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October (99) Article

"The lost art of vertical jigging: A must do technique! "


Over the past month I have cast my mind back, for want of a better term, over some of the the features that have stood out for me as I have talked, and done business with, a whole range of different anglers and several potent ones come to mind.

One of those features has been the increasing number of global anglers who are feeling more comfortable in using our Demon Online Angler Assistance Form and were are glad they do too. This one to one, and confidential service, allows anglers to outline what species and techniques they like to use and what issues they are trying to address, or get better at, as a part of their angling day. . Other form questions talk about jigs, baits, water types and so on.

The form also allows me to learn more too from anglers who fish all types of water and conditions in pursuit of the holy grail. Then I provide what I feel may be useful tips and ideas given the aims of each angler and away they go.... I find it fun, energy consuming, and at times challenging as well, simply because I do not have all the answers. Feedback indicates that these suggestions are often useful and perhaps offer approaches that have not previously been though about.

Even so, talking with many fresh and saltwater anglers has highlighted one major technique that seems to be missing from their fishing quiver and that is the art of:

"vertical jigging"

While this is not a be all or end all approach, I am surprised at times that that many anglers often appear, and I say appear with caution, to want the fish to come to them by maintaining trolling, static line or casting approaches. There is no doubt all three have a much needed place and yet catch rates can be well expanded by adding v-jigging to these other options.

Maybe it simply comes down to some anglers having never tried this important approach and therefore have not become advocates of it's usefulness and simplicity. Or maybe they simply do it a lot and keep this silent ace up their sleeve as a potent secret weapon.

Either way, I know of locations where vertical jigging rules the day and is the main technique because it is often the most effective . For example in Alaska v-jigging for big halibut is the only way to go and the same applies to the wilds of north Western Australia where jigs, and v-jigging, rule supreme. In Far North Queensland and the Northern Territory (of the same country) an angler is considered almost certifiable if they leave home without the mandatory, and necessary, half tackle box full of jigs.

Or you can go to Papua New Guinea (or the Amazon River), as some of our fishing guide friends do, and go seriously head to head with "Black Bass" or other similar species, using our XXXOS tough 1.5 to 2.5oz "Bad Boss" lures like the special custom made one below. Pound for pound one of the meanest, dirtiest, hardest fighting tropical fish known to man (or woman).

Designed for both jigging and trolling, it gives them hot and tough versatilty, while knowing they are ready for anything and we mean "anything", because species like this will blow your reel, drag, lure and wallet away in seconds without a thought and then come come back and do it again just in case your not feeling enough painfulfrom the first round. A standard version with rear HD fixed jig hook and underside single also exists.

Off the Texas coast there are some perfect places and opportunities given the big current streams that run past their door and the same applies to spots off Martha's Vineyard and surrounds. Some Californian's also hit the water often with 3-6oz jigs and have a huge time on Cod and other species... New Zealand is the home (and inventor as I understand it) of deep water v-jigging for fresh water trout and have'nt they got that technique down pat. An art form which seems to have evolved both quietly and with great success. The US Great Lakes also seem to have a few quiet v-jig advocates and around Lake Michigan, several of our client's are also making a quiet transition as they hunt down land locked Salmon and other species who often hug the bottom.

And why the transition? Because in many places only a down rigger the size and weight of a football, plus all the other expensive gear that goes with it, is going to get lures even remotely close enough to stir up some action. So this month I thought I would put up a strong case to those people who may not use vertical jigging very often and ask them to consider some valuable reasons why it should be used more regularly. . Lets make a start.

Why do it? Well, this technique is simple, requires little effort by comparison to some others, is very cost effective, and yet can put you onto the fish more quickly because it's uses what I call

" pin point angling strategies "

That means you make the effort in advance to locate bottom structures, channels, current lines, rising spikes or deep holes with the knowledge that they are more likely to contain fish. You do not need a sounder or fish finder (always) to do this in either fresh or saltwater. If you have a boat and finder then it does allow more ground to be covered. Even so, they are not critical.

Off a pier or bridge is another good spot even in shallow water with the odd channel running past a pylon or a still hole nearby. The 1/2oz "Mission Bridge Special" is perfect (especially at night) for this type of work and small soft baits. Put on your polarising sunglasses during the day and then take a close and careful look around at structures, water colours, variations and tones..... Make a mental note of those differences because that is where the deep water is and as stated in a previous article, then begin thinking like a fish!

Like a fish, is the man nuts? That's right .... Like a fish! ..... If I was that fish where would I hole up, sit in ambush, or be running with the pack given the type of day, week, or month it has been? Then make some more mental notes and most of all "trust your instincts".

