Egi (squid) fishing

Egi is the Japanese word for squid. Japan is the world leader in recreational fishing for squid.

I enjoy pretty much all types of recreational fishing, however fixed-line fishing, light gear spinning and Egi fishing are the disciplines that I pursue.
Egi fishing has only recently become popular here in Australia. I’m unsure as to how popular it is in North America, I would be interested to know if any of you have ever angled the cephalopod species.

Fishing for squid requires a very particular style of lure or “jig” as they’re referred to. The best Egi jigs come from Japanese fishing tackle companies.

They come in a variety of sizes and weights, and nearly any colour combination you can think of. The major feature of the egi jig is the barbless crowns of hooks.

These crowns are designed to snare a squids tentacles as they try to capture the jig. Squid usually have 10 tentacles, consisting of 8 main limbs and 2 longer “candles”. The candles can be seen in the first picture which are longer than the other tentacles but are retracted back on a live squid. A squid swims forwards (tentacles first) as it hunts for prey. They are almost exclusively visual hunters that purse their prey then launch their candles in an effort to capture the evading prawn or fish.

Egi fishing can be done with a jig and any fishing outfit, however there are specialized rods and equipment designed specifically for casting the fairly large jigs, and for imparting the action on the jigs. The way egi fishing is done in Japan is by casting out far, usually from a pier or rockwall, letting the jig sink close to the bottom then quite violently jigging the rod upwards for a series of movements, then pausing for the sinking phase.

I use a rod by MajorCraft, a popular fishing tackle company in the Japanese domestic market. It is 8’3" long and consists of two pieces. It is paired with a lightweight Shimano 2500 size spin reel. The rod is pretty flexible at the tip, vet fairly beefy towards the grip. It needs to be soft enough as to not rip the jig out of the squids tentacles, but strong enough to pull in a large squid. Squid arn’t an athletic fighting species by any means but as you reel them in towards you, the squid’s head or “hood” acts like a sea anchor. They are then lifted out of the water vertically by the rod and line usually because you are fishing some distance from the water’s surface.

Freshly caught and prepared squid has got to be one of the best forms of seafood getting around. The target species around Australia’s southern shores is the Southern Calamari, which have a short lifespan and reproduce quickly. If you catch squid you’re gunna eat em!

I also have specialized jigs for octopus, or Taco (pronounced tak-o) as they’re called in Japan. I have only recently imported these in from Japan and have not caught any 8 legged cephalopods yet. Taco fishing has a whole lot of specialized gear and rods to go with it but at this stage I’m just going to improvise with my Egi setup.


Here in California saltwater fishermen often catch squid at night to use for bait the next day. I started using the Japanese jigs and found them extremely effective!!
So much so that enough could be retained for eating. Delicious!!!
Also, they are fun to catch. I will toss the jig out and jig it back right under the surface where the lights are shining so I can watch the squid attack. They can pull pretty hard too!


Great description and photos @Nimbus. Quite a number of years ago, I lived in southern California and shortly before we moved away I learned about egi fishing and it seemed loads of fun. Not to mention delicious! It’s one of the foods I really miss being able to buy fresh from the local fishermen. Unfortunately, because I knew we were moving, I never purchased any kit for it. Thanks for sharing.

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The Humboldt squid is one of the species I regret not targeting out in CA. They are like 60#.

A lot of restaurants would serve squid steaks…delicious marinaded grilled!!!

here is some footage of them to get an idea of scale. That gaffe hook is probably 4-5",


Woah those squid are massive! Fishing for those guys would require some serious tackle.

Southern Calamari grow to a max of only 2kg, so about 4lb.

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Trouble with the big Humbolt squid is that some of them taste horribly of ammonia. You have to catch it, cut a piece out, cook it and taste to see if you got a good one or not.
BUT, when you get a good one you end up with these awesome big calamari steaks . . . OMG sooooo good!
And yes, they put up a huge fight. Luckily they’re so aggressive we could use 60-80# tackle to catch them.


[CLICK] movie of the Humbolt Squid in the Sea of Cortez, care of Discovery Channel

I love fishing in the Sea of Cortez.

I love it.

I’m going to spend a lot of time there during my life and over and over I’ve heard about the “Diablo Rojo” from fisherman, pangaderios. It’s a giant squid that feeds at night. They are huge, big as a man and they live deep yet they feed shallow at night.

The local fisherman catch them for food and there are reports of them attacking man. From what I understand, these reports have come from swimming at night in their feeding grounds.

They grow, live and die in about a year. When being caught or attacking prey, they “flash” red and white, or when they are in a agitated state. They have tentacles that have teeth embedded in the suckers and a longer central tentacle that they can “shoot out” and pull in their prey to be grabbed by the other arms. They have a central mouth surrounded by more teeth that covers a beak that is black and looks like a giant lobster claw. They shred their prey, pulling them into their mouth. They can swim up to 20 knots and can swim both forward and backward. They also have a “jet” in that they can fill themselves with water and jet it out for propulsion and one of the weird things that they can do is “ink” so that they can disappear in a cloud of it.

Fisherman use a special jig to catch them, this is where they get the bad rap, they are agitated and eat each other and are like sharks, put into a feeding, fighting frenzy.

The Giant Humboldt Squid is within reach, it’s one of my interests, it’s one of the things that is on my list of things to do. I can imagine catching one on a journey with my kids, catching it for a meal and enjoying the experience.

Note to self.

Google search for: Humboldt Squid

image care of Dale Pearson on the Deeper Blue diving forum

Youtube video: Jumbo Squid Attacks Camera and Kids Catching Giant Humboldts Off of the Coast of San Diego