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New age squid techniques

SINCE moving back to southern NSW, I’ve become reacquainted with our southern calamari once again. I missed them immensely while in Hervey Bay and I must say I’ve enjoyed some great sessions locally in Jervis Bay and surrounding coastline chasing this very tasty species. I find it’s just a nice and relaxed way to spend a morning or afternoon while catching some of the most versatile seafood available.

One thing I had lost track of was the Japanese Egi techniques that have completely revolutionised squid fishing over the past 10 years. The Japanese have refined squid fishing to an absolute art form but it’s taking Aussie anglers quite some time to get up to speed and catch on.


The Japanese have developed squid fishing or “eging” to the point where it is completely removed from dragging a $2 servo squid jig around on conventional tackle. I still see a lot of people just tossing any squid jig around most weekends, sometimes on handlines! The traditional squid technique in Australia has always been to use a 7 foot spin rod and threadline reel with PE0.8 or 1.0 braid and a range of squid jigs in various colours and sizes. They are cast out in 3 to 6 metres of water and slowly worked back with gentle rod tip movements. This technique has accounted for many squid over the years and still works well for most anglers when the squid are around.

The Japanese eging style of fishing is quite removed from what most anglers are used to or have witnessed. There are several components to this approach so I’m going to detail each part and then describe how they fit together to form a very effective technique to catch calamari.

I guess the first component is the rod. Japanese Eging rods range from 8 to 9 feet in length and are a little stiffer than lure fishing rods for two specific reasons. The first is long casts. The further you can cast, the more squid you will catch by simply covering more water. Longer rods will cast 5 to 10 metres further and that gives you an enormous advantage right from the start. The second reason behind the long and stiffer rod is the Eging technique of fast and aggressive rod tip lifts.

The longer rod imparts more movement on those upward lifts. Having a stiffer action and tip that doesn’t fold away also works to impart more lift. There are a range of specialist Eging rods on the market from several tackle companies. Shimano and Daiwa make a couple of very nice Eging rods in the 8 foot range. I’m currently running a Shimano Salty Advance Eging S83ML which is 8’3” long and it has had a profound effect on my squid fishing. Eging rods start at around $250 but you can pay a lot more than that for custom built Japanese manufactured Eging rods. The Japanese don’t do things by halves as we all know. The reel plays a vital role in Eging and most anglers use a 2500 or 3000 size threadline reel. You don’t need anything too fancy or expensive because the line and line load actually play a more important role than the reel itself.


You need a full spool of thin braid to maximise your casting distance. It’s no use having a 9 foot rod and fishing with a reel that’s 100 metres short of line capacity. Line size varies depending on where you are fishing. Over ribbon weed I’ll usually fish PE 0.6 or 0.8 with 2 metres of 8 pound fluoro leader as this enough to lift the jig if it fouls the weed bottom. Over thicker kelp I’ll fish PE 1 and a 12 pound leader in case the jig hooks the kelp bottom. Obviously the lighter braid casts further so it’s a case of going as light as you can without risking losing expensive jigs.

Another vital component is obviously the Egi jig. Before I cottoned onto this technique, I used 2.5 size jigs and slowly worked them back mid water, while trying my best to avoid fouling the bottom in 4 metres of water. These days I’m often fishing 3 to 4 sized jigs that are larger and sink quicker and I’m fishing up to 10 metre deep water. Most colours will work and every serious squid angler has his or her favourites. I like to fish an Owner Pro Parts welded quick snap on my leader for easy jig changes which you’ll find yourself doing a lot more often than lure fishing. In the past I fished pink, orange, blue, brown, gold and green but these days I’m using a lot of white, pink and particularly cobalt coloured jigs in larger sizes. The pink and white are very effective but just recently, scientific studies have indicated that squid find the 490nm colour wavelength most perceivable. What’s the 490nm wavelength or colour band I hear you ask. That’s an electric blue hue that borders on cobalt and Yamashita have started to produce a wide range of squid jigs in this colour called Live Search with 490 Glow colour streaks for that very reason.

