We met up at Westhaven’s Pier 21, the base for the well-known Wave Dancer charter-fishing fleet at the rather sedate time of 8am. In addition to trip organiser Kane Tapper and Gina Tapper from DeCoro Fishing Supplies, there were assorted DeCoro retail customers, along with the stars of the show, the guys from Sea Falcon. While none of the three fishing-tackle company’s representatives spoke much English, the friendly smiles and bags of exciting tackle did much to explain what they were all about, with Yu-Suke Ikegaya, their translator/photographer, helping with the rest.
Unfortunately, it was quickly apparent that this would be a tough assignment for all involved. The fishing in the Hauraki Gulf tends to be tough over the Christmas-New Year period, and here we were, fishing the full moon period at exactly that time – a double whammy! Worse, although the snapper fishing was actually very good in the inner harbour below the Auckland Harbour Bridge, this option disappeared when company owner Ito Tetsuo opened his containers to reveal masses of large, beautifully finished Sea Falcon stick-baits, poppers and knife jigs, which covered the myriad assorted snapper jigs underneath. We were left in no doubt: kingfish was top of Ito’s New Zealand agenda!
I don’t know how, but around 14 milling anglers were split between the two Wave Dancer Extreme centre-consoles, along with around 50 assorted outfits, with surprising ease. All set!
Soon after, the Extremes, skippered by Cam and Tom, were heading for pastures afar over gently rippling seas, while we drooled over the Sea Falcon lures available for us to use. Choosing which one to put on our respective outfits proved a real mental wrestle. In addition to the fantastic looking kingfish poppers, stickbaits and jigs – many of which looked like works of art – there were plenty of equally eye-catching ‘snapper’ jigs. However, a ‘Swimming Squid’ spun my wheels in particular, so I tied one of the bigger, more realistically-coloured versions to ‘my’ Synit rod, coupled by an Accurate BV-300 reel. This compact reel weighs less than 400g and is perfect for slow-pitch and slow-jigging duties, yet can handle braid up to 24kg if necessary, thanks to a maximum drag output of 10kg.
We ended up fishing in several great looking locations, but despite Cam and Tom’s best efforts, the very capable anglers on board, the neat gear and plenty of fish showing on the fish-finder, bites were hard to come by – a problem echoed by VHF callers from all around the gulf that day.
There were a few memorable sights, though. At one stage a huge kingfish work-up exploded nearby, resulting in our jiggers battling and releasing a couple of undersized specimens. And we also spotted a massive hammerhead shark, its big dorsal fin slicing menacingly through the sea’s surface as it circled the boat several times.
However, despite the memorable sights, the excellent company, and the smooth seas and blue skies helping to ensure a very pleasant day, it was hard not to feel disappointed by the session’s end. A handful of kings to seven kilos along with several snapper to 4.5kg might seem a reasonable result on face value, but factor in 14 very capable anglers, a truckload of truly exciting fishing gear, two fast, well-equipped boats skippered by experienced guys, and I’m sure we would have done much better on almost any other day.
Most gutting to me is the fact that the Sea Falcon lures’ potential wasn’t realised, despite obviously being so well suited to our species and conditions, especially after being lugged over at great expense from Japan. But that’s fishing for you – it doesn’t always have a happy ending.
Maybe we should get together for a return match in the future – the Three Kings Islands will do… or the Ranfurly Banks… or White Island… or just below the Auckland Harbour Bridge perhaps?
For those wanting to do a bit of Sea Falcon tackle ‘testing’ in a more low-key way, many of their spectacular looking lures are available at DeCoro Fishing Supplies (Mount Maunganui) and Rod & Reel (Auckland).
It seems Sea Falcon’s director, Ito Tetsuo, was always destined to become a luremaking manufacturer. He started making lures at the tender age of 13, and by 20 was coming up with designs for various fishing-tackle companies. His dream was for everyone to be using his lures – and that dream remains unchanged today!
His own company, Sea Falcon, is eight years old now, yet despite the relatively short length of time elapsed, the range of lures is impressive, with three other talented anglers combining with Ito’s obvious capabilities to produce some stunning-looking creations.
Another 17 staff members help with the production, which sees Sea Falcon lures distributed all over world – Australia, United Emirates, Greece, Turkey, France, Korea, USA, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore are just a few of the countries involved. And, of course, some reach our shores, too. Fortunately for Kiwi anglers, Japan’s waters share our popular species of snapper and kingfish, so plenty of Sea Falcon’s lures cater specifically for them.
Although the jig range is incredible, Ito is particularly proud of his stick-baits – and I can see why; as already mentioned, they are mind blowing.
Initially shaped from balsa wood, the lures are beautifully painted by hand, then given a tough resin coating. In Japan, they are mostly used to target mahimahi and kingfish, along with blackfin tuna, which, unlike some other species, are improving in numbers.
Ito’s proudest moment involved the capture of a reasonable amberjack (similar to a fat kingfish in appearance), which is one of the main reasons he came here: he heard this country is a Mecca for kingfish and would have loved to catch a decent one. Obviously, he will have to wait for another opportunity!
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