It all started on one of my regular micro-jigging trips off Singapore’s Southern Islands late 2015. The current was still fairly slow but a quick sweep of the grounds showed plenty of fish on the fish finder. Aha! 12 gram micro jigs were quickly dropped into the water and whipped up the column. No takers. 15 minutes of hard jigging labour later, there were still no hits despite the fish still showing on the screen. One of the guys on board decided to put out a Sabiki rig and very soon was pulling in Sagai (Longfin Trevally) after Sagai! I downsized my jig to 8 grams and worked it in all the ways I could think of – fast retrieve, slow jerk, machine-gun style jerk, whip, high-pitch. You name it, I did it. But the jigs simply didn’t produce. The Sabiki continued to pull them in, one-by-one. I persisted with micro-jigging, and by the end of the trip, I had caught zero, while the rest had landed easily 80 fish on Sabiki.
Why did the fish choose the Sabiki over a similar-sized metal jig? That question kept bugging me for several days. I shared the experience with my buddies Fred Goh and Nigel Hagley. Coincidentally, Nigel had just caught the Ajing fever and almost everything in his mind then was about super light tackle, micro jigheads and micro soft plastics! He was very certain that in such challenging situations and conditions, the Sagai will take micro soft plastics. His theory is that the Sagai are likely zoomed in on a certain small bait profile and therefore anything else will be ignored. Micro jigs, though having the same size and profile, moved about and sank too quickly and therefore appeared unnatural to the finicky fish. To test out his theory, Nigel used his Ajing tackle on his subsequent trip. Using the new Storm Gomoku Soft Bulky Ring and Gomoku Soft Straight micro soft plastics rigged on super light jigheads, Nigel was able to produce the Sagai when the jigs were not working, thus confirming his theory. That was a start of a new craze to come for our Sagai fishing…
We left our jigging tackle at home in our subsequent trips out to the Southern Islands. Armed with only 2-6lb rods such as the Rapala RFS Finesse Series, 1000 & 2000-sized Daiwa Luvias spinning reels with Rapala Rapinova PE#0.4 and 8lb Sufix Invisiline fluorocarbon leaders and a range of 1.8g, 2.5g and 3.5g jigheads to suit different currents and drifts, we tried to figure out if this ‘modified’ method of Ajing will work consistently in our local waters. After a string of extremely successful outings, we are very certain this method of fishing is extremely deadly for a wide-range of local species, particularly the Sagai!
From our Sagai’ing trips around the Southern Islands, we’ve since discovered some interesting ways of getting the Sagai to bite and here we’d like to share some of these tips with you:
- When there is little or no current, a light jighead of about 1.8g is just nice to get the Gomoku Soft Bulky Ring or Soft Straight right down to the bottom. Once the jighead has reached the bottom, lift the jig up just off the bottom gently and hold it there. Drop it back down again and repeat. You may wish to add your own variation to the technique by gently shaking the rod to give some very minute movements to the lure. It’s also worth trying out different depths. The key thing is to ensure you’re presenting the soft plastic right in front of the fish so a fish finder will be a very useful tool to have.
- When the current is fast, it’s best to fish from an anchored boat that’s positioned upcurrent of a structure where fish are likely to congregate. A heavier jighead of around 2.5g or 3.5g (or heavier, depending on current speed) will be a good choice to drift the micro soft plastic out to the ‘strike zone’. Once the lure enters the strike zone, close the bail arm or engage the reel and hang on. You can choose to just hold on to the rod and do nothing (yes, absolutely nothing!) or if you’re the type that needs to be constantly working the lure, you can gently shake the rod to give the lure some very subtle movements. What this does is to present the lure as a small baitfish holding its position upcurrent of the structure and only moving very slightly every now and then from its position. A very tempting morsel for a nearby predator! Resist the urge to make big movements, as that will make the presentation unnatural. In fact, the best thing to do is to let the lure just ‘drift’ in current. There have been many occasions when the fish have taken off with the rod stationary in the rod holder!
- Bites often come as little nibbles so you’ve got to be very attentive. This is when a very sensitive, ultra light rod will have an advantage to detect the slightest bites.
- Use a very fine diameter line to get the jighead down in the current. We personally use Rapala Rapinova PE#0.4 (8.8lb), which is a good balance between strength and diameter. Additionally, 150m of line is plenty, should a speedster come along.
- As you’d be fishing with such light line, a reel with a very smooth start up drag is important. Don’t set the drag too tight as the sudden burst of speed can easily break fine diameter lines.
If you’ve never tried Sagai’ing with ultra-light tackle, do give it a try. It’s another technique that’s proven to be extremely effective to complement micro-jigging for Sagai, especially when they are off the bite or hunting down very specific little baitfish. Happy Sagai’ing!