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    China’s Youth Are Hooked on a New Outdoor Sport: Lure Fishing

    Also known as water golf, this fishing technique is drawing in youngsters with its hands-on approach, with anglers having to mimic movements to entice aggressive fish.

    Amidst the continuing fervor for outdoor sports and activities like frisbee, hiking, or camping, China’s young generation now finds itself irresistibly drawn to a new trend — lure fishing.

    Unlike traditional angling methods, where real bait is used and often requires hours of waiting patiently, lure fishing takes a more active approach. Here, anglers use artificial bait and skillfully mimic the movements of smaller fish, fooling aggressive fish into thinking they are actually prey. 

    The technique stimulates the fish’s natural instinct to attack, making the pastime more engaging. Due to the constant movement involved, enthusiasts have now dubbed the sport “water golf.” According to the China Angling Association, 46% of the country’s 140 million anglers are aged between 25 and 44. 

    “The fish shake and struggle sharply. The sensation of this to-ing and fro-ing is just like putting your hand out of the window while driving at fifty miles per hour. The feeling of resistance is pleasant,” A Kun told Jiemian News, recalling his experience of catching a big flounder using a lure fishing technique. 

    On July 16, more than 70 anglers donning competition uniforms gathered at the recently concluded 2023 National Shore Lure Fishing Championship Qualifying Tournament in the southern Guangdong province. The winner managed to reel in 40 fish in just three hours. 

    In recent months, several young Chinese have taken to social media to share their experiences. A search for “lure fishing” yields over 130,000 posts on the lifestyle platform Xiaohongshu, and videos with the same tag have over 6.57 billion views on the short video platform Douyin. 

    Another feature that attracts the young generation is lure fishing’s environmentally friendly and sustainable approach. By using artificial bait, the activity does not disturb the original ecological environment of the water. Additionally, the consensus in the lure fishing community is to “catch and release,” in a bid to underscore coexistence. 

    Moreover, lure fishing is beginner-friendly and requires less equipment compared with traditional fishing — a basic set costs between 500 and 2,000 yuan ($69-$279). But costs can rise significantly if anglers seek to take a more professional approach. 

    “Each fishing scenario has its corresponding fishing rod, and each fishing technique also has its corresponding fishing rod,” He Bin, a lure fishing enthusiast, told Jiemian News. He said he has seven to eight sets of fishing rods and spinning reels, which came to a total of thousands of yuan in cost.

    The surge in lure fishing’s popularity among China’s young generation is now impacting the fishing market. A recent study by the Intelligence Research Group shows that the market for lure fishing equipment has expanded since 2016, and was valued at around 1.19 billion yuan in 2022.

    And during this year’s 618 shopping festival, when there are significant discounts on a wide range of products sold online, lure fishing rods were among the top five best-selling fishing equipment items, according to, an e-commerce giant in China. 

    Additional reporting: Yang Keyi; editor: Apurva.  

    (Header image: Lure Fishing at Luobu Lake in Bazhou, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Sept. 7, 2020. VCG)