The colder weather prompts many anglers to stow away their fishing tackle, but for squid enthusiasts, it’s the cue to dust-off the gear and ready themselves to hunt the ‘kraken’, write Jun Park, Rudee Lim, Ben Tupaea and Adam King.
There are many species of squid that inhabit New Zealand waters. The type we primarily catch is the broadfin squid, distinguished by their long oval fin that extends along the edges of their whole body, and their shortish tentacles. You’ll start noticing an increasing number of people fishing along road edges on calm nights; for instance, along Tamaki Drive in Kohimarama, under the Harbour Bridge, or on any wharves and jetties with ambient lighting. Sometimes you will see bright red or green LED lights shining from the water or catch occasional glimpses of headtorches in pitch black darkness out on a rock platform, accompanied by the odd cracking noise. These are all signs of people fishing for squid. The sharp cracking noise generated by the whipping of specialized carbon graphite rods is a characteristic of the technique called ‘eging’ or squid jigging.
A promising looking spot to catch squid. Note the clear water, the weeds and the rocky structure further back.
Eging is in some ways quite similar to soft-baiting. You cast out a small prawn/baitfish looking jig, let it sink to the bottom, then whip the rod a couple of times while simultaneously winding in slack line which imparts a darting action to your lure. Then let the lure sink to the bottom again and repeat the whipping action until the lure is retrieved. As with any skill, a certain degree of finesse is required to get the most out of eging. Although it can be challenging to grasp initially, the feeling that follows when you hook what first feels like a piece of weed but then suddenly comes to life and pulses violently is second to none.
As with any type of fishing, success happens when preparation meets opportunity. Investing a small portion of your time into checking your gear and stocking up on supplies can go a long way, especially when they are coming straight out of storage. Some things to look out for are any cracks or missing guides on rods, clunky/sticky reel drags, and line fray on braid. Consulting your local tackle store for a service and replacing your braid will not only help you save a lot of money in the long run (replacing lost jigs can get expensive) it will ensure you have a good experience squid fishing.
Generally, the most popular squid jig sizes are size 2.5, 3.0 and 3.5. However, as squid tend to be on the smaller side of the scale at this time of the year, it helps to prepare accordingly. We recommend including some jigs in the sizes of 1.5, 1.8, 2.0 and 2.2. Yozuri Aori-Q and the Yamashita Naory/Sutte are primarily the brands we use for these sizes. Being the master of camouflage as they are, there will be many instances where a random squid, or a school, will magically appear right at your feet. The act of casting your jig at them when you have a visual is termed ‘sight casting’. Jigs in smaller variants are advantageous in this situation. The Yamashita Naory in the 1.5/1.8 sizes and the Suttes in 2.2 are great for this because they have a slower sink rate, which translates to more time for the squid to strike. This is especially advantageous in shallow water applications and when the squid are tentative.
Jigs are available in a plethora of colours and sizes. The range shown here are between 1.5 and 3.5.
In deeper water applications where the jig will be battling higher currents, it helps to use the deep-type versions. These have faster sink rates, which help the jigs get down to the bottom. The Yozuri Aori-Q RS and the Yamashita Naory series have jigs in these variants. You will find that the weight of the squid jig or the keel is situated closer to the nose, which causes the jig to point downwards at a steeper angle, resulting in a faster sink rate. Conversely, for the shallow-type versions, the keel is situated further back, resulting in a gentler angle that achieves a slower sink rate. The sink rates are written on the packaging as seconds per metre. The higher the number of seconds, the slower the sink rate and vice versa.
The plethora of available colours can be overwhelming to choose from. Although there are no set rules in fishing, we generally find success following this simple guideline: use shiny metallic colours, such as gold/silver or natural colours, when there’s clear water, it’s daytime or it’s an area with ambient light; use pink/orange/green and lumo when there’s murky water and/or a dark environment.
There are many resources online that can help you achieve better results in the sport. We run a page called “Eging For Squid” on Facebook which is a platform that shares our squid fishing experiences as well as providing advice for squidding related questions. The “NZ Squid Fishing Community” is a group on Facebook where like-minded squid enthusiasts exchange advice and experiences. It is also a great place to buy/sell second-hand squid fishing gear too.
But hands down the best way to learn is to get out and watch other squid fishing enthusiasts in action. The types of things to watch out for are how long they let the jigs sink, how often and how they whip their rods, what jigs they are using, and so on. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for comical moments such as squiddos “unintentionally” getting their friends inked in the face.
During the day, putting your broadfin squid in a rockpool is a great way to keep it fresh for longer, especially if you forgot your chilly bins.
The below is a quick checklist of what we like to bring on our trips:
• Eging Rod
• Small reel (1000 – 3000 sizes) loaded with PE 0.6-1 braid (thinner braid results in more sensitivity and further casting distances but comes with a lower breaking strain so be careful in areas with foul ground)
• Squid jigs in a range of sizes and colours (pink/orange/green/natural/silver/gold/lumo in sizes ranging between 1.5-3.5)
• Fluorocarbon leader (10-15lb)
• Egi clips (to quickly change jigs)
• UV torch (to quickly charge lumo jigs)
• Plastic bag or a small chilly bin
• A butterfly net (for landing squid)
• A small case or an eging bag to store all your jigs and terminal tackle.
Essential terminal tackle when chasing these critters.
May 2021 - Jun Park, Rudee Lim, Ben Tupaea and Adam King
New Zealand Fishing News Magazine.
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