Sato Sensei found that it’s when the jig is free on its side, either swimming or falling, that you get most contacts. That is why slow pitch jigging uses a center-balanced jig with one side flat and the other fat. It’s stable to be lying on its side when free. Sato Sensei points out that you get 70% contacts when the jig is falling. All the slow pitch jigs have different shapes and balances for the falling performances like a weak, hesitating, scared, crippled or dying bait fish. They also have different properties for uplifts. Some slash through the water and then slide and swim on its own. Some hesitate and suspend, and then fall backwards sliding through. Some wobble and rock to fall slowly. All different kinds of patterns to perform in a horizontal position. Some work great in hangtime after uplifting. Some work great in falling.

Tackle Balance

You would want to match the jig weight to your rod in accordance to all the different properties of the jigs and also to the different conditions. Your tackle balance always match your tactics and the condition. It’s an art work. Not simple. But so much fun if you know what you are doing.

Action Tone + Change of Pace (COP)

What you always want to take into your consideration of your tactics is “change of pace” of jig movements. COP triggers the predator fish to react and chase. What kind of COP do you want to play? That is a major factor in your action tactics.

If you want to focus on “hangtime” after the lift, you want to use a lighter jig to your rod power, which is what I call “strong action tone“. The rod has enough power to lift the jig fast, and it whips the jig free for swim to slow down. Then it accelerates fast to fall. This is a typical tactic with Spunky.

If you want to focus on fast falls, you want to use a heavier jig to the rod power, which is what I call “soft action tone“. The rod is relatively soft to the jig weight, so that the lift is slow. At the end of the quiet lift, the jig only hovers a little, then it falls fast in different attractive patterns. It lifts slow and falls fast. This is a typical tactic with Gawky.

When to go slow and when to go fast?

Always accelerate to fast and decelerate to slow.

This is how you use COP. If you don’t have this in mind, you may end up going always fast, fast to go up, fast to go down, no acceleration or deceleration because your rod is not whipping. The fish won’t come to bite you. The fish will think you are plain crazy.

Stay tuned with the water

Choosing the right action tone is the heart of SPJ. But it’s not easy because the action tone changes in accordance with your drift and the ocean conditions. It’s not a simple math.

  • When you are not vertical, the water feels heavy. You are not vertical when your boat is being pushed by the wind, away from your jig.
  • When you go deep, the water feels heavy. because your long line needs to move in a lot of water.
  • When you use heavy line, the water feels heavy.
  • When the upper current which moves your boat and the lower current which moves your jig are different, the water feels heavy.
  • When you have all of above situations, the water feels super heavy. And when you don’t have these situations, the water feels light.

This “water weight” changes the action tone.

For example, say, I have a 210g jig on 603-4 rod at 100 meters. Am I in strong, medium or soft action tone? In my sense, based on an assumption that I’m on a controlled drift with a spanker, which is the most efficient way to stay vertical, it is medium action tone. But if I go shallower, this will be strong action tone. Vice versa if I go deep. If I have complex currents, I may decide switch to a heavier jig to play soft action tone, or I may switch to 603-5 rod and playing medium action tone with a 230g jig.

You have to feel the water and change your tackle balance accordingly. This is what sets the experts apart from the rest. This is a listening skill. And this is what I always encourage the beginners to train themselves for. And I always recommend to buy only a few types of jigs but with many different weights, rather than buying a bunch of different unknown jigs. This way will help you build up the sense to read the water.

If you don’t know how to start, don’t hesitate to contact me, I’ll be happy to help you. You need to tell me the followings.

The rod model selection depends mainly on the following factors.

  • What is your main depth range? If you narrow it to a 30 meter range, what would that be?
  • How is your boat operating while fishing? Free-drifting? Drifting with sea-anchor? Or controlled drift by the captain?
  • What are your main targets? Pelagic fish? Demersal fish? Or both?

Action Tone by Rod Jig Match

Here is the list of my personal reference of Slow Jerker for example.

