Jelly and Soft Lures

Fishing with jelly and soft lures has become popular all around Britain and Ireland over the last few years. This is because jelly lures are extremely lifelike and can be a very effective way of fishing for predatory species such as bass, wrasse, coalfish and mackerel, although it is pollock which are often the main target of anglers using jelly and soft plastic lures. There is a large range of jelly lures on the market, meaning that is can often be a confusing choice when it comes to choosing a jelly or soft lure to fish with.

Types of Jelly and Soft Lures

Jelly Lure Selection

A selection of large and small jelly worms, shads and jig heads, all of which are effective lures in UK sea fishing. Photo credit link here.

Jelly lures can range in size from a few centimetres in length for LRF soft lures to over 20cm in length for jelly lures designed for boat fishing. However, the vast majority of jelly lures for UK sea angling are around 7cm/3ins in length to 15cm/6ins. Some lures can come ready fitted with hooks, whereas others come without hooks and anglers have to fit their own.

Colour of Jelly Lures:

It only takes a quick look in an angling magazine or fishing website to see the wide range of colours which all jelly lures come in. While there is a lot of talk about the most effective colours there are no hard and fast rules about which colour will work, with factors such as sea conditions, water colour, tidal flow and the feeding habits of the fish all likely to play a part in which colour is the most effective. Despite this, there are some general trends which have emerged. Bright colours such as yellow, orange and especially red have always been favourites with anglers and have long proved effective for species such as pollock, especially in murky or clouded water conditions or when fishing in deep water.

Coalfish Caught on Red Jelly worm

A coalfish caught on a red 6-inch jelly worm.

In clear water more natural colours such as silver, white and light blue are favoured as there are seen as imitating the natural preyfish such as sprats and lesser sandeels. Black can also work well in clear water as this colour can be silhouetted against the surface as predatory fish come up to attack from beneath. Many jelly lures now come in a combination of two or more colours in order to maximise the chances of fish being attracted to the lure.

The action of Jelly Lures

The soft, flexible plastic material that jelly lures are made from allows them to move in a natural and attractive way when they are pulled through the water. Indeed, this is one of the main benefits of this type of lure. Jelly eels usually have a realistic action that is meant to mimic the real movement of preyfish, while the worm type lures often have a tail which rapidly moves from side to side to imitate the swimming action of a small fish and generate movement and vibration which attracts predatory fish.

Jelly eelEel Style Jelly Lures: One of the most popular types of jelly lure are eel style lures. These are designed to resemble small sandeel type creatures and are highly rated for pollock fishing, although they will catch all other predatory species as well. The Eddystone Eel Company is one of the most famous names in this area, with their lures accounting for ten world record fish since they appeared on the market in 1973 – view Eddystone Eels 2010 design at Sea Angling Shop by clicking here. Eel style soft lures come in almost any colour imaginable. Often red is seen as the best colour for pollock, but anglers often experiment with other colours until they find one which works for them. Sea Angling Shop sells 8cm Jelly Eels which are ideal for targeting pollock, coalfish and bass. Alternatively, Hengjia Weighted Jelly Eels can be used. These have painted metal heads and a soft plastic body which provides a realistic swimming action. They weigh 21 grams (¾ oz) making them heavy enough to cast without adding additional weight. These lures cost £2.29 are available in five different colours. View and purchase this product by clicking here.

Jelly wormJelly Worm Lures: Jelly worms are another popular design. These look just like a worm but have a curled tail (for this reason they are sometimes referred to as curl tail worms). This tail provides an extremely realistic side-to-side action when dragged through the water which attracts all manner of fish. Some jelly worms (also known as grubs) are short and thicker bodied, and are generally around 3 – 4 inches long, whereas other jelly eels are longer at around six inches and much thinner. Jelly eels can be any colour, with many having a different coloured tail section. Jelly worms are often fitted with a jig head to provide weight for casting (see below). Sea Angling Shop sells WSB 4-inch Curl Tail Worms which are ideal for UK sea fishing.

Shads: These are a type of jelly lure which is designed to resemble a small fish. While shads are associated with boat fishing they now come in a wide range of sizes and many anglers are finding they are an effective lure to use from the shore. Larger shads (pictured right) are effective when fishing for species such as bass and pollock. They can often be internally weighted, meaning that they can be cast with no additional weight needing to be added to the lure, and also have hooks pre-fitted. WSB Small Shads are 50mm (2 inches) long and can be used for fishing from the shore – view and purchase from Sea Angling Shop by clicking here. Large Zenith Shads which can be used for boat fishing can also be viewed here.

