Jigging with Lures
Jigging can be a very effective method of catching fish, but like all forms of fishing, using hit and miss methods will give you hit and miss results. In many ways, successful jigging requires more work in identifying where fish are likely to be, than any other form of fishing. This is why many fishers are unsuccessful at catching fish using jigs.
One important fishing rule is Where you fish is the most important factor in catching fish. If a fisherman cannot identify where fish are likely to be holding, it is most likely that this fisherman will catch no fish. This remains true no matter what type of fishing tackle, or bait, they use. Using jigs where fish are not is a complete waste of time.
At least when bait fishing, there is a chance that fish may be attracted to where you are fishing by the smell of your bait or berley. Identifying likely fish-holding territory in the general area you have chosen to fish, is even more critical when jig fishing than in any other form of fishing.
The jigging technique consists of raising your rod anywhere from six inches to six feet, throwing some slack in the line as the rod tip is lowered toward the water, pausing and then raising the rod upward again. A two second pause is recommended after the lure has been allowed to fall. It's best to vary the distance of the upward rod motion with each sweep so the jig produces the most erratic and varied actions possible. Examples of fish that respond well to jigging are Trevally, Yellowtail Kingfish, Tailor and Queenfish.
Types of Jigs for Fish
There are two basic types of jigs for fish, Surface Jigs and Heavy Jigs. Surface Jigs are typically light in weight and stay in the upper section of the strike zone or water column.This would be approximately from just below the surface down to around 8 metres.
Surface Jigs work the best in a situation where fish are boiling, chasing bait, breezing or puddling.
Heavy Jigs are used to reach fish in the lower section of the strike zone. Heavy Jigs would be used in a situation where fish may be holding deep under the surface, like offshore tuna or when you are fishing over deep structure.
Situations may arise where you have located and identified a school of fish on the sounder, yet jigging wont even raise a bite. Some pelagic fish, like Kingfish, are extremely defensive and they often strike out of territorial protection. Jigging quickly can cause the fish to make a split second decision whether to leave the lure alone or to have a go. By constantly working the lure, you can invoke the required response from a fish.
Strikes which come when working a jig almost always occur as the lure is falling. Hesitation in the descent of a lure, a twitch of the line, a "tap" or any other unusual motion or happening as the lure is falling should be immediate reason for setting the hook. Many times you will not be able to detect the "strike", especially with squid, but will feel resistance as you begin to raise the rod. This too signals "set the hook".
An aid in detecting strikes when a lure is falling is the use of a high-visibility line. By carefully watching the line as the jig is falling, you will be able to detect slight twitches in the line as the strike occurs.
Selecting Jigs and Lures
Regardless of whether you're fishing salt or fresh water, you should try to match the size of the jig as closely as you can to the prevalent baitfish in the area, as well as to your tackle.
If using lightweight lures, you'll need lighter tackle, the opposite applying to heavier jigs. The desired depth also has a great deal to do with your selection of a jig. For example, you will need a heavier lure for fishing in 25 metres of water than needed for fishing 8 metre depths.
Also, another important factor in jig weight selection is to use the lightest jig possible to reach the bottom with the line nearly vertical, while the jig retains a 'fluttering' motion as it sinks. The whole idea of a jig is a lure that looks like a crippled or hurt bait fish.
As a rough general guide select a lure weight, use the following formula. Take your breaking strain of the line you are using in kilos, add a nought, and this is the lure weight in grams. For example, 10 kilo line plus a 0, equals a 100g jig. You can go up or down about 20% to take account of water depth and current.
It should also be noted that lure shape can make a difference. For instance if you are in deep water or in a fast current, instead of tying on a heavier lure, try using a narrower profile jig. These narrower jigs will sink faster, without adding bottom-plummeting weight. In shallower water a wider profile lure, with a more pronounced flutter may do the trick.
When retrieving jigs no matter what style, you will have to experiment with the speed and depth of the lure. You never know what may work for that particular day. Everyday on the water is different ! It may be a slow wind on the surface to entice slow puddling fish or maybe a very fast retrieve just under the surface that gets the attention of fish that are boiling and chasing bait.
Again, you want to analyze what is going on in the water and try to reproduce that in the way of your jig size and color and on your jig retrieve. Another important factor is to make sure your jig is swimming naturally. It seems as though most jigs on the market have their own magical speed at which they perform the best.
Squid jigging most often takes place at night with bright overhead lights to attract the squid. Sometimes squid can be caught by jigging during the daytime, especially in areas where they come in large schools for spawning, but more often they are caught at night with the help of lights.
Squid eat a lot and therefore grow very fast. Squid feed mainly on fish and prawns, hence the reason for prawn type jags being such a popular lure used by many anglers. Being attracted to light, the most popular method for catching Squid is at night time by squid jigging under jetty lights.
They swim very fast using water jet propulsion but still are often eaten by whales, seals, birds and large fish. They also change colour as they move from shade to light and vice versa and are therefore at times difficult to see. This explains why they can be difficult to catch and why jigging is most often the best method.
It is important to keep the jig moving constantly in the water. This is usually done by simply jerking the line, quickly pulling in the slack, jerking once again and so on, until the jig is back to the surface. The line is then thrown out and allowed to sink to the desired depth, and the same jerking motion is repeated over again.
