How to fish with lead head jigs

 

White lead head jigs are certainly not a new design by any means and have been gracing the tackle boxes of anglers for decades and for good reason. Primarily used in northern parts of Australia to target fast moving, predatory species such as queen fish, mackerel and trevally these fantastic lures have grown in popularity to the point where they now take the place of many other offerings when targeting an ever broadening list of top quality fish species. There are how ever four key rules which must be followed for success.

 

1 – The right lead head jig is selected – Selecting the right lead head jig requires some knowledge from the angler regarding what it will be used for and where? For example whilst targeting medium sized trevally and queen fish over a short casting distance during calm, windless conditions with no current, a small, light lead head jig around 20 – 30 grams in weight with a 2/0 – 4/0 hook size might be selected. Where as if chasing larger trevally and mackerel within a long casting distance in rougher , windier conditions, a larger, heavier lead head jig with a larger hook size may be required. Lead head jigs are often used in the more rugged, northern half of Australia and for good reason. The fish are more plentiful and seem less particular with regard to what they will eat. Lead head jigs are also very resilient and versatile providing anglers with many options when it comes to style of retrieve. They will account for a large variety of both pelagic and demersal species and they are cheap. There are a few different colours of lead head jig available on today’s market with the only colour still proving to be WHITE! Lead head jigs are designed to be retrieved vertically as opposed to horizontally through the water column, although casting lead head jigs and cranking them back to the boat or shore line as fast as one can will often tempt most fast moving, pelagic species into striking. The weight of the lead head jig should also be taken into careful consideration as trying to cast a lightly weighted, lead head a long distance requires skill and the correct fishing tackle. Selecting the correctly weighted lead head is also crucial as a jig that is too heavy will simply not look natural enough to fool most fish and a jig that is too light will simply not make it down into the strike zone and stay there long enough to be truly effective.

 

2 – The lure is used with the correct rod, reel and line – Choosing the correct rod, reel and line to use in conjunction with your lure choice is extremely important! More often than not casting or jigging any lure, small or large, light or heavy will take its toll on the angler eventually. Choosing the wrong outfit as opposed to the right one will not only severely decrease your chances of catching a fish but also frustrate and exhaust you both physically and mentally. The correct fishing outfit should be a shear pleasure to fish with even when not catching. Budget is always the first thing to take into consideration with a good rule always being to spend one amount once! Never buy cheap, flimsy tackle as it will simply not last and eventually let you down when you need it most, generally on a fish of a lifetime! Braided line is generally a must for casting most lures including lead heads and due to its super thin, ultra low stretch qualities allows anglers to fish lighter, deeper and feel much more than they used to with conventional monofilament  lines. Most lures including lead heads will swim with more action when used in conjunction with braided lines and fluoro carbon leaders! Medium sized 4000 – 6000 class spin reels loaded with light 10 – 20lb braided lines are generally used to throw lead head jigs for species such as trevally and queen fish etc and when coupled up with light, graphite rods in the 6’6” – 7’ range make incredibly effective fishing tools for targeting an enormous variety of fish species from both boat and shore.  Reels with high speed retrieves are also preferred for casting and jigging lead heads and helps to place more action into a retrieved lure or jig with less exertion from the angler.

 

3 – The lure is cast or dropped into the correct location – Making sure the fish can see your lure by casting it or dropping it into the correct location is most important. Casting lead head jigs around turbulent surf zones, shallow reefs, current lines and bait schools is a sure fire way to locate many fast moving, predatory species. Dropping lead head jigs to the sea floor around sunken wrecks, reefs and steep drop offs and pinnacles is also an extremely effective and exciting method of targeting an enormous variety of both pelagic and demersal fish species. There are many various shapes and styles of lead head jigs available on today’s market with them all having one thing in common,  they will all produce incredible results when fished at the correct location in the correct manner! Working out which ones to use when, how and why is often the fun and exciting part of fishing and something that keeps us forever guessing. Quite often a lure that is red hot one day will not work the next and this is the reason successful anglers carry so many. As with most fishing instances try to fish as light as possible this way your offering will look as natural as it possibly can. A lead head that is too large and simply being used because the anglers tackle is not capable of casting something lighter and more appropriate will do nothing but frighten most fish away! Finesse is the key to most successful fishing scenarios and believe it or not still applies when fishing with metal.

 

4 – The lure is trolled or retrieved correctly – Retrieving lead head jigs with a natural and enticing action will increase strike rates considerably. Try to pay attention to the natural behaviour of the bait your intended target species is feeding upon and try to imitate it to perfection. Generally most bait fish have a slow stop, start or fast, erratic, panic stricken swimming motion that when replicated correctly will account for a very large variety of both demersal and pelagic fish species. Imparting action into the lure can be easily achieved by twitching the rod tip during the retrieve. Extra depth may also be achieved by thrusting the rod down into the water whilst retrieving a cast. Attaching most lures including lead heads with either a wire clip or loop knot will ensure they swim to their full capabilities! Keeping the rod tip pointed high whilst retrieving will ensure the lure tracks through the surface of the water column.

