Saltwater Leadheads, or saltwater leadhead jigs as they're also known, are soft plastic swimbaits. They are supplied as either a one-piece 'ready to fish' lure with the leadhead encapsulated within, or in two parts - a metal jighead from which emerges an upward facing hook, and a soft plastic tail through which the hook is inserted.
Whilst the jighead 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 as alternative shapes and sizes so you can ring the changes and find the one that gets results.
The soft plastic tails usually take the form - with varying degrees of realism - of marine worms, sandeels or shads. The jighead should be chosen to suit the type of tail that you want to attach it to. It's the shad verion that's shown here...
First, you should check that the back of the 'head' and the front end of the soft plastic shad 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 shad and mark the place on the centreline at which the hook-point should emerge.
Then insert the hook in the forward face of the shad, 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 you've 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, jigged vertically from a drifting boat, cast from the shore - or best of all in my experience - cast astern and then 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.
Read more about rigging unweighted leadheads (shads) and jelly worms...
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