Softbaiting - jigs vs wormhooks

Having been recently diagnosed with TAS (Tackle Acquisition Syndrome), it struck me that now might be a good time to sort through the copious amounts of fishing hardware a TAS sufferer normally collects.

I was not looking forward to this task, but as part of the therapy it had to be done - anyway, it was blowing 40-knots from the northeast and fishing had been postponed.

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I started with a rather large and heavy box of jig-heads, worm hooks, lumo sinkers and all sorts of other treasures. It got me thinking. Are jig-heads better than worm hooks? Are the adaptations we've made to jig-heads and to the way we use worm hooks showing good results? And where will it go from here?

Which is best? It's about now I start having a mental argument with myself, torn between two ways to firstly, secure the soft-plastic of choice to the hook, and secondly, get it to the most important place on earth - where the fish are.

Jig-heads have three basic limitations: the hook is fixed in place in the lead; they come in standard weight selections; and the hook quality can be less than desirable.

With the hook angle fixed, I believe you may not be getting the consistent hook-up rate that's possible. How often have you hooked a fish on the outside of its cheek or dropped a fish during the fight, only to find a scale on the hook point? How often have you had a bait come back with a bite out of the opposite side of the bait to the hook? I see this a lot, especially the foul-hooking of snapper in the cheek. Has the hook not found home because it cannot swivel and roll into the corner of the fish's mouth? Are these the fish that 'fall off' mid-fight?

The standard weight selection is not really that much of an issue, but being able to adjust the weight is useful when you want or need to - even if it's only to add a few more grams. It can make all the difference.

Are your soft-plastic lures 'skipping' over snapper feeding hard on the bottom because you are a few grams short and the bait or lure is not staying in the zone long enough? Sure, you can jump up to the next size jighead, but that may come with a longer-shank hook, changing the action of your chosen offering, or possibly being too heavy altogether.

Hook quality is a major issue. Hooks that go blunt after a few fish or even bend out of shape are a weak link in your fishing. Simple as that! Enough said: buy good quality, recognised brands and remove a potentially weak link.

 

There have been some great improvements in jig-head 'technology' over the past few years. One example that springs to mind is the Jigstar range of jig-heads. They come in both boring old lead-grey and in lumo.

Another is the Squidgies jig-heads, with life-like characteristics added to the head. An added bonus from the Jigstar range is the head-only option, with two connection points and a split-ring connected to the rear of the head. The two connection points allow you to 'tow' the lure nose-down or nose-up. Attaching a worm hook suited to the size of your soft-plastic is easy via the split-ring and forms a secure connection.

The worm has turned

Worm hooks are great, I reckon (in case you haven't noticed). There are many good-quality worm hooks out there from brands like Owner, Gamakatsu and VMC, to mention a few. The hook shape lends itself to hooking the fish in the corner of the mouth, making for easy hook retrieval and/or fish release; they come in various sizes to suit most baits; and it's easy to secure the bait. They are also easily used with other styles of rig, like 'drop-shot' or ledger rigs.

Any issues arising from the bait slipping down the hook, affecting performance and presentation, are easily resolved with silicon stoppers, a few wraps of Bait Elastic or a tiny cable-tie around the head of the bait, securing it on the flat of the hook. Granted, bait slippage is not so prevalent with jigheads as the bait-holder is part of the hook, but with new technology from the leading hook manufacturers slowly filtering though, I feel the benefits of using a worm hook outweigh those of a fixed lead-head jig.

Owner has come out with a twist-lock system on a hook based on the worm-hook concept. I noticed right away how easy it was to secure the bait and how much longer it hung in there in the middle of some hot work-up action. The quality is, of course, excellent from this world leader, with two styles of twist-lock, both using stainless steel wire to ensure longevity and strength. Check out softbaitcity.co.nz to see more.

Berkley is another leader in innovation and, amongst other things, offers a hook with a lead bait-keeper on the shank. These will suit those wishing to use only the lightest weight possible, perhaps on a slow drift through the shallows, or for those wanting to add more weight to the rig, perhaps in heavier conditions or deeper water. The hook quality is excellent, too.

There have been many other adaptations, including the use of bullet heads, swivel sinkers, assist hooks and egg sinkers, and I'm sure there is much more to come. It's going to be very hard putting some of this gear in the box in front of me away! In fact, I don't think I can - that's TAS for you!?

 

 This article is reproduced with permission of
New Zealand Fishing News
July 2008 - written by Damian Clayton
RE-PUBLISHING ELSEWHERE IS PROHIBITED

 

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