Jigging was once a word predominately associated with the full body work-out that is high-speed mechanical jigging, involving a foot of metal, strained arm and back muscles and a lot of sweat. Thankfully more high-tech jig designs and highly refined delivery systems have seen slower and less taxing methods emerge which are providing remarkable consistency on a range of desirable Aussie species.
The use of inchiku-style jigs, such as Shimano's Bottom Ship range, is one such angler friendly jig style that is on the rise right around the country. With a new series of Bottom Ship due for release this summer, the excitement surrounding these lures will only further increase I'm sure.
Inchiku jigs are essentially an uncomplicated lure type, yet are remarkably effective. Bottom Ships feature an almost elongated tear-drop body shape and are rear weighted, making them great for getting to the bottom quick and into the strike zone. This rapid sink design has been super handy when we've sounded up fish in deeper water, or are fishing in strong current where there's a need to reach the bottom fast. The other noteworthy feature of the Bottom Ship is the soft squid featuring dual in-line hooks swinging from the weighted body, which is arguably the most attractive part to the fish. From our experience fish will be looking to attack the squid first, and being soft, constantly moving and snack-sized it's easy to see why!
The more we've used these jigs, the more we've seen just how diverse they really are. So far we've used them to successfully target monster-class snapper, smaller pan-sized reds, thumper KG whiting, nannygai, flathead and a host of other bottom species in my home waters down south. Given they can be fished with a range of techniques, in a mixture of water depths, they really do have limitless potential.
A pleasing aspect to using these jigs is that there's no hard rules when it comes to fishing them. Probably the most standard approach, putting it simply, is to cast forward of your boat and slowly hop them back along the bottom, throwing the odd pause in. This covers ground, keeps the lure on the move, and will excite fish into striking. Subtle variations to this retrieve may see extended pauses, or more intense flicks of the lure off the bottom to further get a reaction from fish. One surprise for us is how well they fish on the roll back. When we've got a strong tide running we'll drop a Bottom Ship straight down and after it hits the bottom slowly feed it back, moving it a handful of metres at a time and then pausing it. This drop-back method covers ground finding pockets of fish, and seems to regularly get the jig found and eaten.
Like many slow jigging techniques aimed at bottom dwelling species spending time in the strike zone is important, and there's no hurry to get your jig out of it. Take your time and thoroughly work the bottom. Bottom Ship jigs will catch you fish even when they're not on the move thanks to the squid skirt, so don't feel obliged to always keep moving it or be overly aggressive with presentations. For my liking having soak time in the kill zone is most of the battle won with these lures given visually they're so darn sexy, and it's next to impossible for many competitive reef fish to knock them back. Even working them vertically above the bottom has worked well for us when targeting mid-water schooling species like Bight redfish, big silver trevally and even snapper holding up higher in the water column.
I prefer to strike at anything that feels like a bite, no matter how delicate it is. The sharp hooks they're fitted with offer a great hook-up ratio and are quite durable. Even the smallest of knocks felt usually means you've been eaten, and a sharp lift of your road will usually see you loaded up and loving life.
A responsive outfit is best for fishing Bottom Ships; that is to say a rod/reel combo that offers easy hook-sets when you feel a bite and can let you work your jig with small hops and other enticing movements. In deeper water I'm finding myself using shorter outfit of late with the 1.63m Anarchy Spin Jig matched up with a 4000 Rarenium and 7kg braid which is a lightweight jigging outfit great for twitching around these jigs. In shallower and deeper areas I still turn to a 7ft rod / 4000 reel regularly though and keeping the experience fun yet practical is the balancing act.
Start light in the leader department to get more from these jigs. 20-30 lb fluorocarbon is ideal for many fish, especially considering the jig themselves don't tend to be eaten (just the squid), thus teeth don't generally come in contact with leader.
Shimano's Bottom Ship jigs come in sizes from 90-135g and with the new range set for release shortly it's a great time to be a fisho into light tackle and small jigs!