Then what? ... A number of tackle issues then become important like what species are likely to be present, how do they behave and feed? Are they hit and run merchants who hide in cover and then spring out, or are they slow bait taker's that fiddle and muck around for a week before deciding to bite? Are they high speed missiles that will blow my gear away if I am not prepared properly? These types of issues, and more, are fundamental beginning points for any fishing day in my opinion.

How deep is the water and what type is it (murky, still, running)? How does that influence my tackle selections? .. The same general tackle rule applies in either fresh or salt. Deep water = darker jigs and in some cases with very deep water I suggest a partial glow head with a spinner blade on the jig because they work well together for either jigging or deep trolling.... Then it's down to bait choices.

Soft plastics, strip baits, skirts or other local baits that are known to work well then have to be considered. Selection is a matter of personal choice and has to be based on what best matches the species your targetting. Similarly, all may have to be tried on the same day depending on what mood the fish are in and believe me, they do have them.


Weather, barometric pressure, water temp, levels, current etc... all influence them and no amount of the Prozac in the world will alter that set of facts. So stay tuned to those kinds of changes as well and bear them in mind. Then think like a fish again and repeat the same questions mentioned above.

The other important point I would make about baits is do not exclude flies (either fresh or salt) even if your not a fly angler. The Demon "Sling Shot Technique" using flies can also be applied well to v-jigging, casting or trolling, with great results so don't rule them out of the tackle box.

A previous Demon article on this simple and effective technique can be found at our site along with successful feedback from a range of non-fly anglers..... It's worth a close and careful read and gives you another great technique to use on any given day .. especially if your use Demon "Flash" heads in front as the knob weight.... More on those heads below.

As for rods and reels, my bias on either land or water is for an overhead with a well serviced drag and a rod no longer than 7 feet with a meduim tip taper. That way the v- jigging technique stays short and in your control. If you feel more comfortable with something else then by all means use it.

If you know your targetted species ( like the one on the right) act like "the frieght train from hell", and head for cover the moment their hooked, then also consider getting your drag" tricked".

HD teflon (or similar type) washers that will not buckle under the heat are sometimes necessary so that you can lock you drag up as tight as possible (without traumatising or blowing apart your gear) and not allow too much ground to be lost if having to do battle at close quarters around pylons, structures or reef rises.

Line wise, I think gelspun types have done a lot for vertical jigging while remaining fairly soft at the same time. There are other line types that will do pretty much the same job as well and at the end of the day it often comes down to a matter of personal choice. Either way, direct contact with your jig is important and even more so the deeper your go....

By way of example, we have charter and recreational client's in Alaska who have this combination down pat so that they can v-jig our 8-16oz Hell-Raiser's in 250 odd feet of water, and stiff currents, without being exhausted or needing a month's break at a health farm by the end of the day..

On serious days they use 24 to 48oz Submariner's to hit 500ft and get really really "jiggy with it" on Ling Cod, Halibut and other mysteries of the deep.

Other's in the Pacific Solomon Islands do the same (and yet with different jigs & techniques) for BIG Dog Tooth Tuna over certain parts of their deep shelf. In locations like this a nuclear proof 24oz "Baby Bonito" is right at home and also deep trolls like a dream as well.

In the tropics, tough, talented jigs from my own experience [that are purpose built] rule supreme as the ultimate tackle in water that can be as shallow as 2 -60 feet and yet consistantly produce an outstanding range of big fish species time and time again using jigs and/or v-jigging if the key points mentioned above are kept close at hand.

Therefore, head colours, weights, flashings, blades, blade types, hook sizes, hook types and moulding methods also become very important issues. That's why you will see so many different types of jigs, and finishes, on our website plus prices to match. Many are built with tough alloy heads and either specific species and/or techniques in mind based on clear and purposeful intent.

And why? Because at the end of the day, you just never know when that big "fish on steroids" is going to turn up and let you know in no uncertain terms that "your day has come". The last thing anybody wants, and hates (including me with a veagance), is for gear failure to take place and then having to spend the next two weeks in a deep depression, with a constant voice from the back of my mind yelling and cursing me, while I mope around wishing and cussing that I had used well made tackle in the beginning.

How many times has that happened to you? Several for me I can tell you..... Given those experiences I have a saying and it is "If you want cheap, then look for a chicken ... only one problem? Ever seen a chicken catch fish? .... Not by us!

So where are we up to? .... let's do a quick review of the critical issues so far:

Rod length, reel choice, drag set up, line type, targetted species, bait choices, water type and depth, tackle colours, known spots ideal for v-jigging, jig design, versatitly. and construction.

