Fishing Reels For Offshore Jigging
Jigging is just one of many forms of offshore fishing and is definitely not for the faint-hearted. It involves dropping a metal lure/knife jig to the ocean floor and winding it back up with an aggressive action to imitate an injured baitfish. It is very physically demanding and will test tackle to its fullest. Only the best tackle is able to withstand this sort of fishing which is why jigging is one of the most expensive ways to fish. Having said that, jigging has laid claim to catches of all different types of fish species including reef fish, pelagics and game fish including record dogtooth tuna, kingfish, amberjack and samsonfish. Jigging is becoming increasingly popular as more and more anglers become aware of this exciting form of fishing and its ability to catch large predatory fish.
Like any type of fishing, location is the key to success. The best locations are those that hold good schools of baitfish as they are the main food source for species such as kingfish, amberjack and other predatory fish. Generally, these locations are near some sort of structure that consist of either reef, drop-offs, pinnacles or container ships. Investing in a quality GPS (global positioning system) unit is a ‘must have’ for locating these areas and for offshore fishing in general. It allows the angler to see everything that is underneath the boat whether its baitfish or predatory fish and the type of bottom you’ll be fishing in.
Jigging can be fished at anchor or on the drift very productively. If fishing at anchor, be mindful and make as minimal noise as possible. Try to get it right the first time because the more times you attempt to anchor correctly and if you include the engine noise, the fish may have already been spooked which greatly decreases your chances of catching them. Once your anchored, start a burley trail with cubes of old bait tossed out the back continuously or use a burley pot and musher. This will help to keep the fish in the area and sometimes bring about a feeding frenzy.
If drift fishing, make sure you use a drift anchor or sometimes called a sea parachute. It greatly slows down the drift on days where the current is raging. Looking like an oversized umbrella with a hole in the centre, it works by water entering the mouth of the parachute and exiting out the rear through the hole of the parachute. When the boat is moving, the sea anchor is almost pulling against it with the water pressure entering and exiting through the sea parachute. When you repeat the drift, remember to drive around the fish and not over them. Fish have a ability to sense the signal transmitted by the depth sounder. You also want to minimise the amount of engine noise so you don’t spook them.
The best technique for jigging is an aggressive and rigorous lift and wind technique that some call vertical jigging, mechanical jigging or even speed jigging. There are two popular ways you can do this. The first method involves rapidly lifting and dropping the rod continuously complemented by half a turn of the reels handle with each lift and drop. Each time you lift, turn the reels handle starting from the bottom to the top. Each time you drop, turn the reels handle again this time from top to bottom. The second method involves a sharp lift of the rod then wind the reel as fast as you can as you lower the rod then lift the rod again and repeat the process. When your jig reaches the bottom, start jigging with either one of these methods and if you haven’t had a strike within a few minutes, lower the jig back down and repeat the process.
As mentioned earlier, jigging is unforgiving on fishing gear and only the best will survive. When selecting a reel, the angler has a choice between spin or overhead. With spin reels, apart from weight, large line capacity and strong drags, look for one that has a low gear ratio, preferably in the 4.3:1 to 4.9:1. This will allow the angler to really rip the jig through the water column and also aid in fighting the fish when hooked up down deep. If opting for an overhead reel, look for one with a narrow spool as this will eliminate any wobble on the spool when jigging. Recommended spin reels include the Shimano stella, twinpower, saragosa, spheros, Accurate twinspin, Daiwa saltiga z and saltiga s extreme, Penn spinfisher USA model and the Pflueger torsion. Recommended overhead reels include the Shimano ocea jigger, trinidad, torium, Daiwa saltiga, Accurate boss, Studio Mark blue heaven and Jigging Master reels.
Other recommended gear for offshore jigging:
Rods – Shimano bluerose, jigwrex, t-curve, , Smith AMJ series and nirai, Jigging master 350-500 series, Ocean revolution 10000 and Hots Wei world
Jigs – 100-500g Williamson abyss and benthos, Zest super deep and deep slim, Saltiga sacrifice, River2sea sea rock and zero dropper, Smith nagamasa, FC labo SL, Hots drift tune
Braid – 50-80lb Sunline pe jigger, Daiwa saltiga boat braid, YGK ultra jigman, Varivas avani, Tuffline XP
Leader – 100-150lb Varivas, Fisherman, Seagur, Yo-zuri, Surecatch, Penn 10x
Hooks – 7/0-13/0 assist hooks by Owner, Fisherman, Shout kudakos, Mustad hoodlum and big gun
Gloves – Zenaq, Smith, Fisherman, Jigging master
Belts – Hots, Fisherman, Seven seas, Jigging master
Miscellaneous – 200-400lb swivels, solid rings and split rings, split ring pliers, braid scissors, gimbal belt
When rigging, start by forming a double on the braid using a bimini twist. This can be anywhere between 50-100cm in length. Next, join the bimini twist double to a leader line of your choice. This connection can be made using an albright knot or the slim beauty. Wind-on leaders are attached using a loop-to-loop or cross loop connection. Leader length should be about 2-5m rated at about 100-150lb. The connection from the leader to the jig is a simple uni knot or loop knot tied directly to a swivel. The swivel is connected to a split ring which is connected directly to the jig. The assist hook is also connected to the split ring. The hook is attached to a piece of kevlar cord with a solid ring at the end. Attachments are made using heavy duty split ring pliers.
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