LURE FISH­ING

New se­ries – part 1, slow-pitch jig­ging.

Sea Angler (UK) - - CON­TENTS -

Slow-Pitch Jig­ging is be­gin­ning to take off in the UK in a big way. I was first in­tro­duced to it a few years ago when I went out on a field­test­ing mis­sion for Tronix Fish­ing with Pete Cook. Ever since I have en­sured that I have some slow jigs with me at all times, ready to jump at any given op­por­tu­nity to send one down to the seabed.

After a suc­cess­ful ini­tial trip, I started look­ing into SPJ a bit more, and I came across a chap in Mex­ico who spe­cialises in mak­ing all man­ner of jigs. He went by the name of ‘Jimyjigs’, and a quick email later I had some sam­ple lures wing­ing their way across the At­lantic.

I have to say, the qual­ity and fin­ish of them is un­like any­thing else I’ve come across – they are works of art.

More re­cently, I re­ceived a mes­sage from the skip­per of Kel­ley’s Hero III down in Hayling Is­land, ask­ing if I’d be in­ter­ested in a ded­i­cated SPJ day. I wasn’t go­ing to refuse.

Join­ing us was Matt Crook, the UK agent for SAME, an­other com­pany that spe­cialises in all things jig­ging, es­pe­cially slow jig­ging. I dis­cov­ered that Matt has spon­sored the boat with SAME gear, and I was ex­cited to see what was on board.

The beauty of SPJ is that it en­ables you to fish with ex­cep­tion­ally light tackle. Although slow jigs are de­signed to flut­ter, they have a unique bal­ance sys­tem. If you drop the jig over the side and freespool it, the chances are that the jig will be­gin to flut­ter – and that it will take for­ever to get to the seabed, es­pe­cially in 150ft of wa­ter.

What you need to do is lift the jig with your rod tip so it hangs ver­ti­cally, then gen­tly let it go. When you get this correct, the jig will shoot down like a rocket. It’s only when you lift the jig sharply and al­low it to fall that the ac­tion gets im­parted and it be­gins to flut­ter. It’s a clever de­sign that suits the pur­pose per­fectly.

As far as rods and reels go, you can spend a small for­tune on specif­i­cally de­signed ‘spaghetti’ rods, jig­ging mul­ti­pli­ers and the like, but there re­ally is no need un­less you want to re­ally get into it and look the part. You can get away with your reg­u­lar lure fish­ing kit.

I use one of my DB3 or DB4 lure rods, cou­pled with a 4000-size HTO Lure Game fixed-spool reel (nice and cheap) loaded with 20lb Daiwa J-Braid. To the end of the braid I add about three feet of 20lb fluoro­car­bon leader. This is for two rea­sons; firstly to give an ‘in­vis­i­ble’ break be­tween the lure and braid, and also to have some­thing to grab hold of when pulling smaller fish into the boat.

The only other ad­di­tion is a Break­away Mini Link clip tied to the end of the fluoro­car­bon leader, which en­ables changes of lures in an in­stant with­out hav­ing to tie more knots and, ul­ti­mately, shorten the leader.

HOW IT’S DONE

The slow jig­ging method takes a bit of get­ting used to, but it’s ba­si­cally ver­ti­cal jig­ging slowed right down with the aid of specif­i­cally de­signed jigs. The aim is to keep the jig in the strike zone for longer, which en­ables all man­ner of species to home in and grab your lure.

There are two dis­tinct ap­proaches when it comes to the ac­tual phys­i­cal work­ing of a slow jig. Firstly, you can work it by drop­ping down to the bot­tom and im­part­ing a sharp lift­ing of the rod fol­lowed by a sharp drop­ping of the rod tip so the lure to flut­ters back down. Al­ter­na­tively, you can lift the rod and wind down at a steady pace as you drop the rod tip to bring up the lure slowly through the wa­ter col­umn. This is where the term Slow Pitch comes from, be­cause you’re pitch­ing the rod tip and low­er­ing it again in a con­stant fluid mo­tion.

I have found the for­mer tac­tic to work ex­cep­tion­ally well, mostly be­cause it keeps the lure work­ing in a six-feet area right above the seabed, reef or wreck, where most of the tar­get fish are lurk­ing.

The way th­ese jigs are rigged is per­fect for wreck and reef fish­ing. There are no tre­ble hooks, in fact you can fish with ei­ther one or two sin­gle hook stingers, which are rigged on to ny­lon cord and at­tached via a split ring at the top of the jig. Th­ese are called as­sist hooks and they’re deadly ef­fec­tive. Not only do they give the full po­ten­tial of the jig’s ac­tion, but also they help re­duce snag­ging and lost gear.

