Fishing Fly Fishing How to Fishing and Fishing Reports at Tidal Fish - SALTWATER FISHING: Getting Into the Light Tackle Jigging - Part One: Equipment
  • SALTWATER FISHING: Getting Into the Light Tackle Jigging - Part One: Equipment

    Equipment and how to advice for light tackle jigging
    By Capt. Brady Bounds
    Of the many fishing techniques available that have become popular in recent years, one often reads about light tackle jigging, or LTJ, as an ever-increasing part of the successful angling adventure. In fact, it is not a new development style but rather a refinement of previously established methods which have evolved using new products and taking advantage of the properties of new technology. These refinements have, in turn, spawned new tactics to solve the old problem of attracting fish and seducing them to bite the hook.

    Jigging of any ilk is basically the suspension of a weighted lure on a fishing line and wiggling the rod such that an attractive motion is imparted into the lure. As such two pieces of equipment become critically important to the jigging operation: line and rod.


    Here is where new technology plays a role. Rods are more sensitive, lighter and designed with certain tapers for special action capabilities, than in previous generations. The typical spinning rod for LTJ is of graphite construction, six to seven feet long and a medium action. Certain specialized LTJ rods are better for use with jigging spoons that move and flutter on the falling descent, more than the regular lead jig heads, but these are very specific tapers, not commonly used. An average medium action bends the rod through its upper one half-length under the manufacturers load rating which is the weight of the lure intended to be cast. A rod appropriate for most LTJ is going to be casting one quarter through one ounce of jig head weight. In situations of heavier jigs a higher rod rating may be needed, but still in the medium action class for its length.


    The rod criteria as previously defined is intended to achieve three purposes: extreme sensitivity, light in weight and assist the angler in avoiding wrist fatigue from continuous repeated motions. Towards the purpose of avoiding wrist/arm fatigue, LTJ rods are fitted with a counterweight placed at the butt of the rod, such that the balance point of the rod, reel and lure it just forward of the stem of the reel where it attaches to the reel seat. To describe it another way; split grip the spinning rod so that two fingers are ahead of the reel stem and two are aft. The balance point should be at your second (middle) finger. In this configuration, as the lure is jerked upward repeatedly, the wrist becomes the pivot point, and merely has to lift the slightest of weights, practically nothing, thus avoiding fatigue. Again, this is a trick to enhance sensitivity and create the long-lasting ability to detect the slightest nibble or bump.


    A theme throughout the LTJ technique is the extraordinary effort put into gaining maximum sensitivity to the lure so that the angler can detect bites if they are light, but also so as to be able to move the lure through, around, and intentionally collide with rocks, structure, bottom features and objects. To this end, the angle that one holds the line in relationship to the rod is important just as in other spinning rod applications. For illustration, a rod pointing directly at the lure has no sensitivity except that which is transmitted by the tensile properties of the line. But a rod held at right angles to the line has much more sensitivity, in fact the most, as the rod accentuates the vibrations on the line. LTJers strive to keep this rod to line angle as close to ninety degrees as is practical. It is a little more tiring to fish this way, but hugely more productive.


    Few folks would argue that a non-stretching line is less sensitive than a line with elastic properties. In the pursuit of maximum sensitivity, LTJ requires the use of zero stretch line such as the spectra braids and various “super lines.” These are vast improvements over any monofilament or plastic line in four ways: strength, diameter, physical weight, and water absorption. Spectra line doesn’t stretch. What that means to a jigger is that the distance that your rod tip moves on a jerking motion is the true distance that the lure jumps. It also means the same at twenty feet as two hundred feet; remember there is no stretch. Bites and bumps are much more readily detected and anglers report being able to “feel” the structure or bottom that they are working. This also means that a fish being reeled in is transmitting its resistance to the angler in every pulse of the tail and every shake of the head. Fighting fish are now a heck of a lot more fun to catch even if they are small because the angler gets every struggling effort sent direct into the rod.
    Spectra line also sinks at a deeper angle than a mono because it is a much smaller diameter and therefore less cross-sectional resistance. Same goes for its ability to not bow in the wind as much. This means less line out. And this also means that the line itself has less resistance to being cast. Many advantages to non-stretching line of the spectra type, but it is foolish to attempt LTJ without it as it plays a large role in the sensitivity element.


    For most applications, line in the twelve pound to twenty pound rating is appropriate for lighter and average LTJ. For bigger fish, use up to thirty pound strengths, but keep in mind that with zero-stretch line, the drag has to be set lighter. A sudden violent hit is transmitted directly to the rod/reel and with no forgiveness in the set up, the weakest component in the path of that transfer of energy is going to be the first to yield or break. Let it be the drag.


    Newly developed fishing lines and rods have created a new way to use old tricks in light tackle jigging. The LTJ method is characterized by superior angler satisfaction, a higher degree of success, and a higher level of fishing skill that is easy to learn and extremely easy to perform for a wide variety of people.

    Captain Brady Bounds is a native Marylander, fishing guide, and charter boat captain with 28 years of experience in Chesapeake Bay and Mid-Atlantic waters. He is an outdoor writer, humorist, photographer, TV host, and creator of "Fishing Tips with Capt. Brady." Former member of OWAA, MSSA, CCA of MD, and recipient of numerous conservation and fishing accolades, He is currently in his second term as the At Large Representative for Maryland at Finfish Advisory Committee of Potomac River Fisheries Commission. He is also credited with creating and operating the first successful light tackle saltwater guiding business in Maryland.

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