Local Expert: Capt. Tom Migdalski
Fishery: Diamond and metal jigs are deadly for striped bass when fished in rips off southern New England. Productive rips occur where a swift current hits and sweeps over reefs or shoals in bait-rich areas. Comparatively calm water — called the “sweet spot” — occurs at the base of the up-tide side of the structure. Predators hold here to conserve energy and then rocket up to grab a baitfish or jig. The best reefs are long, narrow and situated perpendicular to the current flow, creating ideal conditions and the most fishable water.
Primary Species: During peak season, striped bass, bluefish and occasionally weakfish inhabit most rips off Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Favorite Depths: Metal jigs are effective in inshore rips as shallow as 15 feet to offshore rips as deep as 150 feet. Try a 4-ounce jig in the shallows and an 8-ounce model at depth. I prefer nearshore reefs that ascend from 35 feet to 25 feet in a short distance.
Favorite Jig Design/Type: I like metal jigs in which the weight is equally distributed. The flattened and elongated shape and central weight distribution allows them to flutter downward like a wounded baitfish yet wobble seductively when retrieved.
Preferred Rigging: When bluefish are present, use four feet of 80-pound mono leader and a 4- to 6-ounce diamond jig with an 8/0 circle hook fished off a tail barrel swivel. When only stripers are present, try a 5-ounce metal jig with a 4/0 assist hook rigged off the front swivel.
Tackle: For light jigs (4 ounces) fished in inshore rips (15 to 50 feet), I use a 6-foot-6-inch Lamiglas Tri-Flex rod rated at 12 to 25 pounds matched to a Shimano Tekota 500 levelwind reel.
Deployment Tricks: Run up-tide of the reef and drift back toward the rip line. Quickly free-spool your jig until it bumps bottom, then immediately start your retrieve, taking 10 turns and then dropping back down again. It’s important to keep the line vertical. Single hooks and mono leaders are best; wire leaders don’t work as well, and trebles hang bottom.
Extra Nugget: Capt. Ricky Mola, owner of Fisherman’s World tackle center in Norwalk, Connecticut, pioneered circle hooks on metal jigs to prevent deep hooking.
About the Expert: Capt. Tom Migdalski is a Connecticut-based outdoor writer and photographer, and author of Fishing Long Island Sound and Fishing Diamond Jigs and Bucktails. Photo by Tom Migdalski
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