Anybody out there in the fishing world has seen the flair jigs take over like wildfire. Their successes are no mystery, but what may be a mystery to some is how they are successful. I got the chance to chat with Eric Whitted, our resident ‘snook whisperer.’ You may know him by his white boots and amazing photos of huge fish shared among local anglers in the Tampa Bay Fishing Club. We have been given the opportunity to share some very specific tactics for hooking the big girls straight from the source.
First thing you'll need is ammunition... There are several companies producing the flair hawks right now, each offering something a bit different than the others. Eric prefers the Glad Snooker Jigs (GSJ). Although Red Tail Hawk and First Light Jigs offer their own successful platforms, Eric swears by GSJ. With different sizes to choose from, it is important to know how that selection should be made; for example, water depth, tide, and speed of tide are the factors to consider. Deeper, faster moving water is going to necessitate the use of a heavier jig like a 1.5 oz. or 2 oz. jig, rather than shallower and/or slower moving water where a 1 oz. jig is recommended.
Next thing to consider is the right spot. When scouting a new spot, artificial lures give you the advantage of covering tons of ground in a short amount of time. Structure and fast moving water is a great place to start. Bridges, passes, and points are a great place to try for. Pitching with the tide offers the most natural presentation. It's also the easiest to work with, in that it is easier to keep on its path; keeping it on target. However, this only goes so far as sometimes the fish do not behave the same way all the time. This is why pitching "artis" is so advantageous. You can stand in the same spot and work several angles and variations while covering long distances. Most of the time you will find them sitting on ledges and drop-offs waiting to ambush its prey. The warmer the water, the more veraciously they'll be feeding. Considering this, when you do hook up, don't expect the others to spook. Her friends may very likely remain in the same area awaiting their turn to feed.
There are a million ways to skin a cat, as they say. Jig retrieval is not different. Different strokes for different folks, right? In our discussion Eric described his preferred method; steady retrieve. He varies speed based on depth and tide. Another method to explore is bouncing it off the bottom. Even quick retrievals and pauses. Try them all to find your groove.
No results? Don't throw in the towel just yet. When exploring a spot, you need not only work the whole area, but figure out the sweet spot in the tide. Don't be afraid to stick it out for tide change. Different days, different tides, and moon phase can all have an impact on the feeding habits of fish. You may find today the fish are in one spot on a certain tide and tomorrow they have moved 20' east. The same spot may not produce the same way tomorrow; as is fishing.
Want to be like Eric? I don't blame you. Here are the fishing equipment Eric arms himself with when going out.. All of these items can be found at St. Pete Fishing Outfitters.
Rod: G. Loomis E6X 8' 15-40
Reel: Van Staal VR150
Line rating: 40lb Invisi-Braid
Leader: 80lb mono