Jiggery pokery – old methods, new lures and the tails are made of tinsel

Jigging is a method of catching fish that has been around since man first started using hooks. The word ‘jig5 simply means jerky motion. In terms of fishing, that refers to any bait or lure that is used in a jerky way – a plain un-baited hook can be a ‘jig1 if it is made to dance around on the end of the line.

Simple jigs

One of the most basic forms of jig fishing at sea is working a string of feathers. The monofilament trace usually carries three, six or twelve feathered hooks which are lethal for taking mackerel, garfish and small pollack or coalfish.

Although still very effective, the simple team of dyed chicken feathers has now been superseded by the use of man-made materials such as ‘Mylar’ and ‘Flectolite’.

The newcomers

The latest variation on this theme has just arrived from the Far East – the oddly named ‘shrimp rig’. Odd, because the plas- tic bodies are in fact shaped like mini-fish, not shrimps. Half the body is luminous, as are the small beads at the head of each lure,

Another variation of this lure is the ‘Hokkai’, which also has synthetic feathers in its tail. The effectiveness of this lure has already been established, particularly on large bass, and bigger versions for cod and pollack will doubtless appear soon.

Other newcomers have arrived from America, where lure fishing has always been popular. Most of them are of the lead-head type and have built-in hooks with their points upwards. This makes them much less prone to snagging on weed or on rough bottoms and also gives them a very attractive nose-down action.

Leadhead lures

One of the most popular of these self-weighted lures is the Porky jig which features a fluorescent skirt of feathers and Mylar tinsel. The built-in hooks vary in size from Is to 2/0s according to whether they are 15,25 or 40 gramme size.

Porky jigs are at their most effective when used on light spinning tackle and retrieved in a jerky sink-and-draw type action, which bass and pollack find irresistible. They can also be used as a team -two or three lures fished on short paternosters above a small pirk.

The Bonito is a similar but less sophisticated lure. Also a leadhead type, this has coloured feathers with a fish shaped white nylon covering and red jewelled eyes.

Another variation on the leadhead concept is the Jigga lure. This is unusual because the line is threaded through the head itself, rather than attached to an eyelet – this means that you can select the size and type of hook used with it. The feathered bodies have a plastic outer layer and the pointed heads are inset with’ Flectolite’. anemones often attach themselves to the outside of the shell.

British hermits rarely grow longer than I3cm. Out in the Atlantic, however, closely related species of hermit grow to three times the size. Very much a shallow sea creature, they can thrive in 3-30m of water. They like to live over mud, sand or shingle bottoms but don’t seem to be common over rocky ground.