are going to adopt the sabiki rig and “bait up” with Marukyu’s latest ground bait.

“Here’s one more thing that I find interesting,” added Kajiwara. “Marukyu’s krill formulation is high in protein and nutrients. It is very good for the fish and the fishery. In fact, fish that are raised on it, grow big and healthy

Marukyu ground baits, including its Sabiki-style chum, High Power Amiebi, are available through Lee’s Global Tackle,, 847-593-6424. Retailers interested in carrying Marukyu products should contact Munenori Kajiwara of Japan Import Tackle, phone: 909-913-4741;

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