Friday, April 20, 2007

Jigging for Dummies

Saltwater Fishing with a Jig
Somewhere along the way one of the most versatile fishing lures ever devised received the name "jig". Probably either because the molds they are made from or the mechanism used to hold them while they are being tied, are called jigs. Either way the term has come to mean a particular style of fishing with a particular type of lure - fishing with a jig.

Types of Jigs
ucktail jigs, nylon jigs, mylar jigs, feathered jigs - they come in all sizes and shapes, and each is designed to imitate a baitfish of some sort. And for fish catching ability, these lures, cast for cast, out fish all other lures.

Jigs work in any depth of water, but generally, the deeper you fish, the heavier the jig.

Deep Jigging
Any time the water is deeper than 100 feet, the jig fishing that is done is called deep jigging. It requires some stamina and a strong back, because it takes a lot of upward motion from your rod to move the jig effectively on the bottom. This is not a place for subtle twitches and jig movements. In water this deep, the line stretch factor removes any possibility for subtleness. What we are looking for here are fast upwards jerks of the rod to get the lure to move up and down in some type of pattern.

Fishing Method
The fishing method here is rather simple. First, find a ledge, a hump, a wreck, or some natural bottom that is holding fish.
On a no wind and no current day, the fishing will be tough. The jig has to move across an area to be effective. Moving up and down in one place is not natural and only draws the smaller fish to attack your strip bait.

Wind and Current
Of course, there are days when the wind and current are too strong, particularly if the wind is in one direction and the current is in another. On these days, it seems that even 5 pounds of weight won't get you to the bottom! But on those perfect days, when the wind is enough for seas to run over two feet and under five feet, and the current is in the same direction, you can load the boat on a good location.

The technique
The idea is to drift over bottom, across the wreck, or parallel along the ledge and give the jig some good up and down motion. Sharp upward jerks produce a less erratic movement of the bait because of line stretch, so jerk as hard as you can. Allow the jig to drop back, but keep in touch with it - "feel" the jig going back down. If you loose the feel of the jig on the drop back, it is likely to be a fish. If you allow the jig to drop back with slack line, the leader will often wrap around and foul the jig.

Keep Moving
When you drift over and beyond the area, reel up and move back up current. Drop down to the bottom, crank up about three or four turns, and drift it again. Unless you have dropped a good marker over the spot or have a good GPS mapping unit, it is virtually impossible to take the same drift every time. Every drift will cover a different part of the structure, so don't be alarmed if you don't pick a fish up on every drift.

Sensing a Bite
"And how do you know when you have a bite", someone just asked. Well, let me just say this. Make sure you are holding that rod with a good grip! These bottom fish don't mess around nibbling. Strikes are strong, sudden and vicious. You may be on the upswing of your "jig" and find your rod suddenly pinned to the rail of the boat.

Tighten that Drag
And because you are over structure, these fish head right for the nearest hole or ledge when they strike. For that reason, we fish with drags almost completely shut down and it becomes a matter of who is stronger - you or the fish! Once we have "winched" the fish away from the structure, we can carefully adjust the drag and fight him to the surface. About half way up, the fight is over, though, because from that depth, the fish's air bladder can not compensate fast enough and it's expansion pops the fish to the surface like a balloon.

Bottom Line
Deep jigging is an art, the biggest part of which is locating the right bottom, and then jigging it the right way. It is also "meat" fishing. This is not catch and release territory, and on a 8/0 jig hook, you won't catch any little fish. So my advice is to practice some conservation. Fish the day inshore or offshore trolling and catch and release all you want. Then come back to the ledge or good bottom and catch one or two for dinner. Leave the rest for later trips!

:::... Some of the jigs of various weight in my collection ...:::

:::... More jigs ...:::

:::... Accessories associated with jigging ...:::

::: Close up on the jigs ...:::

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