Leadheads are jig lures comprising two parts - a metal head from which emerges an upward facing hook, and a soft plastic tail through which the hook is inserted.
Whilst the hard leadhead part of the lure is very durable, the tails aren't.
After a few fish, they'll get beaten up and lose their effectiveness.
The tails are sold separately, and are produced in various sizes and colour patterns, each designed to imitate one of the many types of baitfish that your intended prey will be looking for.
So it's worth having a reasonable selection of tails, not just as spares, but also so you can ring the changes and find the one that gets results.
Although there are hundreds of different takes on this theme, most examples represent either a sandeel like the one on the left, or a sprat like the joey mackerel version below.
Both the above leadheads are sold assembled, but with spare tails for future use. It's essential that they're assembled correctly if they're to wriggle convincingly, and here's how to do it:~
First, you should check that the back of the 'head' and the front end of the lure will fit neatly together - if it doesn't, you'll need to trim it with a sharp knife as shown below.
Having trimmed off the head, place the jig hook alongside the lure and mark the place on the centreline at which the hook-point should emerge.
Then insert the hook in the forward face of the lure, and in a single movement thread the hook through the lure and out at the mark.
Artwork by Andrew Simpson
But if the lure is either stretched or bunched on the hook youve not got it right - in which case you should carefully remove the hook and start again.
Rigged thus, leadhead lures can be trolled slowly astern, cast from the shore - or best of all in my experience - twitched slowly along the seabed using a sink-and-draw technique from a drifting boat. Note that the hook emerging from the top of the lure goes a long way towards preventing the collection of seaweed and seabed debris.
Without the leadhead, the plain shad shown above would be rigged with special cranked hook and used on a short snood where you may have otherwise used a plastic muppet.
In the USA
In the UK
Downrigger ~ The cranelike device incorporating a line-counter reel often seen on the sterns of sport-fishing boats, which lowers a trolling weight on a wire line to a pre-determined depth. The trolling line is attached just above the weight, which gets the lure down to depths that would otherwise be unachievable.