In this post I’ll be sharing on Vertical Jigging in shallow as well as deeper water which techniques & lures (ie. jigs) used are slightly different. Vertical Jigging is also called by some as Speed Jigging or High Pitch Jigging where the jig is made to move at medium to high speed up water column mimicking a frantic escaping baitfish. For speed jigging using small 10-30g jigs some termed it as Micro Jigging.
I emphasize all information shared in this blog is just my personal opinion & experience which some may beg to differ 🙂 If you have any thoughts or questions please leave them at the end of this post.
Common Terminologies Used
Before proceeding further I’ll attempt to clarify some of the common terminologies used in vertical/speed & slow jigging which can be quite confusing
- Pitch – one up & down movement of the rod; short pitch (ie. short stroke) is normally up to 9 o’clock where long pitch (ie. long stroke) can be as high as 11 o’clock.
- Pitching – continuous up & down movement of rod; slow pitching (aka slow pitch) is used in slow jigging while fast pitching is used in vertical/speed jigging.
- Fall – descent of a slow jig according to the pitch; short pitch will result in short fall while long pitch will create a long fall.
Hint: Note pitching of rod is independent to the number of cranks of reel handle. There is no fix rule in matching these together…you can do fast pitching of rod with fast or slow cranking in vertical/speed jigging. And you can do slow pitching of rod with partial or a full crank in slow jigging. Aim is to find an effective combination you are comfortable with. Obviously you need to do fast pitching in vertical/speed jigging & slow pitching in slow jigging…they cannot be interchanged.
- For rod, reel & braided line recommended for Jigging Vertical, please refer to earlier post How to Match Rod and Reel? which covers the 6 forms of fishing practised.
- For leader I’m using mostly Unitika Silver Thread Fluorocarbon FC ( eBay ) from 30 to 80lb as water condition offshore in shallow & deep water is clearer compared to inshore. For the case of micro jigging 30lb leader is usually used with small jigs or rubbers matched with light tackle.
- Advantage of this brand is its hardness is lower about 2/3 of 100% full FC leader enabling FG knot wrapping to bite more securely into it giving the angler a bigger window of error of a poorly tied knot. You should have heard of cases where even properly tied knot can slip on the hard surface of a 100% full FC leader.
- Though its hardness is lower than full FC it’s still higher than that of nylon monofilament leader & providing the same refractive index in water as other full FC leader.
- Comes in 100m per retail plastic spool giving good value for money.
- Most pre-rigged hooks sold are in pair of 2 hooks per set but you can also find sets sold with only 1 hook per set. It’s a personal choice which to use but obviously lesser hooks will mean likely lesser harm to both fish & anglers.
- Affix hook set to terminal tackle via split ring & that is the same point where the front of jig (where the eyes are) should be attached to as well. If there are no eyes then it will be an issue as speed jigs can be front or end-weighted. Do note attaching jig the wrong way will produce a profoundly different effect on its movement. You need to confirm where jig is to be attached before buying.
- Hooks should be at about upper 1/3 to 1/2 mid point of jig length. Too long it may get lesser hook-ups or even tangle with the leader.
- Use as minimum terminal tackle as possible as every one of them is a possible weak link. Leader is tied to one barrel swivel with a split ring where the hook set & jig are attached. Hook set will come with one solid ring…giving a total of 3 terminals.
- Jigging vertical (pre-rigged)
- Jigging vertical (self-tied medium)
- Jigging vertical (self-tied heavy)
Types of Jigs – for Vertical/Speed & Slow Jigging
Profile of jigs for Vertical/Speed Jigging (includes Micro Jigging) are usually slim, front or end-weighted & round or elliptical in cross section so that they can cut & dart thru water swiftly with lesser effort from the angler.
- Vertical/Speed jigging – jigs are slim, front or end-weighted with round or elliptical cross section
- Action on the jig is imparted & depended on the skill of the angler to make it life-like looking like a fleeing baitfish.
- Bite usually occurs on the up when jig is darting upwards in medium to high speed.
- These jigs cannot be used for slow jigging as they will not flutter but will drop straight down due to its slim & end-weighted profile.
In comparison, jigs for Slow Jigging are mostly flat & broad, center-weighted & elliptical in cross section which flutter & need more effort to lift them up in water.
- Slow jigging – jigs are flat & broad, center-weighted with elliptical cross section
- Action on the jig is created by the jig itself when it’s fluttering downwards swaying from side to side.
