If you have fished the Isla San Marcos area or other areas where the yellowtail are gorging on squid, you might find that they are just not taking conventional jigs, BUT the pangueros are catching them all around you on jigs. What is their secret? The pangueros have taken the store colors and repainted them orange like the squid. It can make a difference when squid are the bait of choice.
Fishing with my friend Mike Kanzler of Isla San Marcos (aka, Kid Jurel or San Marcos Mike) I used live mackerel and he used the jig. He caught, I believe five large yellowtail on the jig, and I got nothing on the live bait. I thought live bait was always better! I sure am not a professional like him but I said, "Hey I'm putting on the jig too," and got a 36-pound yellowtail the second time I dropped the jig. (Courtesy Smokey Stover.)
Sept. 24, 2004, Mike Kanzler, Isla San Marcos:
It's a good point. Sometimes jigs out fish bait! Especially if you're not 100% sure where the fish are holding, so you can get the bait to the fish or during fast drifts.
I remember that day with Doug. It was rough water and a fast drift. When I have clients, I'll normally fish iron. That way I'm not using bait they should be, and it also mixes it up a bit, see what the fish want.
If I'm the first boat on the reef or spot, I mainly start with iron and am able to catch a few fish with it. But if I pull up to a spot with guys already fishing live bait and are catching, fishing iron won't work often.
I ask guys to try any iron first. Reply, no, too much work.
Iron of the same size but of a heavier material sometimes works out, but I've tried some of those knockoff jigs and found, yes, they do sink real nice, but because heavier don't have as good/same swimming action. I don't bounce my jigs up and down. They hit the bottom and I grind till I see 'em. If you want the regular jig to go down straighter all you have to do is toss it up drift a little. What I see a lot of people do is attach the iron with a snap-swivel. Never do this! It changes how the iron swims. I think the way iron moves in the water, grinding deep or across the surface, makes just as much difference as color.
I tend to stay away from the more elaborate paint schemes and there are a lot! I don't think the fish really sees to much detail, especially when I'm cranking it. I was once told when buying surface iron from my friend Capt. P-Bod what colors are best. He replied when they are feeding on the surface color doesn't matter! Overall it seems to be true. There are those days where a few colors do work better. Depends on what the yellows are feeding on at the surface. I now have the right ammo for when this happens. Squid on the surface, use pinks, reds, orange, yellow-brown. I have some iron that have all those colors on the same jig. Works great. Anchovies, and this one's the hardest time to get bit, Tady 45, topside color black, edge into purple, with gold underneath, white down the center. This one's airbrushed and all the colors flow. Crazy as it seems I swear by it. Sardines, Mackerel, or any similar bait, standard colors, blue-and-white, or dorado, chrome, chrome with a color, all pretty much work. That's my iron 101. My bag is so heavy when people try to pick it up they sometimes ask what I have in there, two boat batteries? I carry over 60 heavy irons and 30 surface irons with me at all times. I have no secrets. I love watching other people catch fish as much as me catching 'em.