It's hard not to be filled with expectation and excitement when a new lure with potential snapper slaying abilities comes along. Before even hitting the water with the new crop of Shimano Bottom Ship jigs I'd already mentally run through the scenario of landing fish on them, and as you can imagine when it came to 'game day' and actually putting the jigs through their paces, I was basically foaming at the mouth to get tight to a head-rattling red.
The Bottom Ship jigs certainly lived up to their potential. My first snapper on them was a 25lb plus fish, followed minutes later by one of 30lb, which is currently a PB. Satisfying to the core catching it on a lure! Landing two slob-sized reds like this in rapid fire fashion to finish off the session was a dream start using these inchiku-style jigs.
What was most impressive about the jigs however wasn't just the slabs of red muscle they put on the deck, but also their versatility in terms of how and where they could be fished. Many fishos may associate inchiku jigs with deeper water reef work, but they proved quite adept in the shallower water snapper scenario detailed above with a tweaking of retrieval technique.
Bottom Ship jigs sink great and get you straight into the strike zone, allowing you to effectively and thoroughly work an area and spend maximum time in all those little sweet spots where you're likely to get crunched at any moment by a runaway red. This good weight characteristic allows you to easily keep in touch with your lure and impart controlled subtle or aggressive movements on it, and also feel any snapper enquiries the second they happen.
Bottom Ship jigs come in sizes from 90 to 135g. A good policy for this fishing is to start off with the smallest and lightest jig you can and only increase the weight if you're not keeping in touch with the bottom or fishing the areas you want to be in. Many of the big snapper caught were on the 110g size which was ideal for the shallow water/fast current combination fished. The lure was still light enough to be moved around by the water flow though, which allowed it to cover ground and ultimately get eaten.
The free swinging soft squid skirt and dual sticky-sharp chemically sharpened hooks complement the weighted body section well and provide much of the appeal. Snapper will be looking to eat this squid first and even when your Bottom Ship is fished static on the bottom the squid will be waving around with water flow and still has considerable attraction. The hooks and Dyneema cord on the jigs are durable and we've experienced very little fish loss once hooked-up.
As touched on you're free to experiment with retrieves with your Bottom Ship jigs. There's no concrete rules here. One of the best techniques is 'hopping' the lure across the bottom. This will get that squid skirt waving the 'eat me' flag and catching the eye of any fish lurking in the area. You'll also cover ground. Be sure not to 'hop' your lure overly quick though, the more time spent in the area the better, so throw in regular pauses where you can and strike at even the smallest of knocks or weight felt.
We've had great success rolling the jigs back with the current and stopping them periodically, hardly requiring any lifts at all. The squid as you can imagine is still working its backside off down there with water pressure moving it around and bringing it to life.
In deeper water again using sharp lifts is the best way to spice your jig and on anchor or on the drift they can be fished without any issues. There's no right or wrong way to go about it, but try mixing things up if you're not getting hit and have a play with them to discover the range of techniques possible.
Like using octo jigs a light to medium tackle system is best here, and the same gear I use for snapper plastics is what I'll typically use for inchiku jigs. A 4000 sized reel with 6-10kg braid over a nice 4-8 kilo rod with a responsive tip section allowing you to put action on your lure is all you'll need. Tackle like this will allow you to enjoy snapper of all sizes and you'll be less likely to pull hooks from fish, or damage assist hooks.
Keep leaders reasonably light and stealthy. I like to kickoff with 20lb Ocea fluorocarbon and only go heavier if it's truly warranted.
Bottom Ships are another highly effective snapper option to have in your lure kit for reds and nearly any other reef loving species. Enjoy the experimenting and learning with a lure type that's making a big splash on the snapper scene already.