A Beginner's Guide to Jigging | What You Need to Know

Jigging, the practice of fishing with a jig or a type of lure, has been around for as long as people have been catching fish. A jig is made with a lead sinker and a hook attached to it, often covered by a soft material to attract fish to it. They’re designed to move in a vertical, abrupt motion, unlike spinnerbaits, which move horizontally.


Jigging can be used in nearly every offshore scenario given the many different styles of jigs and techniques, allowing you to target strong fish in the depths of the sea. However, when you want to explore offshore jigging, it’s easy to be overwhelmed: the wide range of tackle, jigs, reels, and rods can be easily intimidating. Fortunately, we’ve prepared a quick and easy guide to help you get started.


Slow/Fall Jigging


Jigs can be categorised into two techniques: slow/fall jigging and mechanical/knife jigging. Slow/fall jigging works best for table fish and inshore pinnacles, but they’re also excellent for bigger pelagic or sportfish, though this depends on the conditions. You’ll want to use this technique in depths between 15 and 60 metres, with fish such as mulloway, pearl perch, and snapper being your most common catches. 


When slow/fall jigging, use your plotter and sounder to search for pinnacles, ledges, and bait balls. Don’t put your boat directly on top of where you want to fish, as snapper and mulloway are pretty shy, and the motor’s sound easily scares them away. Avoid anchoring your boat as you’ll fish vertically. Instead, you should drift below 1 knot. Additionally, roll your wrists outwards when you try this technique, helping you jerk instead of dragging your jig.


Mechanical/Knife Jigging


This type of jigging is effective for New South Wales coastlines and other parts of the country, but it can also be challenging. Mechanical/knife jigging works best in deeper waters when you want to fish at reefs and shoals, such as a depth of 60 to 100 metres of water. You’ll have access to larger sportfish like kingfish, samson fish, and amberjacks, although you can also catch other common reef species with this technique. 


You should use a minimum weight of 150 to 300 grams, although this depends on the current and wind speed. Sometimes, an 80 to 100-gram jig will work just as well. If you want to target kingfish, samson fish, and amberjacks, you’ll have to sound them. If your sounder isn’t marketing feeding fish off the bottom, it’s best to look for another spot to find where the fish are sitting. Additionally, you’ll want to have live bait on board, which will locate the fish faster than a jig. Once your targets have found your bait, throw the jigs down, which will also save your arms.


Factoring in Weather Conditions and Reading the Fish


These techniques will work best when used in optimal weather conditions. The swell of the ocean and strong winds can prevent you from reaching your desired water sports. Additionally, the moon phase, tide, and atmospheric pressure can also significantly impact your day. The tide will determine the fish most likely to respond to your jigs or the spots they’ll be in once you arrive. They may be completely absent where you are but biting hard at a reef a kilometre away from you. Familiarising yourself with different fish spots and understanding the other factors that affect your jig will help you catch as many fish as possible. 


Accessories to Buy


Given the many kinds of jigs available, it’s easy to get lost in finding what you need. You’ll need to choose your jigs according to three main factors: colour quality, concave design, and the terminal tackle the jig gives you, though this depends on the jig style you want.


The paint quality and colour are always important, and you’ll want them to last a long time before chipping or fading. The longer these last, the more you can use them to catch more fish. You’ll also want a colour that matches the hatch or what your target species eats. 


Conclusion


You can have a great time jigging when you come prepared with different accessories and practise different jigging techniques. By using our guide, considering other factors like target species and depth, you’ll find what you’re comfortable with and jig the day away.


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