Most squid used as bait by UK anglers is imported into the country to be sold as food. For this reason it is cleaned and processed, either on the ships which catch it or on shore based processing plants. This means that when it is caught it is cleaned with jets of water to remove any dirt or seaweed, as well as the natural slime which covers the body of the squid in order to and get the squid into a condition which is attractive to consumers. Despite the fact that squid which has been prepared in this way still catches fish some anglers believe that the washing and cleaning process removes scent and juices which attract fish. For this reason unwashed, unprocessed squid is now available to anglers. The names ‘dirty’ or ‘unwashed’ are therefore meant literally, and dirty squid is also known as ‘lologo squid’ as it is usually (but by no means always) the species Loligo vulgaris which is sold unprocessed as dirty squid. However, any squid species sold untreated and uncleaned would qualify as dirty squid.
From an angling perspective dirty squid is often seen as the superior bait. While clean squid may be a good bait the way it is washed and cleaned means that it loses some of the juices and scent which attract fish (clearly it still retains some). However, dirty squid – since it is completely unprocessed – means it retains the absolute maximum amount of juices and scent possible. The lack of cleaning and processing means that dirty squid is often slimy to the touch compared to clean squid, and many anglers report that the dirty squid has firmer flesh than processed squid, meaning that it stands up even better to casting and impact with the water. Furthermore, the untreated look and feel of dirty squid means that this bait is closer to the squid that fish would come across in their natural environment and is therefore another reason why anglers often prefer to use this type of squid.
Clean or Dirty?
Many anglers report that catches are better when using unwashed/dirty loligo squid and therefore much prefer to use dirty squid over clean. However, if dirty squid is not available for whatever reason then do not write off clean squid. Many anglers still use this bait on a regular basis and clean squid still produces fish up and down the UK on a regular basis. Dirty squid may be the best squid bait, but clean is still very, very good, and is should be noted that there is no definitive proof that dirty squid outfishes clean.
Dirty Squid Bait Presentation
Dirty squid can be presented on the hook in the same way that clean squid is. However, the skin should always be left on (since dirty squid is all about the natural appearance and scent of this bait it makes no sense to remove the skin), and if the squid is being presented whole (i.e. for large cod or conger) then as much of the internal guts should be retained as these are also a source of scent and juice. If the squid is being cut into strips to make a smaller bait or to tip off worm, mackerel or cod baits then again the skin should also be left on.