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Inchiku Lures – The Jack-in the tackle box by Rob Fort

Inchiku lures are still relatively new to our New Zealand waters and some of the first examples where introduced just a few years ago. I was one of the fortunate few to put them across some of our fish species. The resulting catches these inchiku lures produced soon had me addicted to fishing with them and as a result this inspired me to share what was discovered through an article on the subject. Since then many anglers have also realised the potential of these unique lures making them a key part of their fishing tackle arsenal. Today we find more than one type available in different styles and variations that include brands like Prowler, Beta Bug and Octo Angler. They all share the same fundamental principal however each brand offers its own selection of colours, quality finish and hook type. Being a fishing fanatic who enjoys quite a lot of softbait fishing I find that using other types of lures in conjunction with them has many advantages to an angler. In recent times we see inchiku lures producing the results over and above softbaits. My own thoughts and opinion suggest that this may be down to the fish becoming more familiar with softbaits that has seen them shy away from them unlike the inchiku that is only just being realised in the last year or so. Whatever the reason that fact is that inchiku lure fishing is a really effective way of catching fish and not just on one species like snapper. For example the inchiku can be fished using many different techniques like trolling for example that are effective on species like kahawai, kingfish and even tuna. In fact the inchiku will catch many different species in shallow or deep water during both day and night times. The results have surprised many an angler on board the same vessel as me at times even producing two fish during a night fishing session all while the rod sat in the holder. Other times they have produced the best fish when first arriving at a new fishing spot and even trophy prize winning fish during competitions. If you have heard about all the fuss surrounding the inchiku then give it a go as it really isn’t too difficult to get into the style with most of your existing equipment well up to the job.

Types of inchiku

As mentioned previously not much has changed with the inchiku apart from colour and hook strengths incorporated into them. Looking at the lure you find a body shape that acts as the weight which is decorated to look like a small fish with the addition of holographic film, lumo paint and eyes that bring the whole thing to life. Connected to the weighted body is a skirt which commonly has two decent very sharp assist type hooks sitting inside the dangly bits of the skirt. The inchiku comes in many colours and sizes from weights starting at just 25 grams right up to 300 grams. This allows you a choice of lure to fish in virtually any situation from shallow to deep, fast current and as mentioned most have lumo paint added making them more visible in dark conditions that has proven to attract the attention of fish. Other features include various styles of holographic film and glitter so you can choose the right colour scheme to suit the chosen fishing area. The smaller inchiku sizes of twenty five and forty gram have been a big favourite of mine and are perfect in shallow water areas. Another thing this size inchiku does really well is catching bait fish like mackerel that can be useful when trying to catch tricky baitfish who are unwilling to bite during daytime hours.

Associated equipment

Virtually any reel and rod can be used when fishing the inchiku however certain types are better suited. The same can be said for the choice of line with braid obviously having its advantages over monofilament because you can stay in touch with the lure much better. Mechanical jig, trolling and live bait type rod/reel combinations are better suited to the deepwater applications especially when targeting the large fish species that often reside there. In shallow water when targeting snapper, gurnard, kahawai and trevally it is possible to use lighter setups like those used for softbait fishing. Reels can be either spinning or baitcaster/overhead type outfits however it is more preferable to use the later setup when dropping straight down below the vessel. Shorter rod lengths can also be a better option especially when fishing with the rod in the holder. There are now a few rods available in our tackle stores that have been produced with this style of fishing in mind and will offer better overall action and shorter lengths from five foot six inches to six foot five inches long. They are light and extremely powerful with just the right amount of tip action to accommodate the movement of the inchiku. Using fluorocarbon leader at the business end can also have benefits because of its ability to be virtually invisible in the water. Other extra equipment items to accommodate this style include the addition of a fully adjustable rod holder and are perfect during times when you want to fish the inchiku with the rod in the holder so you can use another technique. Snap clip swivels can also be useful preventing line twisting and allowing easy quick change over of lure also. Using a drogue or sea anchor is a good idea because drifting over areas is an extremely effective method for inchiku use.

