Target Deep, Cold Water Fish with Soft-Plastic Shad Baits

Also, jigging often results in foul-hooked fish; with shads, almost every fish you catch will be cleanly hooked in the mouth. When they grab a rubber shad, most remain interested for surprisingly long distances before finally eating the bait. Smaller weighted shads range from 6 to 8 inches long and weigh 4 to 6 ounces. I load the reel with 30- to 40-pound PowerPro, terminating in a 20-foot clear, monofilament shock leader of around 80-pound-test. I fish smaller shads on medium-heavy-action spinning rods matched with a 5000-size reel such as the Shimano Saragosa, loaded with 20-pound PowerPro and terminating in a 12-foot leader of clear 30-pound mono. When fish are feeding closer to the surface, however, use a lure that closely replicates the baitfish they’re eating in both color and perhaps most importantly size. If nothing hits, start a steady retrieve up through the entire water column. When fishing northern seas, fish can hit your lure at any stage of the retrieve, right up to the surface. Big pollack frequently feed right on the surface, while on numerous occasions I have clearly seen 30-pound-plus cod inhale a lure just below the boat, and even on one or two occasions, halibut have done that. Work the entire water column to try and identify at which depth most fish are feeding.
Halibut Caught on Storm Swim Shad
The author (right) caught this Pacific halibut on a Storm WildEye Giant Jigging Shad.

For many years when I fished at deep-water destinations outside of the tropics — such as in British Columbia, Iceland and Norway — I only used metal jigs in various shapes, sizes and colors for species like cod, halibut, lingcod and rockfish. However, I don’t think I’ve used a jig on my last dozen trips; instead I favor dropping weighted shads such as the Storm Wildeye Giant Jigging Shad and the smaller Storm Ultra Shads.

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I find several advantages to using rubber shads versus metal jigs. When using the larger sizes, you catch bigger fish, as the small fish simply can’t fit the big lures in their mouths. Also, jigging often results in foul-hooked fish; with shads, almost every fish you catch will be cleanly hooked in the mouth. Finally, when fish bite a metal jig, they immediately realize it’s not real. When they grab a rubber shad, most remain interested for surprisingly long distances before finally eating the bait.

The larger jigging shads typically weigh in excess of 16 ounces, and they can measure 12 inches or more in length. Smaller weighted shads range from 6 to 8 inches long and weigh 4 to 6 ounces.

I fish heavier shads using a 20- to 30-pound-class boat rod matched with a Shimano Torium 16 or 20 high-speed reel, which makes cranking lures from deep water as easy as possible. I load…

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