Tuesday 23 April 2013

Weedless jigging rig for cod and pollack

This time of year is prime for the spring cod run in the north east, before the dreaded May "bloom" kicks in and kills the fishing somewhat. If you've visited this blog before or searched for cod rigs, you'll know that I gave up using the traditional pirk plus hokkais combination some years ago.  Even when you rigged the pirk with an assist hook, you still ended up with quite a bit of tackle losses as a result of fishing close to the bottom, especially if on a fast drift or over a big swell.
Lots of different ways to store a pirk
plus hokkai rig - simplest is just to wrap
it round and tie it with a rubber band.

The bog standard pirk plus hokkais rig used all
over the north east for cod.

Tackle losses are to be expected in such conditions, but after I replaced the pirks with a big jelly shad (5") and a heavy lead head, I lost far less tackle due to the shad tending to rest on its head or side when it hit the bottom, so the exposed hook had less chance to get stuck into anything.

I also found the big shad attracted a better stamp of fish.  This fish had a few goes at a Storm Giant Jigging Shad before ending up in the yak.  Sometimes if you feel a nip, it's wise to reel in and check they haven't bitten the tail of your jelly lure, thereby rendering it useless.
Unfortunately, although we lost fewer rigs overall, that improvement tended to be offset by the far greater initial cost of the big shads compared to a traditional pirk.  Even with home cast lead heads and cheap jelly bodies, we still weren't curing the problem because no matter how well designed the lead head is, if the hook is exposed, there is every chance that you come up against the kayak fisherman's worst enemy: the pot rope!  Even if your fishfinder shows these up in mid-water, on a fast drift / tide it can be hard to get your tackle up in time to avoid them and the fishfinder doesn't always pick them up when they're close to the bottom.
Homemade shad heads: expect heavy tackle losses and arm yourself with enough for the year!
My plan this year is to go with all jelly lures and by rigging the whole lot weedless, to hopefully end up with a snag proof rig that'll avoid the bottom snags as well as avoiding the pot ropes.

First stage is to look for a replacement for the hokkais.  Hokkais are simply a better form of the old fashioned mackerel or cod feathers.  Yes, they have glowing beads and a few glittery bits, but basically it's the same idea that is very difficult to rig weedless.  Luckily, over the last decade or so, ultra light rock fishing has become popular in Japan (and here too).  This has meant we now have an excellent choice of tiny paddle tail jelly lures that can be rigged weedlessly.  These are the Reins Rockvibe Shad 2" UV Super Glow B63 and the slightly larger 3" Neon Wakasagi:
These are from the Reins freshwater range, with the right hook they can be rigged weedless.  
So that's hopefully going to cure the pot rope snags.  It's true that these won't have the resistance that hokkais do, but even hokkais get torn up after a few mackerel.  The tiny paddle tails are cheap (10p each) and easy to replace.

Now to cure the shad problem.  I still want a big paddle tail, but there's not much out there that can be easily rigged weedless.  But early last year, my prayer's were answered when the first "daddies" of the Fiiish Black Minnow range came on sale.  At 16cm, it's quite a long lure (a near perfect launce imitation in my opinion), and with a maximum head weight of 60g it remains to be seen whether they'll keep their depth in a really big tide or an uptide drift: 
The big daddy of the Fiiish Black Minnow range, 160mm with a 60g offshore head. The perfect launce  imitation?
As we know big launce love baby sandeel and sandeel imitations (I frequently catch them on hokkais), it makes sense to rig them so that it gives the appearance of a launce chasing a smaller sandeel.  Generally it's the bottom sandeel imitation that the pollack grab, while the bigger cod nearly always hit the bottom shad.  I stick to just three sandeel imitations, any more than that and you're asking for trouble when the mackerel hit it in numbers.

That's it!  Hopefully a cod and pollack jigging rig that is snagproof on the bottom and against pot ropes.  Of course if you're travelling at pace, I would still expect the tiny paddletails to snag up against a rope as the soft lure only barely covers the hook point. We'll see. I'm confident it'll catch, and I'm confident it'll be better than the rig I was using last year, where every hook on the shad or hokkais was exposed.

And that's what it's all about isn't it?  Trying to do things better, to make it easier to catch more fish.

Tight lines for the coming season!


  1. What size of hook did you use with the Reins Rockvibe 2" Shads and how have they performed for you?



  2. I use the Nogales Monster #2 (available from Mr. Fish, make sure you don't get size 2/0 by mistake, like I did!).

    Yes, they're great. Certainly outfish hokkais and you lose far less tackle. Provided you tie up your own rigs, they work out more or less the same as hokkais traces.

    You need to keep the pack somewhere handy (pfd pocket?), as some fish (mackerel especially) can tear them up pretty quick. But when I'm jigging and hold the rod still, I can feel them having a chew at them! There's no doubt in my mind that pollack love these little jellies fished above a big bottom shad. I've had more cod and pollack this year and I've outfished my mate using hokkais.

    I'm not saying you can fish straight over pot ropes with them, but I've not had them snag up as yet so they seem to work. BTW, the big Black Minnow isn't heavy enough to fish these on most tides on the yak. You want a bottom shad in excess of 100g (I use 135g).


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