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May 23, 1997

Cammerino Worming Way Into Recognition

By Oliver Shapiro

Bass anglers are familiar with the Texas and Carolina worm-rigging techniques.  Now, thanks to former Clifton Resident Jeff Cammerino, there is a third member to this group.

Cammerino’s Jersey Riggs are based on his observations made 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 Chapter Federation.

Not being a selfish or secretive person, “the kid with the three-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.

The lure comes in one size - three inches - and a multitude of colors.  “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.

He 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 gold, 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.

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 six-pound monofilament line and will go as high was eight pounds.

Rods should be at least five feet, nine inches long, in order to get proper casting action, and he strongly recommends use of a one-piece rod in order to maximize sensitivity to subtle strikes (especially for larger bass).

Unlike 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 than 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.

Cammerino points out 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 takes it.

Smaller 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 a 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.

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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