It is very easy to relax and switch on auto-pilot with your fishing especially when the winds calm and you have a pleasant day or night. However, to get the best results while eging, you need to be actively engaged working your lure. After all, it is the person who can best imitate a wounded baitfish or prawn, or whatever the squid are feeding on that given day, who catches more.
Starting with when we cast our jigs, we wind the slack in just enough so that it keeps the jig in free-fall whilst pointing the rod tip close to the water so that the line is submerged and out of the wind. This allows us to maintain better contact with the jig while it sinks. Once it has sunk to roughly our desired depth (by counting the sink rate in our heads), the fun begins.
Typically, our eging sequence starts by employing fast and aggressive twitches to attract the squid from afar. We wind in the slack line again before lifting and whipping the rod aggressively upwards to almost 90 degrees vertical, to ensure the action is transferred to the jig as much as possible. We wind in the slack as the rod is coming down.
We do this two to five times in quick succession, depending on the depth, before pausing for a few seconds to allow the jig to sink again. We cannot emphasise the importance of including pauses in between your actions, as this is the period when the squid will attack the jig.
We then repeat the actions but using a smaller and gentler stroke to trick the squid into thinking that the baitfish is getting weaker and becoming an easy meal. If at any time the line suddenly gets light or goes tight, there is a good chance a squid has grabbed the jig. We then count to three, to allow them time to get a good hold on the jig, before striking.
Squid tend to attack and grab the jig from the side on, but they are not hooked, and can easily let go. Therefore, make sure to strike to set the hook. Depending on the stiffness of your rod and your drag setting, it can take a bit of practice to determine how hard to strike.
When the theory of the wounded baitfish is not working in practice, varying the action during the retrieve can help excite uninterested squid. Squid jigs are designed to dart and zig-zag through the water, dependent on how the rod is moved. There are many ways to move the jig, and we’ll go over a handful we like incorporate into our eging session.
The actions we mentioned earlier are what we call a‘double/triple jerk’ although there are other names for various techniques. More commonly, the double jerk involves lifting the rod up about to 30 degrees and then retrieving the slack line on the way down twice in quick succession to cause the jig to hop vertically.
‘Walking the dog’ is a variation of the double/triple jerk that causes the jig to dart side to side instead, imitating a baitfish. To perform this technique, point the rod to the side at a 45-degree angle and then whip the rod five to six times while retrieving constantly.
Another technique is to utilise a slower, steady retrieve with the rod in a stationary position. This makes the jig swim gently and glide through the water. On some days, we have had a lot of success by simply slowly lifting our rods up to 90 degrees, almost like a double jerk in slow motion, or adding a quick pause in between a full jerk.
One of our all-time favourites is called the slack-line jerk. As the name implies, this action involves having some slack line before gently lifting the rod up and down and then whipping it to the side. The movement should be graceful, like waving a wand to perform a spell from Harry Potter. This causes the jig to do small bounces side to side, which is especially useful when the squid are timid.
There are so many different ways to work squid jigs, so it helps to observe how the jig moves when you employ different rod movements. Don’t be afraid to whip the rods hard, as this is what they are designed for.
Rocky structure and weedbeds can look daunting, but these are the types of terrain that squid love to hide in. In fact, some of our most productive nights have been fishing these types of areas. In very shallow water, less than two metres, fishing can be particularly challenging as there is almost no time for the jig to fall before snagging. Using shallow and super-shallow type jigs can work wonders in these conditions, as they provide you with more of a buffer.
A more active approach is required in shallower water. You can do this by constantly applying the double jerk every few seconds. Although the squid will probably not strike the jig during this time, they tend to follow it in. To entice a strike when they are in close, slow down the descent of the jig by lifting the rod up as the jig is sinking, holding it mid-water, or letting it rest on the bottom. If the squid backs off, give the jig a little bit of a wiggle to entice them back, then leave it still. It is a process that requires patience, but it is very rewarding when you catch them at your feet.
Bear in mind that the closer the jig, the steeper the line angle. In turn, this means each whip will cause the jig to jump higher than it does when it is far away. This is particularly important for shallow water conditions, because the jig could surface and hit your or someone else’s face. When the jig is out a long way, it is fine to perform big, aggressive actions, but reduce the scale of the action as the jig gets closer.
The slackline jerk is particularly useful as the jig gets closer, especially in areas with fewer snags. It is also applicable in deep water, especially during the day when the squid are near the bottom.
Eging is a life-long journey and the best thing about is that the effort that you put in to learning new techniques and styles always pays off. Watching others who are having success on a given night, examining their technique and counting their pauses etc. is a great way to grow in this ever-growing sport!
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