Jigging: A sporting chance
  |  First Published: November 2009

Rods and reels continue to evolve and the boys in the back room are constantly coming up with upgraded models of reels which feature more and more cranking power.

Rod manufacturers are no different and are quite aware of the fact that there also need to be rods that can be teamed up with these new-technology reels.

All this means is that our lives as fishos are made easier each time one of these new upgrades hit the shelves.

Obviously our wallet may disagree but once that big angry kingfish, amberjack or samson grabs the lure in fairly deep water, we frequently need all the help we can get.

Gone are the days of large cumbersome rods and reels, and even to a certain degree some of the larger sizes in the new you-beaut stuff.

It seems that a growing number of fishos are downsizing their jigging gear to lighter outfits that offer the fish a more sporting chance.

Many of the inshore reefs are becoming the target for a newer style of inshore jigging using the tried and proven deep-water techniques.

I might be getting a bit ahead of myself here so let’s take a closer look at deep jigging to start with and work our way into the shallows.


This is generally done in water deeper than 60m with a major focus around the 50-fathom (91.5m) line. Target species are mainly yellowtail kingfish, samson fish, amberjack, pearl perch and snapper.

Obviously these main targets will vary from location to location but the basic techniques will stay the same.

There are two main types of jig fishing, which can be better explained by the style of jigs used, namely long jigs and short jigs.

Long jigs have a gliding action when ripped towards the surface, causing them to move from side to side. This simulates a wounded baitfish and generally elicits a reaction bite from the fish.

The days of madly working your jig to the surface as fast as you can are well and truly over; this is very seldom needed to catch fish on a jig.

Long jigs offer very little water resistance and although they might be quite heavy at times, they are not that hard to jig.

It is simply a case of getting yourself into a motion that usually revolves around a single full crank of the reel handle (depending on gear ratios) working simultaneously with a swift upward motion of the rod. You can actually use the upward crank of the reel to help you lift the rod.

It sounds a bit all over the place, but when you put it into practice you get into a rhythm and it makes life a lot easier. For the pelagic-type species the long jigs are usually the lures of choice.

Short jigs don’t glide like the long jigs and often have a bit of a spinning motion, similar to slugs.

They can be worked slower and with smaller hops, keeping them fairly close to the reef. They seem to work better for reef species.

It’s a good idea, though, to mix it up a bit when out on a jigging trip because, as with all lure fishing, the fish often want something different on the day.


The spin-vs-overhead debate is a hot topic among many jig fishers and although I prefer to jig with an overhead, I admit that I am in the minority.

Spin reels often have more drag than overheads and are definitely sometimes easier to use, especially for someone just starting out.

The other factor that often sways people when purchasing a jig reel is that a spin reel can also be used for casting for other species like GTs, yellowfin or even marlin.

Jigging can take a lot out of your tackle so it needs to be up to the task of working a big metal lure for hours on end and then to be able to stop big fish when they are hooked.

Second-rate gear is simply not up to it and will result only in disappointment.

I use a Daiwa Saltiga Z40 for my overhead jigging and a Saltiga S-Extreme 6500 for my threadline jigging.

There are numerous top-notch jigging reels on the market that will do the job and your choice will come down to personal preference.

Once again, the back-room boys have been busy and have come up with thinner diameter braids with high breaking strains to fish jigs in deep water with minimal line resistance. They are an absolute pleasure to fish when the current is running and once you use these types of braids, you will find it hard to go back to the older products on the market.


This is done in water of less than 60m, usually around 20m to 40m. It is simply a modification of deep-water jigging, making use of lighter rods, reels and jigs to accommodate the shallower water as well as a general downsizing in the target species.

In saying that, you will find your fair share of quality fish by jigging on the shallower reefs and stopping them will be the interesting part of the equation.

There are still the two models of jigs, namely short jigs and long jigs, but the shorter jigs can be placed in a much larger variety than the long jigs and will quite often catch you more fish.

Long jigs can be used in much the same way as with deep jigging, but can be worked right to the surface, or near it.

They will still produce the goods and in the Summer will often catch wahoo, mackerel, tuna and other pelagics.

The shorter jigs can be worked with smaller hops through the water column and because they spend a bit more time in the bottom third, they often work better than their longer cousins.

Metal jigs like the Snipers and Raiders from Spanyid and the Twisty from Halco, also make top shallow-water jigs because they can be ripped up off the bottom and allowed to flutter back down on a controlled drop.

Most bites when using this technique will come on the drop, so always keep a close eye on your line for any signs of a bite. This could be quite obvious with the fish grabbing the lure and taking off, or may only be a flick of the line or the lure stopping just short of the bottom.

The best advice I can give you here is that when in doubt – strike! If it isn’t a fish then all you will be doing is hopping the lure back up again.

Spin reels generally dominate the inshore jigging scene because the jigs are a lot lighter than their deep-water cousins. Reels around 3000 to 4000 size are a good starting point, teamed up with rods that are slightly longer than the deep-water models.

The fish are generally a bit more manageable in the shallower stuff and the slightly longer rods help you to impart more action to your metals.

Again, it is important to look at good quality gear so that when you do get connected to a larger fish, your tackle will be able to handle it.

Braid is almost mandatory for shallow-water jigging due to its sensitivity. Something else that makes it the line of choice is that when a good fish is hooked, the lack of stretch helps you to turn the fish’s head and keep it clear of the reef.


Most metal jigs are rigged with an assist hook off the head of the lure.

A good rigging system for metals is to tie your leader to a solid ring, to which you attach the assist hook by its loop. Once this is done you have a solid hook connection with no weak links.

You can then put a split ring on the solid ring and connect your jig to the split ring. This is a simple method that allows you to change lures fairly quickly with just the aid of split-ring pliers.

Leader thickness will depend on the type of terrain you fish but it is generally a good idea to try the thicker stuff first and if the bite is a bit slower, then downgrade.

A good starting point would be 100lb to 150lb for deep jigging and 40lb to 60lb for shallower stuff.

Try to choose a leader material with good abrasive qualities.

Leader is also regarded as a shock absorber when jigging so try to use a good length when rigging up. Twice the length of your rod is an easy way of setting a benchmark and will give you a bit more leeway for mistakes when fighting a big fish.

Jigging with metals can be great fun when the fish are on but a bit tiring when the fish are off.

Remember that if you don’t have access to the wider grounds, there are plenty of willing customers that will happily grab a metal jig on the shallower grounds. It’s just a case of tying one on and giving it a go.

Reads: 11137

Matched Content ... powered by Google