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Squid Revolution!

February 4, 2012

Written by Dan Lee.

Appears courtesy of Victorian Fishing Monthly (VFM) Magazine.

There has been a revolution of sorts brewing over the last two or three years.  And with many of the ‘big brands’ jumping on board we have found ourselves inundated with squid, or as the Japanese call them, ‘Egi’ (squid jig), products.  While there have been a few forerunners in the revolution, with Shimano and Daiwa releasing new ranges of Egi products, including new ranges of rods and reels, the revolution has begun for real!  Big marketing budgets and the competitive spirit will see this once humble aspect of our sport (more often left to a dodgy hand line and $3 jig stuffed somewhere under the piles of paraphernalia in the boat cabin) transformed by high-end and specialty items that will leave you spinning, or squidding, for that matter!

Squid Jigs

If there has been a real revolution in any part of the squidding sport, it started with the humble squid jig.  In a strange metamorphosis, today’s squidder has evolved from using cheap pink, orange and blue jigs to prefer the vast array of high end Japanese jigs that can cost as much as $40 each.  And while the question is regularly posed, ‘do premium jigs really catch more?’  For anyone who has spent a day or two flicking in search of quality calamari, the answer of course, is a resounding ‘Yes’!  Why?  Well, there are many reasons beginning with the visuals.  The range of colours and patterns is beyond description, but quite frankly, there is a jig to suit all occasions.  Many of the natural colours are currently in vogue with the squidding public opting for more realistic presentation over what were once king of the domain – fluros and brights.        

Other important aspects of a refined, quality jig include sink rates and their action in the water both while ‘on the drop’ or when being ‘worked’ by an angler.  It is no joke to suggest that most of the quality Japanese brands have had extensive field testing and have been fine tuned to ensure the best from their individual action. 

Look out for the new Yamashita Live range which feature the same ‘naturals’ patterning seen in the Egi OH Q Naturals range but also features UV foil technology, which adds heat to the jig by absorbing ultraviolet light.  This subtle temperature variation is a red flag to a hungry southern calamari!  While Yamashita and Harimitsu jigs have been the big sellers this season, keep an eye out for Gancraft, Black Magic and Shimano’s new range, Sephia Egixile, which have already been selling well this season.

Egi Rods

The introduction into the Australian market over the last year or so of Egi rods has been the next major step in the Squid Revolution.  We have seen the first of what will be a long procession of dedicated squid rods appearing on the market.  While you would not be the first person to snort in contempt when posed with the concept of a squid specific rod, they actually have a number of interesting design features.  First and foremost these rods are built for casting.  Fine, extremely light weight graphite is used in the construction of the blank and they are finished with a slightly unusual set of guides.  Due to the nature of a squid jig being reasonably heavy and small, it has been found that using a small stripper guide to choke the line quickly and funnel it through a small set of forward angled guides allows for the least resistance and best casting distance.  It is almost the complete opposite of a soft plastic rod setup where the guides allow for a small and lightweight lure.  Needless to say the rods are generally long to further aid casting distance.  Most of the  ranges being released this year will feature rods between 7’, for those wanting a Egi rod suitable for the boat and casting smaller jigs, through 9’ for the land based squid lover who really wants to cover some territory or use big jigs.

Furthermore, different to many of the soft plastic style rods, commonly used for targeting calamari, squid rods are generally build with a slow taper.  This means the whole rod bends in one parabolic arch starting almost at the fore grip on the butt.  This allows the whole rod to act as a shock absorber with the great pulsating lunges that calamari make, minimizing hook pulls and broken tentacles.  

Look out for the Daiwa Emeraldas Interline ST81MD or if you really want to break out the big bucks check out the Breaden ‘Squidwickedgame’ Spice Shallow Long Cast Rod, which has a counter weight in the butt for balance.  At around $700 RRP you will want to enjoy your squid fishing!  

The author, Dan Lee, with a classic Mornington Peninsula calamari.

Egi Reels

Daiwa have been first to market with their new squid reel, the Emeraldas Egi 2506 featuring a shallow spool for better casting, air bail, digigear and of course all pre prepped and ready to be loaded with your favourite braid.  The reel body and rotor is made from Zaion, which is an ultra light material ideally suited to the light weight squid rods.  The boys at Daiwa are particularly proud of the washable hyper tournament drag with micro precision adjustment, which you will hopefully need by the time Squid Tournaments roll around!  While Daiwa is first to market with the Egi Reel, I doubt they will be last… keep an eye out for further developments.

Squid Braid

Well I suppose it stands to reason that if you are to buy a squid reel you will need a squidding product to fill it with.  In truth the Japanese squid braids that are available are actually out of this world.  Like all good squidding products they are imported directly from Japan.  The diameter of these braids is simply amazing.  It’s like playing with spider web. 

