BACK in the day, all the advice when using squid jigs around sea grass beds and reef areas was to retrieve them slowly and steadily in the hope that a stealthy southern calamari would latch on and get pinned. Any keen squidder with a few years under his/her belt will almost certainly have subscribed to this retrieve technique – it was, after all, the accepted method.
About five or so years back, the influence of Japanese squid experts began to spread amongst the local squidding community. We'd all been using high quality Japanese squid jigs (known as "egi") since the late 1990s but things got really interesting when the egi experts started revealing their retrieval techniques.
Instead of the passive retrieves we'd been using for years, the Japs favoured far more vigorous rod work, really making the jig rip and sink throughout the water column. The first time I saw a Japanese squid fisherman strut his stuff with his fancy egi rod, customised reel and assorted accessories, I was blown away. These guys made squid fishing really new and exciting. The techniques they used were also extremely effective. I know myself that my success rate on squid has risen dramatically since I started incorporating Japanese techniques and equipment into my squidding regime.
Now egi fishing is mainstream in Australian squid circles, especially in the calamari heartland of Victoria. Anglers have invested in specialist rods, reels, lines and tools (including the handy squid iki jime tools which are made by various Japanese tackle companies). There's even a dedicated egi tournament series (see australianegitournaments.com.au). The cheapo jigs of yesteryear have been almost completely replaced by expensive, hi-tech products from companies as diverse as Yamashita, Yo-zuri, Ecogear, Megabass and Gan Craft. I realise that it's hard to contemplate spending $20 or even $30 on a bloody squid jig ... but the fact is the new age Japanese jigs just work so much better than the cheap versions. The actions, colours, materials and overall quality of the Japanese jigs really does make a difference out on the water – as does the knowledge to use the jigs to their best effect.
We feature a video showing a couple of gun Japanese egi specialists on our website today. Yuya Nakahira and Kotaro Kake work for Gan Craft, a premium Japanese tackle company whose products are distributed in the local market by Sydney-based Gladiator (gladiatortackle.com.au). Gladiator MD Steve Blackmore recently asked if we'd take Yuya and Kotaro out for a day's squidding in my home waters of Jervis Bay. Always up for the chance to learn more about the art of egi fishing, I jumped at the opportunity to host the Gan Craft guys and show them some NSW South Coast squid action.
The video, filmed by Fisho's Scott Thomas with underwater cinematography by yours truly, details the retrieval technique known as the "Violence Jerk". This radical retrieve has been pioneered by the Gan Craft team and is a further evolution in squid fishing technique. Unlike most other egi companies, Gan Craft specialises in manufacturing quite large jigs (namely sizes 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0) and also builds a rod called the "Violence Jerk" which is designed to fish these high end jigs to maximum potential. Check out the full range of Gan Craft product at gancraft.com – it's in Japanese but you'll get the idea ...
As well as revealing his innovative retrieve techniques, Yuya, a champion egi angler in his home waters, demonstrated various knots (he likes the PR Knot for connecting his braid mainline to his 12lb fluorocarbon leader, which we'll show in a subsequent online video) and showed off the new UO-jya egis. These hard-bodied jigs feature a smooth finish and custom paintwork. They're awesome bits of kit and I can report with no word of a lie that the JB squid were suckers for them. We caught about 30-40 squid in a morning's fishing, with Yuya catching an absolute monster from one of my favourite locations on the southern side of the bay.
All up, it was a really interesting time with Yuya and Kotaro. I learnt a lot from watching their techniques. Watch the video and you'll get a really good perspective on the "Violence Jerk" retrieve using the specialist Gan Craft rod. It's pretty radical – and you'll doubtless get strange looks from the old timers who drift around with $2 servo specials tied to handlines – but who cares if you're donging a stack of tasty cephalopods?