I'm lucky enough to find myself in Greece this September - the best time of year for fish and fishing in this beautiful part of the world. The travel rod remains split down in my suitcase but I've already seen a few hungry looking palegics whilst snorkeling, along with a lone sea bass sat over a bed of eel grass waiting his moment to strike at an injured baitfish. Needless to say I can't wait to get the lure box out.
In the meantime, in between my duties as honourable partner to the ever fish-tolerent Estelle, I console myself by reading a local fishing magazine to get the flavour. I say 'read' lightly as the text may as well be invisible to me - but the pictures are good! The magazine I have in front of me is entitled 'Fish' and is equally divided up between sea fishing and fishing boats - boats far different from the angling craft I see on the south coast of England where I normally fish - these would sit quite happily on the set of Miami Vice.
I enjoy flicking through the pages of European fishing mags as for me it gives a benchmark of how far the UK has been left behind in tackle advances. That may be a little cruel but I've watched with great interest, new techniques like saltwater vertical jigging migrate slowly across from Asia to Australia and the Americas, through continents and into Europe. And despite Shimano's monstrous marketing budget and a fair bit of coverage in the UK angling press, techniques like Vertical Jigging still appear to labelled experimental by tackle retailers and anglers alike.
It's a shame. Most responses I get to these comments focus on the new techniques not being suitable for our fish - 'fish too slow', 'water too cold', etc, etc - I find that odd considering our nearest neighbour France has embraced cutting edge lure fishing, with some of the best fishing in Brittany near to our shores, fishing for exactly the same species list. And as for the cold comment - Jigging (or pirking) is the deadly technique in the fish rich waters to our north (I'm thinking Scandinavia here), and has been for some time. To add insult to injury, pick up any sea angling book from twenty years ago or beyond and you'll find whole chapters devoted to the art of Pirking. While other countries are bringing this method into the 21st century, in Blighty it's near extinction.
Sorry - I'm on holiday - rant over.
In 'Fish', there are two articles that centre on the very latest jigging methods in Europe; slow-sinking Inchiku & Madai methods as well as Kabura which with some level of naivety appears to be a heavier and therefore expectedly faster method along the same lines. All these techniques stem from a Japanese slant on commercial Snapper fishing methods known as 'Snapper Rubber Jig'. This family of lighter jigging techniques can also be labelled 'Bay Jigging'. Perhaps the easiest way to describe these new methods is by looking at the hardwear.
Starting with the lures themselves, in all cases the body of the lure is infact the weight - in the examples I've seen these are leads with highly sophisticated hydrodynamics and custom paint jobs - in most cases they look amazing. Then in terms of bringing this 'lead' to life is a combination of coloured, latex tassels and tinsel trailing out behind the body. There is nearly always two coloured, latex arms shaped to represent the attacking tentacles of squid, perhaps giving a big clue on what these lures mimic to the fish. The sneaky bit is the two Assist type hooks that trail freely within the pulsating mass of all those tentacles.
Normally in this style of lure the hook sizes are much smaller than the average assist hook you find on a deepsea jig, which is part of the excitement for me as if one of the reasons that full size vertical jigging hasn't caught on in the UK is a low population of decent sized fish to target with the method, then this smaller, lighter scaled-down version could be just the ticket to put the fun (and all manner of fish species) into the method.
If you're reading this and thinking, as I did, yeah this could work in my waters then probably start by looking at the Shimano Lucanus range of tackle. As ever the world tackle giant has a massive range of everything you could specifically require for this method, be that rods, reels, line, accessories and the lures themselves, but remember the lures themselves are the only essential part. I'm planning on trying the method with standard, if not unusual, tackle for UK boat work - namely a quality baitcaster reel with a decent rate of retrieve and capable of holding a good amount of 15lb braid with a light, fast action rod capable of putting some life into a lure of between 2 and 5 ounces in weight, while soft enough to keep in contact with the lure on the dropping part of the action. Man, I'm excited about trying this just writing about it!
Flicking through the advertisements in this Greek magazine I can see a number of similar lures available in Europe; such as the LF1091 by Osprey, Hart's Inchiku range as well as Shimano's Lucanus and Inchiku ranges.
It would be fantastic to see sporting, new techniques like these catch on nearer to my home. In the meantime I will be trying them out with the tackle available - either online or those sourced on my travels. Fishing-Tackle.co.uk would absolutely love to hear from any of you that are looking to fish these techniques in British or Northern European waters, and indeed any successes. Good luck!