There are generally three types of retrieve used in conjunction with most lures –

– The slow roll, which is a simple slow wind of the reels handle whilst  the rod tip is pointed towards the water. This retrieve imparts a slow, weakened swimming action into the lure and is a great retrieve for slower moving species when used in conjunction with a few twitches and pauses mixed in.

– The fast burn, is a retrieve used to fire up fish and is a matter of pointing the rod tip towards the water and winding the reels handle as fast as you’re heart will allow. This exhilarating retrieve imparts a fleeing, panicked bait fish action into the lure that most fast moving, pelagic species find irresistible!

– The twitch and turn, is a retrieve that takes a bit of getting used to and requires a fair amount of co ordination and concentration to master successfully. Try to imagine you are freezing cold and shaking as you point your rod tip down towards the water and turn the reels handle at a slow to medium pace whilst vibrating the rod tip erratically. This should impart the shimmering action of a small, injured bait fish that is nervously making its way along the surface to avoid detection. This is an absolutely deadly retrieve that when used in conjunction with most lure types including metals has proven to produce results when all else fails!

There is another retrieve that has taken its fair share of fish over the years and this one requires the lead head being cast or lowered into the desired area before being retrieved with a sharp, fast lift of the rod followed by a couple of quick handle turns to retrieve the slack line before repeating. This is an old school jigging method that works very well in conjunction with vertical lead head retrieves!

 

Matching the right lure to the right rod, reel and line – Choosing the correct rod and reel to use in conjunction with your lead head jig is extremely important as the wrong combination will only result in frustration and failure.

 

Heres a rough guide of what sized lead head jigs to use with which rod and reel outfits when casting –

1 Lure size – Ultra small – 5 – 10 gram, Marabou or feather jig, – Rod and reel match – Ultra light 1 – 3kg, 6’6” – 7’ graphite rod and 1000 class spin reel loaded with 2 – 4lb braided or gel spun line.

2 Lure size – Small – 10 – 20 gram, Marabou or feather jig,  – Rod and reel match – Light 2 – 5kg, 6’6” – 7’ graphite rod and 2500 class spin reel loaded with 6 – 10lb braided or gel spun line.

3 Lure size – Medium – 20 – 30 gram – Rod and reel match – Medium 4 – 8kg, 6’6” graphite rod and 4000 class spin reel loaded with 15 – 20lb braided or gel spun line.

4 Lure size – Large – 30 – 50 gram – Rod and reel match – Heavy duty 8 – 15kg, 6’ – 7’  graphite rod and 6000 – 8000 class spin reel loaded with 20 – 30lb braided or gel spun line.

5 Lure size – Extra large – 60 gram plus – Rod and reel match – Extra heavy duty 15 – 24kg, 6’ graphite rod and 10,000 – 20,000 class spin reel loaded with 30 – 80lb braided or gel spun line.

 

Lead head jigs are rarely used when trolling however clever anglers are always developing new and innovative techniques so heres a rough guide for any of you that would like to try –

 

1 Lure size – Ultra small – 5 – 10 gram, Marabou or feather jig,  – Rod and reel match – Ultra light 1 – 3kg, 6’ – 6’6” graphite rod and 1000 class spin reel loaded with 2 – 4lb braided or gel spun line.

2 Lure size – Small – 10 – 20 gram, Marabou or feather jig,  – Rod and reel match – Light 2 – 5kg, 6’ – 6’6” graphite rod and 2500 class spin reel loaded with 6 – 10lb braided or gel spun line.

3 Lure size – Medium – Medium – 20 – 30 gram  – Rod and reel match – Medium 4 – 8kg, 5’8” – 6’ graphite or fibreglass rod and 4000 class spin reel or medium sized, bait caster or overhead reel loaded with 15 – 20lb braided or gel spun line.

4 Lure size – Large – 30 – 50 gram  – Rod and reel match – Heavy duty 8 – 15kg, 5’8” – 6’  graphite or fibreglass rod and 6000 – 8000 class spin reel or small to medium sized, lever drag, overhead reel loaded with 20 – 30lb braided, gel spun or nylon line.

5 Lure size – Extra large – 60 gram plus  – Rod and reel match – Extra heavy duty 15 – 24kg, 5’8” – 6’ graphite or fibreglass rod and 10,000 – 20,000 class spin reel or medium to large sized, lever drag, overhead reel loaded with 30 – 80lb braided, gel spun or nylon line.

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