Bait fishing

Bait fishing

Aug 30, 2014

Marukyu takes ‘bait’ science to unprecedented level of sophistication

By Mike Pehanich

Once hit with the fishing bug, many of us find ourselves like Lewis Carroll’s Alice, falling precipitously down a rabbit hole of ever-increasing wonderment and complexity! We experience a head rush of excitement, an urge to find more fish, ask more questions, hypothesize about the moods and movements of fish, and, of course, seek better tools and baits to fool fish!

Like Alice, we sometimes find ourselves on a dizzying tumble into strange new worlds where we find more answers than we knew there were questions!

Bait scientist

At the ICAST show in Orlando this past July, I met with Marukyu scientist Kouichi Ogasawara, who graciously and generously answers to the name of “Mr. Oga,” as SWF has noted before.

Rumors of his accomplishments with Marukyu’s JPZ fish formulations preceded his arrival and, hearing  the projects he had worked on, I soon found myself in freefall, reminded me once again that the more you learn about fish and fishing, the more you have left to learn!

Marukyu may well be the world’s largest manufacturer and marketer of fish baits. And if you think that means Styrofoam containers packed with leeches and nightcrawlers or endless dips into aerated tanks with a minnow net, think again!

Marukyu is a global leader in fermentation science. It has robotic lines and quality control specialists in its manufacturing plant in Japan and an R&D lab that few, if any, in the bait and tackle industry can match.

That lab is Mr. Oga’s home. And a proud home it is! No company has invested more in the development of hook and ground baits and fish attractants.

Much of Marukyu’s research centers around “cyprinids.” That is, the carp family, long revered as a sportfish in Asia and Europe but only in recent years gaining popularity with North American anglers.

Our bass pros might cringe at this thought, but carp are equipped with keen senses and a remarkable learning capability that has enabled the larger members of the species to associate the scents of commonly used baits and attractants with danger. That fact alone has led to more and more lab tests and product proliferation, including baits that American sunfish and British bream and trench can’t resist.

Marukyu headquarters in Saitama-Ken, Japan

Recently, Marukyu launched 37 laboratory-developed baits in five product categories to the fish-crazed United Kingdom market. Though all will catch carp, some have dialed in other species with remarkable effectiveness.

One of the primary ingredients in many Marukyu baits is “nori,” Japanese for seaweed. The company’s director of product development in the U.K., Roy Marlow, found that different types of kelp and seaweed coupled with specific processes can create powerful attractants for specific fish species.

Marukyu has specialized in baits made with silkworm chrysalis, a.k.a. “sanagi,” for many years. Marlow has noted that fish have a natural attraction to high protein food sources but that sanagi seems to have a special attraction across many species. On some waters, the silkworm scent can even draw fish away from the native sources of food!

The last of the trio of Marukyu “special” ingredients is Tanishi. In case you don’t speak Japanese, that is water snail! Snails comprise an abundant source of concentrated animal protein that Marukyu processes into a versatile powder that it uses in a variety of forms, including its pellet products.

Cold water crappie

Marukyu even markets some ground bait attractants specifically for cold water conditions.

Hideyuki Igarashi took to the ice last winter to test some of Marukyu's cold water groundbaits. Looks like they worked!

Munenori Kajiwara, owner of Japan Import Tackle and chairman of the Japan Freshwater Fishing Federation, tested some of these products through ice holes in the upper Midwest last winter.

“I had a protype that Mr. Oga formulated for ice fishing for U.S. panfish, mainly crappie and bluegill, It drove the crappie crazy!” recalls Kajiwara, who also captains the Japan Ice Fishing National Team. “The bait is unique and designed specifically for cold water conditions. I can’t wait to offer these to U.S. fishermen when the commercial product is ready for market!”


Marukyu’s bait magic extends beyond its ingredients into a variety of forms of presentation including:

Groundbaits – Anglers can mix these nori-laden ingredients into their own form of attractant. They act quickly, which justifies their EFG designation – Explosive Formula Groundbaits!

Pastes – These AFP (Angler Friendly Paste) baits contain gluten, which enables the formulation to adhere to hooks well. Yet they break down and spread quickly through the water to perform their fish-attracting function.

Pellets – Marukyu pellets are made from highly nutritious food sources, but they are, to be sure, neither primary foods nor supplements but fish-catching baits! Made with a cold-press process rather than through extrusion, they retain their nutrients yet release their amino acids more rapidly than traditional pellets.

Additives – Marukyu offers offers ground krill and sanagi in liquid and powder forms as Special Formula Additives that anglers can add to natural bait, bait mix formulations, or other baits in the Marukyu line-up.

Japan Import Tackle currently offers 14 Marukyu bait products including the JPZ gel-type hook baits. But the success of last year’s tests with Mr. Oga’s formulations for U.S. panfish – including impressive catches in ice fishing competition – bode well for a broader array of Marukyu products to reach American anglers.

The research and development lab is where Marukyu's unique bait concepts come to fruition.“We will carry more products in all the forms and packages Marukyu currently offers eventually,” said Kajiwara. “Some should be ready this fall and for this winter’s ice season as well as for the 2015 open water season.“I know a lot of fishermen who can’t wait for us to unveil them!”

Marukyu ground baits 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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