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“The Jersey Rigg”

By Pat Xiques

I think that it was the only bait I didn’t throw that day.  They were given to me 6 months ago when a friend of mine had told me about a fantastic day fishing he had on Lake Mahopac in New York.  They were still sealed in the wrapper.  Months of rain then heat, then ice had wore the package, but the label “Jersey Riggs” still was clear as day.  After a long day on the water, (and not too many bass to show for my efforts) I decided to give this “Jersey Rigg” a try.  They were clear with gold fleck.  I remember my friend Ray Scully telling me just how nicely the bait skipped under docks and how effective it was on hot summer dog days.  I tied on the hook that my buddy gave me. rigged it through the middle the way the package demonstrated and the rest is history.

The first dock produced three fish, the second two more and the day went on and on.  I soon found out that this bait is not only good for skipping the docks, but it is a fantastic bait for fishing any type of cover - be it rocks, brush, grass - you name it.  What I was most impressed with is just how weedless the bait can be.  I thought for sure that this exposed hook would catch every twig, leaf and stick that it came across.   Remarkably, this bait has a tendency to scoot around most obstacles.  It is absolutely deadly when it comes to fishing docks like I had mentioned earlier.  Due to its increased surface area (because it is rigged through its middle) the bait will skip with incredible accuracy and go very long distances.  This makes the bait very effective while fishing shadow areas caused by low-lying trees and bushes.  One thing to keep in mind is that this bait is also very effective in open water type situations.  The Jersey Rig really shines when it comes to cruising fish, typical to a spring type situation.  Like all sight fishing baits, the lure must be thrown ahead of your moving target.  I rarely have a bass refuse this offering if it is presented properly.  If you are thinking about using this bait for bedding fish, you are in for a treat.  As you will read later on, it proved to be very profitable for Bassmaster Missouri Invitational Champion Lee Bailey Jr. of Connecticut.  I personally have used it on Lake Winnipesauki in New Hampshire for bedding Smallmouth Bass for the past few years.  WOW!  After boating well over 100 fish each day, I think that my partner said it best, this is setting Silly!

The technique that you need to employ while fishing the Jersey Rigg is quite simple.  The original method involves impaling the bait in its middle.  Jeff Cammerino, inventor of the Jersey Rigg, recommends that you use a 1/0 hook.  The bait then is cast out (spinning gear with 6, 8, 10 lb. is preferred) and as it’s falling, the rod tip is shaken slightly.  This causes the bait to quiver.  The bait was designed to imitate larvae falling from trees and bushes.  My circle of friends like to refer to its action as “Tweaking”.  As you will see, the term really does fit the action.  Now you will have to pay attention for strikes.  The strike can come in many forms.  One is a rod jerking smash.  I think this happens when the fish sees it falling and decides to grab it on the move.  The other type hit is a steady “pressure” type sensation felt from the bass inhaling the bait and slowly moving off.  This type of hit is usually accompanied with a slow movement of the line.  Be aware of your line while fishing this bait, it can tell you a lot.

I like to put my own spin on fishing the Jersey Rigg.  For one, I always put a small piece of Sluggo nail weight in one end of the lure.  This causes the bait to fall slightly faster than it was originally designed.  I have found that by cutting the weight in half best suits my needs (not to mention the fact that I get twice as many rigs out of a pack of nail weights) for a slow steady fall.  I have also fished with people that use a small nail or “Brad” in one end of the lure.  Either way, the idea is to make it fall a little faster that it is supposed to.  The original technique that Jeff Cammerino invented was to use no weight.  Jeff claims that the slower, more natural fall of a weightless bait is more productive.  I agree with Jeff in certain situations.  I have found his method to be deadly on really hot, still days when even the birds aren’t moving.

Another way to fish this bait is to fish it while Splitshotting.  I like to rig the lure in the same manner (hooked through the middle of the bait), but weight it down with a small splitshot placed about 12” to 18” above the lure.  The bait then can be fished in deeper water.  I find it very productive while fishing deep weedlines.  In my area of the country, deeper bass aren’t used to seeing small finesse style baits.  I think that these bass are constantly getting exposed to crankbaits, jigs and Texas rigged worms, but they rarely see a finesse type of presentation.  I have found bass very willing to take this bait when they wouldn’t hit other lures.  While fishing in the weeds, I have found that by using the pencil style lead, similar to a product call the “Mojo” system works better than the standard splitshot.  The reason is that the Mojo sinker slides up and down the line like a Carolina Rig.  The standard splitshot also has a tendency to catch the weeds.  Due to its weedless nature, the Mojo System or other pencil style weight makes it easier to detect strikes.

This April, Lee Bailey Jr. of Amfton, CT., used the Jersey Rigg to win the Bassmaster Missouri Invitational held on Table Rock Lake.  Lee, recovering from an auto accident that destroyed both his rig (van and boat) and his spirit, chose only at the last minute to attend the tournament.  With a rented car and Champion bass boat, Lee proceeded to head down to Missouri for the practice session.  Day 1 of practice proved to be less that a success.  After an entire day of throwing at bedding bass, Lee made his way back to the dock to meet up with his wife Carol.  When his wife asked him how he did that day, Lee responded “I didn’t catch a fish, but I’m going to do really well in this tournament”.  You see , Lee knew what these pressured bass wanted.  After weeks of local fisherman throwing the standard baits to these fish, Lee had the secret bait in the trunk of his car, the Jersey Rigg.  Needless to say, the next day of practice proved to be much more successful.  Lee, who rigs his Jersey Rigg much in the same manner that I spoke about earlier (one end weighted with 1/2 of a Sluggo insert weight) caught scores of bass that refused his offerings the day before in practice.  It was then that he new he was on to something big.

The tournament proved to be a great success for Lee.  Armed with his spinning rods and plenty of 6lb. Stren Magnathin line, Lee set out to do what he always dreamed of, winning a Bassmaster Invitational.  Day one’s weight of 17.2 lbs. included a four and a five-pound beauty, both of which were caught and dropped earlier in the day by another fisherman.  Day two, a magnificent finish of 18.3 lbs.  Day three just another day for Lee Bailey and the Jersey Rigg - 12.10 lbs.  The real story, all but one of the bass in his three-day creel were caught on a clear with gold fleck Jersey Rigg.  Congratulations Lee!

Weather its weighted like Bassmaster Champion Lee Bailey, Jr., likes to do or rigged weightless as the inventor of the method, Jeff Cammerino recommends, try this unique and deadly style of fishing.  If you need to get some of these baits, try contacting Jeff Cammerino at:

Jersey Riggs  c/o Jeff Cammerino

75 Mountain Lake Estates

Hawley, PA   18428

(570) 226-6304


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