DEEPWATER jigging is quickly becoming the latest new wave of fishing in offshore waters in Australia. It has taken off in other parts of the World, especially Japan, where a lot of the state-of-the-art gear for this type of fishing is developed. The Japanese pay big dollars to travel around the world fishing and Australia is at the top of the list when it comes to hard-fighting fish.
The concept of jigging isn’t new with dunking irons for kingfish one of the premier ways of taking a shortcut to the chiropractor during the 1970s. These days long, slender lures from 200g to 300g are the norm, fished with 50lb-plus braid, strong high-retrieve reels and rods that take a savage work-out. If there is one style of fishing that gives the gear and the angler a hard work-out, it is this. There have been plenty of rods, reels and anglers that break down under the load.
You might think pearl perch are pretty ordinary when it comes to a fight, but dangle a jig in front of a 5kg pearly and see how it slams it, not to mention the likes of snapper, kingfish and amberjack.
So let’s build a rod suitable for this style of fishing which can take the punishment. Most of the production models built overseas start around $400 and go well over $1000.
We ended up sourcing some blanks from Calstar in the US that do the job well. The Calstar Grafighter blanks are made from graphite and glass from tip to butt and they’re described as ‘state-of the art fishing rods built with a level of strength, durability and performance. Light in weight, yet providing a strong recoil for landing big fish’.
After you’ve fished this way you will soon understand that they have to be all of that. This is one type of rod where the rod builder can certainly use his skills.
The blank is the 6’ Calstar 760L, rated 30lb to 80lb and well suited to fishing 50lb braid. The butt is 12" of EVA followed by a 25mm FUJI graphite gimbal. A trigger reel seat is used on most rods, mainly because when the fish slams the jig, the trigger reduces the likelihood of the rod being wrenched from your grip. By all means use a standard heavy-duty winch if you wish.
We have quite a few of the old heavy-duty triggers in stock that have now become sought-after collectors’ items. The FUJI DPS-PSS 20 jig support grip (which is basically an oversize trigger) is the best way to go. This trigger is bigger and heaver than standard trigger grips, allowing three fingers in front of the trigger and under the reel. It’s also longer to allow the bigger reels to be used on it.
The foregrip should be something decent to hang on to so we’ve used a 10" piece of Hypalon. Hypalon is a lot denser and heavier than EVA, is very durable and grips well, even when wet and slimy.
The guides used are also not what you would expect to fit on a rod of this calibre. FUJI MNSG silicon guides have proved to be very strong and reliable and are used on the majority of jig rods, no matter their origin. If you want to save a few dollars have a look at the FUJI BMNAG guides. They are the same frame, but the centre Alconite ring isn’t quite as hard as the silicon carbide.
The frame is rigid to support the guide ring with no harsh edges to trap line. Because the guides are not big and bulky, it keeps the overall weight of the rod down and won’t inhibit the action of the blank.
You don’t see too many shelf rods these days that are double overbound. This is one rod, though, where you would most certainly underbind the rod then double overbind, both in A-grade thread.
This is where the home rod builder can spend the time making this mega-stick a classy piece of work. I’d recommend a minimum of three coats of epoxy, the first nice and thin so that it soaks through all the thread and forms a bonding onto the blank. I suggest applying the mix during the warmest part of the day to keep that epoxy thin. A cold night will only see the brew thick and not penetrate well.
When you have a look at the guide sizes you will also note that they are large in diameter at the tip section. The larger ring allows the more bulky knots with the heavier braid and leader to pass through and the larger frame is stronger. On a normal rod you would start off with a size 10 or in some cases an 8, but here we start with a No 12.
The new range of FUJI MNST silicon tips has been very good. They are a tube-style tip with a short spigot that is also bound on to give added strength. I was happy to see this tip introduced in a heavy duty version, the HMNST. You will see more and more of these tips around the place as the range is increased. They offer a lot of support to the tip ring and are a braid- friendly profile.
Outside of building a rod that is a little different from the norm, you will end up with a true weapon and I can assure you, you’ll need it the first time a big kingfish or amberjack nails that jig.
All the FUJI guides can be ordered through your tackle shop and the 5mm; 20 - 220mm. blanks are available through me at Australian Rod Manufacturers.Reads: 3161