- Bite usually occurs on the down when jig is fluttering downwards slowly by the force of gravity on the weight of the jig.
- Though this profile is mainly used in slow jigging we’ve found success in using some of these profiles in deep water speed jigging eg. Shout Stay jigs which is long, slim & not as broad as general slow jigs.
Hint: A rule of thumb to determine jig weight to be used for certain depth is to take Depth (metres) x 2 eg. 50m depth x 2 = 100g jig approximately. You may need to further adjust weight according to current flow & jig profile. As slow jigs flutter down taking more time to descend some anglers use heavier jigs to reach bottom faster.
Shallow Water (depth less than 50m)
This depth is typical of water around Singapore & Malaysia where I do most of my shallow water vertical/micro jigging in the day time. We do not jig at night in shallow waters on small boats due to safety reasons.
Broadly I use 2 types of jigs for shallow water vertical jigging in the range 10-60g depending on the current flow. For jigs in the 10-30g range some anglers will term it as micro jigging.
- Tungsten – due to its high density a tungsten jig will weigh more than a lead jig of the same size & volume. The main draw is you can still maintain a small jig profile when fishing in heavy current without the need of a bigger size lead jig. The other advantage is it takes much lesser time to hit bottom increasing your fishing time. The only setback is it costs slightly more than lead jig.
- Lead – this is the most common material used in making fishing jigs nowadays. The main draw of this material is its low cost but environmentalists are saying lead on the seabed is poisoning the water surrounding those lost jigs.
Lures – Jigs for Shallow Water
- Weight used – 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 45, 60g; micro jigs 10-30g
- Preferred colors – reflective silver, blue/red, blue, yellow, black
- Remark – small profile appeals to bottom & mid water feeders of all sizes; especially effective in stronger current bring jig down fast
- White Rabbit MJ-3000
- Weight used – 20, 40, 60, 100g
- Preferred colors – reflective body, luminous belly
- Remark – recommended by boat captain; effective in fast jigging on Spanish mackerel & trevally
Techniques – Jigging Vertical/Speed/Micro – Shallow Water
- Cast out & while waiting for jig to hit bottom get ready to close reel bail & lift rod to clear jig of snags on seabed. If jig stays on seabed there will be possibility of it being snagged especially with strong current.
- Once jig clears bottom, start to jig simply by constant retrieval of the reel combined with coordinated lift & drop of the rod. How fast the reel retrieval & up/down rod movement will depend on how fast you want the jig to move up water column. Try different speeds of reel & rod movement to find one that is most comfortable to you.
- After a few cranks open reel bail & let jig hits bottom again before repeating cycle. How many cranks will depend on what fish you’re targeting. For bottom feeders you can do around 10 cranks while for mid water feeders you can do up to 20 which should be about the middle of water column. Constantly adjust your number of cranks according to your target species, current, where the fish are hanging, etc.
- Each jigging cycle starts when jig hits bottom & ends when you release line for the next cycle.
- Be prepared to change jig weight to suit current flow at that moment as current can change with time & terrain. Objective is to fish with a jig that can flow out with the current to hit bottom eventually & not a too heavy one that drops straight down vertically to the seabed. And on the other hand not one that is too light which flies out like a kite never reaching bottom.
- I will jig in 2 styles in terms of direction depending on current flow
- Jig-in – if jig is heavy enough, then cast out, hit bottom & jig in a short distance before releasing line for jig to drift out to hit bottom again to repeat jigging cycle. You can repeat this 3 or 4 time hitting bottom depending on how far you cast out before jig reaches boat side. Note your 1st time hitting bottom will be the furthest while your last time will be nearest to you. This happens when current is not too strong & you have a jig heavy enough to jig-in against current.
- Jig-out – if jig is light enough, then just drop jig boat side, hit bottom & jig in a short distance before releasing line for jig to drift out to hit bottom again to repeat jigging cycle. This time jig will actually drift out faster due to stronger current than in above jig-in scenario. Note your 1st time hitting bottom will be nearest to you while your last time will be the furthest. This happens when current is strong & you have a jig light enough to be drifted out. Once you change to a heavier jig then you will likely need to adopt the jig-in style.
- Purpose of the 2 styles above are similar…ie. to search the seabed for fish. Thus it’s beneficial if you can stick to the same number of times you jig in each cycle eg. count to 15x before releasing line. This way if you have a bite you’ll roughly know the direction & how far out the fish is. You can expect your next bite to be in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd jigging cycle if other fish are hanging in that same spot.
