by Jarrod Day
Over past years, calamari have been one of the most popular species to target and why not when they are in huge numbers. I have asked myself many questions about how many are being caught, is there more than usual, are more anglers targeting them or is it the lures and gear that is getting better.
Jigs come in a wide range of styles, colours and sizes these days, it pays to have a selection on hand
At the end of the day I think it is a combination of all three. Sure more anglers are targeting them, especially during the winter months and who in their right mind wouldn’t; it’s keeping us doing what we love rather than doing the lawns.
As for the gear, it is getting better and like everything in life, technology gets better and so does the lures, rods, lines, reels etc: they are producing.
I remember when I caught my first calamari; it was from the Portsea Pier almost 22 years ago and back then was on a luminescent barrel with a set of prongs on the bottom. Mind you, this wasn’t cast and retrieved; no it was bobbed up and down on the end of the pole. While this technique was the most effective, times have changed and artificial prawns and fish imitations jigs now rule the underwater world.
Jigs these days have evolved and continue doing so. More and more studies are undertaken about calamari and thus, new jigs become available to better previous models.
The main feature on new artificial jigs is the sink rates. Calamari are very shy and when the slightest movement from a lure is noticed, they become inquisitive, yet cautious. This cautious reaction has calamari retreat a meter or so from the lure then when it seems to be relaxed, they attempt to attack it again. If you move the jig when they go to attack it, they may shy and retreat.
Sink rates in jigs have been toyed with somewhat and what has been found, the slower the sink rate of the jig the more the calamari will be caught. Having a lure that suspends longer in the water column (strike zone) gives the calamari a longer time to pursue the lure.
All artificial jigs nowadays have the sink rate of the lure printed on the packet so you know what you’re purchasing. The same colour jig can be purchased in both slow sinking and fast sinking depending on the water your fishing. If you’re fishing shallow water (2-4 meters), I use a jig that has a sink rate of two to four meters a second in a 2.5 size. For deeper water (5-7 meters) I use a fast sinking jig of three to five seconds per meter. The disadvantage of using a slower sinking jig in deeper water is that not only will it take longer to get to the bottom, but the sink rate will also be effected by any current or chop on the water. This will further slow the jig down and before you know it you’re not catching any calamari as you only working the top water column and not the bottom.
Something else to note, that when using specifically designed jigs you’re mainline will also affect the sink rate. Braided lines are more beneficial for this as monofilament lines have a thicker diameter and will slow down the desired sink rate. Egi Braids such as the YGK’s WX8 are thinner than most braids and designed to prevent any current pressure on the line.
The authoer has found that red coloured jigs seem to be very productive.
Another thing to note with artificial jigs is the colour ranges. Gone are the days of pink, orange, blue and green and although they are still available in some form or another, a much larger range covering all the colours of the rainbow is also.
Over the past five years or so, I have found the more natural coloured jigs to work much better than brighter ones and I can’t honestly remember the last time I used an orange or bright pink jig.
These days my number one jig colour is something with a red belly, plum or red foil that works for me. Jigs with a coloured cloth and see threw body tend to catch the majority and of course, I’m not complaining. Brands like IKA in the FR01, FR02, FR03, FR04, FR05 AND FR06 are hot favourites, while Yo-Zuri’s Aurie Q RS in colours REB and KVRE are a must.
It is said that Calamari see UV light rays and recognise the difference of temperature. With this, many jig manufactures have developed the skins on the jigs to contain a UV skin. This UV skin lights up both day and night enabling the calamari to see the jig clearer. The Yo-Zuri Aurie Q RS KVRE colour has this UV skin which is why it seems to be a standout to all the other jigs I use. It has caught thousands of Calamari are continues to do so.
Yo-zuri’s Aurie Q RS design is also available in a glow skin with the UV technology for those fishing first light, last light and during the night. Although the angler won’t see the benefits of the jig to their eye, the calamari surely do so.
Yamashita has also adapted this technology in their new range, Yamashita LIVE. This range also combines the UV skin and special thermo storage cloth. With their jigs, this new cloth wrapping for the LIVE jigs called 'warm jacket'. The thermo storage cloth holds the temperature for longer when in the water compared to traditional cloths. This temperature difference is only small, like .5 to 1 degree Celsius so it replicates live baitfish temperatures.
Last of all with the technical aspect of calamari fishing are the right rods to use. While you’re standard fishing rod will do the job whether it is graphite or glass. Either of these rods for most anglers work well except there are disadvantages with both. Glass rods tend to be sloppier and have a slow taper which won’t allow direct contact with the jig meaning it won’t be worked in the correct manner. This also won’t have the same hook setting effect as a graphite rod. Your typical soft plastics graphite rod on the other hand will allow direct contact with a jig and work it effectively but on setting the hooks can have too much impact and often tear out of the calamari’s tentacles or rip the tentacles clean off the calamari. Specially designed EGI rods on the other hand have all the benefits to work a jig correctly and when the barbs are required to be set, the rod tip takes the impact allowing the right amount of pressure placed onto the jig allowing a clean hook set every time.
While there is a lot of new technology available in the world of calamari fishing these days you can take it to the extreme or just dabble a little into the new gear that is available. Either way, with a selection of new jigs and the right rod, I personally guarantee you see the effects of the new technology in your next calamari fishing session.
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The author with a sizeable calamari taken on a Yo-Zuri REB jig.