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 at land-based processing plants. The cleaning process uses jets of water to remove any dirt or seaweed from the squid, 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. This has led to dirty (unwashed and unprocessed) squid becoming 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 but 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 processed inevitably means that it loses some of the juices and scent which attract fish although it clearly it still retains some. However, dirty squid – since it is completely unprocessed – retains the 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 as bait.
Clean or Dirty?
Many anglers report that catches are better when using unwashed/dirty loligo squid and given the choice between the two most anglers would choose to use dirty squid as a fishing bait. This does not mean that clean squid should be avoided and there is no clear or verifiable evidence that dirty squid is a more effective bait. The evidence that dirty squid outfishes clean is purely anecdotal and comes from anglers themselves.
Dirty Squid Bait Presentation
Dirty squid can be presented on the hook in the same way that clean squid is, but 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). If the squid is being presented whole i.e. for large cod or conger then 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.