There are some amazing squid jigs on the Australian market and it pays to keep up with the latest trends and offerings if you’re a keen squid enthusiast.

I’ve been using Yamashita jigs quite extensively since fishing with Eisuke Kamakawi in Jervis Bay about a decade ago. He was out here with E J Todd’s who import and distribute Yamashita Maria in Australia. Eisuke is a driving force in the Japanese Egi market and was in the process of developing this technique when I fished with him. He still works for Yamashita and is a Japanese Egi celebrity these days with numerous YouTube clips and social media followers.

Another couple of jigs that I’m quite fond of at the moment are the Daiwa Emeraldus Nude and Shimano Cephia Clinch Flashboost products. Another very productive variation is fishing Yamashita Glow jigs at night and charging them with a small torch.


So, we have the right gear and a good idea of what jigs to use but how do we put it all together? The Eging technique more or less goes against everything you thought was involved in squid fishing. Most Aussie anglers think squid are gentle and stealthy predators. They are far from it. Squid are very aggressive when feeding and the Japanese worked out that fast and violent jig movements that cover the bottom fifty percent of the water column will attract much more interest. As a result, the technique involves casting as far as you can over weed or kelp beds in 4 to 10 metres of water and letting the jig sink deep until just above the bottom. To do this you’ll need to do a few test runs and time how long it takes for your chosen jig to sink in the chosen water depth. If it hits the bottom it will usually become fouled in the weed and if any of that weed sticks to the hooks you’ll be wasting your time expecting a squid to eat it. Let it sink until just short of hitting the bottom and lift it up with a fast rod tip lift. Drop the rod while winding in the slack and pull the jig towards you, then lift again – quite aggressively. Let the jig sink again for several seconds and repeat the process of a sharp lift, pull forward and lift again. Keep tension on the jig during the entire process. This technique is very effective because it covers two planes with the squid jig. It works the jig vertically through the water column while retrieving it back towards the angler. It also moves the jig in fast lifts that attract the attention and a response from any squid. You’ll be surprised how aggressively squid will attack that fast moving jig. They pounce on it at the end of a lift, while it’s sinking or when you’re winding it forward between lifts. Like me, it will completely change how you perceive squid as a predator. You need to also understand that this is a searching technique when squid are involved.

We all tend to fish the same patches and areas when squid fishing but this technique relies on finding a population of squid to maximise your chances. We’ll spend 10 minutes maximum at any location before moving in search of squid. We may fish a few different colours but if you don’t hook a squid within the first 10 minutes of spreading casts around, it pays to relocate and look at new water or search for baitfish activity. That move may be 50 metres or 500 metres, depending on the location and conditions.

For this technique to work you’ll find yourself fishing heavier jigs in deeper water. Most times that deeper water doesn’t get heavily fished by anglers using the standard squid techniques. They tend to fish closer to shore in 3 to 4 metres of water which means you’ll usually have it to yourself and catch more squid. The heavier 3 and 4 sized squid jigs sink quicker and as a result, cover more water. They also tend to catch larger squid. The trick is to keep that jig moving with fast rod tip lifts and keep tension on the jig at all times.

Back in 2012, Jim Harnwell was the editor of Fishing World and he shot a video of this technique with two of Japans top Egi anglers. It’s on YouTube if you search “Squid Fishing with Gan Craft”. It very clearly shows the technique.

While this technique is very effective, there are also many variables that come into Eging. Moon, tides, water temperature and clarity along with presence of baitfish all play a contributing factor. I much prefer overcast days and neap tides for squidding. Having baitfish like yakkas and garfish present is always encouraging. If you’re marking bait or can see garfish rippling on top you can usually be assured of a good squid session. Having leatherjackets turn up or present is very bad. In Jervis Bay they can be an absolute pain as they’ll chew expensive jigs up and even attack hooked squid. We usually move if the ‘jackets turn up or fish squid jigs that don’t have a woven covering as they get rendered useless after being chewed on.

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