Jersey Riggs: The Garden State’s Own Bass Lure
By Oliver Shapiro
over, Texas, the Carolinas, too. Make
room for New Jersey.
Texas and Carolina rigs are as familiar to bass anglers as their own birthdays.
Both are proven bass catchers, and both are fairly simple to use.
Now along comes Jeff Cammerino, originally from our fair state, and
suddenly there are three members of this worm-rigging group.
IT STARTED. The
lure is based on observations made by Cammerino as a youngster.
He noticed that whenever a gypsy moth larva would fall into the water,
with its characteristic slow fall and occasional scissors-like twitch, a member
of the clan Micropterus would
invariably come and nail it. Intrigued
by this, he started to experiment with different materials and shapes to imitate
this, and finally came up with prototype models that he used for local bass
angling. By the late 1980s, the
Essex County Bassmasters’ soon-to-be-famous member was entering bass
tournaments and winning them. People
started to take notice when he placed as high as third in the New Jersey BASS
being a selfish or secretive person, “the kid with the 3-inch worm with a hook
in the center” willingly gave out some of the unusual lures to his buddies.
The final irony occurred when some of his competitors started winning
using the then-embryonic Jersey Riggs! “They
were simply better anglers than I was,” he recalls with a smile.
BUSINESS SIDE. Turning
it into a business was the last thing on his mind.
He was already an accomplished musician, earning good money performing
popular music (he had previously toured Canada with the Four Seasons).
When he encountered a windfall, in the form of an investor who had faith
in the product, however, he decided to give the lure business a try.
The results have astounded everybody, including Cammerino.
Jersey Riggs is now a 25-employee company (most of whom are handicapped)
manufacturing the fishing lure products.
Besides their heavy use locally, such famous bass fishing personalities as Tommy Martin and the 1996 Bassmaster Classic champion, George Cochran, include their names on the roster of believers. The final touch came when Bassmaster magazine ran a feature article a few years ago - and the rest, as Cammerino’s former history teacher and fishing guide might have said, is...well, you know...history.
AND COLORS. The
lure comes in one size, 3 inches. Other
sizes were tried, but simply don’t have the same appeal or fall rate.
Additionally, the castability was found to be compromised on the
larger-sized attempts. A multitude
of colors are available. “I can
make ‘em in anything you want,” claims the lure’s designer.
Cammerino himself divides fishing applications into two basic color
types: bright and flashy versus
dull and subdued.
specifies that situations where the bass’ locations aren’t well defined, or
where their lateral line detection system is compromised (as in fast-moving
water), bright and flashy are the key. He
likes the fold, silver, chartreuse and bubble gum shades for these applications,
which include the pre- and post-spawn periods.
Highly discolored waters are appropriate for this approach as well.
During the spawn, when the fish are more easily spotted, he tones down
the presentation, switching to hues like pumpkinseed and motor oil.
AND TACKLE TIPS. Rigging
is critical. The lure should be
hooked in the middle with a 1 or 1/0 hook.
Anything larger, and the fall rate will increase too much, substantially
reducing the lure’s effectiveness. Cammerino
prefers 6-pound monofilament line, and will go as high as 8 pounds.
Any brand will work, “as long as it’s high-quality,” he adds.
also stresses the importance of the proper rod.
It should be at least 5 feet and 9-inches long, in order to get proper
casting action, and he strongly recommends use of a one-piece rod in order to
maximize your ability to feel strikes (especially for larger bass).
Finally, he favors the Palomar knot for tying the hook on.
most bass baits, the Jersey Rigg is nearly weightless, conferring upon it some
restrictions as well as some advantages. Restrictions
include fishable depths; its
descent of only a few inches per second discourages its use in any water deeper
that 12 to 14 feet. This
weightlessness, however, prevents the initial splashdown from spooking any
nearby bass too much, and when they circle back to investigate, the lure is
still there - unlike a spinnerbait, weighted worm, or sinking crankbait.
It stays in the strike zone for a long time.
IT WORKS. Cammerino
points out that this is not a cranking or jigging lure - it is a twitching lure.
Proper use involves casting, and letting it rest.
This gives the nearby bass a chance to return and look it over.
After an appropriate pause, the lure is twitched once, gently.
The idea is to invoke the lure’s scissors action in order to look like
a squirming caterpillar. Take up
the slack with a turn of the reel handle, and pause again.
This sequence is repeated until a fish nails it.
bass, up to a couple of pounds, may have a tendency to grab it and run, in an
effort to get away from competing fish. Larger
specimens, who have no competitors, are more likely to simply inhale the lure
without moving. It is therefore a
good idea to constantly check the feel of the line for any sudden heaviness.
Because of the need to let the lure lie still, as well as stay in as
close contact with the lure as possible, Cammerino recommends that the angler
leave a slight bow in the line between the rod tip and the lure.
admits that the rigs work best in calm water conditions, but have their uses
elsewhere. They can be effective in
rivers for both largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Here, he suggests sticking with the brighter colors, and allowing the
lure to dead-drift with the current, twitching it now and again - somewhat
reminiscent of fly-fishing with streamers.
Finally, despite reports that this is best utilized in early spring, Cammerino instead informs us that the bait is highly effective anytime the water temperature is above 55 degrees - making it virtually a three-season lure.
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