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September 23, 2008

Masters of Metal

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

The validity of that advice wasn't lost on me. Fishing with Secrest one windy afternoon under a leaden sky, we drifted in a stiff current just off some rocks known to hold wahoo. I put aside the big Accurate spinner with 50-pound braid for a lighter reel filled with 20-pound braid and tied on a very small Williamson Gyro jig. While many anglers may assume jigging is a vertical process, it needn't be. I cast and let the jig fall perhaps 50 feet, then began working it back, cranking hard and jerking as erratically as I could.

A big wahoo slammed the jig on the third try, and well into a breathtaking run, the hook pulled. Ten minutes later, the jig hooked another 'hoo; this one, at least 40 pounds, stayed buttoned. Both had struck probably 30 to 40 feet down; that seemed to be "the zone" for the wahoo at that spot.

Don't hesitate to try different combinations to find the optimal jig size and shape, Secrest advises, and determine the best jig cadence and speed to work the right depth. "If you're working the jig with a good rhythm and have it in 'the zone' [echoing Yuki's term], the fish will let you know they're there!"

The hype surrounding jigging has been noteworthy. In the final analysis, it's just another technique. But unlike some methods, jigging not only invites the angler's direct and constant participation, it demands it. While you can literally be sound asleep and hook a great fish while trolling, with jigging, hookups occur only if you, the angler, make them happen. The strategies I watched these pros use can go a long way toward ensuring just that.