Month: January 2020

Jail Bait Reef Jigs – Opinions and Personal Experience

Since we have released our Jail Bait Reef Jigs, we have heard some strong opinions from hard-core sheepshead fishermen that generally fall into the following categories:

  • Sheepshead will be afraid of the enlarged eye.  What is the eye for?  The eye is a turn-off.  Etc
  • Sheepshead can’t fit their mouth around them
  • There is not enough relief between the lead and hook so you can’t get a hook set

I’d like to address some of these concerns, based primarily on my personal experience fishing them.

“Sheepshead will be afraid of the enlarged eye.  What is the eye for?  The eye is a turn-off.  Etc” – So, in the prototype stage, this was also a concern of ours.  Would sheepshead be afraid / wary of the lead on the back of a fiddler.  Fishing these in clear water where we could actually see the fish, that concern was quickly put to rest.  Sheepshead are curious fish and instead will swim up to the jig to check it out.  They go to it and immediately try to bite the crab.  This makes sense because all day long they are biting at crustaceans on rocks, seawalls, pilings, etc.  They are used to having a crab or bait attached to something.  The eye in the case of this product is not “functional”, in other words unlike our other products, it’s not intended to act as an eye.  Honestly, it’s more for marketing – everything we make has a large eye.  It does add to the appeal of the product as it looks better than raw lead.  In the future in fact we may replace the pupil eye with other patterns that represent a crab carapace or something like that.  Will it make a difference?  I doubt it!  Sheepshead are absolutely not afraid of the Jail Baits.  Claims to the opposite are BS.

“Sheepshead can’t fit their mouth around them” – While this may be true, it doesn’t matter.  They are not designed to be swallowed by a sheepshead!  These fish crush the crab with their incisors, then go back and swallow the bits.  The Jail Baits are designed so that when the fish goes to crush the crab, they get hooked in the lip. In just about every pic you see that is where they will be hooked.  Yesterday, fishing at the reef, we caught many sheeps that were around 6″ long, and a few that were approaching 6 pounds on them.   

“There is not enough relief between the lead and hook so you can’t get a hook set” – This is not an issue in my experience.  I have personally experience a great hookup ratio with them.  A trusted guide who has fished them extensively claims the hookup ratio factor approximately 2X better. 

Some general thoughts about fishing Jail Baits in comparison to the typical “Carolina Rig” consisting of an egg weight and short leader with a small hook.  Fishing both at a 40 ft reef yesterday, I am confident that the feel of a bite is significantly better with the Jail Bait.  If you keep a finger on the braid you will feel every slight touch.  For that reason, I was able to catch a juvenile red snapper, an octopus(!), a sheep approximately 5 lbs and a few very small sheeps, easily out-catching two others using the Carolina Rig.  When the current and wind/waves picked up (at end of trip was 4-5 ft waves and 12 knots out of the NE), I was not able to use the Jail Bait in that depth of water due to not enough weight.  Switching to the traditional Carolina rig in swifter water, the rigs got cleaned off much faster due to piercing the crab shell with a hook and also not being able to feel the bite as well.  We did lose a few big fish to broken hooks on the Carolina rig – a problem that won’t happen on the Jail Bait.

I know that some people will make a snap decision and never try something new.  That is fine, but we suggest that if you’re on the fence, to give these a fair shake and decide for yourself.  

A few pics from yesterday’s trip.

Artificial Intelligence – Coastal Angler – January 2020

Rule #1 For Artificial Lure Fishing:  Master Your Line

As the title of this column suggests, I’ll be writing about the art of deceiving a fish into believing a piece of plastic and metal is something to eat. A bit of an introduction first. I started saltwater fishing in 2006 and started in the way probably many of you did: I was invited by a friend trout fishing in the Fall and thus began an obsession that is now a large part of my life. I’ve been very fortunate to stand on some high-profile shoulders and learn from the best, most notably my business partner Ralph Phillips. Another mentor is Bob Sanders of Trout Trick fame. If you know Ralph you’ve probably heard him needle you a bit if you caught a fish on shrimp or bait. To Ralph, if you didn’t catch it on artificial bait, it doesn’t count! Not surprisingly, a few years ago I decided to fish artificial lures exclusively, knowing my catching was going to suffer for a while until I figured it out. Countless times I would be standing by as Ralph wore me out using the same tackle, in the same hole. Slowly but surely and with a lot of work, I began to understand why. My goal with this article is to pay it forward. Not having a strong fishing pedigree and learning the same as anyone else I hope will make my column relatable. If I can do it, you can too. Being an engineer, I’m a pretty analytical guy and I’m going to interpret what I’ve learned along with personal experience and try to help you become better at fooling them too. There are a lot of benefits to catching fish on artificial lures. One of which is not needing to net bait or visit the tackle shop for minnows or shrimp. Once you have felt the subtle tick of a big trout on a jerk bait you will find it’s an addiction that will last the rest of your life.
In my opinion, the single most important thing a new artificial lure fisherman must master is line management. It’s the reason one fisherman may have a banner day, while the other gets the dreaded skunk, even if fishing the same lure and fishing where the fish are. Pretty much every fish is going to hit a lure on the fall, in other words, when the lure is dropping toward the bottom. The thing most people do wrong is drop their rod tip after jigging a lure up. This causes a bow in the line and dampens the sometimes very subtle bump of a fish. Most people will never feel the bite if they do this. Its imperative that you keep in semi-contact with your lure by minimizing bow in your line. This is done by jigging the lure up, then keeping the rod tip high – only lowering it slowly as you slowly reel in a very small amount of line as the lure falls. It takes practice, but I promise you that you will feel many, many more bites than you ever did before if you follow this simple advice. Its one thing to fool a fish into biting plastic, but it usually won’t be long until it spits the lure back out, realizing the mistake it just made. Make sure you set the hook after feeling that bite by simply raising your rod tip and holding it there until you feel some head shakes. Try it and be sure to let us know how it works for you!

David Fladd
Partner, Eye Strike Fishing


Coastal Angler Article Series for 2020

We were approached by Coastal Angler magazine recently about advertising in their magazine.  We agreed to give it a shot, and put together a piece we are happy with (below).  In addition, they mentioned they were always looking for authors.  Truth be told, I have considered doing one for a while but I have so many things on my plate I was hesitant.  But I decided to give it a go.  The local section of the magazine is full of reports and “What’s biting now” kind of pieces.  I thought that a fresh take would be to do a series on techniques associated with fishing artificial lures.  

I racked my brain for a while on what to call it, and found one I really like:  Artificial Intelligence.  I have a genuine fear of AI in the future, but that’s another story.  So, its kind of tongue-in-cheek for people that know me.

I’m going to publish each article as a blog post and I’m thinking of including a video companion to each one as well.

Hope you like them and get something out of them.  

If you have further questions, contact me through social media and I’ll answer as best as I can.