ArticleFishingOffshoreOffshore-How-To'sOffshore-Rigging

Jiggy With It

Metal jigs are nothing new. For as far back as I can remember, diamond jigs have been a staple in saltwater fishing. The craze started sometime after the industrial revolution and variations of the lure have killed about a billion fish since. Enhanced with a tubular tail, the artificial quickly proved its worth in salt across the Northeast against codfish, pollock, bluefish, tuna and striped bass. Fast forward a number of decades and metal jigs are now available in a whirlwind of configurations and are deadly in nearly every arena.

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Available in a variety of shapes, sizes, weights and colors, jigs will never lose their appeal. Photo: FSF Mag

After many years with little change, the diamond jig revolution finally took a giant leap forward with the introduction of an innovative new tactic called high speed vertical jigging. Originating in Asia where waters are highly pressured, this latest technique employed slender, counterweighted lures rated by grams rather than ounces. Instead of the steady retrieve or yo-yo action imparted on typical diamond jigs, vertical jigs sink incredibly fast and are worked through the water column at high rates of speed. Speed jigs, as they are often called, are typically 4- to 10-inches in length with assist hooks on the top of the lure rather than trailing behind the bait. The technique and the expansive arsenal of specialized equipment that accompany it have caught on worldwide and have proven to be highly effective against a long list of prized deep dwelling predators and highly migratory pelagics. Skeptics who aren’t already equipped with an array of vertical jigs and aren’t taking advantage of this killer tactic are missing the boat on exciting action.

Without question, this new series of versatile baits will be deadly effective against bluefish and Spanish mackerel when cast from shore, pier or boat, but don’t discount these finger-long fakes when heading offshore.

Riding on the coattail of vertical jigging’s success, smaller statured metal lures created to be equally effective when retrieved horizontally are now making a solid showing in the tackle bags of leading offshore anglers around the state. Bait’s like Williamson Lure’s Gomoku and Gomame weigh no more than 2 oz., which opens the door to a wide array of relatively light tackle applications. This also means fights against aggressive game fish of any size tend to be extremely sporty. Additionally, these sleek metal lures cast a country mile, even in a stiff headwind. Anglers can now maintain a safe distance from frenzied fish without the risk of putting them down. Without question, this new series of versatile baits will be deadly effective against bluefish and Spanish mackerel when cast from shore, pier or boat, but don’t discount these finger-long fakes when heading offshore.

Pelagics like tuna and dolphin often gorge on relatively small prey, like juvenile sardines and cigar minnows barely a few inches long. It is during these scenarios where small metal jigs shine the brightest as they perfectly mimic the predominate forage in the area. This exact scenario unfolded recently while we were kite fishing the edge in South Florida. The hardy goggle eye we were presenting on the surface were perfect for tempting a pair of early season sailfish, but too large for the schoolie dolphin and football blackfins busting along the color change. It was obvious the fish were intently zoned in on tightly packed schools of terrified juvenile cigar minnows, like the ones hovering around our drift sock.

Anxious to bend a few rods during the midday lull, we tied on a few metal jigs to see if we could connect. The tactic immediately paid off with a pair of keeper ‘phins soon on ice. A dozen footballs were next, as the small metals proved too tempting for the juvenile blackfin. We caught fish by utilizing an erratic retrieve and racing the lures just below the surface where they were snatched with ferocity.

While light spinning gear in the 12 lb. class would have been a blast, we were limited by what was available—a set 7 foot Chaos live bait rods rated for 12 to 20 lb. mainline matched to high speed Daiwa Saltist reels. While the equipment worked flawless, I will confess that we lost more fish than we boated due to pulled hooks. I’ve already replaced the small trebles with 4/0 short shank J hooks. This small adjustment would have equated to a greater catch ratio and would have made unhooking fish and getting back into the action that much easier. Still, the lures produced.

While we only fished the jigs intermittently and I am certainly not suggesting a 3-inch jig will save the day, we found them to be extremely effective when and where applicable and an excellent asset to any offshore arsenal. Sometimes matching the hatch is all it takes to bend a few more rods and create a few more lasting memories.

Mimicry

The S shape in the body of the Gomame Jig (top) delivers a pronounced wounded baitfish action feeding game fish can’t resist, while the symmetrical shape of the Gomoku Jig (center) produces an erratic action with a fast to very fast retrieve. Available in a wide array of patterns with foiled finishes, both series of lures perfectly mimic juvenile baitfish.

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