Deep Water (depth 50-120m)
This is my typical depth range which I called Deep Water due to limitation in my physique & age in jig & tackle handling. To some this is considered as shallow but for me if I go beyond this range it becomes more like a pain than enjoyment due to the heaver jigs & tackles needed. Moreover you still can get biggies in this range without having to upsize to go deeper.
In deep water, we jig both in the day & night time if staying onboard mother boat which is anchored at night in about 30m of water.
Lures – Jigs for Deep Water
- Shout Stay ( eBay )
- Though this jig is center-weighted & profiled more like a fluttering slow jig we found success in adopting it in speed jigging. As it’s not as wide & flat as normal slow jig we can still fast & medium speed jig it with ease. As its name said…Stay…it will descend swaying in a somewhat horizontal state staying in the same linear position.
- The next trial will be to use it as a slow jig to compare its effect on fish versus using as fast jig.
- Weight used – 100, 130, 160, 200g
- Preferred colors – yellow, silver, blue/red
- Mg-CRAFT Skill
- Weight used – 100, 160, 200g
- Preferred colors – silver
- Remark – effective in 1st light fishing; used with success in shallow water jigging while the rest were popping on moving mother boat
- Mg-CRAFT Skill L
- Weight used – 120, 180, 240g
- Preferred colors – silver, blue, red
- Remark – slim profile very suitable for fast jigging; appeals to fast pelagic like yellow fin tunas
- Storm Super Gomoku Slim ( eBay )
- Weight used – 30, 50, 60, 80, 100g
- Preferred colors – UV blue or pink
- Remark – effective for night jigging due to its UV finish
Techniques – Jigging Vertical – Deep Water
- As current in deep water is usually stronger than in shallow water, the jig-out style is normally used where jig is dropped boat side to drift out before hitting bottom. There isn’t a need to cast out as jig will drop back to about the same spot (if dropped boat side) due to the depth.
- When jig hits bottom, similarly as in shallow water, lift jig immediately to clear any snags on seabed before jigging cycle begins. In deep water, my high & low point of rod tip (ie. pitch) is wider than shallow water jigging. Try different pitches to find one that is comfortable to your style. Basically small pitches will lead to faster jigging while large pitches take more time to complete.
- Like in shallow water jigging cranking of the reel needs to be coordinated with the pitching of the rod. For my style I usually do one complete crank of the reel handle to match one single pitch of the rod (ie. one up & down movement of rod). And this one complete crank is done when rod reaches the lowest point of the pitch.
- Adjust the number of pitches to your target species before line is release to begin the next cycle. If targeting bottom species like groupers, snappers, etc, you can count to about 15 pitches before stopping to release line. If targeting mid water feeders like tunas & amberjacks, you can count up to 30 pitches (ie. jig is higher up preferably in middle of water column) before dropping line again.
- Observe rod tip when jigging to ensure line doesn’t get wrapped around tip as line will burst if there is a strong take. If line wrapping around tip happens regularly that will mean your pitching of rod is faster than the falling of your jig & line ie. your rod tip is regularly brought below the line for wrapping to occur. Rod tip should always be above line at all times during pitching to avoid wrapping. Either slow down your pitching or change to a heavier jig to pull line down faster to be below rod tip always.
Techniques – Jigging Night
- I want to share briefly on experience in night jigging from an anchored mother boat eg. in Maldives in about 30m of water. Everything mentioned above for daytime jigging apply to night jigging with the exception that jigs with luminous or UV finish is preferred due to obvious reason. One good option is the Storm Super Gomoku Slim in UV recommended above. Current can be strong at night so get prepared with 60, 80 up to 100g jigs.
- As there are usually more toothy barracuda juveniles during night fishing one tend to use wire leader against them. But I’ve experimented with wire leader & advise it not to be used as it seems the fish, even juvenile barracuda, can sense them & would be spooked. The other headache is sharks which will attack a hooked fish sensing its struggles & vibrations in the water thereby cutting off your leader. There’s nothing much you can do about sharks except to try reeling in your catch faster than the sharks can detect them.
- Nevertheless night jigging is as exciting as it can get & is something you should never miss if staying onboard a mother boat anchored offshore at night. The best window to fish is from one hour before 1st light all the way to just after 1st light when it’s usually one drop one take…it just depends on if you can hook it & bring it up before the shark finishes it. And night time is when the biggies come out to play!
All the best,
PS: Please leave a comment if any information in this site is inaccurate or incorrect…I’m learning too 🙂