CHOOSING THE CORRECT JIGHEAD: PADDLETAIL SECRETS
Artificial lure angler Shaun Murphy imparts valuable information on jigheads for the
unaccomplished angler. From the shad head to the peculiar rap head, learn more about
jigheads, and how to best use them in the water.
I MUST START THIS article out by saying that I am by no means an expert on any form of angling, and there are definitely anglers out there who know a significant amount more than me on the subject matter, but anglers being anglers are generally very reluctant to share their vast knowledge. Having been an avid artificial lure angler for almost 10 years now, and having been involved in the manufacturing and developing of jigheads and poppers over the last five years, I thought it would be useful to impart some of my knowledge on the general unaccomplished anglers out there.
If any of you have reviewed Sealine, there is a huge amount of anglers out there thirsty for more information. Is a jighead just a jighead? This is a very frequently asked question in my line of work. On entering the so-called drop shot section of tackle stores, anglers are faced with several different shape options, and I am often asked which one is best? Or why do you prefer this one? At Mad Mullet, we manufacture four different styles of jighead: shad head, arrow head, ball head and the very peculiar rap head. Each of these jigheads has, in my opinion, very different actions and roles to play in drop shot angling. So let’s start...
The shad head gets its name from bass circles where anglers fish with shad bodies, which are very similar to the paddletails we use extensively in drop shot angling. A shad body is generally a fattish-shaped minnow with a large paddle-like tail. In the USA, these lures seldom have heads on them and generally come to a flat-head finish.
The shad head serves as the head to the shad body lure. As one can see from the shape of the lure, it is a rather narrow, flat profile head, which if retrieved very quickly, will dart from side to side as the profile cuts through the water.
One thing to bear in mind when fishing with paddletails is that a paddletail acts like a rudder on a boat, and straightens or eliminates any of this wobble in the head by virtue of the paddle at the rear action. Another interesting point to look at is where the eye of the hook protrudes from the jighead. This has two impacts: it either lengthens or reduces the length of the hook or the point at which the hook exits the paddletail, and secondly, it impacts the speed at which the lure lifts up when called upon to do so by the angler to bring it over structure. In summation, the shad head jighead is predominantly meant for paddletail-type of plastics with a broader head than say a jerk shad, which has a very narrow profile head. Its hook exit point is well situated, with the eye of the hook exiting in the middle of the head. However, this will result in less responsiveness to being lifted over structure as the nose will tend to dig in first before lifting.
The arrow head is a personal favourite of many anglers for various reasons. The most common reason I get told is that it appears to get snagged less quickly than other lures. This was queried with me by a very serious jighead angler, who has been fishing with lead heads and jigheads before I even started fishing, and a man who is no stranger to writing articles for various well-known tackle publications. The reason for this is as explained above: the eye of the hook exits right at the front of the lure, and when lifted, responds immediately without any digging of the nose. The protrusion of the eye of the hook also plays a role in casting distance. As the nylon comes straight off the nose, it tends to streamline the jighead and the bait, and has less of a tendency to tumble. The obvious negative to where the eye of the hook protrudes on the arrow head is that the shank of the hook is shortened and as a result, the hook exits the minnow a lot closer to the head.
This has resulted in missed fish, as kob in particular tend to bite just behind the hook. When measuring the shad head against the arrow head hook exit point on a 6 inch paddletail, the 5mm difference is what counts on a fish, and not when the fish aren't committing properly and only having one go at the lure. The arrow head jighead is a good foul area jighead that can be fished with either a paddletail or a jerk shad and casts very well.
The ball head is an interesting selection. It is one that, in my opinion, is best fished with jerk shad type lures or lures that one wishes to work off the bottom with various jerks and strokes of the rod. Remember, paddletails can be deadly in this manner as the paddle slows the drop down between jerks. The ball head has fantastic balance when it hits the floor and with a jerk shad or paddletail attached, will take the longest of the three mentioned heads to roll over onto its side. This gives you the best chance for that shy bottom bite that is sometimes the flavour of the moment for kob. Very similar to the arrow head, the eye of the hook protrudes very near the front and it lifts well. But due to its profile, it has more water resistance than the arrow head, so not as well in that regard. It casts well too.
This little creation adds a bit extra to a paddletail in terms of action, as the two scoops on either side of the head result in a Rapala-like wobble to the head with a paddletail at the rear. When fishing off deeper water points, and the wave action sucks back against this jighead, one will feel the vibrations in the tip of the rod exactly like that of the Rapala-type lipped lures. It is also extremely balanced when fished off the floor due to its large flat bottom shape, and it’s almost impossible for it to land hook-side down. However, due to this action, it is the least responsive to being lifted over structure as it will dig in significantly at first, and if anything, dive a little deeper initially when pulled a bit harder. The eye protrusion is in the middle of the head so the hook protrusion in the minnow is good, but as mentioned above, structure is a problem for this jighead. Use with caution around the bricks. It is much better off in deep water areas and where extra depth is available.
That is a bit of extra information on the range that we at Mad Mullet produce. One last jighead that is extremely popular among anglers is the boat hull, developed by Berkley as the Nitro. This was one of the first jigheads to be sold on the market and as such, is a firm favourite with many anglers. The boat hull, when analysed against the above scenarios, presents itself as follows: eye protrusion is in the middle of the head, its top profile is also very wide, so resistance and a bit of nose dig are inevitable. However, once the boat hull shape is lifted, it glides to the surface no problem. But the initial movement will be met with resistance and a bit of a dip. The bottom flat profile will assist in presenting a well-balanced jighead that should land hook-side up when worked close to the bottom. This makes it a very useful lure with both jerk shads and paddletails. Due to its even head profile, like that of the arrow head, it will cast well too.
We at Mad Mullet have over the years developed an extensive range of jigheads for the South African market, with four different shapes and almost 20 different hook and weight combinations per shape. There is most definitely a jighead to suit every angler out there! This gives us a range of over 80 different shape, weight and hook size combinations.