It’s safe to say most anglers have now wised up to the fact quality squid jigs catch more than the cheaper style available. You need only visit a tackle store to see that the range of high-quality jigs hanging from the walls far outweighs the cheaper kind in the bargain bin.
Now don’t get me wrong; you can catch squid with cheap jigs – but they don’t work every day and they don’t last anywhere near as long as a quality squid jig. While targeting squid is one of the easiest forms of lure angling, doing it consistently requires some skill, time on the water, a good understanding of squid habitat and good equipment. Fishermen have a habit of remembering only the good days and on those days when they don’t catch squid, they quickly relegate that to the old “they weren’t there today” theory. Chances are they were; you just needed to change your approach a little.
With the vast array of squid jigs we now have to choose from, choice can become a little daunting. We’ve had a lot of questions about jig choice via email and Facebook in regards to our jig reviews and squid special edition articles in the mag, so I thought I would address jig choice in more detail. Squid jigs are all fundamentally the same thing with subtle changes, yet some are definitely better than others. The more expensive Japanese brands are better due to their build quality, sink rate, the angle in which they sink and their colours and designs. A lot of research has gone into producing these jigs to create more effective strike triggers and they do work better. I agree that at times it can be taken too far, but that’s part of the fun of fishing – buying new stuff, theorising over gear and how it can give you the edge. Sometimes it’s the edge over the squid, most of the time it’s the edge over your mate’s tackle tray. Sometimes it can all get a bit confusing so hopefully this piece clarifies a few things and has you confidently choosing a bunch of jigs to suit you and the area you’re fishing.
Generally jigs start at 2.5 and go to 4.0. You can buy smaller and much larger sizes but for targeting calamari, these sizes are best and that’s what you will find at the local tackle store. These numbers reflect length, not weight, but you can use common sense and understand that a 4.0 jig will sink faster than a 2.5. So choose jigs based on the depth you’re fishing.
Many brands now produce heavier and lighter versions of each size and they’ll generally call them deep or shallow. You need to be a little careful when choosing jigs off the wall as you can often purchase a deep or shallow jig without knowing it, so look out for the fine print on the packet. The jig companies are tricky and in order to ensure the deep and shallow models sell well, they often reserve some of the best and coolest-looking colours for those models.
Most jigs state on the back of the packet what the sink rate is so take a look and buy accordingly for the depth you’ll be fishing. A jig that sinks too quickly will not be appealing to squid. It’s also very important to note that the deep jigs are better used for fast current as opposed to deep water. In Port Phillip Bay I’ll fish in 16 metres where there is minimal current and use a standard 3.5 size jig. I do have to wait for it to sink, but a heavily weighted jig won’t be as appealing. You’ll only ever need heavy jigs for fast current flow. Shallow jigs are great for land-based anglers fishing in shallow water of three metres or less over heavy weed and reef. Aside from that they are not much fun to use due to their long sink time and inferior casting distance.
If you’re fishing really deep or fast water you can buy specialised heavily weighted jigs known as tip-run jigs, but this is a whole different style of squid fishing that requires specialised gear. You can jump on the Hooked Up website and read an article on tip-run fishing.
If fishing anywhere from 3-16 metres, without heavy current, I use 3.0 and 3.5 size jigs and it’s rare I’ll use larger or smaller. They cast well and the squid view them as a good meal. On the occasions I target squid in 1-3 metres I drop down to a 2.5 or a specialised slow-sinking jig.
Small 2.5 size jigs are often very effective on smaller squid that inhabit high-pressured areas such as piers. Many anglers think it’s due to the size but I believe it’s the slow sink rate. Therefore, if you’re a land-based angler, 3.0 size jigs in a slow sink may be a good option.
At the end of the day the simple thing to remember is this: you want the squid to view your jig as a nice big meal. He isn’t afraid, and will eat prey much larger than himself, but if it sinks too fast, it will look unnatural.
As with any lure, this is a topic of much debate and everyone is passionate about certain colour and foil combinations. There are basic guidelines provided by squid jig companies that outline when you should use certain colours. I have tested thousands of jigs from all brands, in many sizes and colours, in multiple states, and in bays, inshore and offshore, and I have concluded there are some colour/foil combinations you must have that make up a great starter kit.
For morning or when overcast, in clear water you can’t go past a brown natural-looking cloth with a gold foil; if the water is a little dirtier, go for orange with a gold foil. Pink and orange jigs with rainbow pattern or silver bases are a must-have and these are a great all-round jig you can use throughout the day once the sun is up. They’re old-school but highly effective. Along with this, blue cloths with silver foils are excellent in ultra-clear water.
Vibrant green cloths over gold, glow or UV bases are absolutely dynamite and are especially effective in green or dirty water. Green isn’t a very popular colour but it is one of the most consistently effective colours I use. At dusk and last light, red cloths with red foils are highly effective and they’ll work through the day. Black cloths with silver or rainbow pattern foils or solid black are excellent in all water conditions but are especially great at night and in dirty water. White cloths with UV or glow bases are excellent, again at all times and in dirty water.
So, to simplify it even further, if you were just starting out and needed a few jigs I suggest this: brown cloth with gold foil, red cloth with red foil, orange cloth with rainbow foil, black cloth with red foil, white cloth with clear UV and green cloth with glow base. After this, go crazy and buy all kinds of weird colours.
Change it up
There are a lot of companies making squid jigs these days and this is a good thing – mix up your brands. Buy a few from each in varying colours, style and size as there are some good reasons for doing this. If you’re onto a few squid and the bite suddenly goes quiet, don’t change positions but quickly change jigs. Change brand, colour, size; just make a change. I believe that after watching their mates getting dragged away by the same coloured jig a few times, the squid can become wary of that particular jig. By changing jigs you will be surprised how the bite comes back on. So try to have a tray of squid jigs that have some good variation between them.