The bucktail jighead, although an old favourite, was largely popularised by the Alcock brothers, Chad and Lando, two of South Africa’s best fishermen, when they brought out their excellent fishing DVDs.
However, the lure (and fishing technique) is hardly ever called by its proper name. For some unknown reason, the term dropshot took hold for what should actually be known as jigging.
Consequently, bucktail jigheads are often referred to as dropshot lures, while jigging is often referred to as dropshotting.
Dropshotting is a popular American bass fishing technique, and involves a specific lure setup. To learn more about the dropshot technique, read my article about dropshot fishing.
The bucktail jighead is probably better known among saltwater anglers, although freshwater fishermen should in no way ignore this lure.
The lure, although elementary in design, often produces beautiful catches and should form part of any lure fisherman’s arsenal.
But how do you fish the bucktail jighead?
Do you cast and simply retrieve like you would an inline spinner?
Although this technique undoubtedly produces fish, the best way to retrieve a bucktail jighead is to make the lure bounce by lifting the rod tip rapidly, alternating each upward pull with a downward drop and line retrieval.
If you take a look at how the Alcock brothers retrieve their bucktail jigheads, you’ll notice that they hardly ever vary retrieval speed, and keep it mostly at a plodding pace.
This is their preference, but I’ve found that leerie sometimes prefer the lure presented slowly, while at other times they want it lightning quick.
The only way to find out which speed works, is to try different retrieval speeds when you’re out fishing.
Cast your lure out and wait for it to drop a few feet. Pull the rod tip up quickly and slowly drop it down again while reeling in the slack. Do this until you get a strike or your lure is back in your hand.
If a slow retrieval leaves you without fish, do exactly the same with more speed.
I often speed up the retrieval so much that I end up with the rod tip parallel to my hips, rapidly jerking the bait back. (The reason I keep the rod tip parallel to my hips is to prevent the bucktail from popping out of the water.) Leerie sometimes find this presentation irresistible.
For kob though, your retrieval is almost always dead slow. In fact, sometimes kob prefer a lure that’s dragged at snail pace across the sand. This takes a lot of patience, something I don’t have in abundance. That’s why I prefer targeting leerie.
Fishermen with a background in bass fishing should find working a bucktail jighead for saltwater species as natural as casting out a plastic worm to largemouth.
Next time you’re out using a bucktail jighead—or dropshot, if you wish—try to give the lure a bouncing action, instead of simply reeling it in straight.
You might be surprised at the difference this small change in presentation makes.
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As always, tight lines!
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