People often ask me about this type of sumi. Many call it “Kage” sumi, Kage by definition is Shadow sumi. I continually hear that this type of sumi never develops, it’ll always stay “Kage”. Well, Showa are a very complex variety, we can all look for signs in hope of sumi coming up 100%. Tight motoguro, signs of high quality Sumi on the White ground, Sumi along the dorsal line etc etc.
However, year on year we always see Showa that go against the grain. There is always hope! Generally speaking this type of underlying sumi (note I don’t call it Kage) will often develop properly when it’s in the root/centre of the scale. Seeing lustrous sumi in the odd scale when younger is always a good sign, more often than not these appear below the lateral line of a koi, or even right by the dorsal line. If good Sumi is seen in the outer edge of the scale it can be often seen as a more “risky” type Sumi, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s never going to come.
Looking at this koi below, we see the lovely jet black sumi that appears on top of the red. Look at the sumi that is on the head for example, underneath that sumi is Beni, giving it that extra layer of colour. Giving us the illusion that the sumi is very good. Yet look at the Sumi that appears on the white ground (highlighted), many would label this Kage Sumi AKA Shadow Sumi. Many people would believe this type of Sumi will never develop into high class Sumi.
Just because a koi doesn’t follow textbook rules doesn’t mean you should rule it out. See the photo at the bottom of the post to see how this koi developed.