DAVE McLEAN explores the history of this must-have lipless crankbait and gives a few tips on using them
Jackall Lures are a product of Lake Police in Japan, of which Toshi Ono is part-owner.
I first used these lures in 2001 with Queensland guide and Jackall importer Harry Watson at Lake Glenbawn, when I realized the ability that these lures had to catch fish, bass in particular.
The only problem at the time in trying to market these lipless crankbait lures was the price tag of around $35 but in the past 18months I do not think there is a freshwater angler who has not bought one and not a tournament angler who does not have at least a couple.
I often refer to them as a ‘confidence bait’ as I know of people who until they started using them struggled to catch more than a couple of bass but who now tell me of double-figure catches.
I quite often get asked why the Jackalls catch fish when other types do not and although there are other lipless crankbaits around, I would first like to show why this type of lure works.
We believe that bass and other freshwater native fish hear and feel our lures most of the time before they ever see them. This is because the average clarity of the water in our systems can be from 50cm to around six metres.
We must remember that feed using sight, sound, smell, feel and taste, but bass exist primarily by their sense of sound detection, with smell, taste and feel minor factors in their feeding.
So sound and sight, in that order, are the senses anglers need to appeal to if we want to catch more fish. Bass have a fixed, non-dilating pupil and cannot adjust to light intensities so they like to be in spots away from bright light and in places where they can conceal themselves ready to pounce on food that passes by.
By their nature and with limited vision bass first detect, then locate food, and our lures, through their ‘sonar’ system.
This system is made up of internal and external sensors. The external system has tiny nerve endings, called neuromasts, along the lateral line on each side of the body. These can detect up to about 30 metres any movement in the water which sends out pressure waves.
The internal systems of hearing comprise hollow bone structures and an air bladder, which act as resonance chambers to detect sounds at surprisingly long distances. Even though a fish cannot see a lure, it detects its vibrations, homes in on it and moves close enough so it can see to attack it.
This also explains why if you are fishing from the bow of your boat and casting forward, the guy who is fishing from the stern can sometimes catch the fish that you attracted – your lure disappeared before the bass could strike.
The ability to be worked efficiently more slowly than other lipless crankbaits was an important feature built into the Jackall TN series.
Jackall lures are designed using the latest technology in the fishing industry. Prototype lures are first designed using a computer to generate a three-dimensional image which is then created by a machine that can shape the bait to 1/100th of a millimetre accurately in minutes.
This process allows the company to design and test more lures faster so that the pros can then test them on the water.
Jackall’s tungsten lip, which allows the lure to swim horizontally on the fall and rest on its nose on the bottom, has been a major design advance which other makers have rushed to copy. Among other advances is the lure’s ability to work (vibrate) at the first turn of the reel handle.
The range available in the TN series is quite vast with around 40 colours available in the TN50, 60 and 70. These lures can be cast or trolled.
After the huge success with the TN series, after a visit to Australia Toshi Ono in early 2004 produced the semi-flexible Mask Jackalls. These soft hybrid baits displace more water than the TN series and their sink rate is nearly double.
The Mask lures are very soft and the elastomer material is very durable. As well as fulfilling similar functions to the TN series, the sink rate of the Mask baits makes them good for vertical jigging. Their very subtle vibration, less than a TN’s, is good for schooling fish or fish that are very deep.
Mask lures are available in 60mm and 70mm sizes in about 15 colours and can account for any of the fresh or salt water species. Flathead love them.
The new Silent TN 50 and 60 series has been released because sometimes fish accustomed to the sound of rattling lipless crankbaits and may shy away. The Silent models still vibrate and put off a different underwater sound signature.
During back-to-back testing with rattling and silent TNs in late 2001 Harry Watson and I accounted for 20 bass on the silent and two on the rattling model from the same boat at the same time using the same type of retrieve.
The silent Jackall does not tend to put the school fish off after a capture. In the 2004 AFC televised event at Lake St Clare Harry Watson caught his two bass for 3.82kg on a silent TN60. This range will be in very limited numbers and colours.
Jackalls are true reaction baits and are perfect for ripping around weeds and banks and also for slow rolling along the edge of cover. You can cover a tremendous amount of water to locate fish and by using a ripping technique can be fished in very heavy weed.
• The yo-yo technique is often under-used but the TN series is designed for this style of fishing, which is very effective in early Spring especially if the dams are rising.
The yo-yo method is designed to imitate the action of a dying baitfish or a yabby or shrimp scampering down a bank. The idea is to cast to the edge of the bank, or sometimes to the edge of the weed line, and just give the lure a very slight rip to make sure that it is working and just let it fall to the bottom .
Make sure that you keep the line taut. When you see the line stop, just give it a couple of seconds and pick the rod tip up from around 9 o’clock to about 11 o’clock and then wind a couple of turns of the reel to move the lure a little over a metre.
Then slowly drop the rod tip down but keep the line taut and repeat.
• Another method is to count down the lure to the depth at which fish appear on the sounder. The TN Jackalls have a sink rate of about half a metre a second while the Masks sink around one metre a second.
Colour selection for this technique is based on the colour of the baitfish or other food present and on water clarity.
When the food forage is yabbies, shrimp or smelt in clear water, begin with a translucent pattern such as shrimp, gold shiner, clear chartreuse, tiger or ausy shrimp.
In stained water with less clarity try lures with more contrast, such as chameleon, purple shad, brown dog, ghost wakasagi.
On a late afternoon or overcast day or if the fish are down relatively deep try, HL purple, ghost purple, dragon or purple shad.
In dirty water try bone, HL gold, HL black or Peacock.
BE WARY OF SPRAYS
• If you are using some form of scent on Jackalls be very careful of some of the aerosol sprays, which can damage the colour finish and the eyes.
AVOIDING THE $25 SNAG
• If you intend using a Jackall around heavy timber there is the inevitable possibility of it becoming snagged and you could lose your precious investment. If you do use these lures around heavy timber I suggest that you invest in titanium Lure Saver split rings.
These split rings are made of springy titanium wire and are designed to open with a steady pull at a predetermined force. When the pull strength is exceeded, the ring opens up and releases the snagged treble. The lure is recovered and a fresh treble inserted in the ring, which should have come back with the Jackall.
The size Lure Saver ring to use is 14lb opening strength. The asking price of $20 for five rings will be recouped after only one Jackall is recovered and you’re in the black from there!
WORKING IN WEED
• While Jackalls are excellent for working around weed beds, there may be times when the type of weed prevalent becomes fouled regularly on the forward hook and hampers the lure’s action. For a more weedless approach, try taking to the forward treble with side cutters. Cut off the downward-facing hook so you end up with a double hook with both points facing upwards, removing the principal weed-snagging point.
Cast to the edge of the weed and count down your lure or let it sink to the bottom. After a second or two, lift up the rod tip about 15-20cm. The lure will move about 60cm. Take a couple of turns on the reel to keep the line taut so you can detect bites. Repeat back to the boat. Bass think the lure is a shrimp or yabby moving down the bank.
Take note on your sounder of the depth the fish are holding. Cast past the fish and count down to the required depth – half a metre a second for the TN series and one metre a second for the Mask series – then wind about two cranks of the reel, pause and continue. This retrieve should keep the lure in the strike zone.