First lets try to understand that every codfish rig, teaser and technique has its place when jigging or squidding codfish. As I have noted multiple times, codfish are very similar in the feeding habits to striped bass in that they prefer either a slowly squidded jig, or a jig that is slowly vertically lifted and dropped to the bottom in what some may call 'pounding the bottom.'
Depending on the area you are fishing for codfish when drifting, the bottom itself may 'hang-ups' ranging from clumps of mussels which are very common along Georges and those areas along Nantucket Shoals, to one where there are piles of rocks on flat bottom or along ledges. Both areas present a 'hang' problem especially if one has a treble hook on the bottom of their jigs!
Now since we are looking first at when we are going to use this rig, we should also think about conditions we may encounter on certain days, and also if we happen to leave home the right size or weighted jig for that fishing day.
Normally we encounter much more wind during the winter and harder running currents especially when we have a combined tide with the wind condition during the day. Also along with the depth that you must get your jig down to, you may have only brought along 6, 8, and 10 oz jigs when you may need a 12 or 14 oz jig to properly work your jig along the bottom. I have heard this from a number of fishermen especially later in the winter when the codfish move off the shallower waters around the Appletree area south of Block Island and filter out to the Fairway, Longliner, Gully and Battlegrounds area..
Just to digress for a moment, in another thread I showed two different ways to weight down a light jig if this is all you brought along. The first is a common method used din southern waters and that is by carrying along egg sinkers in a few different ounce sizes. The second was in using the specially cast 'bead chain lead head' that was found in the old Bingle bananas. This is one way to 'cheat' or shall I say assist you in using the lightest and smallest jig possible while cod fishing. Here is one rule that we have found with this type of cod fishing:
Take a look at what size jig Captain Steven Forsberg of the VIking fleet fishes with, and I would go by what one of the top codfish captains uses when jig fishing. I constantly hear this among my group of fishing buddies who always point this out.
So if you don't have the right jig available and do not want to buy one on the boat, this rig is a very viable alternative and works as well as if you are using a diamond jig. All that we have done here is use a sinker on the bottom instead of the jig and then tying on two SLIDING curly tails on hooks that have swivels on them.
The technique we then use are exactly the same now with the sinker replacing the jig.
1- Drop the rig down to the bottom, and work it in a slow, 'tea-bag' like motion (Bottom Pounding Technique)
2- Drop the rig down to the bottom, and make a crank or two off the bottom and hold it there, allowing the curly tails to work in the current.
3- Cast out the rig, hit the bottom, and then slowly squid the curly tail rig back to the boat.
Lets now look at what we need and how to make the rig using one piece of leader material -
1- Lets assemble our materials. These are 6" Curly Tails in Flo Red, White & Grape. Other colors such as HOT PINK which time and again is the number one go to color is another option. The darker shades of Blue and Grape do have their moments, especially out to the east. Grape in fact happened to be a favorite at times while fishing along Nantucket Shoals with Captain Lester of the Rosy out of Hyannis using this color.
2- Now we have the curly tails, gold OE 4x strong, ringed open eye hooks and swivels. You can use as light as a 75 lb swivel, but swivels in the 125 lb and 175 lb such as shown here are the sizes you should use. Just keep in mind that the curly tails, hooks and swivels are all THROW AWAY terminal tackle. They are cheap to purchase in bulk and one could buy a bag of 100 curly tails in their favorite colors, a bag of 100 open eye jig hooks from 7/0 through 9/0 and a bag of 100 swivels and whatever pound test they prefer and for less then 75 or so dollars, have a few seasons worth of terminal tackle.
3- Assemble the curly tails by putting on the swivel and closing the eye on the hook and then slide up the curly tail color of your choice. That should take less then a minute to do.
4- Making the sliding swivel dropper hook rig. If you know how to make a dropper loop, then the only difference is first running the swivel up the line and then make an appropriate size dropper loop. I have showed my simple technique of making a dropper loop at a few seminars and many are surprised it is that easy when you wrap it around your hand in the manner that I do to make any size loop I require.
I should also add two other major points.
A- We are using a 54 inch length of TYNEX leader material in either 30 or 40 lb test. Many will think that is too light, but it is not. We are not wreck fishing, and the vast majority of codfish you will catch are under 25 lbs. Light leader material also is big helper on those days when the codfish get a little 'line-shy.' It will make a very big difference but there is no reason why you should go any heavier with the leader material unless the average size of the codfish are pushing up and over 20 lbs> Using a two hook rig, you may want to bump up your leader material then to 50 lb test.
