Slow-pitch jigging and micro-jigging are among the fastest growing trends in offshore fishing around the country right now. But what are they?
When most anglers think of offshore jigging with metal lures, their imagination immediately conjures up images of massive knife jigs weighing as much as half a kilo, heavy tackle and an exhausting, intensive style of angling requiring a bewildering combination of high speed reel cranking and violent rod movements. Two or three drops with that style of gear and most of us are ready for a break! Throw in a hook-up or two on a big yellowtail kingfish, samson fish, amberjack, cobia or trevally and you’re looking at a form of angling best suited to the young and fit! But the great news is that this isn’t the only way to jig.
In recent years, micro-jigging and slow-pitch jigging have emerged as real growth areas in offshore lure fishing. Both forms developed in Japan and have slowly spread through the rest of the fishing world, including to Australia. Anglers who’ve embraced the micro and slow-pitch jigging revolution have discovered that it is not only highly effective on an incredibly broad range of fish species, but also a lot less physically demanding than high-speed ‘mechanical jigging’ with hefty knife jigs.
Micro-jigs are basically any metal lures suited to vertical presentations that weigh less than about 100-120g. Some go right down to 10-15 g in weight or even less, although these very small jigs are obviously more useful in shallower water with minimal current. Slow-pitch jigs (also referred to as flat-fall jigs, butterfly jigs and so on) cover a wider range of weights, but are designed to be worked with much slower, gentler lifts and drops than the standard knife jigs. There is a great deal of overlap between these jig styles, and most micro-jigs are in fact slow-pitch jigs, although all slow-pitch jigs are not necessarily ‘micro’ models, if you get my drift! It’s possible to slow-pitch with jigs weighing as much as several hundred grams.
Slow-pitch jigging is closely related to the sort of jigging some Aussie anglers have been doing with skirted octa-jigs like the Shimano Lucanus for nearly a decade now, but it takes the whole slow jigging concept several steps further. Slow-pitch and micro-jigging also catches a wider range of species than any other vertical presentation style. So, while you’ll still hook kingfish, samson, amberjack, cobia, trevally, mackerel, tuna and the like on slow-pitch and micro-jigs, you’ll also catch a lot more snapper, morwong, mulloway, teraglin, emperor, other reef fish, flathead and the like. You can even micro-jig in freshwater for trout, bass, yellowbelly and redfin!
Tackle for these slower-paced jigging styles will obviously vary depending on the environment, depth and target species, but it’s generally much lighter than ‘mechanical jigging’ equipment, with an emphasis on longer rods in the 2-2.5 m range with relatively soft tips. Tip action is an integral factor in imparting motion to slow jigs. Both spin and overhead reels can be used, but the keenest slow jiggers prefer compact overheads, as these seem to give better line control. Line is almost always quality PE-style braid rated in the 10-30lb (5-15 kg) range, with a reasonably long (2-10m) fluorocarbon leader of a similar strength tied to the end.
Trying to describe in words the rod and reel action best used when micro and slow-pitch jigging is extremely tricky, but if you jump on-line and Google these topics, plenty of video clips will come up. Don’t stress that most are narrated in Japanese! Just turn the sound down and watch. You will quickly start to glean some of the secrets of these deadly jigging styles, and find out what the best tackle is to use. You’ll also discover that there is no absolutely ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do it, and that each angler has his or her own personalized style of working these lures. The take home message from this is that you can experiment, add your own tweaks and still catch plenty of fish. Along the way, you’ll also have lots of fun!Reads: 1944