Origins of Slow Jigging
Slow Pitch jigging is a technique who's origins can be traced back more specific to Japan back in 2010 when select hardcore and devoted light tackle anglers were looking for a way to push the depths through a finesse style of saltwater fishing. The goal was to down size the tackle while pushing it to the limits and enticing more bites. In the piece we will cover a detailed light tackle guide on how to target quality saltwater fish using artificial metal jigs focusing on native baitfish patterns along the reef line and beyond.
Summer in South Florida brings heavy humidity, rising water temperatures, and slick calm conditions which are ideal for ideal slow pitch fishing in deeper waters. I have been fortunate to call South Florida home for most of my life, while blessed to be surrounded by the beautiful waters of the Atlantic Ocean and vertical jigging or speed jigging has been in my blood for nearly 2 decades. It wasn't until the spring on 2014 did I begin to dive into the effectiveness of going deep and pitching a metal on what seemed to be a glorified bass outfit. Studying and soaking up everything I could from industry friends, forums, youtube videos, and wherever else I could immerse in that centered around slow pitch jigging, I was there.
My obsession only grew as I learned new jigging tactics, jig styles, rod construction, braided line construction, hook quality, and reel comparison. I was picking up just about any jig I could find at a decent price as I quickly learned that a slow jigger pre-requisite is owning several styles, colors, and weights of jigs.
Rod & Reel Selection
When you're ready to take the plug and go deep into the mindset of a slow jigger, you'll quickly realize that this is a very finesse and system driven style of fishing.
Picking up a light tackle conventional rod at your local specialty retailer or tackle shop won't cut it. Again, the rod has a parabolic bend and is specifically designed to be fished with a target weight of load which also the jigs to "pitch" or carve into the water column deep below.
For example: If a slow jigging rod is rating listed for 80G - 200G, that simply states that the weights of jigs that would best perform with this given rod blank should not exceed 200G. Any jig lighter than 80G would not respond as intended and the jig would not pitch or move as well. If you try to push the blank and fish a 400G, you will see the rod flexing beyond the efficiency curve and cause the jig to lag behind with each time jigging.
Many slow pitch jigging rods are constructed on carbon to reduce the weight of the blank but also have incredible lifting power. Most authentic slow jigging rods can easily deadlift a 15lb dumbell off the ground without any cracking or chipping. The unique parabolic design combined with a spiral or acid wrap allows the braided line to flow freely through the guides and never touch the rod blank. Nano Carbon is a material which has been in the market for a few years and has taken over the slow jigging community.
When searching out your ultimate slow pitch jigging setup, be sure to also look at the quality and construction of the rod guides. Fuji and Sea Guide come in as the 2 premier powerhouses and I personally would not even consider anything less that a SIC ringed guide. Equally important is to choose a hard enough ring material to withstand the beating and constant wear the braided line with place on these components. Silicon Carbide rings still reign supreme amongst veteran slow jiggers as they also know the material is one of the lightest, most durable, yet hardest available. The Daiwa Harrier Slow Pitch jigging rod rated up to 300G is a great all around option.
Finding a reel seat and grip layout that fits your hand composition specifically is also crucial to how comfortable you will be drop after drop and jig after jig. The more comfortable you are with your tackle, the more effective you will be at using it thus developing a more fluid jigging pattern. This all starts with your grip!
Next is reel selection and choosing the right machine that will help drive or pitch your jig in a manner that will elicit vicious strikes from a variety of saltwater species. Anything from trophy Gag Grouper to the prized Queen Snapper of the depths have been taken on slow jigging setups. The Shimano Ocean Jigger 2000NRXG or Daiwa Saltiga 15SJ are both at the top of the game when it comes to having the best slow jigging tools.
When purchasing your slow jigging reel make sure this checklist is complete:
- Sufficient line capacity - at least 600-800 yds of 20-50LB braided line or typically P.E. Line rated from 1.5 - 3.0
- Phenomenal Drag system - as slow jigging is hard on equipment so being able to put on the brakes is a must
- Machine aluminum or metal frames & spools - eliminates any torquing or twisting that may develop from the use of composite or graphite alternatives
- Ergonomic handles and reel design is also something to consider. Pick a reel that fits comfortably in your hands. Anglers come in all shapes and sizes, hence the variety of reel options available on the market
- Sealed bearings and watertight reel housings will also prolong the life of the reel, offering years of reliable use if properly maintained with a yearly cleaning & re-lube
It can be overstimulating walking into your local Bass Pro Shops or West Marine to see the wide array of braided line options available to anglers today. When making a decision on choosing the best line for your slow jigging expedition, keep in mind that all lines are not created equal. Daiwa's J-Braid Island Blue has been as staple to many slow jigging guru's since launching several years ago. There are a few factors that I look for when picking a braided line that will hold up and these are:
- Line retains it's shape and has no "memory" or the appearance of curling up
- Dye / color on the line does not bleed or "flakes off" all over your boat or gear. Typically a tell tale sign that the coating was not applied correctly to preserve the strength & integrity of the product
- Stay away from anything less than an 8 carrier braid as smaller carriers aren't really developed for the rigors of slow jigging
- Look for a coating that is silky smooth and sticks or bonds to line as this will help any angler feel more natural in building a fluid jigging rhythm
Going to battle with the correct jig is just as important as having the right screw to board down the last framing to a home. Most of the decision making process will be made once you're out on the water and observe the sea conditions. Several factors will dictate which weight, style, & color jig you will want to deploy to instantly connect with what's lurking below.
For example, if your running into a smoking fast current and your target fishing depth is within the 150-300ft range, your best option might be to focus dropping a jig which has a tear drop design. This rear weighted style jig will get to the bottom quickly and cut through the current allowing the angler to focus on working the bottom effectively. Slowly lifting the rod with a full sweeping motion may move the jig a good 15-20ft each time and trigger devastating strikes snapper to king mackerel.
On the other hand, if you come across a "dead sea" or no current flow, then you will want to focus on a jig pattern that will have more of a flutter or flat side to it. This design or profile allows the jig to suspend in the water column for a longer period of time as it drops and dances towards the bottom. Seasoned Slow Jiggers have had great success with longer and leaner jigs under these types of conditions and have absolutely hammered grouper and snapper over the years.
Don't hesitate to make a little longer cast with your jig initially, as the larger fish will remain weary until the feeding frenzy is cranking along. Count 3-5 seconds after the lure hits the bottom, when working the slow jigs back to the boat. This provides two things that are crucial to the effectiveness of the lure - allowing a natural fall like a wounded bait fish and also falling deep into a potential feeding zone. At first the large fish may hold a bit deeper, which is where these lures will excel where live baits struggle to reach.
Slow Jigging is a style of fishing that can be fun for the entire family as is eliminates the strenuous movements of high speed jigging while maximizing the the time the jig is spent in front of the intended quarry.
Keep these simple tips in mind when you're on your next slow pitch quest and the chances of bringing home dinner is an absolute possibility!