On this par­tic­u­lar day I man­aged to catch bass while us­ing both a sin­gle hook and twin hook set-up, but I pre­fer the sin­gle-hook ap­proach.

I be­lieve it gives a su­pe­rior hook hold, does less da­m­age to the fish, and ob­vi­ously halves your chances of be­ing hung up on the bot­tom.

CRAZY DAY AFLOAT

As the day of our trip dawned, I picked up my trusty fish­ing com­pan­ion, Jim Mid­g­ley, and we headed south. The tem­per­a­ture was al­ready in the low twen­ties, and with no wind fore­cast we knew we were go­ing to be in for a fan­tas­tic day afloat, if noth­ing else.

The plan was to head off­shore to fish a reef sys­tem for bass and pol­lack, maybe stop­ping at a few wrecks on the way back. This is one of my favourite forms of fish­ing be­cause you get so much more sport when fish­ing a sin­gle lure con­nected di­rectly to the end of your line, with­out any ad­di­tional lead weight swing­ing about. In ad­di­tion, you can feel every­thing that’s go­ing on, even whether your lure is bump­ing rock or mud in more than 150 feet of wa­ter.

As we neared the reef after 90 min­utes of steam­ing, we pre­pared for the first drop of the day. The tide was slack, so we’d be drift­ing over the reef much slower, keep­ing our lures in the strike zone for longer.

Dur­ing the first hour we amassed a few small pol­lack, loads of pout­ing and even a red gurnard, but the bass weren’t in a feed­ing mood just yet. Like any other form of bass fish­ing, we needed to wait for the tide to start run­ning in or­der to wake them up.

As the hour passed I be­gan to won­der if we would find our tar­get species, and de­cided to clip on a flat 120g Jimyjig in flu­oro pink. It’s one of my favourite colours for any type of lure when fish­ing in deep wa­ter for bass. I like blue too. I don’t know why, but they just work.

LIKE BUSES

The tide was run­ning well now and, as the pink lure hit the reef, I lifted it sharply and let it flut­ter down. I felt the jig stop just a cou­ple of feet into its de­scent as my first bass of the day grabbed it. I lifted the rod in­stantly and felt the weight and tell­tale head­shake of a bass con­nected more than 150 feet be­low me. This fish was an­gry, she tore line from the reel, mak­ing nu­mer­ous pow­er­ful runs dur­ing her as­cent to the sur­face.

Skip­per Bex Florence soon had the fish in her net and my heart was thump­ing as I gazed on the rather large bar of sil­ver that was lay­ing on the deck. After a quick photo, we placed her back in the net to weigh her and then hung her over the side to get her breath back. As soon as she started thrash­ing about, we knew she was ready to go, and go she did. What a fan­tas­tic start, a beau­ti­ful fish weigh­ing just over 8lb.

Next up was Matt, with a smaller bass, fol­lowed again by me with an­other cracker of 6lb 8oz to the lumo-pink Jimyjig. While we were con­cen­trat­ing on the bass, Jim Mid­g­ley man­aged to hook a rather lively dou­ble-fig­ure pol­lack, which ran him all around the boat. Then Pete Thatcher hooked into an­other crack­ing bass, over the 8lb mark. Just as quickly as it had all started, the bass fish­ing stopped dead, which can so of­ten be the case when fish­ing a reef. I’m guess­ing the fish sim­ply move to an­other part of the reef where there is less com­mo­tion.

We did try a few more drifts, but couldn’t find them again, not that I was com­plain­ing – I’d caught and re­leased a cou­ple of crack­ers on my in­tended method. ■

A smidge over 8lb, this bass fell to Dave’s flu­oro pink Jimyjig

An HTO Slow Jig pro­ducted a dou­ble-fig­ure pol­lack for Jim Mid­g­ley

The flu­oro pink Jimyjig is a thing of beauty

You only need a small se­lec­tion of slow jigs

Th­ese SAME slow jigs are stun­ning

Matt Crook with one of the smaller bass

NEXT MONTH: In part two, Dave ex­plains the finer points of fish­ing for bass in shal­low wa­ter with weighted soft plas­tics.

Pete Thatcher got in on the ac­tion us­ing a SAME blue and sil­ver jig

Even gurnards will take a slow jig

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