Squid's obvious and major form of defense, and offense, is its ability to camouflage itself and blend in naturally within its surroundings, almost making itself invisible. But, Squid are basically stupid. If they fall off the bait or prawn jig, they will usually stay within the area and provide another chance to be caught.
If you are fishing under bright lights you may be able to see the squid approaching the jig. If a squid comes at the jig at high speed, this means it is attracted towards your jig and it will probably grab the jig. As soon as you see the squid grab the jig and the line tightenning, you should strike to set the hooks and then steadily wind the squid in. Don't let the line go slack, otherwise you may lose your squid.
Give the jig a few short jerks and then retrieve the jig very slowly. If a squid approaches the jig slowly, you can try to let the jig sink slowly until the squid grabs it or give the jig a short jerk and then keep retrieving it slowly. If the squid don't look terribly excited, you can sometimes get them excited by using a fast, erratic retrieve.
If you can get the squid to approach the jig very quickly, then your chances of a hook-up often improve. Sometimes the jerky movement will only scare the squid and so you should watch the squid carefully to see how it reacts.
Often the squid will follow the jig and take it at the very last moment as you are about to lift the jig from the water. If a group of squid follow your jig, then your chances will be better since the extra competition can encourage the squid to grab the jig.
Squid frequently 'test' the jig by timidly touching it. They do this by first approaching right up to the jig so as to face the jig 'side-on'. They then use their long legs to feel the jig but don't actually grab it. A strike at this stage producesses little success in a hook up, and most times will scare the squid away.
When handling caught squid, be wary of the ink that the squid will squirt out. Hold the squid firmly behind its head, point it away from you, and wait for it to deplete its ink sack. One method of safely depleting the ink sac is, prior to landing the squid, simply leave the squid on the water with your line under tension so as not to lose it. Most times the squid will try one last effort in defense and deplete most of its ink into the water.
Keep two things in mind when catching Squid. Reel a jagged Squid in slowly, otherwise the drag created by the squid in the water could in fact rip the squid off your jig, and secondly, it is not uncommon for the squid to be hanging onto your jag by a tentacle.
The Importance of Colour
Color becomes very important related to the depth you'll be fishing, with colors changing depending upon how deep they go. Red filters out of the color spectrum first at about 9 metres and yellow and chartreuse at about 18 metres with blues, greens and darker colors the last ones to turn gray.
White and/or pearl turn gray at about 18 metres and black is always black, regardless of depth. This means a fish in deep water will see blacks, grays, blues and greens in terms of day-to-day food while a shallow water fish would be tuned in to all colors.
When it comes to choosing colors and sizes try using the following basic guide lines, as they can increase your odds of catching fish on jigs. First, try to determine where the fish may be holding or feeding so you can decide whether to use a Surface Jig or a Heavy Jig. Then determine what the fish are feeding on. What the fish are feeding on is to be one of the most critical observations.
Tides & Currents
A knowledge of tides and currents is essential for success in salt water drift jigging. Feeding activity of salt water gamefish is at its maximum during the period from one hour before, through and one hour after a tide change. A tide cycle has two highs and two lows so there are at least two daylight tide change periods to fish each day which provide optimum conditions.
Charting one tide period, we would have low slack (the time of change), ebb (run out) and back to low slack. If the tide fluctuation is minimal between high and low, fish will be active throughout the tide cycle along rips, in eddies and many times in open water. But the period before slack tide, during the slack and just after will still provide you with top angling as bottomfish will feed most actively when they don't have to battle currents.
You'll have about three hours of prime fishing time around each tide change and it's extremely important to fish these periods intensely.
If the tides are moving fast, salt water gamefish will seek shelter around structure such as points of land, underwater islands and other areas where they won't have to battle the current. These will be the places to seek them out with your jigging lures. Bottomfish, on the other hand aren't influenced by the tides and always are close to rocks, pinnacles and dropoffs so your search for these should be concentrated near these structures.
As for line size you want to use 10 - 15 kg. test for throwing fishing jigs. There are a few reasons for fishing with heavier line. Firstly, you never know what size fish is going to strike your jig. Secondly, when a fish strikes a jig, it is a reactionary strike, as they are focused on the jig itself, and not the line size. Also, if you happen to hook a small fish it is easy to bounce the fish onto the boat rather than call for the gaff to retrieve your jig back.
Line strength of 5 - 7 kg is suitable for squid jigging.
One question that often seems to pop up when jigging for fish is whether to use treble or single hooks.
Treble hooks do hook-up more often. They also hook-up on the bottom more often as well. But many fish are lightly hooked on trebles, and the foul-hooked rate is higher. This is especially true for Queenfish, as when they attack their prey, Queenfish tend slam themselves into their prey, concussing them, then eating at their leisure. However, it can be very difficult to release undersized fish that are treble-hooked without terminally damaging the fish.
Single-hooked jigs tend to have a reduced hook-up rate, but hook set is often more secure. But the single biggest advantage of single hooks is they are much easier to remove when releasing fish. The final added bonus of using single hooks is that it is much easier to add 'movement' and 'action' enhancers to the jig. Many jig fishers add coloured plastic tubing to the hook to add extra life to the jig.
Jigging definately offers a more active alternative to fishing, as compared to either live-bait or bait fishing. It should not be deemed as the best and only method to fishing, but used as a compliment towards other fishing methods that are available to you. It is not uncommon to jig while bait fishing at the same time, offering better odds in a hook up.
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