In a recent blog I mentioned the new Hellfire weighted shads that are about to be added to the expanding Shakespeare range of lures. Just to illustrate why I’m so excited about these lures, I was recently in Iceland and chose to use the Hellfire shads to target shore cod and coalfish and enjoyed incredible sport.
I was fishing Grimsey Island which lies some 30 miles off the north coast of Iceland with the Arctic Circle line cutting across the island on its northern end. It’s remote only with around 100 inhabitants, but with a rugged beauty and with extensive bird life, whales, and amazing stocks of fish in its bountiful surrounding sea.
The mark chosen to fish was the pier where the working boats unload their catches. Having fished the mark the day before with beachcasters I’d learnt that the ground straight out was fairly clear, but with little patches of rougher ground. The depth was about 20-feet close in dropping in to 30-feet about 50-yards out. There was no real tide run to consider, just a slight outward flowing current as the tide ebbed. It was a clear, warm and sunny day, and the water clarity gin clear.
I set up with the new Shakespeare Agility Bass Plugger rod rated 10 to 40g and matched it to a Penn Sargus 4000 sized fixed spool reel loaded with 20lb braid and short 9-foot shock leader of 20lb Fluorocarbon line.
I tied one of the smaller 10cm weighted shads in a blue colour direct to the Fluorocarbon and flicked the little fish out, allowing it to sink until I felt it touch bottom. Using a slow but steady retrieve, with the occasional pause to let the shad sink again, I brought the shad back towards shore. It had only travelled 20-yards when the rod tip shuddered and pulled over to a taking fish. On the light gear it fought hard and when landed was quickly unhooked and returned. A cod about 4lbs!
Over the next few casts I caught several more cod to 5lbs, then switched to a clear version of the 10cm shad and continued catching.
I knew there were bigger cod out there, so eventually changed the size of the shad for the bigger 14cm version, this in a clear colour with a yellow tinge to it. Being heavier, this cast further, and again I let it sink until I felt it touch the seabed. I had literally only just started to retrieve the lure when the rod hammered over and a fish dragged line off the reel.
This fish stayed deep, head thumping, and taking off at angles dragging a few yards of line with it. It stayed deep until it came close in, the rod pressure then forced it up higher in the water column. It turned its head and bored back for the seabed. More pressure brought the fish back and as it broke the surface it looked to be about 8lbs, maybe more, and needed to be netted, before a quick photo and release.
This was the pattern of the fishing session. Cod after cod, and I don’t honestly remember having many casts when a fish did not hit the shads. In the three hours I fished with lures I must have had in excess of 30 cod, most between 4 and a little over 8lbs. But it was interesting that virtually all the bigger fish over 5lbs took the larger 14cm version. Also some of the cod took the lure as it was descending to the seabed, literally chasing it down.
Up until now, I’d only worked the lure close to the seabed. This time I only let the lure sink briefly before beginning a steady retrieve, sometimes retrieving, pause, retrieve, pause, in a sink and swim motion.
Again, first cast, the rod tip powered over and a sizeable fish stripped line off the reel. I instantly knew this was a coalfish. It ran, sulked, ran again, then bored for the seabed. It needed the net and weighed a little over 5lbs. The majority of coalies over the next few casts were from 3lbs to 5lbs, but it was a fish a cast.
Working the shad only a few feet down, and sink and draw, it suddenly stopped. Just for a split second my mind was unsure, then the coalie powered off on a searing run taking maybe 15-yards of line, briefly thumped the rod tip, then dragged another 10-yards of line off. This was a much bigger fish and fought hard, really working the Plugger rod. It came up and broke the surface, it was bigger than anything I’d had previously and when weighed bounced the scales down to 7lb 10ozs. A good shore coalie, even by Icelandic standards!
What was no real surprise was that the same 14cm lure caught the majority of the bigger fish, cod and coalies, yet looked none the worse for wear. The Hellfire Shads have been tested to a pull on the tail of 1kg, meaning fish are highly unlikely to nip the tails off, as can occur with some other lures. Also the material mix they are made from is ultra-tough and after all those fish I could barely see a mark on the shad, and Icelandic cod have bigger teeth than cod found off the UK coast due to their almost total predatory nature.
What makes these shads so effective is that they have a flattened belly that helps keep the lure upright but with a slight wobble when retrieved slowly, but also a large tail that really puts some movement and vibration in to the water. Also the material though tough, is soft to the touch and feels natural to the fish the instant it sucks in the lure. The hook is positioned on the top of the back, so it limits the chance of snagging too. They also cast well, even in to a head wind.
They certainly proved their worth on Icelandic cod and coalies, but my next quest with the Hellfire shads is to try and get a big autumnal bass out in my home waters of North Wales. I’ll keep you posted!