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PENNSYLVANIA

SPORTSMAN

                                                                                    MAGAZINE

August, 1994                                                                                        Volume XXXV No. 5

“Jersey Rigg” for Bass

It’s a new lure and a new bass fishing style.

By Dave Ehrig

Where do you find a bass angler at 3:00 in the afternoon on the hottest day of the summer?  What outdoor activity could possibly result in side-slapping fun, while perspiration drips from your brow?  Why, fishing, of course.  And, before you think that an air conditioner is the best lure for a clear “bluebird day” consider a new style of fishing and a new lure - the Jersey Rigg.

On a clear-water lake in Pike County, the light-colored larva barely rippled the water alongside the sunken birch tree.  It didn’t look like any predator-irritating, “secret” money winning tournament lure that is currently devastating thousands of bass in the tri-state area.  The plastic lure didn’t seem exciting until the fisherman’s line imparted a simple, deadly twitch.

Faster than a blink, three large-mouths broke cove, rocketed toward the prize, and a 3-pounder hooked himself as he attempted to get away with the 3 3/4-inch plastic morsel.  Head thrashing aerial flips sprayed the johnboat with water as the husky fish battled against the tightened line.  In less than ten minutes of fishing, and on the hottest afternoon of the summer, the first fish was boated.  Jeff Cammerino, the inventor of the Jersey Rigg, winked as he slid the moss-colored predator back into the water.

“The ability to stay within the strike zone of the fish makes this lure different from everything else that a fisherman can throw at a bass,” noted Jeff.  “I have spent 17 years perfecting the high-density, supple plastic “.larva” so that it stays suspended in the water right where fish feed.  You don’t need any weight added to the lure or the line.  A #1 or 1/0 hook fastened to 6 or 8-lb. test line gives an angler the ability to cast 30-50 feet, and with the accuracy necessary to skip under a dock, or slip inside a lily-pad opening.

The most radical thing about this short stout plastic “worm” is the way you hook it.  Instead of being hooked through the “head” and being pulled through the water “long-ways” as other plastic worm baits are, the Jersey Rigg larva is hooked right squarely through the middle, so that half of the “worm” hangs off each side of the hook.  When the Jersey Rigg hits the water, wait for a few seconds for the ripples to subside, then give the little larvae a gentle jiggle.  If the bass where you fish are anything like those in the heavily fished public waters where we tested the Jersey Rigg...hang on!

The next bass slipped from under some lily pads and stopped just short of the Rigg.  “Watch this,” whispered Cammerino as he gave a twitch to the silver-flecked plastic lure.  This time with a more casual slurp, the bass dined on what he thought fell from the treetops.  “The Jersey Rigg is not just another plastic worm, crankbait, or jerkbait.  This is an entirely new concept.  The supple, but dense soft plastic imitate a drowning caterpillar, or other larvae.  It seems to trigger a feeding response in bass.  It telegraphs to the fish a giant, easy to catch and swallow a tube of protein.  This thing really gets a bass’ attention.”

While this writer’s skepticism was still second guessing this innovation, wondering if it had been “set-up on some pet fish”, we fished in a direction away from the shady structure, out into the sun-baked “busy” part of the lake.  Rather than avoiding boats and docks, Jeff and his fishing rep, Rick Faulkner headed straight for civilization.  No sooner had the bow swung into the wind next to a dock, than Faulkner was tight into another fish.  It didn’t surface like a bass, but gave a telltale zigzag that is characteristic of a panfish.  “Look at the size of this bluegill.”  I was becoming convinced.

When asked about the Jersey Rigg’s effectiveness on other fish, Faulkner stated that it will and has caught everything from brown trout to muskies.  “If a fish eats larvae, it will take a Rigg.”

Cammerino pointed to the style of hook-up as being instrumental to success with the Jersey Rigg.  By hooking directly into the center, perpendicular to the lure, it gives the fish-triggering twitch that is key to its effectiveness.  The use of weight, or wrong size of hook and line-weight, reduces an angler’s ability to catch fish with this system.

After catching and releasing about two dozen bigmouths, we floated over a shallow weedbed of milfoil.  I traded my 35mm Nikon for a 6-foot Berkley Bionics to get in on some of the action.  While I experimented with the casting, rate of descent, and twitching action, Rick was into another fish.  This time it was a big smallmouth.  The dark-olive barring of the fish as it slashed alongside the boat made a real contrast to the other fish boated so far.

While gold and silver seemed to be the more effective colors on this brightly-lit, clear water, Cammerino said that the darker pumpkin and motor oil were the most popular with the area bait stores this spring.  Each lure is good for about a half-dozen hook-ups before they need replacing, but one pack has 20 pieces, and that could result in a lot of hot fishing.  My own lure lasted through three bass, a lot of water lilies, and mooring rope.

Cammerino has pointed out that the lure has been fished in 25 PA/NJ/NY tournaments so far this year, and on the Pro Circuit, names like George Cochrane and Jerry McGinnis have splashed the water with a Jersey Rigg.  “It’s a best kept secret of the pros because they don’t want to give up their edge,” the inventor remarked.  “But it’s so simple to use, kids pick up the lure and start catching fish.  Maybe it’s because kids always hook bait once in the middle, and jerk/twitch the stuff around.  They always seems to outfish mom or dad, so they must be doing something right.”

Another advantage of the Jersey Rigg is that fish will repeatedly hit the bait three and four times.  The imitation doesn’t trigger alarm at all,” Faulkner added.  “While spinnerbaits crash and intimidate, the passive “plop” of the lure simply triggers appetite.”

If the “Jersey Rigg” hasn’t found its way to your local bait shop yet, Jeff Cammerino can be contacted at 75 Mountain Lake Estates, Hawley, PA  18428; phone (570) 226-6304.

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