You’ve got the latest and greatest light jigging rod in the market and a spanking new, tough as nails reel loaded with double-digit bearings. You’ve even loaded up your jig bag with proven branded jigs endorsed by the jigging pros but you’re still not getting those biggies from jigging. The pros make it seem so easy by getting heaps of nice fish on jig on every outing. What’s up with that?
Here are some general yet practical tips that may help you improve your light jigging results:
TIP #1: LEAVE THE BAIT AT HOME
If you’ve brought some bait along “just in case the fish aren’t hitting jigs”, chances are you’ll use it. Intentionally embark on your fishing trip with only jigs. You’ll have no choice but to jig throughout the trip and statistically, the longer your jig stays in the water, the higher your chances of getting hits.
TIP #2: KEEP AN EYE ON THE FISH FINDER
The fishfinder is a very useful piece of equipment that can reveal plenty of information such as depth, bottom structure and the presence of fish. You can quickly deploy your jig to the appropriate depth column should a school of big fish appear at a specific depth. This can maximise your chances of the fish spotting your jig.
TIP #3: USE THE THINNEST DIAMETER LINE YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH
A thinner diameter line has less resistance in water compared to a line with thicker diameter, giving you more control over the jig on the drop in fast current. Sure, you may get the occasional bust-off from a monster fish from time to time, but a thinner line will get your jig down to the group of fish appearing on the fishfinder faster without being dragged off target by the current compared to a line with a thicker diameter. On days when the fishing is tough, it pays to consider downsizing the line and leader too.
TIP #4: USE FLUOROCARBON LEADER
Fish can be leader shy! Fluorocarbon leaders have a lower refractive index than ordinary monofilament leaders and therefore, less visible underwater. Good quality fluorocarbon leaders have good abrasion resistance and strength yet are soft. What poundage to use really depends on the targeted species and the terrain. If the targeted fish do not have rough, abrasive lips such as Longfin Trevally, you may use fluorocarbon leaders as light as 10-15lb. These fish don’t always hug the bottom and therefore getting your leader roughed out or even cut off at the reef is highly unlikely. On the other hand, if you’re targeting species such as Snappers and reef fish, it makes sense to use fluorocarbon leaders of 20-25lb (or more depending on how rough the terrain is).
TIP #5: MATCH THE HATCH
It’s an advantage to know what the targeted fish are feeding on for a particular location and to match your jig profile to the primary food source. For example, if you’re targeting pelagic predators that are hunting fast-moving bait such as kembung, selar or tamban, it makes sense to choose a jig of a similar shape and size. Likewise, if most fishermen have been catching Ebek (Diamond Trevally) with squid, then a suitable jig would be one that has a broader profile.
TIP #6: UNDERSTAND WHAT ACTION YOUR JIG IS CAPABLE OF
Matching your jig to the size and profile of the bait is only part of the equation. Understanding what action your jig is capable of is another crucial key to success. Each jig is designed with specific movements in mind, whether retrieved, jerked or falling. Therefore it’s important to know what kind of action you can get out of these jigs and to be able to work them to the movement of the bait. Speed jigs tend to arouse the hunting instinct of predators that love chasing down frightened or stressed prey (Queenfish and Tenggiri come to mind!) whereas jigs that flutter on the fall often trigger the opportunistic behaviour of predators. It is always easier to chow down a crippled prey than to expand their energy chasing down a lively one. Whatever your jig selection may be, always match the size, profile and action of the jig (and jigging speed/stroke) accordingly to the movement of the prey of your targeted species.
TIP #7: DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS
There’s no single jigging stroke that can catch all fish. Some fish respond to very fast jigging strokes. At times, they may prefer short, sharp flicks of the rod tip with very subtle retrieve and sometimes they can prefer slow jigging strokes. These require experimenting to see which stroke (corresponding to jig type, of course!) works for you for your targeted species.
TIP #8: THE BOW AND STERN ARE GOOD POSITIONS ON THE DRIFT
If you’ve been fishing often enough with most experienced charter captains who are as equally enthusiastic as you are to fish, you’ll notice they always love jigging from the bow or the stern of the boat. These are great positions to be at especially in fast drifts as you can cast the jig up current and begin working the jig by the time it reaches the sea floor before the boat drifts over. This is a distinct advantage as your jig stays in the water longer compared to the folks positioned at the middle of the boat. Additionally, the jigs up current will cover new water first compared to those jigs dropped from the middle of the boat.
Anglers positioned at the bow and stern of the boat (blue) can cast their jigs up current while the anglers located at the middle of the boat (red) can drop their jigs vertically. Casting toward the bow or stern is still possible but space and distance is limited.
By the time the boat has drifted further down current, the jigs dropped vertically (Y) will now be too far away at an angle, making jigging difficult. The angler will have to retrieve the jig and reset. However, the jigs cast up current earlier will still be at a reasonable distance and angle, allowing the angler to still keep the jig in the water without reseting.
TIP #9: PICK THE APPROPRIATE TIDES
Certain tides are more favourable than others and these can differ from location to location. It’s always best to check with the fishing charter skipper on which are the best tides for targeting certain species. If you’re fishing a new spot without much information on hand, it’s a good idea to keep a journal or log book to record which moon phase, time and tide that produces the best results. Over time, you’ll be able to make out a consistent pattern to determine which dates are better. It’s also handy to know that pelagic fish tend to be more active on new and full moons so it’s ideal if you time your jigging trip around these tides if you’re after pelagics. There are fishing calendar apps available these days on IOS or Android that can recommend some ideal dates and times for fishing based on the Solunar Theory.
TIP #10: NEVER GIVE UP!
It’s often tempting to throw in the towel when the fish aren’t hitting the jigs. In such situations, don’t give up. Keep on jigging! Sometimes the jigging can be totally off for the entire day only to fire up all of a sudden at the change of tide. Perseverance can pay off.
Tight lines and happy jigging!