When octo-style jigs first hit the tackle scene, throwing them at packs of ravenous reef dwelling snapper seemed like a logical way to get these bug shaped offerings eaten. Sure enough initial outings provided insight into just how deadly they were on our beloved red fish with snapper over 10kgs coming up with regularity.
It wasn't just the fact that they caught fish which was appealing, but also just how diverse these jigs were in terms of how they could be worked and where they could be used. It's this diverse application that has ensured they've held their own in my snapper attack despite the initial novelty wearing off - a good sign that they're here for the long haul!
When it comes to specific fishing techniques for catching big reds on your Lucanus jig, there's nothing complicated about it at all. The key to working octo jigs on reds is to spend as much time in the strike zone as you can and fish them deadly slow. Octopus jigs are essentially meant to mimic a small octopus or squid which are a much-loved protein source for snapper of all sizes. To get the most out of your lure work it with slow lifts and drops to get that silicon skirt pulsating and making the lure look like a hovering or slow moving squid/octopus waving the 'eat me' flag!
For much of the inshore snapper work we do, in 30m of water and under, we mostly use these jigs in a cast and retrieve role and in deeper water they're fished vertically or on the drift for a majority of the time. Try and keep your lure size as small and as light as possible to increase the deception, and we stick with 60-100g jigs for a bulk of the time when chasing big reds inshore. While on paper it may seem a misfit, even the biggest of snapper will happily hunt down and devour the smallest Lucanus in the range, so don't necessarily think a big lure equals a big fish as elephants eat peanuts after all! If you can reach the bottom and maintain a good connection and have an acute sense of what's going on with your lure throughout the retrieve then you have the ideal weight. Having a range of weights on hand is vital though as strong current and deeper water may dictate an increase in weight is required.
A lot of the Lucanus work I do is using a 7ft T-Curve Snapper Spin rod, a quality 4000 sized threadline like a Biomaster or Stella, spooled with 12-20lb braid. You get a high level of sensitivity with an outfit like this, yet you can tame even the biggest slabs of red muscle swimming (not without earning each metre of line back on the reel though!).
We often experience several types of bites from snapper when using octo jigs. Most times you'll feel a rattly sort of bite as they literally chew on these lures. This could be a result of the slow retrieve speed used and the fish having more time to eat and scrutinise them compared to the slam, crash nature of using plastics and blades/vibration baits on reds which are fished with a faster retrieve. An amazing amount of big reds we catch are pinned in the lips or outside of the face when using octo jigs. This said, you do get the hit and run type strike, where a red-hot fish will nail the lure and bolt in the one motion - it's all gold!
A vital point worth noting when using octo jigs is not to hit fish hard on the strike or be overly forceful on them during the fight. The twin assist hooks on these jigs are relatively fine gauge which aids in a great hook-up rate but requires constant but not heavy-handed fighting pressure to avoid opening up hooks and losing fish. You also need to keep steady pressure on a head-shaking snapper as they will be trying their best to shake these well weighted lures free and any slack line will allow them to use the weight of the lure to tear the hooks out.
If you haven't yet had a go at slow jigging for monster reds using Lucanus jigs then it's well worth delving into. I'm sure after tasting success you'll be as addicted to them as I've become!