Capt. Sergio’s Corner By: Capt. Sergio Atanes

Deep jigging or vertical jigging is a fishing method that has been practiced around the world, but is just now getting acceptance from the saltwater anglers on the East coast.  California, Mexico and Cuba have been yoyo jigging for years and have been very productive.

The introduction of the Butterfly Jigging system several years ago opened the door for other manufactures producing new versions of jigging products.  Many of the local companies have also added new jig head designs and soft baits to match the hatch.


Find a location with moderate current and look for rocky areas, ledges or other structures.  A good bottom sounder is important to read not only the bottom, but the fish.  Position the boat directly over the structure or fish and drop a jig. The weight of the jig is determined by the current and depth of water, so I recommend having a good selection of jigs before starting your jigging trip.

Technique Grouper:

This simple technique allows you to drop the jig to the bottom, always staying in touch. By this, I mean you must always feel the jig, as this will help in hook setting and keeping the jig from twisting around your leader or line.

There are several methods of deep jigging: one is positioning the boat directly over the fish; another is drifting over the bottom across the rocks or wreck.  Always drift parallel to the rocks or wreck.  Once the fish are located, it’s time to decide which jig will work best; metal jigs or jig head with soft plastic bait.  Please note that your jig should be heavy enough to always reach the bottom.

When you drift beyond the ledge, rocks or wreck area, crank up and start another up-current drift.  Drop down to the bottom and crank one to two turns on the reel. This should get you several feet off the bottom. Start jigging by lifting the rod tip up in a quick motion and dropping down again. This creates the effect of a wounded bait.  Once a fish is hooked, drop a marker over the side or hit your GPS button, as this will give you a reference point for your next drift or to do a stationary drop. When drifting for your best position in the boat, a good point to remember is that “when the wind is in your face, you are in the right place.”

Anchoring is another choice, if there is a strong current or strong wind. Here, you have a choice to use an anchor or, if you have one, use the newer trolling motor’s spot lock. Position the boat over the structure and start jigging, allowing the jig to hit bottom and then raise it several feet.  It’s best to keep the jig several feet from the bottom to avoid losing the grouper and your jig to the rocks.

Technique Mangrove Snapper

Mangrove snapper jigging is slightly different in that you are fishing right on the bottom rather than above the bottom.  A good bottom machine will mark mangrove snapper as they are grouped together. Drop the jig and follow it down on your bottom machine until it reaches the area where the snapper is showing up and start your jigging at that point. It’s a trial and error for the novice but, with a little hard work, you can manage the technique.  Jig heads with soft baits work best and a little Pro-Cure Saltwater Super Gel scent on the soft baits works wonders to help increase the bite.

Tackle Grouper:

With metal jigs in fast currents or deep water, I prefer Okuma Azores 5000 spinning reel medium heavy action rod with 40-pound test FINS Windtamer braided line tied to 40-pound test clear mono leader at least 40-inches long. I find that a good grade of clear monofilament line works well and has a thinner diameter than fluorocarbon and a lot cheaper in cost.  A tight drag is recommended, since you are fishing over structure. These fish will head for the nearest hole or structure after they strike.  Under normal conditions, I would use a conventional reel for grouper fishing, but I find spinning tackle to be less straining and easier to maintain the proper motion for longer periods of time.

Tackle Mangrove Snapper:

In shallow waters of 15 to 25 feet, I prefer jig heads and soft baits on spinning tackle, medium action rod spooled with 15-pound test FINS Windtamer braided line and a 36-inch fluorocarbon leader of 30-pound test, if the water is clear. I might even go down to 20-pound test leader and make it longer.  I only use fluorocarbon leader 30-pound and 20-pound when fishing the shallows or flats for redfish, snook, trout, flounder or mangrove snapper.