Jelly and Soft Lures

Fishing with jelly and soft lures has become massively 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 are 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.

The main types of jelly/soft lure on the UK market are reviewed below. Jelly lures can range in size from a few centimetres in length (for LRF soft lures) to over 20cm in length (although jelly lures of this size are generally 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. Some jelly lures come pre-holed to facilitate fitting hooks to the lures.

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 the colour of lure which the fish will go for. However, there are some general trends which have emerged. Red has always been an effective colour, especially for pollock, with other bright colours such as orange and yellow also proving effective – especially in murky or clouded water conditions.

Coalfish Caught on Red Jelly worm

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

In clear water lighter coloured natural silver/blue lures which imitate the colour of sandeels or sprats can be effective, while black can also work well 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.

Action of Jelly Lures

The soft, flexible plastic material which 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 jelly and soft lures. Jelly eels usually have a realistic action which 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 a small fish swimming and generates movement and vibration which attracts fish.

Jelly eelEel Style Jelly Lures: One of the most popular types of jelly lure is the 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. Eel style soft lures come in almost any colour imaginable. Often red is seen as the best colour for pollock (the Redgill lure is a famous example), but anglers often experiment with other colours until they find one which catches. Sea Angling Shop sells 8cm Jelly Eels which are ideal for targeting smaller species, as well as 12cm Jelly Eels which can be used to catch larger pollock, coalfish and bass. Alternatively Hengjia Weighted Jelly Eels can be used. These have painted metal heads and a jelly 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 £1.89 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 sell 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 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. Sea Angling Shop sells Hengjia Weighted Shads which are 12cm in length and 30 grams in weight and are ideal for fishing for pollock, coalfish and bass from the boat or shore. Click here to view and purchase.

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 which 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.

Storing Jelly Lures

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

Jig heads (inset) and jelly lures with jig heads fitted (main picture).

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. For angler looking to reach further distances 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 in a number of ways. Tube weights or barrel shaped weights can be used to add weight to jelly lures. See this link for more information on Adding Weight to Jelly Lures, which includes pictures of how jelly lures rigs with weights can be set up.

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 two bends 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 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 other obstructions where fish may be present without the hook becoming snagged. However, 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 amount of lures which would be 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 Lure Fishing

Dawn Fishing

Many anglers fishing with jelly lures use bass or spinning rods, due to the lightness and ease of use this type of rod offers.

Jelly lures can be used with any type of rod and reel. The smallest LRF setups can use tiny jelly lures and jig heads weighing just a gram or two, while on the other end of the scale there is nothing stopping anglers setting up a rig with a six ounce weight and using a full size beachcaster to fish a jelly lure. However, the best balance for general, all round fishing jelly lures is to use 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, paired with an appropriate sized fixed spool reel. This 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. Many anglers stick to fixed spool reels due to the simplicity and ease of use this type of reel offers, and it can often be easier to use line of around 15lb breaking strain all of the way through rather than use lighter line and a shock leader.

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 the find a method which 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 slow and low, 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. Remember that fish which are deep down may swim upwards and hit a lure which is above them if they see if silhouetted against the surface.

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