Ask someone who doesn’t fish what they think fishing looks like and they would probably answer that it is nothing more than a long stick, a string, a hook and bait. Sometimes they’d mention a float too. As much as this naivety drives us fishermen insane enough to homicidal levels there is some truth to their assumption. People really did use to fish like that and they still do. With much better gear of course.
The Thai word for pole fishing is “qing liu” (do correct me on my spelling, my Chinese transliteration is not great), it’s a Chinese word and I’m not exactly sure what it means but it seems like it was brought over to Thailand by the Chinese immigrants. Float fishing with the spinning rod and a qing liu setup is called “spiu” or pronounced by the Thais as “sah-piu”, an obvious portmanteau of “spinning” and “quing liu”.
This past Saturday the 28th of April 2012, I went to check out the TFTMA 2012 event. After safely burning only about B3,000 (a new personal best!) at Thailand’s largest annual tackle show I left to go check out the nearby New Paytai fishing park, a two-pond venue famous for its pole fishing competitions. It has been a place that I have read about in fishing magazines for several years now but never got around to doing due to my addiction to lure fishing.
When I did get to the pond I found out that they sell everything that one would need to catch a fish there. Being already in a spendy mood, I pulled out my wallet and bought my first pole fishing set up, only B1500 in total! I got myself a 3.5 metre pole (the 5.4 was out), some floats, some line and a rod holder. The rest of the gear was leant to me by the park owner’s son. Pretty sweet.
Being around 4pm in the evening we didn’t have much time left to fish let alone learn a new fishing method. It was myself, Alex and his friend Robert sharing this one rod. The real fun of pole fishing, as I have discovered, is in reading the float. A little dip means the fish is taking nibbles, sideway swings can mean a change in the wind or the fish taking pecks, and when the float rapidly dips a good inch or two it is time to lift the rod up to set the hook.
Succeeding at pole fishing requires one to walk the fine line between serenity and alertness. Be too calm and the fish will steal your bait. Get too alert and you’ll set the hook with nothing on. Keeping a keen eye on the float while taking long deep breaths are the keys to success. That, and a crap load of practice.
We kept taking turns but at the end, I was the only one who landed anything. This is thanks for my childhood days fishing for tilapia with the spiu method. Using the same type of float from my childhood, I was familiar with reading the fish’s actions and successfully landed two bighead carp. Fighting a fish with nothing but a really long and flexible rod, and no real was a new exciting experience. The rod would bend ridiculously, taking the pressure from the fish while I had to occasionally ease the rod to prevent the 8lb line from snapping. It was some seriously exciting shit!
I really recommend pole fishing. It’s an old school artform that should be a part of every fisherman’s journey to understanding the art of catching fish. If anyone reading this is interested in getting into pole fishing in Thailand I do suggest checking out New Paytai Fishing park, they are quite stocked with fish as well as equipment and I have added them to the list of fishing parks featured on this website. If you just want to check out equipment, the Hatthai Fishing shops also stock a very decent supply of ching liu gear.
Til next time,