While the current craze for slow jigging is focused on heavier jigs in the range of 200-300g in deep waters, the Storm South East Asia team has been exploring shallower waters with lighter slow-style jigs for shallow-water species. Daniel Wan reports.
There’s no doubt that slow jigging fever has hit Malaysia big time. Walk into any tackle shop and you’ll find that most of the jigs on display are likely to be slow-style jigs. While the current craze for slow jigging is focused more on heavier jigs in the range of 200-300g in relatively deeper waters such as the Straits of Malacca, there’s still much to be explored around the shallower waters off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
The jig profiles, sizes and and weights often used in the east coast in locations such as Paka, Pekan, Rompin and Pulau Sibu/Tinggi areas are much smaller and lighter than those used off the West Coast such as waters off Pulau Jarak. A lot of it has to do with matching the local baitfish profiles. Additionally, the water movement in the East Coast is much slower as compared to the very fast currents in the Malacca Straits, hence the use of lighter jig weights. If similar techniques and principles for deep water slow jigging could be applied to shallow water, imagine the many more types of species that can be caught!
Actually, many anglers in the East Coast have been ‘slow-jigging’ long before the Japanese style of slow jigging hit our shores. More often than not, these are done with light spin tackle, targeting species from Ebek to Coral Trout. The introduction of Japanese-inspired slow jigging tackle in the market has since opened up many more options and opportunities for light tackle slow-style jigging in inshore or shallow waters.
The key is to downsize the tackle – from jigs, assist hooks, leaders and mainline to even the rod and reel used. It is crucial for the jig presentation to be as unhindered as possible when fluttering down the water column in shallow water. That said, a well-designed light slow-style jig should fall with a very nice action – whether sliding or fluttering, rather than an abrupt plunge. It is for this reason that we enjoy using the Storm Gomoku Koika jig, which has a very attractive falling action that many fish seem to be attracted to.
Though there’s no formal ‘rating’ for what is definited as light slow-style jigs, the 20g to 80g range can be a good reference. Assist hooks ideally should have a light wire gauge for easy penetration. Fluorocarbon leader of 15 – 25lb connected to PE0.8-1.5 braided mainline should suffice. Smaller diameter lines have less resistance in water and therefore enable the jig to fall with less resistance. In order to work these relatively light jigs, a PE1 or less slow jigging rod will bring much enjoyment, especially when you don’t have to lift heavy jigs all day.
As with deep water slow-style jigging, light tackle slow-style jigging reels should ideally be baitcast or overhead reels. Personally I prefer a reel with a thumb bar for quick release of the clutch and re-engagement of the gears with a turn of the handle. There’s less fumbling for me (and it happens quite often!) should a fish take the jig mid-water or just when it touches the bottom. The best part about light-tackle slow-style jigging is that since everything is downsized, the tackle used is lighter and therefore makes it very easy and relaxing to jig all day.
One may ask if its possible to handle big fish on light slow jigging tackle. The answer is, it depends. Structure and rough terrain are perhaps the biggest challenges an angler has to confront when a fish is hooked up. The reality is that if a big fish is hooked near structure, even heavier jigging tackle will be unable to stop it if it’s dashing head-on for cover. Unless of course if you manage to turn the fish’s head and winch it up some distance from the bottom within the first few seconds from strike. However, if the underwater terrain is rather void of obstacles, sharp rocks or structure, the chances of landing big fish will be higher.
Mid-water species from the trevally family to Cobia can be handled with light tackle, though for Cobia you’d probably need lots of patience (and very patient fishing kakis, who’d probably have to stop fishing and watch you fight the fish!). They do take small-sized jigs, by the way. That said, the drags on the reels used should be very smooth and in optimal condition. Any sudden inconsistencies in drag pressure can result in heartache, since we’re fishing with such thin diameter line.
We have had good success with light slow-style jigging – from trevally species such Ebek, Sagai, Jemuduk to reef species such as Long-nosed Emperors, Snappers and Tuskfish in Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore waters around 12 – 30m depths. In fact, the very latest species to add to our list caught by light slow-style jigging is the mighty Four-finger Threadfin (Senangin).
Senangin is a species that is very dear to my heart. These fish fight really hard; with short, sudden bursts of speed when you least expect it. A perfect inshore gamefish on light tackle! In fact, it is this very species that got me first hooked onto light jigging in the first place close to 10 years ago. Back then, speed jigging was the way to go if we wanted to catch these strong speedsters dwelling in shallow water. We have since discovered that they are also very responsive to slow-style jigs too, when they aren’t actively chasing down the speed jigs.
So the next time you’re out fishing out in shallow waters or in areas where the current is relatively slow, do not dismiss the opportunity of slow jigging with light slow jigging tackle and light slow-style jigs. You’ll be surprised at what you might encounter!
NEW PRODUCT INFO: STORM GOMOKU ADAJO PE1
Many Japanese-inspired, slow jigging rods that are currently in the market are mostly designed for deep water slow jigging around the range of PE2 to PE3 and rated for heavier slow jigs of about 100-300g. Storm South East Asia saw the need for similar-styled, slow jigging rods for lighter jigs around 20-80g and has since introduced the new Storm Adajo PE1. Rated to work up to 100g jigs, this downsized version of the Storm Adajo PE2 is extremely fun to use, especially for working Storm Koika jigs of 40-60g with a small baitcast reel.
PE Rating: PE1
Max Jig Weight: 100g