|Another fat cod falls to a big 6" bottom shad.|
Luckily my sea bass fishing had taken me down the route of soft lures several years previously. Many of these originally came over from the USA and Japan where they're widely used for black bass fishing, though they'll pretty much catch anything predatory. In recent years there have been a whole slew of designs targeting European sea bass in particular. Readers of this blog will know of my recommendations relating to Fiiish Black Minnows from a couple of years back, along with Savage Gear Sandeels and other paddle tail designs that I find are safer to fish with from a kayak (no stray trebles hooks) and catch just as many fish.
|Early test rigged failed as the Black Minnow 160 heads |
were just too lightweight. BTW, the gap between
the bottom shad and the next jelly should not be more
than about 10" (i.e bit less than shown).
The Fiiish Black Minnow as we all know has become incredibly popular, despite its relatively poor casting from the shore. One of the main reasons for its popularity is the fact that it is rigged to be weedless, thus reducing snags amongst weed and rocks. I had hoped to use the bigger versions as a weedless bottom shad for my cod rigs. The larger size, the 160mm and above, do work as single lures (though the very largest 200mm is just a bit too big for close in cod jigging, IMHO). But at 60g the 160mm just isn't heavy enough to get a rig of jelly lures down to the bottom when drifting against a strong tide. We needed something about double that!
I thought about my early experiments fishing single 25g 4" shads weighted down with two 1oz bullets. It looked awful, but the cod didn't seem to mind. The answer surely had to be fish a big weedless soft lure using a decent lead weight. After much internet searching, I finally found a lead mould that met all my requirements. The Do-It Mold 'Inline trolling sinker' model D3139. This mould casts 3, 4 and 5oz weights. All you need are No. 2 brass or stainless steel loops for either end.
After an hour or so melting lead in the back garden, I had a dozen different inline sinkers to try out. The next task was to find some big shads that could be rigged weedlessly. To be honest, this has proven much harder than I thought it would be. A decent sized shad for large cod is around 6" / 150mm. You can go longer, particularly if you use a sandeel or launce imitation. In that case, anything upto 200mm is probably OK, though there is an upper limit with regard to hook size. If the lure gets too long, then you find that it's difficult to purchase the right shape and size offset hook.
Most offset hooks go up to about 5/0. When what we need is about a 6/0. Of course, you can use a smaller shad. The market is flooded with small 4 or 5" shads that can be rigged to be weedless. I found that two nice soft lures in this sort of range that can be rigged with offset hooks are the SavageGear 4play softlure and the Daiwa D’Swim. Here they are shown rigged to 4oz inline sinkers. The D'Swim has a Krog hook for the largest size Black Minnow (200), the SavageGear lure has a Krog 160 hook. These hooks are fantastically strong, ideal for hauling up big cod:
Tight lines for the coming season!