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Plug Research and Discovery

The Jackall Dagored




I have to admit, one of my favorite parts of fishing is going through a checklist of things-to-do in preparation for my next surfcasting adventure.  Swimmers? CHECK.  Bucktails? CHECK.  And how about the colors? Should I go blurple, school bus, or red head? As you can tell I’m passionate about my pre-fishing routine---I get pumped while inspecting and analyzing plugs, to determine which to take on my next striper hunt.   Filling the tubes of my commando bag can be a very slow, and systematic process, but as painstaking as it may seem to others, I truly savor in the moment.   The end result is a plug bag resembling a bulging Halloween candy sack stuffed with a variation of striped bass treats.


The strategy behind plug selection can be a science unto itself--- if you let it. I take into account the many factors that one must consider when tackling the surf.   Water temps, clarity, wind direction, bait and tide are just a few factors processed in the equation.   My wife accuses me of day dreaming, but I call it concentration…when she catches me staring blankly into my bag. 


Commercial and custom builders spoil us with a broad range of plug options.  A vast array exists for targeting just about every species of gamefish on the planet.   However, in spite of the multitude, I find that most anglers are stuck in their old ways and rarely deviate from plugs already proven by others.  They carry the same plugs for years like they own real estate in their bags.  I know one guy that always carries this mangled wooden swimmer, but swears he hasn’t thrown it in over 3 years.  Go figure? Some anglers tend to gravitate to the big name, while others get sucked into the latest hype.  The latter is evidenced by the recent craze over the Daiwa SP Minnow.  Speaking of which, I heard they were flying off the shelf at such a pace, that local bait shops couldn’t keep up with demand.  The sp minnow is a very good lure, but I do just as well, if not better, with a loaded 7” Red Fin (shhh...).


Don’t get me wrong, using tried and true plugs makes perfect sense and it’s definitely more cost effective, but for me personally, I tend to get bored using the same plugs over-and-over.  For me, it’s like watching the same movie twice.  I’m just not as interested the second or third time around. The one thing I get a kick out most (aside from actually catching fish), is landing fish on plugs not intended for the stripers. Why? Well for one thing,   I’m a plug junky, addict, hoarder… you name it! I have enough plugs to supply a small army of surfcasters and then some.  Along with this, I’m always looking for an edge to keep up with the ever changing conditions and habitats that keep us constantly on our toes. You know those times when everyone is skunked except that one lucky guy.  Well, I’ve seen that lucky guy one too many times and so now my goal is always try to be that guy whenever I hit the water. To accomplish this, much of my downtime is spent scouring the Internet  for plugs possessing that certain quality that could yield my next cow from the suds.  I research lure categories for all sorts of gamefish and from different countries such as Japan, China and Australia.   Initially, I was quite surprised at the quality of plugs manufactured elsewhere.   But after digging some more, I find that they are just as crazy about plugs overseas as we are in the United States.     You won’t find the traditional wooden plugs that we cherish so dearly, but what you will see are sophisticated, high-end computer designed and engineered lures with laser-like color patterns never seen on a metal lip.  Have you heard of Smith, Payo, Bassday or Jackall? Unless you’re a seasoned largemouth bass angler, the answer is likely to be no.  


Unlike many other striper plug fanatics, whose collections are comprised of legends such as Beachmaster, Habs, Bernzy, Fixter etc. , my stash also includes these, as well as plugs not intended for surfcasting.  Musky, Largemouth, and Peacock Bass lures are just a few of these examples. While recently researching I stumbled upon an interesting plug, the Jackall Dagored, that appeared to have all the necessary characteristics of a striper magnet.  The action and profile alone were big pluses, but I had had yet to actually prove my theory on the water.  However, this was soon about to change.


Before I continue I must clarify that by no means is this write up for an advertisement or promotion.  But rather, it’s just me, a simple surfcaster, sharing my experiences with a plug that was I used with great success during a recent trip to Montauk.  My intent and hope is that you too can benefit from these findings.


This Fall I was blessed with the rare opportunity to fish Montauk for the very first time.  Being from California, this was a dream come true.  To say I was excited would be a blatant understatement.  I was absolutely ecstatic! Plus I knew it would be the ultimate testing ground for new plugs like the Jackall Dagored.  The California fishery is nowhere near that of the east coast, at least not these days, so just the thought of fishing the fabled Montauk, where daytime blitzes were the norm, was enough to give me goose bumps in places better left unmentioned.    I’ve read several books often referencing the mystical area so I knew I was about to visit a special place for surfcasters.


