Most of the folks that passed through the doors at Daley’s Fish N Hunt Saturday headed straight to the Laguna rod rack. Sarge Upchurch arrived earlier than expected with an even more expanded choice of rods than anticipated and he found himself talking shop immediately.

Keith Daley made the decision to handle the elite line-up of rods, first time in-store warranty claims included, and there was lots of oohing and aahing as eager anglers held one in their hands for the first time. It also appeared early on that a 15 percent off sale on a Yeti cooler had drawn the interest of yet another group of morning shoppers.

I can all but guarantee that anyone that left with both a new Yeti and a new Laguna rod in tow did not tell their wife where they had been all morning. They saved some money, but they still left a whole bunch at the Port Acres store!

Having already logged some fishing time with two of Laguna’s rods, I was able to help Sarge field questions regarding performance issues, but I spent most of the day discussing lures and techniques. I very rarely make a trip over there that I don’t learn something new and Saturday was no exception.

A large portion of the information is interesting, but of limited use since I spend very little time fishing south of the Causeway. Just as you would expect, most of the mid-county and Port Acres fishermen take advantage of their close proximity to the ship channel and jetties and they know the area well.

Once again, however, it was a short list of things that I take for granted that occupied most of our conversations. We cut up fifty yards of line one foot at a time just tying knots and questioning both their usefulness and strength. Why use a loop knot when fishing a jig? What is the best knot for joining a monofilament leader to braid? Why even use a leader with braid?

The longest and most interesting discussion, however, centered on jig heads and plastic tails. It all started with an angler that balked when his partner advised him to buy a particular plastic tail that cost nearly twice as much as any other comparable tail. By the time the discussion had ended, however, he had already bought six packs in three different colors and left!

Keith Daley insisted they open a pack and thread one on a jig head. That was all it took to seal the deal. While the cost of each tail was nearly a dollar apiece as opposed to fifty to sixty cents apiece for most quality tails, the tail in question had proven time and again that it would easily catch ten times more fish than any of the others before self-destructing.

Because I have several great sponsors I do not have to be as concerned with the durability factor. My first obligation, however, is to my clients and I am always going to opt for any tail that affords them the best chance to catch fish. There are plastics that range from very soft to something more akin to vulcanized rubber and everything in between. I believe that the “somewhere in between” tail is a good choice as long as you have confidence in the color and its catchability.

As far as jig heads are concerned, I will always fish with the lightest head that I can get away with. The longer the lure hovers above or in front of the fish as it sinks to the bottom, the better your chances of inducing a strike. I carry 1/16th, 1/8th, 1/4, and 3/8th oz. heads. As a rule, strength of tide is the determining factor as to which head I use.

Perhaps an even more important consideration, one that can extend the life of even the softer plastics, is the shape of the keeper on the shank of the hook. Screw lock heads dominated the scene for quite a while, but that is not the case anymore. I still use them from time to time, but the heads with tapered lead ridges, for lack of a better description, secure most plastics much better.

Assassin includes this type head in their line-up, Yellow Mouth makes only that style jig and the TTF Shiney Hiney jig head has a ringed shank as well. While the size of the hook is generally matched to the weight of the jig, you will get the ultimate performance out of your plastics by opting for a jig with a hook that best matches the length of your plastic tail.
While sproat size, 2/0, 3/0 and so forth, is important, the length of the shank of the hook is equally critical. If it is too long it can reduce the action of a four-inch tail to that of a plastic stick. Regardless of the length of the tail, I will always err in favor of the shorter shanked hook.

Over the course of the day I even learned at least three new reasons why mullet jump all the time and one of the explanations even had some merit. “If the rest of your buddies are being eaten by a school of redfish…jumping out of the water is possibly your last option!
At the end of the day, I managed to resist the savings on the Yeti cooler, but another Laguna Wader II found its way into the back seat of my truck.