Jigging is one of the most accessible forms of fishing and most enjoyable. It is an action-type of fishing rather than the cast-and-wait type of fishing. Jigging uses an artificial lure that mimics natural prey for certain types of sports fish. The Jig is a head-and-hook combo that you attach to a plastic body. The idea is to imitate a small fish, which is what bigger fish eat. Jigging makes a fun day of fishing and is perfect for the whole family. Kids are natural pros at jigging. Plus, you can catch big, fat, trophy fish on a saltwater jig.
What Is Saltwater Jig Fishing?
Saltwater Jigging is a method of fishing for small to large trophy fish in shallow or deep water. The jigging technique changes based on the fish you target and the depths of the water in which you fish. Jigging is exciting because you are trying to entice a predatory fish to strike an artificial jig. Therefore, there is strategy involved, making the angler a top-line predator of top-line predatory fish.
You can stick to the shallows and catch small, medium, and large fish, or you can head out to the structures and potentially catch big Yellowfin tuna, Bonito, Longfin Tuna, and others. In addition, inshore fishing allows you to target nearly every species of sports fish that swims in the shallow water. That list includes groupers, flounders, sharks, bonefish, etc. In short, you can spend an entire day targeting many types of game fish simply by changing up your Jig, and for many sports fish, the same old Jig might work just fine.
Different Types of Jigs
Jigs are two pieces, and you often buy the pieces separately. The parts are the jig head and the body.
A jig head is a shaped head, usually with an eye to mimic a fish head, and it is attached to a hook. The body is soft plastic onto which the jig head and hook are inserted. The two pieces together make a jig. The idea here is to create something that a predatory fish will be attracted to as food. There are many jigs on the market, and you choose those jigs based on two factors—first, the depth of water, and secondly, the type of fish you want to target.
Football Saltwater Jigs: Are wonderful when targeting redfish, speckled trout, sea bass, black bass, etc. It is a good idea to hone up on the species you want to target. The NOAA site offers fish profiles, such as this one for Black Sea Bass. Learning about the fish you want to target allows you to choose better jigs that work well for that species. Successful saltwater jig fishing begins with selecting the correct Jig.
Round Head Jig: Great for deep-sea jigging or fishing the shallows, The weighted head sinks fact and moves in the direction of the pull. A good saltwater jig for left, right jigging, or for up and down jigging. Great for bottom dwellers such as Flounders and groupers.
Live Bait Mimic Jig: There are some super cool live bait mimic jigs out there. They do a beautiful job of mimicking baitfish and can pull in big trophy fish like tuna, bonito, sharks, groupers, etc.
Action Jigs — have a lot of movement. You might try the flipping jig, which can take some practice to make it work well. These are jigs that add movement, such as a baitfish in distress. They light up the predatory drive in big fish and boom — Fish-on!
Bucktail Jig: One of the best jigs around as it will target many predatory fish. If you can only take one type of Jig with you, it would be a bucktail jig. They mimic baitfish, shrimp, crustaceans, etc. You can target almost everything with a bucktail.
There are so many options for jigs that it is impossible to cover them all in a blog. The key here is to get familiar with a few jigs, learn the situations where they work best, and the fish species that love them. If you are new to jigging, you won’t be for long. It is easy to learn how to jig fish. Jigging is very addictive, and the challenge keeps your mind in the game.
How To Rig a Jig
Jig heads come in weights — 1/4 ounce, 3/4 ounce, etc. The body comes in different lengths. It is essential that you pair the head to the body so that the hook is in the correct position. For soft plastic jigs, the hook placement is centered in the soft plastic body. If the hook is too forward, you could miss the hookset. If the hook is too far back, the fish may not strike.
Different types of jig heads work better in different depths of water. Smaller jig heads do better in shallow water. Larger jig heads do better deep sea jigging. An example would be a 1/8 ounce or 1/4 ounce jig that you would use in less than ten feet deep of water. The weight of the jig head increases as the water gets deeper. A 3/8 ounce jig head is perfect for water that is between five-fifteen feet deep. That covers jig selection.
How to Rig The Jig
Once the pairing of the body and the jig head is decided, you want to connect the two. For soft plastic jigs, all you have to do is thread the hook through the top of the body. It is essential that the body fits snugly against the head. There should be no gaps as fish want food that they recognize. A sloppy construction for jigs means fewer strikes. The hook should exit the body just past the middle. Different jig heads will have hooks with shorter or longer shanks. Choose a jig head in the correct weight for the water depth and a hook shank paired to the body. That process gets much easier after you try rigging a few jigs.
Once the jig head and the body are together, it is time to connect the completed Jig to the line. To do this, we use an Improved Clinch Knot. You can learn how to tie essential saltwater knots in our blog that is all about knots.
Saltwater Jig Fishing Techniques
There are two basic jig actions. The first is the bottom bounce, in which the Jig remains on the bottom and hops a few feet either in a straight line or in a zigzag motion. The jig action occurs when you flick the pole up a few feet, reel in the line a few turns, allow the Jig to sink to the bottom, and then repeat. For example, to get the zigzag pattern, you flick the end of the pole right, reel in the slack, allow the Jig to sink, and then flick the end of the pole to the left. Repeat the process until the line is in, or you have a fish strike. A pole flick is the same as jigging jerks. It is a quick jerk action or flick of the pole. It is easy to learn, and you find a natural rhythm as you fish.
For vertical jigging, you are in deeper water, and the Jig goes straight down from the side of the boat. Once it is at the correct position in the water, you flick the pole up, reel in the slack, let the jig sink, and repeat until the Jig is in, or you have a fish strike.
There is nothing complicated about jigging for fish. An excellent tip to remember is that jigging poles are shorter so that their action is a little slow. That extra tension in the rod helps move the Jig through the water without constantly bending the rod’s tip.
Fishing with Jigs
You can fish with jigs in rivers and estuaries, which is where you might find speckled trout and redfish, in the shallow flats, in deep water, from the shore, or in a boat. So, long as jigging is an approved way to fish, then you are free to use a jig where you can. Be sure to review the regulations for fishing in unique locations, such as the Everglades National Park or for generalized Florida regulations for saltwater. If you are new to fishing, one of the best ways to learn how to jig is by booking a charter fishing trip.