Good Bye To The Bala Jig
When it comes to catching rockfish, not many people would think that it is a very difficult fish to catch. It is true that rockfish don't seem to be a very difficult fish to catch (most of the time!) but that doesn't mean that there aren't things you can do to catch bigger or better quality fish.
Rockfish are a beginning fisherman's best friend and indeed, many a salt water angler cut one's teeth catching these tasty critters. The common rig to start with is the tried and true shrimp fly rig. Two "flies", tied about a foot apart, are lowered to the bottom and drifted until a fish bites
Shrimp flies will catch fish, and a lot of them, but this rig isn't particularly choosey about what kind of fish they attract. Many are the times that undersized after undersized fish is hauled aboard before a quality sack is achieved.
Avid rockfishermen learned a long time ago that to walk away with a sack of larger fish, larger lures than shrimp flies would have to be employed. For years, the lure of choice was the metal jig.
The original lure of choice was the venerable diamond jig. Diamond jigs, like the original model produced by the Bridgeport Company, have worked for decades. It is a very simple looking lure, but rockfish have never learned to avoid it. Perhaps because it has been around so long, anglers have searched for something else to catch the larger bottom huggers.
Years ago, after my stint at fishing in southern California, I brought back home what has been called "candy bar" jigs. These jigs, with brand names like Salas, Tady, and Straggler, were tossed instead of the diamond jigs and because of their shape, had much more swimming action than diamond jigs. I caught a bunch of bigger rockfish and lingcod on these jigs compared to the diamond jigs and I suppose, this caused an increase of sales of these kinds of jigs in the bay area.
Another lure that has become popular with bigger fish is the soft swim bait. Candy bars are great in deeper water, but in shallow water (less than 100 feet deep) it is hard to beat the swim bait. With its natural feel and lifelike swimming action, these soft, squishing baits look good, swim well, and feel good to fish.
However, the one oddball lure in the rockfishing world, the Bala jig, is going to be just another chapter in local fishing history.
The Bala jig is an oddball lure to look at, and that is perhaps why it didn't sell well. The rule of lure survival in the retail world is that if the lure doesn't look right, the lure isn't going to sell. It is very unusual for a lure that doesn't have some sort of visual appeal being a good seller. Such was the case for the Bala jig.
A similar lure was given to me close to 30 years ago when I worked at a former tackle shop. A Japanese customer of mine went back to his homeland for a visit and when he returned, presented me with an unusual lure that was marketed as a salmon lure. The lure consisted of a chrome plated diamond jig shaped weight that had a vinyl octopus sticking out from its middle. I thanked him for the gift and promptly placed it in my box of collectable weird lures back home.
When the Bala jig came out a few years ago, I looked at it and immediately thought of the salmon lure I was gifted with so many decades ago. A few adventurous anglers bought them and proceeded to slaughter big bunches of big rockfish with them.
To see the proof myself, I acquired a few of these Bala jigs and used them on a few bottom fishing trips. Let's just say that these lures were so good I thought they should be illegal. BIG vermilions, quillbacks, and other quality rockfish proved to be suckers for the Bala jig when used with a slow, easy, pumping motions of the rod.
I am not going to sing the praises of these lures anymore, because I see now that Daiwa has decided to no longer produce the Bala jig. It was never an easy lure to find, but now, they are going to be nearly impossible to get. If you find any, buy them, otherwise, you are going to lose out from having one of the best bottom fish lures ever made.