Other Types of Soft Lures: There are a wide range of other jelly lures available on the market. Light Rock Fishing (LRF) makes use of a range of very small jelly lures, which can be only a few centimetres long – read our full article on LRF for more information. Muppets are another type of jelly lure that resembles a squid or octopus, although they are mostly used for boat fishing. There are now a range of jelly lures appearing on the market which are designed to resemble a range of marine creatures such as shrimps/prawns, lobsters and crabs with most of these being used in Light Rock Fishing.

Storing Jelly Lures

In rare cases it has been known for jelly lures of different brands to react and stick together when if they are stored in the same container. In extreme cases jelly lures can react to such an extent that they effectively melt together, ruining the lures. For this reason it is best to store different brands and types of jelly lures separately to ensure that this does not happen.

Adding Weight to Jelly and Soft Lures

Jelly Lures and Jig Heads

Jelly lures with jig heads fitted. The inset picture shows the jig heads before they were fitted to the lures.

One of the main issues of using jelly lures is that they are too light to cast any great distance, meaning that additional weigh needs to be added. In most cases it is necessary to add weights of several ounces to jelly lures to provide the weight for casting with spinning or bass rods. This can be done by adding aerodynamic cylinder-shaped weights to jelly lures. See this link for much more information on this topic.

Hooks for Jelly Lures – Weedless Rigs

Many anglers simply use normal J-shaped hooks with jelly lures and fish successfully with this type of hook. However, specific jelly lure hooks exist (which have a distinctive shank with an additional bend in it as the picture to the right shows). Many anglers use these hook as they allow jelly worms to be rigged in a specific way which allows lures to be pulled through weeds and other underwater obstructions without becoming snagged. This method, which is often known as the Texas, snagless or weedless rig, involves pushing the hook into the lure and then out again and then pushing the point of the hook back into (but not out of) the lure, as the picture below shows.

Texas Rig

Top: A jelly worm hooked up with the Taxas Rig. Bottom:A cutaway of the same lure with the hookpoint inside the jelly worm.

With no point exposed the jelly lure can now be pulled through heavy weed and kelp where fish may be present without the hook becoming snagged but due to the soft nature of the lure the point will still set into the mouth of the fish when it takes the lure. This type of set up has become very popular in recent years, especially with anglers fishing for pollock and bass in rocky areas which have heavy weed cover. When jelly worms and other forms of soft artificial lures are rigged up in this way they make it possible for anglers to fish heavily weeded areas which were previously unfishable due to the number of snags present and the number of lures that would have been lost. Click here to view and by Cronus Jelly Lure Hooks in a range of sizes from Sea Angling Shop.

Rods and Reels for Jelly and Soft Lure Fishing

Dawn Fishing

Bass or spinning rods are the most popular to use with jelly and soft lures.

Generally, jelly and soft lure fishing is carried out  with a large spinning rod (i.e. one that is around ten feet long and rated to cast 1 – 3oz) or a 11ft bass rod rated to cast 2 – 4oz. When paired with an appropriate sized fixed spool reel this setup will give anglers the casting power needed to reach good distances and also be able to handle any larger fish which are hooked, but is also light enough to cast with all day. Most anglers use monofilament line of around 15lb breaking strain all of the way through rather than use lighter line and a shock leader, although braided line is becoming more popular for this type of fishing.

Marks, Techniques and Methods

Deep Water Rock Mark

Deep water rock marks are ideal for fishing with soft/jelly lures.

Like most forms of lure fishing, using jelly and soft lures works best when there is some depth of water to cast into. For this reason piers, jetties and breakwaters are popular marks for anglers using these type of lures, although they can be at their most productive when used from deep water rock marks which provide the natural habitat of species such as pollock. There are no hard and fast rules about what works when fishing with jelly and soft lures. Some anglers cast out and then reel in with a single, slow retrieve, while a sink-and-draw method can also prove effective. Other techniques which can get the attention of fish involved reeling the lure in quickly and then allowing it to sink back down again, and jerking the rod tip backwards in different directions to make the lure move around in an erratic manner. This can often work as it makes the lure mimic an injured fish which will cause predatory fish to sense that they have come across an easy target. Using jelly lures is of course an ongoing experiment for most anglers, with anglers trying different techniques of working the lures until they find a method that works for them.

It is always worth varying the depth at which the lure is fished. If the fish are deep down then the lure should be left to sink to the seabed and then reeled in slowly, giving the fish a chance to strike at it. On the other hand, beginning to reel in quickly shortly after the lure has hit the surface will see it pulled through the upper levels of the water column and attract the attention of any fish which are present there.

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