Getting Started with Vertical Jigging
When you think of fishing, you might imagine people on a boat or jetty, waiting expectantly for their catch. But there are many different ways to fish, and in this article we’re going to talk about vertical jigging.
Vertical jigging is one of the most effective techniques used by anglers all over the world to catch a multitude of fish species from virtually any depth. The hit and sheer speed of the fish as it takes off with your jig, and the physicality that this technique requires makes it highly addictive for anglers. Vertical jigging is a fishing technique that consists of darting a weighted knife style jig, rigged with assist hooks up and down the water column. Using a solid rod/reel combo is absolutely essential as the hook up with a tough fighting fish can certainly put your gear to the test. Vertical Jigging can be demanding and requires a good basic level of fitness to last a full day on the water.
For those looking to experience this fast paced method of fishing there are a few things worth noting before you get out on the water.
Once you have decided to get into vertical jigging it’s critical to set yourself up with the right gear. For this technique, you’ll need a rod that is made for vertical jigging. This is generally an overhead style rod that will give you more control than a spinning rod. Things to look for in a jigging rod all start with the top third or tip end. Just like goldilocks and the three bears; a tip that is too hard or too soft will not perform properly. You want a tip that is stiff enough to rip your jig through the water so your rod doesn't overload, while being soft enough that you can still feel your jig on the end of your line. The mid and butt section of the rod is your power house. This area provides both lift and the power needed to subdue the fish once hooked.
Japanese branded/style rods will have a jig weight rating in which you can use to select the rod most suited to the fish you'll be targeting and the jig you'll be jigging. In addition to the jig weight rating, the rod should also outline the PE rating assisting you to select the braided line to spool on your reel. This leads us into the next item in the vertical jigging tackle kit.
You’ll also want to use Overhead Jigging Reels, which hold enough line so that you won’t run out! It also has gear ratios so you can get through heavy cover with ease.
Choosing the right fishing reel is important if you want to be successful at vertical jigging. The list of jigging reels is getting larger and larger. The latest overhead jigging reels are being built with narrow spools with gear ratios ranging between 4.1:1 to 6.2:1 and some higher up to 7.1:1 for faster moving species. Narrow reels are beneficial because a narrow spool will allow braided fishing line to lay evenly across the spool as opposed to a wider spool. A narrow spool will minimize sideways torque or wobble when winding and the overall reel weight will be much lighter and more evenly balanced, compared to a wider spool. Your reel will need to have a high end drag system (commonly lever drag style) capable of 10-20kg of max drag pressure to handle hard fighting ocean species. Line capacity of the reel is also a big consideration. Depending on how deep you are jigging, you should try and have a minimum of 200m - 300m of spare braid on your reel to avoid being spooled. Spooled meaning 'run out of line'. For example - If you are fishing in 100m of water, you'll want at least 300m to 400m of braid on your reel for that piece of mind if the fish takes your jig for a run. Our top picks when it comes to jigging reels are:
The Poseidon 150 Mini: Specifically designed for slow and fast jigging techniques, this reel is the perfect addition to chasing those smaller to mid range sized species. Don't be fooled by its physical size though. It can really punch above its size and weight!
The NEXT Series: Specifically designed for fast and slow jigging techniques, the NEXT Series also has you covered for bottom bouncing baits and trolling skirted lures. NEXT offers a wide range of reel sizes to suit your outfit anywhere from 2 - 8 PE-rated rods.
A braided fishing line is a must when vertical jigging. Depending on your rod and reel set up, anywhere from 20-100lb braid would be recommended. Using multicoloured braid with depth indicators is a great way to help you determine the depth of your jig if you know that the fish are at a certain level in the water column. Having a heavier line than needed tends to lead to less line breaks which leads to saving money on jigs in the long run. Most anglers will opt to fill their reels with braided fishing line, then tie a section of fluorocarbon that matches the breaking strength of the braid or ups the breaking strength of the braid. For example: if you have 25lb braid, going with a 30-50lb section of fluorocarbon is common. What's the benefit of using a fluorocarbon leader? Simple, fluorocarbon is designed to be translucent, thus being invisible underwater. It also has a larger abrasion strength than braids, which will help defend against the sharp toothy critters that you are trying to catch or any reef and structure you may be jigging around. Do not overlook your line when setting up your vertical jigging rod; your rod and reel help you fight the fish and jig, where your line will be under tension the entire time.
Tasline Braid 8x Elite White Spools: The Greatest Fishing Line In The World. Tasline creates premium braid for the most demanding anglers while also providing abrasion resistance when you need it most
Now that you have your rod, reel, line and lure all set up, lets talk about some techniques that will help you in catching and locating fish.
Location, Location, Location
When vertical jigging, being overtop of structure, and ideally FISH, is imperative to success. Bouncing your lure up and down in a spot where there are no fish will make for sore arms and sour fishermen. There is a lot of water offshore; where does one start?!
First things first, if you are new to this technique or brand new to an area, hire a local guide. Your guide will have spent countless hours honing in on the patterns of your local waters and will be able to put you on fish right away. Talk to your guide about where you are fishing, what kind of structure is underneath the boat, and what seasonal patterns you are taking advantage of. A guide will increase your odds of hooking up and will be able to teach you a ton in the process.
Speaking of structure, this will be the most important factor to consider when locating fish. Look for reefs, large rock piles, converging currents, large humps surrounded by deep water, or any man-made structures. All of these oceanic habitats will attract fish and should be looked for when finding a good vertical jigging spot. As you become more familiar with these structures, you will start to understand what species of fish like to hangout where, during different times of the year. The exciting part about vertical jigging around large pieces of structure is you never know what is going to be tugging at the end of your line!
Finding these structures can be a daunting task if you are new to the sport. Once again, a local guide will be able to give knowledge that would have taken you years to come across yourself, this will help cut your learning curve in half. Having a solid fish finder in your boat will allow you to scan the bottom of the ocean and find any changes in bottom composition as well as depth which are both indicators of fishy structure. Nautical maps of your area will also come in handy. Not only for pointing out well known reefs, contour lines (changes in depth), and other large features, but for navigation purposes as well. Ensuring you get out on the water and returning safely is a key factor in any enjoyable day on the water.
Keeping your lure in the strike zone, which tends to be the bottom 1-5ft in most situations, is the key to your vertical jigging success.
Using small turns of the handle of your fishing reel and the tip of your jigging rod to gently lift your jig up off the bottom and then let it flutter back down to the bottom will all but guarantee your success during your next vertical jigging mission.
Be sure to change your jigging pattern and pay attention to which movements induce a fish to strike. Gently touching your lure to bottom then lifting just a few ft above bottom, over and over in a sporadic pattern, may be the ticket to get finicky fish to strike; other times large vertical jigs where you rip your lure 2–5 ft at a time with slow pauses in between could be just what the doctor ordered. Regardless of your jiggin speed and technique, pay attention to what lure motions are most effective in that moment so that when you find success you can replicate it.
Tying it all together
Trying to introduce a method of fishing that has been used for years and has a large history in fresh and salt water applications cannot be summed up in a short blog post. This information is a starting point into one of the most versatile and effective methods of fishing one can engage in. Good gear, finding fishy structure, and keeping your lure in the strike zone will all assist you at the start of your vertical jigging journey. Consult with local guides, tackle shops, and other “fish-heads” in your area to add information and techniques into your repertoire and you will be well on your way to becoming a jigging master.