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September 23, 2008

Masters of Metal

Sport Fishing convenes an international jigging symposium - and takes notes!

As an example, one day we started jigging on a normally productive, fairly shallow reef area but initially without a lot of success. The day had grown dim as the cloud layer thickened. Zingarelli switched from a blue jig to one in bright-pink hues and, a few minutes later, something far below made a concerted effort to yank the rod from his hands. Ultimately, up came a 30-pound broomtail grouper.

  • Use a rhythm you're comfortable with. Simply copying jigging strokes of a pro may not lead to hookups - unless you can make it a rhythm that becomes second nature and feels right for you.
  • Use a long leader. Like Yuki, Zingarelli likes 20 to 30 feet of mono or fluoro -- not only so fish don't see the braid but to give the jig better action and to benefit from the shock-absorbing stretch when fighting a large fish.
  • Avoid paradigms that discourage you from trying new tactics. "If somebody else is catching fish and you're not," says Zingarelli, "watch his technique, note his tackle. Never think you know all the answers; I'm constantly learning new things [about fishing jigs]."
  • The boat's skipper must put you on the fish and let you know how deep they are; then, you have to get the jig there. "Ten feet away," Zingarelli says, "and you might end up with nothing."
  • Use assist hooks, not trebles. The latter may work for tuna or wahoo, but generally, assist hooks hold fish better and snag bottom less often. Also, since assist hooks are connected by two or three inches of Dacron, Kevlar or other line to the jig (not directly), a head-shaking fish can't use the jig's weight to rid itself of the hook.

Lessons From America
Before the international jigging train reached the station in the United States, Ben Secrest had already climbed aboard. The Southern California native, long a player in the tackle industry, served as Shimano's marketing manager in 2004 when the company pulled out all the stops to introduce its new Butterfly jigging system (small reels with heavy braid and short, light, very powerful rods to work the flashy metal jigs). A disciple of jigging in those early days, Secrest now has many years of jigging around much of the world under his belt and has used his expertise to help Accurate Reels - which he now serves as sales manager - develop a line of reels designed specifically to meet the intense demands jigging places on tackle.

Among Secrest's words of jigging wisdom: Make sure your tackle is the right size for the job. Given his vocation, Secrest's concern for appropriate tackle is not surprising. "Match tackle to your quarry," he says. For example, "Don't fish 50-pound if you're going after big GTs around shallow structure." And choose jig size/weight by considering targeted species, current velocity and depth of fish or structure you're working.