Of course, successful deepwater jigging is not all about the rod. It’s highly dependent on having a balanced outfit, or “system,” that comprises rod, reel, line and jig. All must be carefully matched and optimized. Still, the rod is the focal point in the jigging system, charged not only with fighting the fish but imparting the proper action to the jig.
“And let’s face it,” says Cameron Hughes, product manager at Penn, “vertical jigging is a workout, and you need a good rod that is light, balanced, and comfortable in your hand and under your arm.”
Penn’s Carnage series was introduced last year, following in the footsteps of its popular predecessor, the Torque line. The rod makes use of a lightweight graphite blank, and Hughes says its versatility — especially in the spinning models — allows it to act not only as a jigging rod but a multipurpose tool. “You can be vertical jigging in 200 feet of water one day and then be sight-casting for cobia the next day with the same rod.”
Roman Sperkacz, general manager at Capt. Harry’s Fishing Supply in Miami, also says that his company’s Hopper series of jigging rods are being used for other types of fishing, as well. The longer, 6½- to 7-foot spinning models in the family are being used increasingly by anglers chunking or live-baiting yellowfin tuna, he says.
Piecing It Together
But at the core, these rods are designed for the rigors of deepwater jigging — and, as such, every component on the rod must be built tough.
Take reel seats and guides, for instance. They are extremely important, and manufacturers have made great strides in making them better for deep jigging.
“You need a very hard insert material in your guides that will withstand the pressures and friction of braided line,” says John Bretza, director of product development at Okuma Fishing Tackle. “We use zirconium [guide inserts] for all of our jig rods because it is an extremely hard insert material that works perfectly with braids.”
Guide placement is important too. “The lead guide on your heavier conventional jigging models needs to be closer to the foregrip to decrease the angle of the line coming off the reel to the lead guide,” says Hughes. “No one likes the line touching their thumb or cutting into the grip while fighting a large fish.”
And speaking of grips, this is also an area that’s seen terrific innovation over the past few years.
“One of the things that we have incorporated into many of our jigging rods is a split-grip configuration, which offers more comfort,” says Bretza.
A split fighting butt exposes the glossy-finished rod blank between the EVA foam, which “allows the rod to slide easily over your clothing when jigging,” Bretza says. “Without this style of configuration, a foam grip will catch on your clothing, and can rub on your body causing discomfort.”
Or worse, result in a lost trophy that never should have gotten away.