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January 13, 2014

Fishing with Slow Jigs

Creature jigs are worth a spot in your offshore arsenal.

Heavy Load

To use the jigs properly, Rusch ­recommends soft-action conventional or spinning gear in the 30- to 40-pound range. Shimano’s Tescata rods were designed specifically for the Lucanus jigs and are made with high-modulus graphite for a crisp feel. A 6-foot, 6-inch medium-light rod handles 2- to 3-ounce jigs; a 6-foot, 3-inch medium-heavy rod handles 7-ounce jigs.

“I’ll pair my rods with Curado 300 baitcasters, 30-pound braided line and 20- to 30-pound leader,” says Rusch. “Of course, current and depth factor into how light of tackle I’ll use.”

Grant has a basic approach in deciding how heavy a jig to fish.

“I’ll fish a 4-ounce jig for sea bass and snapper in 65 to 120 feet of water,” says Grant. Grant bumps up to a 6-ounce jig in 150 to 200 feet of water, and 8 ounces in waters deeper than 200 feet.

C&H Lures also markets the new Salt Life brand of jigs. In 2014, anglers can expect to see heftier weights for its Salty Blade and Big Eye Salty jigs. In 2013, Salt Life offered the Big Eye Salty in just 2 ounces.

Slow jigs have proved effective in both warm water and cooler water.

“Most anglers bounce the lures on the bottom, though yellowtail often take them on the drop,” says Mark Smith, of Toro Tamer lures in Huntington Beach, California. “Typical depths fished with these lures ranges from 25 to 100 feet.”

No matter which slow jig you intend to use, a sensitive rod is key to detecting the sometimes-subtle bite.

“Don’t ‘swing’ on the bite; continue to reel as you would using a circle hook,” says Rusch. “The shape of the head allows you to fish in some heavy structure too. With the shape of the weight and smaller hooks, you can unsnag your bait. That’s something you can’t do with a bucktail with its eye set farther back.”

Customize Your Creation

Replacement hooks and skirts are often available for these pricey, versatile jigs at each company’s website. Some anglers take it a step further, ­customizing jigs right out of the box.

“Our Soft Tako — modeled after an octopus — is rigged with both a fixed single and floating treble hook, and that’s been fine for most applications,” says Smith. “But we’ve also had clients experiment with rerigging using wired single hooks and assist-style hooks. For larger game fish, that’s not a bad call, since these lures were originally intended for bass and shallow-water rockfish.”

Some jigs like the Shimano Lucanus jigs have a secondary eye that allows anglers to add another hook, or a piece of leader section attached to an extra sinker or even a second jig.

“The larger, more-aggressive fish tend to be the first to attack,” says Rusch. But at some point, those smaller hooks end up catching smaller fish. We all recognize that it’s hard to release fish pulled from deep water, so that’s when upsizing the hook size is a solid choice.

“It’s all about trial and error,” says Grant, “You do get a better hookup ratio with the smaller hooks hiding inside the skirt. But some anglers will upsize the hook and add a strip of bait or squid.”

Anyone who’s ordered squid, octopus or crab at a seaside restaurant knows they can be darn tasty, points out Smith. So it’s no surprise the number of species that munch these lures is lengthy. Relax, grab that ­sensitive‑tipped rod, and reel tight.