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The sand eel deal for jigs both in the surf and from the deck include these proven options for heavy metal inshore mayhem.
By Allen D. Riley
Tags: inshore

The unpretentious diamond jig remains one of the most popular and effective lures ever used in saltwater. You simply cannot find a more versatile lure with more universal appeal. It triggers strikes from just about any species, in any locale. Another practical feature of diamond jigs is that they are very inexpensive to purchase and replace. Anglers who fish in saltwater should not consider their lure collection complete unless it includes several “diamonds.”

Diamond jigs have been around for more than 100 years. Veteran anglers probably hand-crafted the first versions of the lure to replicate the long, slender profiles of common baitfish found in their local waters. Those lure pioneers discovered that their new lure’s shape and weight enabled it to be cast long distances, and that it was an excellent lure for vertical jigging. When other anglers heard about this new concept lure, fishing manufacturers soon began commercially crafting diamond jigs to meet the demand for them.

Bridgeport Lures of Connecticut was the first company to mass-produce diamond jigs. Their versions had four sides and were nearly square in shape when viewed from top-to-bottom. They were equipped with a treble hook attached right to the jig. The Ava Lure Company later improved on this early design by flattening the profile, giving the lure more of a diamond shape. Instead of a treble hook attached to the jig, the Ava diamond jigs featured a swivel and a single hook which resulted in better hook-ups and allowed for easier hook removals.

Most of Ava’s diamond jigs were tagged with an “A” label to identify the weight of the lure. Originally available in two, four, and six-ounce sizes, the jigs were labeled A27, A47, and A67. To this day, many diamond jigs are still identified with the “A” classification even though Ava is no longer in business. The name recognition has stuck like barbed steel in our angler lore.

Anglers who fish in saltwater should not consider their lure collection complete unless it includes several "diamonds."
Since Ava established the industry standard for diamond jigs, other manufacturers have marketed their own variations of the popular lure. Anglers today can choose from the classic Ava diamond jig design or those with grooved or hammered surfaces for maximum light reflection. Also available are luminescent or black finishes for nighttime jigging, round sides for a slightly different profile, and bent shapes for enhanced wobble on the retrieve. Additional options include single, treble, and tube-tail hooks in a rainbow of colors. I personally like to add red, 3D eyes to my diamond jigs for a more lifelike look.

Boat anglers routinely catch bluefish and striped bass on diamond jigs but you really never know what is going to smack a diamond when you drop it overboard. Weakfish, school tuna, cod, pollock, and even blackfish and fluke have all fallen for their allure.

Although originally used by boat anglers, diamond jigs have become increasingly popular with surfcasters in recent years. “Diamonds” are great surf lures because they can be cast great distances even into the face of fierce winds and rough seas; their long, slender profiles closely resemble those of small baitfish found along our coastline. Unlike some other metal lures that ride high in the water when retrieved through the surf, diamond jigs are deep swimmers. This is especially helpful to surfcasters when fishing rough surf since the lure can be worked through the lower range of the water column where fish are lurking.

Diamond jigs cast from a beach are worked quite differently than those from a boat. Boat anglers repeatedly drop-and-retrieve diamond jigs vertically to the bottom; shore-bound anglers retrieve their diamonds on what can be described as an almost horizontal plane. The angle of the rod as well as the speed of the retrieve determines if the lure comes in higher or lower through the water column.

Though most surfcasters use diamonds to catch bluefish, they will also catch their share of striped bass and have found new celebrity status because of their appeal to false albacore and even spanish mackerel. Use fluorocarbon shock leaders to present them to bluefish and bass; tie them directly to your line when targeting line-shy southern speedsters.

Those anglers of long ago who hand-crafted the first diamond jigs would be amazed to see how the lure has evolved into the many variations available to anglers today. However, they would still be able to recognize the concept upon which their primitive models were fashioned. The beauty of diamond jigs has always been and always will be in their performance, not their looks.