Ever used the Japanese style metal jigs for salmon? The long thin oneís with the sharp hook on a short leader attached to the top of the jig??
I began experimenting with these jigs last year for salmon and halibut ( Killed the silvers and did catch a 330 pounder on one in August!!) Which jig? http://www.river2seausa.com/t/searock.html If you see one in a store they look exactly like a herring!
They come under several names like butterfly jigs from Shimano or Free Style jigs in the Bass Pro Shops catalog.
At Thanksgiving I had the opportunity to fish Panama with Ben Secrest from Accurate reels and George Large from Rapala and European professional fisherman, Nicola Zingerelli from Spain (owner of carnx.com) and Hideyuki Kitamura (Charmas) and his translator Setsu Hamanaka. Charmas is a true master of traditional Japanese jig fishing. The other guys are very very good as well.
The lures themselves are only a small part of the actual technique. The rod selection is critical as the rod imparts the action on the jig. Some of these rods can be upwards to 1000 dollars. However companies like Lamiglass have a jigging series of rods that will work just fine and are not expensive. There are different techniques to go with different situations. Each has itís own unique cadence that the fisherman uses to make the jig look like different types of prey. The cadence of the retrieve can make a jig look like a crab, squid or small bait fish.
Having seen a true master at this technique I can tell you that there is a lot to being good at it. Like any type of fishing if you put in the time and experiment a little I think it will be just as or more effective than anything we do up here on Salmon and halibut.
I invited the Japanese master to come up in June and fish with me for a week. I am thinking that after that, I will be ready to write a decent article on applying these techniques to Alaskaís game fish.