B- Dropper loop spacing especially when using a 54 inch length of leader material. Many prefer the rig I have tied here which has the bottom curly tail pretty close to the sinker, like if a jig was there instead of the sinker. Others though who bounce the rig hard on the bottom prefer getting that first lower dropper loop a few more inches off the bottom, and the second curly tail pretty close to the top swivel. It is your preference on the spacing of the dropper loops and it is your option on how close or far you want to make your dropper loops.
5- Here is a close up of the sliding swivel dropper loop. I know there are a few who now prefer tying a Plait dropper loop instead of the one shown here. That is another option, but from experience a properly tied standard dropper loop and a properly set drag eliminates the need here for typing the Plait dropper loop.
For those interested in using a Aussie or Kiwi Plait:
6- Completed sliding dropper loop. This loop on even 30 lb TYNEX leader material, will stand off and not wrap around the main line. You can see how the swivel will slide around the dropper loop which we have found to work better then when the eye is just placed through the eye of the hook.
7- This is the completed 2 hook sliding curly tail rig on a 54 inch length of leader material.
8- Here is the completed rig and you can see it is pretty compact to slip one completed rig into a heavy duty Ziploc bag. You should make up a dozen or so rigs, and here you can play around with color combination's such as the standard Pink/Pink, Flo Red/Flo Red, and so on. Some fishermen I know have a Pink/Flo Green curly tail rig and start off with that one rig to see which color curly tails is getting more hooked fish.
9- This is better close up of the rig.
10- In this image, I am holding the rig so that both the curly tails are now not on the floor and the way it would sit if the rig was on the bottom. This should give you a idea on how high or low you want to make your dropper loops and again I know the majority of fishermen preferring that the bottom curly tail dropper loop be made just barely above the sinker.
Also the the top curly tail is not yellow but came out that way due to the flash. But, I also should mention that we have found out through the use of yellow surgical and gold/yellow Sand Eel tubes, that this one color is an excellent to always bring along.
11- Just an example of the curly tail colors such as yellow and orange that have been used over the years while cod fishing on Georges Bank. These are some fished with 8' curly tails on Mustad hooks. These colors worked then, and they certainly work now.
This rig could also be used when fishing for haddock up in the GOM, and one little trick that a few of us use is tipping your hook with the strings of the clams. It is another teaser with the string hanging off along with the curly tail so that you get both the smell of the skimmer along with the movement and vibration of the curly tail.
The is also another reason why I brought this up. Eventually off of Block Island, the fish will slow down preferring the jigs and will gradually go to the baited clam rigs. You can then tip the curly tail in this manner with some bait such as the string of the clam and use this rig for bottom jig and bait fishing.
One question I am asked is if the surgical and Sand Eel tubes work at this time of the year off of Block Island. They do, BUT and emphasize this, is that the surgical and Sand Eel tube is made to imitate sand eels and at this time the predominate baits are mackerel and herring. For some reason and it is due to the bait, the codfish will noticeably take a rubber curly tail first over the surgical or Sand Eel tube. I would though always carry along a color selection of surgical and Sand Eel tubes and that is why I mention how compact it is to carry an assortment of already pre-made rigs.
Latter on, I may post a few more images of different color tails that are custom dyed. As I mentioned in another article, CLEAR are translucent curly tails have been used here and it is shocking how well they work. It leads us to believe that it may not be COLOR as the primary factor for the cod to hit the curly tail, but more so the enticing MOVEMENT of the tail along with the VIBRATION the tail makes due to the current running against it. But that does not mean we dismiss color since we have seen that in dirty water, yellows seem to stand out while hot pink will generally out fish flo red curly tails. For some reason we have seen Flo green work very well when it is just sitting in the current instead of being squidded through the water.
These are all things we have seen when using curly tails and fishing with this rig. This rig is just as effective as one where there is a jig on it. This is just another codfish rig that I am putting out there for you to have in your tackle box. One could easily rig up two rods, one armed with a jig and curly tail teaser, and one using the sliding 2 hook curly teaser rig and see which one works better. Right now it does seem the curly tail sinker rig is fishing as well as one with a jig one it.
Finally I know a few guys will question on the need of passing the line through the swivel instead of threading it through the swivel or eye of the hook. From years of experience, the sliding rig gives the most freedom of movement to the curly tail around the dropper loop. Could it be something that really doesn't matter in using the sliding curly tail rig? Maybe, but when I see some of the best cod fishermen from the Bay using this particular rig, and I know a few of you know who I am specifically talking about, then I would make a few rigs up in this manner. Its easy and relatively inexpensive to make. Best of all, it works as well any other codfish rig out there!