Having a variety of jigs and lures in the tackle box is normal practice. The bait business now is a $30 million annual industry.

The use of artificial lures to catch bottom fish - as distinct from game fish such as marlin - goes back to the late 1960s when a group of Californian sport fishermen visiting Whakatane brought what were known as diamond jigs with them to try on the famous White Island kingfish.

These were slim, angled silver lures which the local anglers scoffed at. They were accustomed to drifting in the lee of the famous volcano with a slab of skipjack tuna hanging under the boat, hoping that a kingfish would swallow it. There were so many kings at White Island in those days that occasionally the system worked.

But when the American jig experts dropped their flashing metal lures to the sea bed and then worked them up and down the kings went crazy, and Kiwi fishermen had learned a new technique that would revolutionise angling in this country.


At the same time a handful of snapper fishermen in Auckland were experimenting with silver lures to catch snapper. Prominent were a pair of innovative anglers named Frank and Bruce, and they started by taking the handles of old spoons and drilling holes in each end. With split rings and a hook and swivel at either end they were in business. They quickly realised that snapper would eat practically anything, provided it was moving; and to prove a point they rigged up a spark plug and caught fish. But snapper fishermen are a conservative lot, and it took a long time to convince people to try using jigs. The approach soon caught on, and tackle companies starting importing metal jigs in a maze of colours and shapes. The basic technique is the same - you drift with the current, flick the lure ahead of the boat, thumb the line as it sinks, then when it hits the sea bed jerk the rod up and down so the jig flies up and then flutters down, repeating the action while letting some line slip out as the boat moves away from the lure. When it is too far out to be easily controlled it is wound in and the process repeated.

The array of different lures facing today's shopper can be daunting, but the technique doesn't vary much. Metal jigs are still there, but they have been joined by plastic soft baits, slow jigs with soft waving tentacles, slim knife jigs and various combinations. It is a question of matching the size and weight of lure to the tackle used and the depth fished.

The basic rule of thumb is - like a sinker on a baited line - use the minimum needed to get to the bottom quickly. So a variety of styles, colours and weights will be found in most tackle boxes. As with trout fishing, where the lure is presented and how it is fished is as equally important as the style and colour.

One party did well last weekend fishing near Horn Rock in the Hauraki Gulf when using flutter-type jigs.

It is not normal practice to add bait to jig, but there are no rules. You can do what works for you.


The one special tagged trout caught in the Rotorua lakes won the angler a $200 tackle voucher in the Fish and Game promotion to celebrate the opening of the new fishing season on October 1, which has now ended.

Of the 40 tagged fish released, one of the tags corresponded with a $25,000 prize, which was tag No31 and that fish had been put into Lake Tarawera.


Neil Stockley caught his fish with tag No 25 on Lake Rotoiti.

Tip of the week
The tackle for using jigs is lighter and stronger than the traditional bait-fishing rods and reels. Quality is important and skimping on cost will prove a handicap.

Overhead-type reels loaded with fine braid line paired with a carbon-graphite rod is the best combination.

Bite times

Bite times are 3.50am and 4.12pm today, and 4.40am and 5pm tomorrow.

• More fishing action can be found on Rheem Outdoors with Geoff, 6.30am Saturdays, TV3, and at www.GTTackle.co.nz