Almost any style of rod and reel will work. Think “light and long” because it’s best to have something that is sensitive and telegraphs slight changes.
Successful squidders use anything from 6- to 20-pound line but the best chances of success come with the lighter line.
The “hook” part of a squid lure is different. Squid lures vary in length and thickness, and color and pattern, but they all have a distinctive upward slanting “ray” or two sharp prongs.
Since the idea is to attract the attention of the squid that are watching that lighted area in the water, almost all lures are either luminous or have something embedded in them to reflect light.
Most squid jigs are made out of tinted, semitransparent plastic. Common colors are blue, pink, green, red, orange, amber, and clear. Commercial jigs commonly range in size between two and four inches although some are twice as long and pencil thin.
If using an unweighted lure, anglers should buy some one-ounce lead weights to maneuver the lure down to the desired depth.
Squid generally start feeding just after dark and then often taper off until midnight or later.
A variety of fishing methods can be used to fish for squid. These techniques include use of dip nets and forage fish jigs. However, use of squid jigs is by far the most popular productive method.
Odds of catching a squid are more favorable during high tide on a cloudy or rainy night. These conditions give the nearshore water the depth that squid prefer plus a setting in which the artificial light will be most noticeable.
In many areas, a single lure works best. For example, at Edmonds pier, most of the successful anglers use a single lure. The tall pole lights at the Edmonds pier shine farther out into the water meaning that you need to cast your lure farther out.
In other places, multiple lures (up to four) are better. By putting lures of different sizes and colors on the line anglers can test which type is attractive to the squid at that site, that night, at that time.
Anglers should also experiment with the arrangement of the set of lures. Sometimes putting the same lures in different order on the line makes a difference.
A favorite method of setting up with three lures is to space four-inch dropper lines 16 inches apart on the main line. Then add a one-ounce weight to the end of the main line.
Single lure: If using a single lure, cast it out some distance from the dock (or boat or bulkhead) and allow it to sink to a depth where the squid may be lurking. Retrieve it with a series of steady jerks or “jigs.”
Multiple lures: If using multiple lures, drop them into the lighted area of the water. Lower them down to the chosen depth (which frequently is just off bottom) then slowly raise them up and down in the water column.
Again knowing how challenging squid can be, no one style of lure is a constant winner. The specific environmental conditions dictate what is going to work or isn’t.
Depth: Depth is a critical factor in the pursuit of squid. Having jigs working at different depths often spells “luck” or lack of it for side-by-side anglers.
Keep in mind that squid are congregational beings and stay gathered in schools.
How to land a squid
Squid hole up in the darkness near lighted water areas then lunge into the brighter arena when they see something that looks edible. They don’t “bite,” however. They deftly wrap their tentacles around their intended prey.
The feel: Squid are those ghost-like “streaks” in the water and it’s good to keep their fleetness in mind. Squids propel themselves backward by forcibly expelling water through a tiny nozzle that is part of their anatomy. They also can swim backward and forward, using their fins.
When a slight change in the behavior of your gear is felt, jerk upward to set the hooks immediately. Then keep a steady upward motion when reeling or lifting the catch to the surface. The hooks on squid jigs are barbless and most of the time the squid isn’t really hooked, only entwined in the prongs so any slack in the line will lose the catch.
After the catch
Squid have a defense mechanism – ink. They shoot dark ink at intruders who come too close. In the water it is an effective defense that creates a cloud behind which the squid makes a quick getaway.
Don’t be overly distressed about getting squid ink on your hands and clothes, however. Not surprisingly, the ink is water soluble and washes out if you act quickly before it dries.
A second note of caution is the possibility of bites. It’s good to remember that these creatures do have a parrot-like beak. Although squid are not likely to bite at a lure, they can and do bite things like food and perceived enemies who are not alert.