THE ART OF JIG­GING

KING­FISH HAVE A REP­U­TA­TION FOR BE­ING JIG-SHY, BUT IF YOU PRESENT THE RIGHT LURE IN THE COR­RECT WAY, YOUR CHANCES OF A STRIKE ARE GOOD, SAYS TROY DANDO

New Zealand Fishing World - - Contents - TROY DANDO Story and pho­tos by Troy Dando

Pre­sen­ta­tion is ev­ery­thing when jig­ging for bite shy king­fish

Jig­ging has been pop­u­lar for years now, but many an­glers will tell you that catching a king­fish with a jig is far from easy. But king­fish have to eat and there is not al­ways an abun­dant sup­ply of food around and big schools of king­fish move con­sid­er­ably. They po­ten­tially drop their guard and be­come jig tar­gets when there are only a few morsels on of­fer.

The main diet for kings are ka­hawai, pilchards, Jack mack­erel, an­chovies and squid; they will eat al­most any­thing. I’ve seen them eat blue cod, leather jack­ets and even blue pen­guins. When there is lit­tle of their favourite food around they turn into garbage dis­posal units. The best ar­eas to tar­get kings on jigs is al­ways near big schools of king­fish and smaller schools of bait­fish. This does not mean you won't get them on jigs when there are only a few kings and a mas­sive amount of bait fish but it does mean you bet­ter have your ‘A’ game on as to be suc­cess­ful you will have to present your lure in the best way pos­si­ble.

Pre­sent­ing your lure

To give your­self a fight­ing chance of scor­ing a fish you need to bear in mind three things:

Firstly, know­ing where the drop off points are, the tides that af­fect the drift and your es­cape route. It is wise to do some dummy drifts in the area to build in­tel­li­gence on cur­rents. You must also con­sider the wind and how it af­fects the drift line. An ex­posed reef or pin­na­cle in the mid­dle of the ocean is go­ing to be af­fected by the wind in a dif­fer­ent man­ner to a lo­ca­tion close to land.

Se­condly, you must have the proper gear and be set up cor­rectly. You may get away with in­fe­rior gear once or twice, but even­tu­ally you will de­stroy your rods and reels, as king­fish test ev­ery­thing to the limit. It is not nec­es­sary to spend $1500 on a set, but you will not get a qual­ity set for less than $500. For a be­gin­ner, I rec­om­mend a strong par­a­bolic rod in the 200-300 gram range. When us­ing a char­ter boat that drifts with the tide (mean­ing an­glers fish from one side), a rod in the 350-450 gram range is ideal. The abil­ity to use heav­ier jigs com­pen­sates for the faster draft of a multi-party boat ver­sus a pri­vate boat where the cap­tain ma­noeu­vres the boat to keep the an­glers on top of the lines.

A good qual­ity braid with dif­fer­ent colours ev­ery 5-10 me­tres is a must when tar­get­ing king­fish at cer­tain depths in the wa­ter col­umn. The thin­ner the line, the lower the drag is in the wa­ter. The jig

must be pre­sented in the best pos­si­ble way and the lower wa­ter re­sis­tance, the bet­ter move­ment of the jig. I al­ways use a good fluoro­car­bon leader, but oth­ers swear by nor­mal monofil­a­ment lead­ers. What­ever you de­cide upon, make sure it is strong and re­sis­tant to abra­sion. Go for the light­est leader pos­si­ble; a heavy 60-pound leader is not needed even if there is a good chance of catching a 30kg fish in the area.

With reels, it is ideal to get a lever drag sys­tem rather than a star drag. When de­cid­ing on a hook, you should use a well-known brand name that you know is go­ing to last. With jigs there are end­less choices when it comes to shapes, weights, lengths and even colours. Try to "match the hatch" by choos­ing a colour rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the lo­cal bait fish. For ex­am­ple: pink and white one to match squid when they are present. Hav­ing a range of shapes and sizes is key, with top, bot­tom and mid­dle weighted ones to ex­plore a range of move­ments.

Lastly, you need a boat with a good skip­per and a crew. A skip­per who doesn't understand how to ma­noeu­vres to your ad­van­tage is no use at all. Again, for ex­am­ple: it is im­por­tant the boat is placed strate­gi­cally over the fish. Lin­ing up the drift an­gle

while us­ing the mo­tor to keep your jig straight up and down will pro­duce more hook-ups. A good skip­per will also get you away from dan­ger ar­eas once you hook-up and ma­noeu­vre the boat to make fight­ing a fish eas­ier for the an­gler.

Mix it up

The last part of the puz­zle is all about you and putting the above into ac­tion. It is about making the cor­rect choices. The right setup rigged with the right jig, paired with raw de­ter­mi­na­tion. Never give up! If you are not get­ting the hits, change your lure. Put one on up­side down, change colours, change weight and shape. Ba­si­cally, keep jig­ging and even­tu­ally you will get that hit.

Work­ing the wa­ter col­umn is an­other tech­nique that helps the skip­per understand what depth the fish are hold­ing if you are tar­get­ing a school on the sounder. Use your colour marked braid to set your depth and drop an ex­tra ten me­tres be­low the fish, and jig your way back up through them.

Chang­ing your jig­ging pat­terns of­ten means you do not jig the same speed all the time. I mix up my jig­ging style all the time; I may start slow and go faster, or start off fast then go slow then fast again. I also vary the length of the strokes with longer ac­tion get more free fall on the jig. I al­ways con­cen­trate on what is go­ing on when jig­ging to the point where I can feel a king­fish ‘flyby’ the jig on my rod. If a king­fish has tried to hit the jig but com­pletely missed it, the wa­ter dis­rup­tion around the jig makes it go light and you can feel through the rod. If this hap­pens I im­me­di­ately in­crease my jig­ging ac­tion to en­tice the fish back. It works very well, and there is noth­ing like a worked up king­fish smash­ing your line when you are at full noise jig­ging hard.

The only other tip I sug­gest is us­ing skirts on your hooks. This both in­creases and de­creases the bite de­pend­ing on how it is used. I al­most al­ways use small skirts on my hooks as they make the hook eas­ier to in­hale by the king­fish. The skirts do slow the ac­tion of the jig down some­what so it’s really a per­sonal choice to use them or not.

Dif­fer­ent rod weights, ac­tions, line weight, leader weights, jig shapes and jig sizes all have a mas­sive im­pact on the bite. It is not like live bait­ing where you drop the bait and wait for the scared bait­fish on the end of your hook to do all the work for you. Jig­gers have to work for their fish and de­velop a high skill level to con­sis­tently suc­ceed at land­ing th­ese awesome sport­fish.

Next time you hear those words “you will never get a kingy on a jig here mate”, put your skills to the test. You might be sur­prised.

Plas­tic skirts for as­sist hooks can at­tract a king­fish but can also slow down the jig ac­tion making it less at­trac­tive.

Qual­ity hooks, grom­mets, as­sist cord and equip­ment to tie PR knots is es­sen­tial to hold on to those pow­er­ful king­fish at­tached to your rod.

One hun­gry king­fish the au­thor caught that had a blue pen­guin in its belly along with three very large Jack mack­erel.

The au­thor with a king­fish on an ul­tra light jig­ging rod specced to 100gms. Th­ese fast ac­tion jig­ging rods pro­duce a good lure ac­tion with­out los­ing any stop­ping power.

Even the best gear can take a beat­ing as seen here with a top of the range jig bent at a 45-de­gree an­gle af­ter be­ing dealt to by a big king­fish.

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