Throughout 2010 I enjoyed incredible fishing with the Berkley range of soft lures, especially the Powerbait Ripple Shad and the new Powerbait Ripple Grub. These lures caught me amazing numbers of big pollack, cod and coalfish, both in the UK and in Ireland.
The end of January sees the real start of the UK’s winter wreck fishing season for big pollack which lasts until mid April, but this year will also see a lot of good cod over 15lbs caught with fish possibly well over 25lbs. If you know how to rig the Ripple Shads and Ripple Grubs correctly, you have a chance of catching some of these huge fish.
Both the Ripple Shad and the Ripple Grub can be fishing on simple Flying Collar rigs. Here’s how to make the Flying Collar Rig.
1. Tie a clear mono line shock leader twice the length of your boat rod to the end of the main line.
2. Slide a 10in (25cm) hollow plastic boom on to the shock leader.
3. Below the boom slide on a 5mm bead and tie on a strong size 7 Berkley MacMahon standard swivel.
4. To the swivel tie on 10 to 15-feet (3 to 5ms) of Berkley Trilene Fluorocarbon line.
5. Tie on a hook to match the size of the shad i.e. big enough to leave the hook point well clear of the lures body.
6. Attach a lead weight to the lead link clip on the boom.
When rigging a Ripple Shad pass the hook through the nose of the lure and bring the hook point out through the back of the lure about a third of the way behind the head.
The Ripple Grub experienced angles prefer to fish with the hook point coming out through the belly of the lure.
Pollack are usually in amongst the wreckage when the tide is flowing strongly, but lift up over the wreck when the tide eases.
To fish the Flying Collar rig simply let the tackle and lure down gradually through the water column until you feel the lead weight touch the seabed. Instantly retrieve a few turns of the reel to lift the lead and lure up off the seabed and away from the wreckage and snags. Now slowly retrieve the lure at slow to medium speed whilst counting the turns of the handle. You normally need retrieve no more than 25 to 30 turns of the handle to find the fish. If this does not work increase the speed of retrieve and also count 50 turns up of the reel as occasionally the pollack can be higher in the water and up above the wreck. This method works well with both the Ripple Shad and the Ripple Grub.
When a fish eats the lure you feel a steady increase in pressure on the rod tip. Do nothing, just keep winding. The fish will take the lure fully in, then turn and power back for the seabed which sets the hook for you. This power dive is fast and strong, so have your reel drags set to give line well below the breaking strain of your main reel line.
Cod are different to pollack and tend to hunt tight to the seabed, or right in amongst the wreckage. To target these we need to change the rig to what is called a Hopper rig. You make it exactly the same as the Flying Collar rig, but change the hook trace to the lure to 60lb clear mono and make it just 3 to 5ft (1 to 1.7m) long.
This rig is designed to literally bounce up and down, by lifting and dropping the rod tip, just up off the seabed. The Ripple Shads are especially effective for this, and so to is the Ripple Grub. But we need to fish these lures now with a weighted jig head, such as the Berkley All Round Saltwater jig head, or the similar Fluo jig head. These are in sizes right up to 200gs, but generally its best to use the lightest jig head you can but keep the lure working close to the seabed. In light tide flows just 28g or less may be enough, though in fast tide flows up to 100g may be necessary. Also increase the weight of the lead on the boom to keep the rig fishing as near vertical below you as you can.
To rig the Ripple Shad on the Berkley jig head, using scissors cut off the nose of the shad right in front of the eye to flatten the nose. Holding the jig head in your left hand and the shad in your right hand with its back facing the jig head, slide the shad over the hook point and down the shank of the hook bringing the hook point out of the back about a third down the body. Now push the shad tight up to the flat back of the jig head and you are ready to fish.
To mount the Ripple Grub on the jig head simply slide the Grub over the hook point and fully on to the hook as you did for the Shad, but bring the hook point out of the body about half way down.
In light tide runs and shallower water, when fishing braided line, it’s possible to fish the Ripple Shads and Ripple Grubs without any boom etc. Just tie or clip the eye of the jig head direct to the shock leader. Experiment with the weight of the jig head until you can feel the lure touch the seabed then simply use a slow to medium retrieve. Again count the reel handle turns to between 25 and 30 turns to find the level the fish are feeding at.
On cloudy days with less light filtering through the water, darker lure colours tend to work best. In clear water try brighter colours. Bright colours often work best for big coalfish too. Also carry different sizes of shads and grubs as all fish will often take one size of lure better on the day than any other. A good size to start with is the 9cm shad and the 12cm grub. Go bigger or smaller as required on the day.
For very big pollack, coalfish and cod, use the big 200g jig heads matched to the Giant Ripple Shads in 16 and 20cms, also the Ripple Grubs in 16cms. Tie these direct to the shock leader and work these lures on a slow retrieve up from the seabed or wreck…and wait for the rod to power to over!
Some time in March we’ll look at the best way to fish the Ripple Shad and Grub for bass on lead heads, so watch my future blogs for this.