Bat­tle of the lures

It’s shads ver­sus jigs for pollack and cod.

Sea Angler (UK) - - CONTENTS - Words and pho­tog­ra­phy by Russ Sy­mons

Watch­ing the sounder as we drift to­wards the wreck in search of cod, it was a vi­tal judge­ment call when to put the jig 30ft up­tide so it would work in those im­por­tant few feet from the bot­tom.

By fish­ing the jig with lifts and rod-tip twitches, be­fore switch­ing to a high lift and one or two turns on the reel af­ter each lift, it would take the flut­ter­ing piece of pol­ished metal away from the bot­tom, over the wreck and into the cloud of pollack about 40ft or 50ft above the front edge of the wreck.

First drift of the day, the jig tapped the bot­tom, a fast cou­ple of turns to lift it away from the grabby bits that just love ten quid jigs and there it was, that sig­na­ture noddy bump on the rod tip, and the first cod of the day pulled some line against the drag. Don’t you just love it when that hap­pens?


We were fish­ing out of Sal­combe aboard An­glo Dawn, skip­pered by Chris Roberts. Clear­ing the es­tu­ary bar and head­ing out into a lit­tle bit of a slop left from a blow the day be­fore, we knew that an hour or two later the tide would change ends. Be­cause the wind would go with the tide, the sea would flat­ten off nicely.

Our des­ti­na­tion was a big lump of wreck­age, which is now be­gin­ning to break up and scat­ter across the seabed even more than it was when we first found it a cou­ple of decades ago. The wreck is sit­u­ated 10 or more miles off Sal­combe, where there is nearly al­ways some heavy cur­rent, mak­ing an ideal refuge for all man­ner of fish, es­pe­cially cod and pollack.

Some were fish­ing shads and twin-tails, and it was in­ter­est­ing to see the dif­fer­ence in rigs be­ing used. Those with long lead­ers fished them in the tra­di­tional man­ner – tap the bot­tom and reel 20 or 30 turns be­fore drop­ping again, tap bot­tom, and do it all again. These guys caught most of the pollack be­cause their lures were not of­ten close to the bot­tom where the cod live.

An­other an­gler used a much shorter leader and ‘hopped’ his bright-red twin­tail lure closer to the bot­tom. By tap­ping the bot­tom, only reel­ing for five or six turns be­fore drop­ping and tap­ping the bot­tom again, he caught cod and pollack.

To my sur­prise, he uses 50lb fluoro­car­bon all the time for leader ma­te­rial when fish­ing wrecks. If he gets snagged, he’ll lose it all any­way, and if a big ling comes along he’ll have a much bet­ter chance of land­ing it.

It’s good to see the twin-tail lures back again. In the days of plenty we used them for cod. Fish­ing with big rods, heavy sinkers and a leader maybe 2ft long, we worked them much as we do to­day when jig­ging. Might be an in­ter­est­ing thing to try again on a wreck with more than a few cod on it.


There were three of us fish­ing jigs off the stern, each tak­ing turns to cast them un­der­hand, up­tide and out­ward to avoid tan­gling with the an­glers fish­ing shad and twin-tails.

If you go one af­ter the other, al­low­ing time for the pre­vi­ous jig to get about half­way down, jigs can be fished quite suc­cess­fully on a mixed-method boat. A bit of give and take is all it needs.

In 250ft of water you have to be care­ful in the choice of jig. If it is a flat and mul­ti­facetted slow jig, it could flut­ter and twist on its side nearly all the way down. You can re­strict its ac­tion by thumb­ing the spool of your reel, but it will still take time to get to the bot­tom, by which time the drift will be al­most done.

Many moons ago when we first started jig­ging we used straight-sided jigs that, ba­si­cally, acted like a shore fish­ing spin­ner, but in deep water. We re­lied on work­ing them at speed so their pol­ished sides re­flected light and im­i­tated a flee­ing bait­fish; they be­came known as speed jigs.

In re­cent times, we have seen the ad­vent of what has be­come known as slow jigs, which have an un­even dis­tri­bu­tion of weight on ei­ther side. They free-fall un­der their own weight, twist, turn and sink al­most hor­i­zon­tally, all the time flash­ing “come and get me” signs at the fish.

Our old-time, crude by to­day's stan­dards, speed jigs have been im­proved by in­cor­po­rat­ing some un­even weight dis­tri­bu­tion so that they have some of the move­ment of the slow jig, but still re­tain the abil­ity to sink quickly with the light­est of thumb pres­sure on the reel’s spool.

Nowa­days, it’s called long-fall jig­ging, and I love this style of fish­ing. Google it and watch some of the videos from around the world.

Be­lieve me, it works – pollack, cod and bass are suck­ers for this style of fish­ing. It will take you a lit­tle while to learn how to do it, but it’s worth the ef­fort. Snow­bee (tel: 01 752 334933) still has some of its long-fall jigs, or take a look at www.ji­ga­

We fin­ished our day’s fish­ing aboard An­glo Dawn about hon­ours even be­tween the jig­gers and shad­ders, but most of the cod came to the jig­gers.

Moored up along­side in Sal­combe, we went to look at Chris Roberts’ new tackle shop. Bait and tackle for the boat will be no prob­lem now. I’m now look­ing for­ward to a back-end trip for bass.

“Nowa­days, it’s called long-fall jig­ging, and I love this style of fish­ing”

For in­for­ma­tion about fish­ing on An­glo Dawn with Chris Roberts, tel: 01548 854635 or 07967 387657. Web: www.sal­combean­

Snow­bee’s Rus­sell We­ston ad­mires a cod taken on a Slider Jig James Gubb-Frad­g­ley play­ing a cod

James with a 14-15lb cod caught on a red curly tailed lure hopped along the bot­tom

Skip­per Chris Roberts with a 15lb pollack taken on a pad­dle­tail on a 15ft leader

First fish for Russ Sy­mons – a 13lb cod taken on a bar jig near the seabed

An­glo Dawn at Sal­combe

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