The Fred Hall Show in Long Beach is behind us but we’ve still got the Del Mar show coming up, so if you didn’t already stock up your spring yellowtail arsenal, visiting the show would be a great opportunity to get some deals on what you’ll need. As for me, I bought way too much tackle as usual and most of it is likely to spend the next couple years hanging on the already overloaded peg board in my garage. Something that will not end up in peg board purgatory is the new jigs I picked up as I plan to put them to work targeting the springtime yellowtail that are just starting to show up in our local waters.
While there are lots of different rod and reel combos you can use to target spring yellowtail, they all come down to covering three bases, surface iron, yo-yo iron and bait. Seeing as how I’d rather not catch yellowtail on the jig than catch them on bait, I’m going to limit my recommendation to picking up a medium/light action rod, like a Rainshadow Judge JDBLG810ML and matching it with a Penn Fathom 15 or 25N reel. Though filled with spectra and a 30# or 40# short fluorocarbon leader, this combo is the equivalent of the old school 25# mono set up and will fish a sardine well and will even cast an anchovy in a pinch. Pick up some hooks in sizes from #1 up to 4/0 and you should be good to go.
Now, let’s talk about the only two set ups you’ll need to successfully target spring yellowtail.
My choice of weapons are featured in the top photo of this article. They are a Rainshadow RCJB84XH matched with a Penn Fathom 40N 2-speed reel and a Rainshadow Judge JDBLG80M matched with a Penn Fathom 25N star drag reel. The heavier of the two is my yo-yo set up and the lighter my surface iron rod. Everyone has their own preference when it comes to rod length for throwing the surface iron. I prefer an 8-foot rod when fishing on my own boat but will upsize to a 9-footer when fishing on a sport boat. Lots of guys like to throw the 10-foot rod but I don’t because I don’t think the additional casting distance is a worthwhile trade off for the lack of leverage.
All of the jigs I picked up at the show this year were made by Tady as they’ve always been my go-to brand. As you can see in the picture, Tady has been doing some really cool paint jobs on their jigs and I’m a big fan of the prism tape finish on some of their jigs. The spring yellowtail I’m holding up in the photo above bit one of the prism Tady 45’s and I was really impressed with how much flash that jig put out when I fished it. On sunny days, that jig can be seen from a very long distance.
Tady has recently re-released a couple of jigs that have been off the market.
The first is the 14A. This jig is bigger and heavier than a 45 and comes in both surface iron and yo-yo models. I haven’t tried the yo-yo version yet but I’d bet it’s going to be a killer when the fish are keyed in on big jigs. I used to fish the surface iron version back when it was first on the market and loved it so I’m looking forward to putting it back to work. The other jig is the Starman 112. This jig is approximately the same size as a 45 but has a different swimming action. My favorite thing about it is that it will stay in the water when wound fast on the surface. Anyone who’s experienced it knows that there is nothing worse than casting on a foamer of spring yellowtail and having your jig pop out of the water during your retrieve.
As you can see by my selection of jigs, I’m big on mint colors for my surface irons. But when it comes to yo-yo jigs I like a variety of colors. The last four jigs on the right are Tady 4/0 heavies and they represent the colors I’ll usually carry. Yellows can get very keyed in on jig size and color when it comes to yo-yo fishing so I’ll carry mint, red, dorado and scrambled egg in a couple different sizes. I’ll usually start out fishing the Tady 4/0, but if the fish are keyed in on smaller baits I’ll drop down to a Tady 9. Whichever jigs you buy, I recommend getting at least three of each size and color so that you don’t end up losing the only jig the fish want that day and not having another one to replace it.