Fish ripping in Hanoi, Vietnam

A very common fishing technique in whole Vietnam is ripping a weighted hook with multiple side arms through still water and hope to hook unsuspecting fish somewhere on their body. Hooking a fish at the lips with the correct size and style of hook – as at conventional angling – will with high likelihood hold the fish on the line, whereas getting randomly hooked somewhere at the body will often result in heavily injured fish by ripping out the hook(s) from soft flesh.

Fishing equipment for ripping

There are two main styles of hooks used. One is a spider-like contraption, which holds six un-barbed hooks via thick, short fishing lines on to a cast lead weight. And the other style is a lead-weighted shank with three heavy and barbed hooks, which are pointed parallel to the shank. Connected to a monofil fishing line and a very stiff carbon rod with only two leader rings (one on top and one nearly in the middle of the rod) they are connected to a manual fishing roll (made from either plastic or wood)

Choosing a fishing spot

When searching for a fishing spot, the fisherman carefully observes the water surface in order to find a sufficient amount of air bubbles created by fish. Main fish caught by this ripping technique are Tilapia niloticus, who like to congregate and also breath oxygen on the water surface. If they are not breathing at the water surface, at least some wave rings can be seen on the water from wallowing and congregating fish. If there are no obvious bubbles or wave rings are around, the fisherman shoots some bait (e.g.: cooked rice grains) by a slingshot into the water and waits until fish signs can be seen.

Rip fishing technique

Having chosen a fishing spot, the fisherman throws with one hand the multi-hook via the fishing rod to the correct spot and the other hand holds the fishing role and let the fishing line spool off the role unobstructed. Depending on the water depth the fish are expected to be swimming, the fisherman lets the multi-hook sink and immediately starts afterwards to violently pull the rod sideward of at least 90 degrees. See video below.   

Likelihood of catching fish with this technique is high, but there is also a high loss of fish, which were only caught at fins, bellies or somewhere else, came away and died in the warm waters due to infections or water in the belly and so on. Therefore, at lakes where rip fishing is done, there are often dead fish bodies floating around.

Lessons learned from fish ripping

  • Fish ripping is a fishing technique, conservationists will not employ, due to its non-selective nature
  • The likelihood of injuring fish without actually catching them by ripping is high