by John Merwin


The long-simmering controversy of potentially banning lead in fishing gear hasn’t made many headlines lately. But it’s not going away, either. There are already a few states that have banned lead sinkers below a certain size (usually meaning smaller sinkers). I live and fish in one of them.

I think because various angling-related lead issues have been simmering rather than boiling, many major tackle manufacturers have been slow to embrace non-lead substitutes. That in turn makes Berkley’s new non-lead Gulp! JiggHeads big news indeed. The new Minnow JiggHead, one of three styles, is shown in the above photo.

The jigs are made from what Berkley calls a Tundra composite. I don’t know what that is, other than being non-lead. A Darter JiggHead style is made primarily for inshore flats fishing. The Minnow JiggHead has all the usual applications in both fresh and saltwater. And a new “BDS” style has a more centered weight balance said to make baits fall more horizontally instead of nose-first as with more common jig designs. All three styles have an excellent bait-keeper molded on the hood shank.

Yes, these jigs are more expensive than common leadheads. All are priced at $4.99 for either a 2-pack (BDS style) or a 3-pack (most minnow and darter styles) in a variety of colors. Sizes range from five-eighths down to one-sixteenth-ounce. These jigheads, by the way, are sold under the Gulp! brand, but are not themselves made of Gulp! soft-bait. They are designed for fishing Gulp! baits, but should also work just fine with any common soft-plastic style.

I’m told the new Gulp! JiggHeads will start reaching tackle-store racks sometime in September. I like the non-lead concept, and I like the jigs’ overall design. So I’m going to be stocking up on lots of these, even at premium prices. Meanwhile, hats off to the Berkley folks for their innovation.