WORDS & PICS: ROB KYLE
It’s not often that you get to witness the birth and first trials of a new fishing product. I have just been fortunate enough to enjoy that novel experience and I can tell you it’s a lot of fun – especially when it works! Admittedly, I played more of a moral support role in the design and production, but personally I think that’s rather important too.
I was wafting through the house via the long route late one night when something dangling off my brother’s computer stand caught my eye, and we met for the first time – this aptly named Squiddy and I. It really was love at first sight and I spent a while just admiring him before finally turning in for the night to lie awake enjoying the thrilling sensation of knowing that a bite was not far off.
Sure enough, the next afternoon we went out on the Kosi lakes and while a friend and I futilely threw Rapalas, my brother Ewan was flicking a second, slightly heavier Squiddy that he had created during the day.
I suppose I should describe the Squiddy to you. Well, according to its creator, it’s just a bit of epoxy with piano wire through it; but there is actually a little bit more to him that is worthy of description. Basically, it’s just a short piece of piano wire with a small treble hook (this has since evolved into a single hook) on the one end and a body made of Mylar tubing coated in epoxy. Ewan carefully shaped this body into a perfect little squid shape and glued sticky fly-eyes onto it.
There are also various weighted sinkers inside the back end of Squiddy bodies to give them just the right action. Ewan then tied a bit of white Angel Silk onto the hook and stood back to admire his work. Simple as it sounds and simple as it is, this cute little creation of my brother’s genius should not be underestimated. The Squiddy has proved quite irresistible to the fish around Kosi Bay.
There’s always a bit of a tingle to the first cast – just in case you’re away. The Squiddy’s maiden voyage was no different. At the first spot, under some hopeful-looking sticks, we tried the first tentative flick, and we were not disappointed. A whole shoal of tiny bigeye kingfish came busting out of nowhere and fought each other to zap the Squiddy. After Ewan had hauled in three in a row, we decided to move on to bigger things. We were off to a flying start. Sadly, a slow evening followed, with nothing at all to be seen moving in spite of us casting for a few hours into good-looking water and fading light. The three fish that did come out, however, were all on the Squiddy – which was satisfying. They were two decent-sized salad fish and a little greenspot kingie, all on blind casts.
Rather inspired by the results, we headed out at 04h00 the next morning armed with six rods between the three of us – and, of course, a few more Squiddys. We were set to conquer. We fished a bit in the middle of First Lake, knocking the salad fish once again and also getting two better-sized greenspots. When the water went quiet, we moved into the shallows to see what species Ewan could tickle up while Juan and I threw tiny baits. To our delight, artificial out-fished good old stinky bait; they just could not get enough of little old Squiddy. Casting close to the traps, a small rock salmon was the first greedy little brute to jump on, closely followed by several more, and then by a spotted snapper. They simply could not leave it alone and great fun was had. Using a Sienna 1000 and 2lb braid, even a tiny fellow gives quite a tussle. We were all very surprised when a cast along a reed bank resulted in a fat Mozambique tilapia.
After fishing out that spot we moved to the next, and glassy, perch and even a moony were added to the tally in very quick succession – cast for cast, in fact. By the end of the morning’s boat trip, the species list was up to nine and, with Ewan getting stuck into a shoal of more tiny bigeyes, the total catch was well over 60 fish. After watching him reel in fish after fish, I decided it was time that I gave it a bash and nabbed his rod while he wasn’t looking. Needless to say, it didn’t stay secret for very long, as I could not keep my frustration at not catching a blessed thing quiet. It turned out that it wasn’t quite as easy as it looked. A very fast, rapid-action retrieve was required. I simply couldn’t wrap my head around the combination – it either had great action or a rapid retrieve. After about 14 casts with no bite, Ewan took back his rod with a condescending glance my way and proceeded to also – catch nothing. Seems I managed to not only catch nothing but also turn them off the bite. That takes special skill.
Anyway, we got back to the house around 10h00 and the weather was still great, so a little trip to the beach was definitely in order and, needless to say, Squiddy came along too. Second throw in a gully right in front of where we walked onto the beach, a nice wave garrick smashed it, quickly followed by two more. The inexorable call of the ‘big one’ was getting to Ewan though, so he handed over the light stick to me and set off in search of better water.
I was, of course, delighted and spent an hour or so catching about eight little wave garrick and efficiently irritating, and being irritated by, a wrasse that was just not quite big enough to get hooked, but knocked the lure every single time it passed over his head. So the wave garrick were species number 10. Ten species in the first proper outing was pretty indisputable proof that the Squiddy was a win. I was a bit disconcerted to add species number 11 to the list by hooking my old, blind poodle in the fur of her ear on the back swing as she loyally insisted on following me onto the rocks.
The great thing about the whole venture is that size has absolutely nothing to do with it. The sheer fun of chasing species is so refreshing and makes you think outside the box again. After focusing for a long while on trying to get as big a fish as possible, to have to get back into the way of hunting out some obscure little fellow who might be lurking in a hole in a rock and who might require a special cast and a different retrieve, is such a challenge and so much fun. Of course, if you put a few anglers together, an element of competition can’t help but raise its head, but when you are getting excited about a 14cm fish instead of a 10cm fish the competition is, somehow, not quite as fierce as usual.
Since his creation, Squiddy has a tally of 14 species and literally hundreds of individuals to his name. In spite of none of them being giants, the tally is still pretty impressive. Among that number are all four species of kingies that commonly get here and I was proud to add GT, orange-stripe snapper and even a blackspot emperor to the list. Many hours and a lot of fun later, these tough and versatile little lures are still going strong – although Ewan’s favourite one’s Angel Silk did get mauled off by the teeth of hundreds of baby bigeyes and has since been replaced.
Subsequent to Squiddy’s great success, inspiration struck again and Ewan disappeared with a familiar gleam in his eye, returning a while later with the next stroke of genius – the aptly named Penny. A popper made from – you guessed it – a ballpoint pen. I confess to not being as taken with this prototype as I was with the Squiddy, as it looked a bit grubby and, well, not very tasty. But it seems I don’t know much because, with the first cast at some cover, he was smashed right out of the water by a shoal of nice rock salmon bashing each other out the way to get a tooth into the Penny.
And they haven’t stopped since then. The two of us went out the other day and caught 53 fish between us. I was throwing the Squiddy and a store-bought popper. Ewan was throwing the Penny and, annoyingly, he accounted for about 40 of the fish.
It all just goes to show what you can do with a bit of imagination and inspiration. Needless to say, I have stashed all my interesting little treasures well out of sight just in case the gleam returns to his eye anytime soon.