Jigging Deep… Who Needs Live Bait?

Who Needs Live Bait When You have Deep Jigging?


By Randy  Cnota

It all started for me when I began focusing on the big bull reds that prowl the waters around the St. Andrews Pass and the bridges in Panama City, Fla. I knew many of them lurked in those deep waters, and using live bait was usually a sure bet, but I get such a kick out of fooling fish with artificial lures that I had to explore the world of deep jigs like the Shimano Butterfly jig and the Offshore Angler Freestyle jig.

When attempting to fool fish holding in water 50 to 100 feet deep, or more, you need a lure that gets down in a hurry. Not many tools can fill this niche, but these heavy, lead, streamlined jigs with the cool paint jobs come through in spades. Equipped with one or two hooks on a short tether, these jigs produce a wild, erratic fluttering on the fall, and when worked correctly, produce an enticing jumping action when ripped up off the bottom with the rod. The action is similar to a spoon more than a conventional jig, and fish of all species fall for it.

It’s crucial to team your jig up with a properly rated rod. Deep jigging rods are usually short and work very well, but many rod types will get the job done. Spinning reels work fine, but I’ve found reels built for bottom fishing, like the Shimano Torium, to be my favorite. They’re smooth and fast, perfect for this technique. Spool up with 50- to 80-pound test braid and a shock leader made of 30- to 60-pound monofilament or fluorocarbon.

Who Needs Live Bait When You have Deep Jigging?

Typically this is a vertical presentation with your boat positioned right on top of your target.  Casting the jig, however, can be a very effective way of targeting fish suspended somewhere in the water column and away from the boat. You can cover a lot of water using these jigs as a search-bait.

Successful Deep Jigging

Cast or drop the jig and let it settle to the bottom. Then begin pumping it back to the boat. Work it with hard jerks several feet off the bottom, and let it settle on a semi slack line. Usually, a hard jerk works best. This triggers a strike without giving the fish time to think about what it’s looking at. You will feel the strike, and it will likely be on the fall, so hold on! I once had a large fish rip a rod right out of my hand. Down it went, the whole rig. That was a learning moment! Adjust your drag properly.

I have experienced several days, both nearshore and offshore, when I caught fish about four to one against my partners using live bait. This is due to the bait’s ability to cover a lot of water in a short time with extremely effective results. I’ve caught reds, grouper, bonito, snapper, Spanish and king mackerel, trout, amberjacks, mahi and more using these jigs. It is an extremely exciting and productive fishing technique; give deep jigging a try!

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