Rigging

The inchiku can be rigged in many different ways and with most of the brands widely available you will find three points of attachment on the weighted body (see photo). Each point is positioned to allow a different resulting action that can be further worked with different techniques. The attachment loop found on the least weighted end (A) is suitable for most applications including slow lifting, trolling, speed jigging and rod in the holder. (B) Is slightly off centre on the top surface and good for slow dropping and lifting offering a sliding type action that can be fished both in the hand or rod holder. (C) Attachment point located at the more weighted end (front) can also be trolled to varying degrees and when slow lifted or jigged will cause the body to fall over itself creating a more erratic technique. Connect the inchiku to at least one meter of fluorocarbon for trace for best results and use lighter strengths of twenty to thirty pound breaking strains. When fish are proving hard to convince or in very clear water conditions it may be advisable to go down to even lighter strains and when targeting larger species use heavier strengths. I like to tie my inchiku directly to the leader material using a loop knot like the rapala or lefty’s loop as this allows the weighted body to move around more freely. The good old reliable uni knot can also be used and if you choose this knot then don’t pull it down to the attachment point. This will leave a loop in the end which can tighten up on itself when a fish hooks up. Once ready to use again you will need to re-slide the knot up the line to form a loop again but can be quite fiddly to do, so the loop knot is better in my opinion. Be sure to check for wear during use in the case of the loop knot and if there appears to be some then re-tie as it could cause this to fail resulting in the loss of a big fish. If targeting large fish pelagic fish species in deep water conditions the addition of a ring grommet set and split ring can also have its advantages. Including heavy duty swivels when trolling to prevent line twisting and both options can further ensure your connection to the leader material has some protection.

Techniques

As mentioned previously there are a number of ways in which you can fish the inchiku so the possibilities are quite unlimited. The most commonly used to great effect include casting ahead of the drift and allowing to reach the sea floor followed by a number of slow lifts that make the inchiku work up and down as you retrieve it. This can also be effective straight down below the vessel allowing the lure to stay close to the bottom however can be varied to include some retrieving partially back up to the surface. If the conditions allow like when a slight chop or swell is running then the lure will be worked all by itself when the rod is placed in to the holder especially when drifting over sand. It is also possible to vary the retrieve speed somewhat working the inchiku until it is at least two thirds of the way up from the bottom or more depending where the fish are sitting in the water column. Sometimes I have noticed fish on the sounder that are playing hard to get. In this situation I find faster retrieves can be more convincing so be prepared to change the way you do things all the time. Dropping heavier inchiku lures down into deep water known to hold kingfish and hapuka can also produce the goods. For grouper species use quite slow lifts working the lure up and down close to the sea floor. For kingfish use a similar technique to mechanical jigging only with the inchiku this can be varied from slower actions to fast retrieves followed by a pause then a slow lift to make the lure flutter and dart around a bit. The inchiku works very well when trolled and this is best done at speeds from four to eight knots making them great for boat and kayak use. With the kayak they can also catch a fish when you come to a stop and they sink down to the bottom. They can also be cast around and fast retrieved so are an option even in shore based situations.

Suitable types of terrain

Inchiku lures can be used with most situations encountered out on the sea so the options are unlimited here. Probably the main thing to watch out for when using them is snags especially in foul areas that can cause problems especially their efficient sharp hooks that are very good at getting attached to whatever comes in to contact with them. In the situation of foul ground it is advisable to keep in touch with the lure at all times so you can work it up off the bottom correctly making the necessary changes in depth as needed. This is even more important when you are drifting along using a sea anchor (drogue) fishing the inchiku in the rod holder while working softbaits at the same time. Sandy areas are the best places to fish like this when using both techniques with the only requirement to ensure the inchiku is correctly positioned far enough away from the sea floor keeping an eye on the sounder for any changes in depth. When fishing foul ground in deeper water ensure that as soon as you reach the bottom you immediately lift the lure away from the rocks so as to avoid a hook up with the bottom. Doing so can also hook a fish that sometimes could be missed because the lure or bait was still lying on the bottom at the time of the strike. Workup situations see the inchiku really come into their own often out fishing every other technique and lure put into the water so having them on hand for these situations can be well worth the effort. You are best to stay in touch with them as they fall through the water column because fish will pick them up and once down there a few lifts will quickly see you into the fish.

Fish species

There is no end to the number of species that these inchiku lures will catch and they certainly never fail to be full of surprises. Probably some of the main fish species they seem to really work well on are snapper with these hungry predatory fish falling for them more often. Gurnard are another species that seem to really like them and because they reside entirely over sandy bottom areas the inchiku is perfect especially if worked right on the substrate. Kahawai take them when either trolled or cast and retrieved at speed in either workup or situations where they are schooling on the surface. Blue cod are another veracious feeder that will go out of their way to chase and eat the inchiku. This is something very underrated by our south island anglers in this country and I was astounded at the effectiveness of these at Chatham Island for example.

My ever growing experience and affection with the inchiku lure during the last few years has meant countless hours of enjoyment. They are so effective that one will usually be siting on a rod/reel ready to be used in my own fishing arsenal. Not only have they added another aspect to my own personal fishing but also given countless hours of fun. There is nothing better than watching other angler's reaction as the inchiku pulls yet another trick out of the box. If you haven't already done so then get your hands on some and give this fun fishing technique a go. This jack in the tackle box is full of surprises.