Modifying the Gotcha Jerk Jig to Avoid Fouling
The Sea Striker Gotcha jerk jig is a great piece of fishing tackle and is the standard Bluefish/Mackerel catching lure on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It has other applications, some yet to be discovered; my son uses them to catch Striped Bass (Rockfish) in the Maryland waters of the Chesapeake Bay. The lure does have an irritating property that can make you scream. The rear hook can jam in an upright position during a cast, and then the hook will snag the leader making the cast and retrieve a wasted effort. On particularly jam-prone lures the hook fouling can occur on 1 out of 4 casts. This is a real frustrating problem.
One Solution: Choose a Big Eyed Gotcha
Howard is the best Bluefish catcher on the Outer banks; the fish do tremble when they hear his footsteps on the planks of the Avalon Pier. His solution to the fouling problem is to select lures with the largest diameter eye in the rear hook wire. The large eye hole allows the hook to swing freely reducing the chance of fouling. The variability of eye hole size is the reason some lures are less prone to fouling then others.
Another Solution, Make Your Own: A Harrisonburg Jerk Jig
John is a true artisan and artist. His solution to the problem is to make his own jerk jigs. The Harrisonburg (my name) lure is a work of art; I have several and feel guilty when I use them. They should be mounted in a shadow box and hung on the wall, they are that pretty, and of that level of quality, more like jewelry than fishing gear. It should be noted that they are EXCELLENT fish catchers. Unfortunately, the skills and talent that are John’s are not in most us; so making lures from scratch is not a practical solution for the ungifted.
My Solution, Modify a Store Bought Lure
John’s Harrisonburg lure did provide inspiration to modify the store bought jig. The modifications which eliminate the hook swing thus eliminating the leader fouling are fairly simple. The concept is to rewire the Gotcha to shorten the rear hook attachment and retract the rear hook into the lure. The hook is prevented from swinging and fouling. The modified lures catch fish and eliminate the fouling frustration.
The Tools Required
The pictured tools are the ones I use to modify the Gotcha, certainly you may want to use other tools which accomplish the same task. Cutting the wire can be a challenge since it is very hard metal. The rotary tool with a cutting disk makes short work of the cutting job. Pliers of some sort are needed to hold the wire while twisting the loop and threading the wire through the body. The saw is needed to cut the end of the body and the knife is used to enlarge the body hole. Eye protection is recommended, bits of wire can go flying off while cutting and loose ends of wire are also a danger.
Heavy Wire is Necessary
The wire should be stainless steel and of heavy gauge. I have used 131 pound wire successfully but plan to use even heavier wire. Leader wire is available from tackle shops, mine came from the salt water fishing department of Bass Pro Shops.
Disassembled Sea Striker Gotcha
Begin disassembly of the lure by cutting the wire holding the center hook. Pull on the top loop after straightening the wire to remove it from body. Pull on the rear hook to remove it. Cut the rear hook loop to free the rear hook. Use caution while working around the hooks, they can stick you.
Cut Off about 1/4 Inch
The rear hook will not fit into the body without some modification. Cut about ¼ inch from the rear of the body then ream it slightly using a hobby knife. Test fit the hook and continue reaming until it fits.
Secure the Back Hook
Cut a foot or so of wire, loop it through the large treble hook. Twist the tag (short) end of the wire several times around the longer wire end. Cut the tag flush with the longer wire. Center the hook/loop on the longer wire.
Thread the Wire Through the Gotcha Body
The picture best describes the procedure.
1. Bend about ¼ inch of the longer wire into a slight angle (15 degrees or so), thread the wire into the back hole of the gotcha, and maneuver the angled wire through and out of the rearmost small hole in the Gotcha body.
2. Pull the wire until the rear hook loop and a short length of the hook shank is totally in the Gotcha body.
3. Slide the small hook unto the wire then thread the wire through the front small hole in the Gotcha. The wire will go through the metal head and out the top hole. Check to be sure the rear hook is still inserted in the body, pull the on the wire with the front hook if necessary.
4. Make a large loop and insert the wire back into the small hole in the top of the lure, pull the wire through the bottom small hole until ¾ inch loop remains on top of the lure. Use care while threading the wire, the hooks can get you.
Form the Leader Attachment Loop
Bend the wire forward that is protruding through the bottom of the lure. Put the nail through the loop on the top of the lure. Twist the nail while holding the wire on the bottom. Put several twist in the loop, it will retract into the lure. Center the loop on the lure and cut the tag wire on the bottom of the lure. USE CAUTION, IT IS AT THIS POINT THE HOOKS WILL GET YOU. You are done.
The Finished Product
You are done. Admire your work, take the lure fishing.
Variations on a Theme
The picture shows a couple of variations. The green lure has the lip angled upward by inverting the lead head. This causes the lure to run shallower in the water at slower retrieve speeds. I call it the surface Gotcha.
The chrome lure has the lower hook removed and a single hook rather than a treble hook. This variation is useful when there are a lot of fish in the water. It is not as effective at catching fish as a standard Gotcha but the fish are much easier to get off the hook with less damage to the fish.