Ichiro Takeuchi of Japanese fly fishing streetwear brand Shaku Hunter (shaku-hunter.comtells us about his native fish and the fabled “shaku” length all yamame anglers are after.


Yamame (Oncorhynchus masou) are land-locked cherry salmon. In other words, cherry salmon (sakuramasu in Japanese) are sea-run yamame. They are native to Japan, and need clean cold water to breed. This makes them good indicators for the health of rivers. Japanese fisheries tend to release them into rivers without biological certification, sometimes leading to the breeding of yamame/amago hybrids, which is a big issue. 

The average yamame grows to 20cm, with few reaching over “shaku” length – the traditional Japanese unit of measurement which equals 30.3cm. A shaku yamame is trophy size, being the pinnacle of Japanese small-stream fly fishing. It’s like OMG size, although it is very rare for a yamame to grow this big in their two-year lifespan.

“We like to focus on fishing for these mountain stream yamame as it is both difficult and very beautiful at the same time.”


Traditionally yamame are found in Japan, but there are Korean genetic cousins that occupy certain waters in that part of Asia. Within Japan, they occur from Hokkaido to Kyushu (from the northernmost island to the south of Japan), but the Tohoku area is best for catching larger specimens. They live in cold and clean moving water. Those found in stillwaters are called landlocked sakuramasu (cherry blossom trout), which you target with streamers. 


You target these fish mainly with dry flies. We match the hatch. Early season we use either small mayfly patterns imitating Baetis or Trico, and midge patterns. We may also use medium-sized mayfly patterns imitating brown drakes or caddis flies. In early summer we use terrestrial dry fly imitations of ants or beetles, ranging from #11 to #22. Yamame are like ninjas. They are shy fish, very selective, and super-fast to attack the fly.


Anyone can go catch yamame at any time when the Japanese river season is open, between March and September. We highly recommend going with a guide or some good local friends who know the specific rivers well. You also need a licence, which can be difficult to acquire without speaking Japanese. As of spring 2024, Shaku Hunter will start guiding foreign anglers onto our rivers.

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1 thought on “YAMAME – WISH LIST FISH”

  1. Dear Sirs
    I am interested in fishing for Taimen during the month of June. Could you send me details of available guides and arears to fish.
    Regards Andrew.


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