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Old 11-12-2004, 01:47 PM
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Location: Maine
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Default Jig fishing 101 - jigging deep with current

Doing The Jig in deep current

Jigs are most effective fishing the bottom.. stripers are no different than trout in this situation, (brook trout or browns, when they are stationed on the bottom in a lie) ... so a presentation that matches the current speed is most important along with making bottom contact thru as much of the swing as possible. Technique will vary depending upon location and situation. I've found jigs work the best from a stationary position (anchored boat or from the bank) with a cross current... also matching the required weight with current speed and water depth is critical.. your trying to present the jig in a manner that represents dead or very wounded bait tumbling along the bottom (deadly) so if it's too light you may reach the bottom but uncontrolled and unable to really feel what is happening. Too heavy- and it's going to look unnatural to the fish, limiting your success. What really makes it a challenge is changing current speed in a tidal situation.. I'd rather have a jig a little light than heavy, and I fine-tune the weight using strips of lead wrapped just behind the head to do this..and or adding buoyancy with a rubber trailer to match the bait size that is the most prevalent to the area. Now once I have my bottom presentation the way I want it, it's time to fish!.. cast up stream enough to get to the bottom before the jig gets to where the fish will be; the deeper or faster the current the further upstream you'll need to cast.. I use a spinning rod for jigging, mainly because I can leave the bail open as the jig is falling, allowing it to get to the bottom much quicker. The jig taps the bottom, close the bail and snatch the rod and wind a few turns on the reel to catch up with the jig and FEEL what is going on as soon as possible.(real important) throughout the swing, small snatches of the rod while reeling to stay in contact and keep the bow out of your line so you can record the hits when they come. if your not losing a few jigs you aren't doing it right, so learn a new spot with the cheap ones. there's a learning curve for every spot.

Recording the hit: this is where it can get a bit tricky, it's a three dimensional world so the hit can come from any direction, and feel like anything from ripping the rod from your hand to the feel of someone snipping your line with scissors. the former being a hit from a fish heading away and the latter being a fish taking as he comes towards you. the coming at you take or better known as the "sneak attack" is the one most guys miss or don't even feel... and it's half of the hits your going to get, so one can double their days hits by just being able to record those and QUICKLY set the hook. So the fish is coming at you while taking the jig, it has knocked three to four feet of slack in your line in doing so. Your hook set needs to be long and swept back to take up the slack, there is no time to reel, you must set and sweep it way back over your head or to the side. If you try to reel in that slack prior to setting the hook, your gonna miss cuz it's gonna be spit... then your a victim of a swim-by hit&spit!.. resulting in embarrassment and cursing! .. deep water jigging is best done with a no-stretch line like a braid or fused line. it can be real difficult to record subtle hits with mono-- in some cases impossible.

I use the trailers quite a bit, especially if it will help to match the bait size. bucktails alone work great too, sink fast and give a good positive feel for the bottom. when you add trailers your slowing the decent quite a bit and sometimes have to compensate with a heavier jig, BUT they can make a bucktail look and act more presentable tumbling and ticking along the bottom. Fish seem to hang on to 'em a bit longer as well.

White during the day and black at night is a great rule of thumb.. if you're fishing a spot that is lit (either artificially or good moon light) and you can find trailer material with silver sparkles in a dark color? the difference is astounding. Don't forget if your gonna get serious about jigging (and I highly recommend you do) get some braid and get used to using it. It is fair to say that they have revolutionized jigging. You really need to be able to feel what is going on on bottom and those lines will do it for you. You can tell if the rock you just tapped has moss on it or not, or whether the bottom is sand or clay-- really puts you in tune.

Important facts to consider are: You can't cast where you think the fish are, you need to cast far enough upstream to allow your jig to sink to the bottom before it gets to where the fish are. Otherwise, you're fishing over the fish's head, instead of in front of their nose where you should be.
In this situation spinning reels really shine, basically, because they allow the jig to sink with an open bail. This makes it much easier to place the jig where you want it along the bottom. If the bail is shut when the jig hits the water, a pendulum effect swings the jig towards you as it sinks. It will still reach bottom, just not anywhere near your intended target.

This reduces your ability to fish an area effectively and thoroughly. You may think you are fishing an area thoroughly, but without being highly skilled with a baitcasting reel and having the ability to "payout" line at a rapid rate when the jig hits the water, the pendulum effect is going to get the best of you. Baitcasters have their place, without question, it's just not deep-water jigging from an anchored position.

Making bottom contact is also extremely important. The clicking of a jighead along the bottom, be it rocky or soft, really attracts fish and may be the only way they feel/see (through the lateral line) the jig down there. Quite often you won't even get a bite until you've made bottom contact. Plus, how do you know you?re even at or near the bottom until you can feel it at the rod-tip. If you can't feel the bottom you could easily be 10 feet off from it and miss the strike-zone by a mile. Your going to lose some jigs while learning the bottom in areas where there is bottom structure, that's just part of the learning curve for any particular area. So be prepared, don't start out using $2 jigs.

Here's something that I use quite often in areas with a real nasty bottom.. like rebar infested areas that look like the old kid?s game "pick up sticks", or ledge grain that runs parallel to your jig's swing. or when your just plain sick of losing them and your down to your last few.

You can use tricks like "over bending the hook",

leaving the hook-point pointed at the eye of the hook, instead of running parallel with the shank. This makes the jig less susceptible to hang-ups. Wire hook-guards also work well. Both methods will hook less fish, but make an area with a nasty bottom more of a pleasure to jig fish.

What makes a jig hang up? In most cases it's because the jig is too light and your trying hard to get to the bottom with it, the current pulls a big down-current swoop in your line, in turn, puts the jig in the best position TO hang-up- jig's head and hook point face in the direction of travel.
the best way to combat this situation, is to go a bit heavier, and to use small quick snatches of the rod tip throughout the swing; not enough to impart action to the jig because your trying to imitate dead or dying bait. The small snatches are only to keep the line as straight as possible and to keep the jig angled from sideways to backwards facing in it's direction of travel. If done properly the jig only twitches, stays on bottom, and faces sideways when beside you and backwards through the tail end of the swing.

I hope that you can picture this in your mind the way I described the technique. Once mastered, (took me years) you'll be in the strike-zone much longer, and the hook will be in a much better position to tumble freely, hook the bottom less, and hook fish better.

Damn! Your jig is hung and it's solid! Don't keep sending it deeper by pulling harder with the rod. Once you recognize that it's hung, grab the line between the reel and the first eye, pull out an arms length of line and hold it, draw the line tight with the rod waaaay over your head (you may have to pull slack from the reel to do this). Now with everything tight, rod bent way back, an arms length of line pulled away with your free hand, let the line go, like a slingshot and release the rod tension at the same time. About 80% of the time the jig pops free as long as you haven't sunk the hook into something. If it doesn't pop free, don't keep yanking with the rod, it's not good for your equipment and it digs the line into your spool (making your next cast a snap-off or sending an eagles nest in to your rod guides). Just set the rod down and grab the line (with glove) and it will either pull free, straighten the hook, or break off at the jig and you won't be leaving long strands of line attached to the jig that's hung.

If you're just learning to jig fish, just be prepared to lose jigs. Hopefully each time you lose one you learn something, and don't repeat it over and over.... You have to fish the nasty stuff cuz that's where the fish are.... Be prepared. It can be frustrating but really rewarding as well. :D
Beware the "sneak attack"!!
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