Check out Toray Super Eging PE Upgrade braid 0.6 PE (roughly 10lb) or 0.8 PE (roughly 12lb) which 8 strand braid.  Alternatively, Prox PE-XX Eging braid in PE 0.8 is worth a look and good value for money at around $75 RRP.  Serious stuff for a serious squidder.

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Melburnians are blessed with some fantastic squidding territory in both Port Phillip and Western Port Bay.  Dan Lee shows off a pretty calamari.

Squid Leader

Just when you thought there were not enough squid products, don’t forget the all important leader material.  Your leader forms the all important join between your braid and your jig and given the finesse style used by the new wave of squidding enthusiasts, light weight fluorocarbon is the only choice.

Check out Toray Super Eging leader, is a slightly cloudy coloured fluorocarbon with a PE rating of 1.2 (roughly 6lb).  PE 1.7 (8lb) and PE 2.0 (10lb) is also available.  This stuff comes in neat little spools and again is extremely fine given it’s strength.

Squid Scents

And what squid jig would be complete without a little spice-up using a specially designed squid attractant, designed by - you guessed who - our squid loving Japanese counterparts!  The two most popular scents are the Egimax spray (retailing around $30) and the Hayabusa squid pens, which come in three flavours (retailing around $13 each).  Depending on who you ask, opinions will vary on the effectiveness of the scents but on the whole the consensus is generally good and can provide that little extra you need when squid are finicky.

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The increasing popular Cephalopod, better known as Southern Calamari.  Photo Emily Guy.

Breaden Snaps

For years blokes with fat fingers have been doing themselves an injustice trying to unclip small interlock and coastlock snap swivels in an attempt to change their squid jig with relative ease.  Well say goodbye to sore thumbs and frustratingly small swivels.  Breaden have a range of snaps which require no ‘unlocking’.  You simply place the eyelet of the squid jig over the snap entry and roll the jig onto the snap.  Whilst this is far easier demonstrated than described in text, these are a small light weight ingenious snapsfor changing jigs quickly and efficiently.  They have a 7kg breaking strain and are an absolute must for the squidding aficionado.

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Joe Farr from Joe Farr Fishing Charters (0488 229 752) specialises in catching big squid on the Mornington Peninsula.  Photo Joe Farr.

Squid Gaffs

While these telescopic squid gaffs really have to be seen to be believed, anyone who has ever watched an enthusiastic squidder hook a sizeable cephalopod only to get it pier-side and lose it while trying to muscle it up onto the deck – will understand the need for a better method of landing squid from a height.   Enter the Aorika Auto King squid gaff, available in two sizes large and small.  And while they retail with a reasonably hefty imported Japanese product price tag, around $180 - $250, they are actually an extremely utilitarian item for land based calamari catchers.

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Ivy with a quality Mornington Peninsula squid.  Photo Joe Farr.

Shell Sheet

A small but humble item worth a mention, if you have seen it hanging on a peg in your local tackle store, is shell sheet stickers.  Shell sheet is a diamond shaped, mother of pearl sticker, which attaches to the back of the squid jig (some Yo Zuri jigs are now coming pre packaged with a shell sheet sticker included).  The shell sheet sticker has been designed to mimic the wound that a squid will leave on a bait fish.  When they sight the ‘wound’ on your jig, it will draw the attention of the hungry cephalopod, exciting a strike on the dying prey!  Believe it or not, you decide!  The product retails around $8 and will include a number of stickers.

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Loaded and ready to cast.  Egi rods and quality reels make for exceptional sqid artillery!

Pouches & Storage

Forget the rusty old tackle box, there is a whole world of new jig storage pouches arriving on the market.  Some of these come in the form of a back pack or shoulder strap bag, others, a pouch alone.  Value for money says the Tataki Carriers, which hold 12 jigs and cost only $17 odd dollars are good, while the Daiwa Emeraldas cases at $28 odd dollars are also utilitarian.  Pure Fishing has just released the Egi Master bag which includes provision for jigs and other useful accessories and can be worn around the waist or shoulder.  Check it out for about $50 at your local tackle store.  All these items will complete the deck-out of the new squid specialist, keeping him or her organized and portable.

And whilst we hope that the R&D section at Squid Head Quarters stops short of designing a range of Egi casual wear, we say bring it on!  The new found (or re-found) interest in squid fishing is absolutely for good reason - it is hugely addictive, accessible for both land lovers and boaties, and ultimately will provide you with fantastic bait or an even better meal!   Viva la revolucion!

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The Harimitsu range has been one of the biggest sellers over the last couple of seasons.  With so many jigs on the market, who knows who will be the winners this year!?

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