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September 23, 2008

Masters of Metal

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

Anyone can fish metal jigs: Drop 'em over and yank 'em up and down. With some luck, you might catch a fish. 
 
But believing that skill trumps luck most of the time, I wanted to see how some of the most experienced, successful jig-fishing enthusiasts in the world practice their particular sport - one that has grown by leaps and bounds among saltwater anglers around the globe.
 
That growth has occurred for a reason. Jigging works.
 
Shimano played no small part in the rise of jigging, thanks to its brilliant Butterfly Jig campaign that did for metal jigs what Frigidaire did for refrigerators 50 years ago and Kleenex did for tissues. Anglers began to understand that nothing more than a tapered metal bar with a hook or two dangling from it could catch fish from top to bottom in the water column.

Of course, the same lure can also catch nothing. As with any technique, 10 percent of the experts are likely to enjoy 90 percent of the success. 
 
"A jig is no better than the fisherman who uses it," says Jay Gustin, who owns/operates Pesca Panama. He says there's been "a real awakening among fishermen" visiting Panama, with many more bringing jigs along. "I must say, I was amazed," he recalls, "when I saw how effectively they could work. To say our [local] skippers are a hard sell on a new technique is an understatement."