RodStrong SettingMedium SettingSoft Setting
603-260g – 80g80g – 120g120g – 180g
603-380g – 130g130g – 180g180g – 300g
603-4100g – 150g150g – 220g220g – 400g
603-5120g – 180g180g – 250g250g – 500g
603-6150g – 230g230g – 300g300g – 600g
600180g – 270g270g – 350g350g – 800g

If you are getting the first SPJ rod, I recommend 603-4 or equivalent Power 4 rod and to explore the depth between 50m to 80m. Especially if you are free-drifting, don’t go deeper. Make 10 trips with a few jigs of different weights. Whether or not you get the fish, just keep paying attention to how the jig feels in different water conditions. Just build up your sense. Of course, you need to practice SPJ actions, with reeling when you lift the rod and not reeling when you lower the rod, and with having the rod end under your elbow. You probably need a couple of trips just for the action.

Jig Types and Characteristics

All the slow pitch jigs have different characteristics. I think Seafloor Control and Deepliner are the best slow pitch jigs in the world. Based on hundreds of field tests for each jig and weight, they design each jig with specific purpose and characteristics.

And they don’t want unpredictable movements. You don’t want your target fish to think your jig is just plane crazy. The random unpredictable movements may look good in human eyes first. But COP needs to happen in the predictable pattern of movements. Your jig needs to look lively, but somewhat predictable and seizable to your target fish.

No one designs the jigs at this high level of professionalism like Seafloor Control and Deepliner.

The following is the example of Seafloor Control jigs.

  • Gawky works well with soft action tone
  • Cranky works well with soft to medium action tone
  • Rector works well with all action tones
  • Spunky works well with strong action tones
  • Arc works well with all action tones

My Set-up Variations

My main depth is usually 100m to 130m in Okinawa subtropical waters. The boat controls the drift with the spanker sail. Below charts show my tactics in different situations. I would try the 1st line first, if it doesn’t work, try the 2nd line.

Moderate Water Situation

Fish can be active and the situation allows anything you want to try.

603-4PE2.0Arc 230gTry different actions to see what works.
Rector 210gMy favorite jig to try different actions
Spunky 180gFocus on uplifting and long slides. Try to switch on the fish with energetic movements.
603-3PE1.5Cranky 230gPlay short, quick actions for hesitation movements. Assuming that the targets are not aggressive to take much risks.

Heavy Water Situation

Big fish can be active in the strong current, but also it’s possible that the current may be too strong for many fish to be active.

603-4 PE2.0 Arc 260gTry different actions to see what works.
603-6 PE2.0 Arc 240gTry different actions in stronger action tone.
Spunky 210gTry energetic actions, making sure the jig is working against heavy water, and hoping big ones are around.
603-4 PE1.5 Gawky 300gFocus on slow movements and falls.
Cranky 260gSmall lifts with short, quick actions.

Light Water Situation

The current can be loose and fish is not active. This is an opportunity that SPJ can show the difference.

Rod Line Jig Tactics
603-3 PE2.0 Arc 200g Try different actions to see what works.
Rector 210g Try different approaches from energetic uplifts and soft falls
603-4 PE1.5 Cranky 230g Small lifts with short, quick application.
603-3 PE1.5 Gawky 220g Focus on soft movements and falling.

Slow pitch principles do not tell you what to do.

Slow pitch principles teach you how to make choices and give you freedom. Trust your senses and hunches.

The above chart is just examples, just for those who don’t know where to start. Do not let it limit your own tactics.
A lot of time I change it purposefully. I sometimes use 260g Gawky with 603-3 in 50m deep. Sometimes I use 100g Rector with 603-6. The combinations are unlimited. And the currents and the fish tendency are never the same. You just need to drop and dance to see for yourself.

When you get a hit, that is your answer. But that does never mean it will work tomorrow. It only means you just found one of your successful tactics. The fun part of this game is that you are aware of what you are doing and changing it purposefully. Have fun!

Hope the information helps you! Good luck!