In LRF, ‘nano’ is a word that we’ve become fairly familiar with, predominately through a whole range nano metal jigs that have entered the fishing tackle market in recent years. I think my best explanation of ‘nano’ in this sense is, smaller than micro. Of course that doesn’t mean much if ‘micro’ doesn’t have a clear definition (which is doesn’t), but in terms of the constant evolution of Light Game tackle, first we had micro jigs which went down to around 5 grams, and then suddenly we were being presented with a load of metals between 1 and 3 grams. These gained the term ‘nano’. From Japan I think. You can see it in model names for sure.
But jig heads? I’m not entirely sure the term Nano Jighead is official. It might be. But not common. However, it’s certainly a phrase that I use when I target mini species using Jighead method with ultra light, ultra refined tackle.
What is Nano Jighead not then? Ultra light jigheads have been around for years and years. There are many options for sub 1 gram and even sub 0.5g heads. However, these are normally based on hook sizes above a number 8 for use targeting Aji (Horse Mackerel). These ultra light jig heads are particularly prominent within the Caro rig, where a controller is utilised as the main weight for casting, and the jig head weight is only there to balance a small soft-plastic lure. I’ve dabbled with these style heads tied directly, but the hook sizes are limiting.
For me, Nano Jighead is utilising jig heads of 1 gram and below with hook sizes between 10 and 16. I admit, a size 10, 1 gram jighead is hardly a breakthrough. It’s fairly common. Especially in freshwater lure angling for Perch. ‘Wasping’ if you will. But it becomes less common in the sea, and anything smaller than a size 10 I would say is a specialist piece of kit at this point in time.
So why change from your successful split shot rigs and Dropshot? I think Jighead is under-valued in UK LRF. If you look at other branches of lure fishing in the UK, tying direct is proving to be more productive and more enjoyable than previously popular methods. The flying collar rig is a good example of a traditional method that is under pressure from newer techniques and tackle.
The reason I think Jighead hasn’t been adopted particularly well here in LRF circles is the limitations in hook sizes that we’ve had available until relatively recently. Look around and it’s fairly common to see LRF anglers using size 14 and size 16 hooks on their rigs when chasing species. Of course there’s a reason for that. They’ve proved that smaller hooks increases catches and species. So of course, if you were previously attracted by Jighead and you found yourself limited to size 8 or a size 6, then of course your catches were limited compared to your proven success with the split shot rig and dropshot. That perceived impact has absolutely zero to do with Jighead as a method, and everything to do with hook size!
You may be thinking at this point that a hook with a weight attached directly to it may be restrictive to mini species, compared to the other rigs I’ve mentioned that have some slack built in. Well, that would be true if I left the jig head on the bottom, expecting a fish to pick it up. But that isn’t Jighead’s strength. Jighead is an active method. To give an example, I feel like it is accepted that Dropshot is a solid method for catching small wrasse species. Something about the wrasse makes them prefer to attack prey off the bottom. DS works well for that. Where it starts to fall down is when you use unflavoured lures. If you observe fish attacking an unflavoured soft plastic, you often get a single hit. Because obviously, as soon as a fish has put a plastic lure in its mouth it knows that it is an inanimate object – unlike flavoured fake baits. The fish normally communicates this to all the other fish in the immediate area via its body language. Don’t expect too many bites from here!
This dynamic changes with one thing… Movement!
There is no tasting when you trigger the predatory instincts of a fish. It’s attack; demobilise; kill!
If you think about it, this is why we don’t see split shot rig and dropshot widely used in (sea) bass fishing – a classically predatory fish. And why would you use these static methods? Active lure fishing is exciting!!
So, try it. You can use your preferred flavoured bait on a nano jig head if it helps your confidence. But you don’t need to. You are trying to hone your skills in making an inanimate soft-plastic lure look like an injured fish fry, or fleeing shrimp, or something else, to trigger a predatory response. Use appropriately sized hooks and as we have already learned with metal jigs, you will be surprised what species you can catch.
Above all else, enjoy the ride!