Having thought about all that, then it comes down to v-jigging technique. As a general rule I suggest dropping your jig down as far as it will go (without snagging) or to at least within two feet of the bottom. Then quickly pull up your rod tip no more than two feet and let the jig fall back down freely and of it's own accord. Repeat this several times and if no joy, wind in 2-3ft of line and repeat again and again. In deeper water -100-300ft) your rod jerk will need to be higher e.g. 3-6ft upwards.

Why am I doing this? To work up slowly through the different zones that fish hang at and gain maximum attention to your jig. If you have a sounder then start 5-8 feet below them and engage the same technique. If you come to the top without success then do not leave your spot until you have done this from start to finish for at least several complete cycles.... Also try changing bait types. If soft plastics are not working them go to a strip of flesh bait, or go to a high profile tailed jig (like our Hogey jigs), with lots of flashing, for example.

If by then you have had no success, then shift position (either self or boat where possible) and start again. Also bear in mind that you do not always have to move far either. On some occassions 10-15 ft can be enough.

This approach applies universally to either fresh or salt and is also a great way to break up your trolling time especially if nothing is happening.... Also don't be afraid to use it when you see a School of Tuna, or other surface feeders, busy at work either. If you can't get close enough, which is often the case, and they go to ground, "do not" wait for them to surface again otherwise you can end up chasing your tail (and them) all day long plus chew up gallons of fuel and patience..

They will out run you and win the chase 9 times out of ten I guarentee it and then more than likely appear half a mile away, with their finger rudely verical in the air, because all they are interested in is chasing their mext meal.


Get onto v-jigging straight away by casting out long and using something (on your right) like our heavy duty "1.5oz Pocket Rocket or Royal Red's", let you jig sink rapidly, and then use the same technique mentioned above, but instead of vertical rod lifts use what's called an "oblique rod lift".

That means sideways and slightly upwards at the same time. This will help keep your rod tip and line down when necessary and yet still allows you to work your jig properly.

If they have just disappeared and you know, or suspect, they are under the boat then don't think about moving off ... just drop straight down and get right into it! ... Believe me it works time and again and the more you do it the better the results.....

Also don't think that nothing will happen until you get down deeper or to the bottom. Often jigs will be hit just as much on the way down as they are on the way up ... so be ready.

Similarly, whatever you cast out has to be tough and ready for anything given that other big species often travel with, and/or underneath of, those same feeding schools as well. So be prepared for a few surprises like BIG spaniards, cobia, giant trevally (etc) and make sure your tackle is up to the job otherwise it's hasta la vista baby!. They same can also be said, to some extent, for the fresh as well.

So there are a few suggestions, tips and techniques that I am sure will make a difference and are a general guide only. Varations can exist for each one and I suggest experimenting to suit your local area or own personal style.

At the end of the day there is also one other "big" factor" to consider in the case for vertical jigging is that of "cost". Consider for a moment the cost of a well designed and purpose made jig, it's diversity, and the fact that a few (like our range) can also be cast and trolled as well, if chosen carefully. The benefits speak for themselves.

Similarly, many can be switched from fresh to salt, and visa versa, without hardly battering an eye lid. The other inescapable fact is that v-jigging can also also reduce a range of boating costs and yet make your hook up rate, and fun levels, go up once the technique has been perfected.

Am I biased? Too some extent you bet and I make no apology for that .... We simply let our tackle do the talking! ... On that note, I think I will rest my case! ... So the next time your out, give it a serious lash and put in plenty of practice because jigging is definately an ART!... I also have no doubt it will put you onto more great fish.

If you feel the need for more information, or want to know more about issues like the right jigs for the right day, then feel free to send off a private e-mail to me at mjb@demonjigs.com ... Either way, their is no catch! ...

By the way, if you have a great day out v-jigging and want to tell us about it then we'd love to hear from you.... Just send me an e-mail (and a .jpg image of your catch if you have one) to the address above and, and with your consent, we'll put your comments and photo on a separate page because we know other anglers find that useful as well.

Lastly, don't forget to enter our tackle competition's. A new peice of unique and red hot Demon tackle is up for grabs every month... 

Until next month ..... Burnin Thumbs!

 Steve (The Master Jig Builder)

p.s. New 1.5oz "Flash Bulbs" are being released soon. If interested, stay tuned to the main page of our website.


(c) Demon Jigs & Deep Water Lures (1999). All Rights Reserved including design(c).

This article may not be copied or reproduced, in any way, with written permission of the author. All citations must contain required legal & accepted references to sources of origin.

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