My trip to Montauk entailed a great deal of preparation, but worthwhile to say the least. Overall the trip was fun- filled with many pleasant surprises.  For one thing, I had the privilege of meeting Zeno Hromin, author of The Art of Surfcasting with Lures and The Hunt for Big Stripers.   We literally ran into him on our way up from Kings. Talk about star struck!   To start things off on the first day I stumbled upon a mini blitz on the south side.  After making the quick trek down from Camp Hero to Rat Hole I could see striper fins piercing in and out of the water within 20 feet.   It was like they were playing hide and seek with me while slaughtering the small bait teeming amongst the rocks and kelp.  Seconds later, I see my cousin hooking up on a white bucktail and then a friend nailing another on a red head floating little neck popper.   I stood, relishing in the moment, immersed in my first Montauk striper blitz!  At one point I wanted to slap myself to ensure I wasn’t dreaming.


My plug of choice was of course unlike anyone else’s.    After witnessing my cousin land fish hand over fist, I really had to resist pulling out the white bucktail.   Instead, and to the surprise of my companions and perhaps other anglers nearby, I pull out the Jackall Dagored.  Say what!? As mentioned earlier, the Jackall Dagored is the lure that I recently discovered online.  It’s a topwater to subsurface jointed wake bait from Japan originally designed for largemouth bass.    In addition to being jointed, it also sports a tail prop that brings a whole new meaning to v-wake.  When referring to v-wake the famed Red Fin often comes to mind.  The Jackall Dagored eclipses this by taking the v-wake action to whole different level by incorporating an aggressive square lip, a lively jointed body and a special tail prop mechanism.   When viewing this thing on video I just knew it had tremendous striped bass appeal.  The square lip alone causes this thing to wake vigorously across the surface.   With the addition of a jointed body and special tail prop, the disturbance created by this thing basically implies--- “Eat Me Now”, in bright green neon letters.


Choosing this plug from my bag was not at all a whim.  It was a calculated decision based on information shared by the locals.  They mentioned fish were currently on small bait---be it spearing, mullet or some form of white bait, and blue being the hot color.  The Dagored is 4.6 inches long and weighs 7/8 oz.  It was the perfect size to emulate the small baitfish in the area. A slow crank keeps it swaying on top with an exaggerated v-wake.  Crank a little faster and a subsurface presentation of 6 inches to 1 foot is achieved.   This plug is ideal for slow crawling over boulder fields or for working adjacent to rocky outcroppings and jetties in calm to moderate conditions.  I played with several different retrieves but the most productive was slow steady retrieve with an occasional twitch then stop.   Oftentimes they would slam it after the twitch!


So what is it that makes this plug so special you ask?  After all, prop baits of this sort have existed for years!   Take for instance the Bagley Bang O or Heddon Torpedo.  While the Dagored may seem like just another prop bait knock off from Japan, closer inspection would definitely indicate otherwise.  The Dagored is unique artificial lure in that it possesses a special tap screw above the prop used to emanate a high pitch clacking sound upon contact with the prop blades.  Think of it as the dinner bell for plugs!  This feature alone sets it apart from any other prop bait on the market.   There were times when guys around me were throwing SP Minnows, Bombers and other similar swimmers, but due to the action, profile and sound, my blue Jackall Dagored out fished them all.


The Dagored comes in several fish attracting color patterns such as chartreuse shad, golden shiner and aurora black.  The color I used in Montauk was aurora black, which is basically metallic blue over silver---a color, from what I gathered from the locals is very effective for emulating mullet.  The only tweaks I did to the plug were to replace the stock trebles with 4x VMC’s and the split rings with size 5 Owners. 


It’s quite evident that bait shops, whether online and storefront, categorize plugs for surfcasting in a secluded area--- giving the impression that those are the only viable options worth considering. This couldn’t be further from the truth!  While plugs alone cannot guarantee success, having options that come with experimentation can give you the edge when conditions are especially challenging.   At times it could be just that one subtle unique trait about a plugs profile or action making the difference between catching or not.   With regards to the Dagored, the tap screw above the prop is what set this lure apart. I’ve discovered, from continued experimentation, that plugs, even if categorized for a specific fish, can be used for targeting a broad range of gamefish.  They key is to choose plugs that accurately simulate the present forage in both action, profile and in some cases color.   I find that plugs for both Largemouth and Musky to be very effective for stripers.  You might also look into lures for Peacock Bass, Roosterfish, Giant Trevally and Suzuki (Japanese Sea Bass).


 After some research you too may find that your options are a lot more plentiful than realized.  Discovering the Jackall Dagored was a direct result of this, and it turned out to be the most productive lure during my trip to Montauk.  This plug has since earned a solid place in my bag---at least for now. So the next time you visit a bait shop, checkout the sections for other game fish.   You will be amazed of how effective these lures can be for targeting stripers in the Montauk surf and beyond.



This striper ambushed the Dagored...


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