Light line for the vertical game
From PE1.5 to PE2.5
It is recommended to use light PE line from #1.5 to #2.5 in slow pitch jigging. If you have specific targets like tuna, you may as well use PE3.0, but that will compromise your direct control of the jig and fast actions will be required. When you start gearing up for slow pitch, it’s a big investment and sometimes you are not ready for all the equipment. I personally think that line makes bigger difference in the field than the rod in terms of catching fish.
Slow Jerker is definitely the best slow pitch rod ever built. No slow pitch jigging experts will argue with that. But it’s a fact that importing it from Japan costs a lot of shipping fee. If you can’t afford that, I encourage you to get any slow pitch rod that you can find locally. PE2.0 with a lower grade rod would be better than PE4.0 with a Slow Jerker as far as the contact rate is concerned.
The line catches the water and the water influence on the line is crucial for the jig movement. Water influence can change by the currents, the depth, your line, and how your boat drifts while fishing. The rod to jig weight match is often discussed but you can’t reply on that unless you take the water into your consideration.
Current can push your line away. Wind can push your boat away. And you have a lot of line slack in the water that disconnects you with your jig.
When you use reeling and rod actions to move the jig, it may be only moving your line but not moving your jig.
Before slow pitch jigging, this line alignment was not discussed much. High-speed jigging does constantly reeling fast in order to move the jig. But in reality, the jig may be moving slow. Mostly you may be just taking out the line slack. But at least it moves the jig. If you do slow pitch jigging without knowing how much line slack you have, your jig may be just hanging in the water, which the fish would never bite.
When you do SPJ from a free-drifting boat, you are constantly being pushed away by the wind. You are under a lot of water influence. You need to refine your senses to know how much you are being pushed away.
Let’s imagine how the line is aligned in the water.
Ideally, you control your drift to cancel the wind push and to drift with the jig which is moving with the current. If you can stay vertical like B, it’s possible to make small actions and falls.
But when you free-drifting, it’s likely to be A. Sea-anchor can slow down the drift away but it’s still like A for some extent. And imagine moving this jig with a 2-meter rod on the boat?
When you use heavy line, it’s very possible that your line is misaligned like this.
This is very possible. When you can’t feel touching the bottom, this is what is happening. And there’s no way to move the jig like this. You can reel like crazy, and the jig is slowly, quietly, unlively, moving up like a hung metal.
This is also possible in the multi-layered complex currents.
The water influence is so strong that all the rod actions feel heavy like pulling up a rubber band.
With the line slack, you can lose the control. You let the water take it away from you. Unlike bait fishing, there’s no chance to catch fish by jigging in this alignment. You need to stay more directly with your jig.
I’m sure you have seen the junction line between two sea currents.
The water in the right half of the picture is totally different from the left half.
An oceanographic water mass is an identifiable body of water with a common formation history which has physical properties distinct from surrounding water. Properties include temperature, salinity, chemical – isotopic ratios, and other physical quantities.
Different water masses do not mix well and push again each other. Just like the weather dynamics, the warm water mass goes over and the cold water mass ducks underneath.
So looking at it from the side, the water masses create multiple layered currents like this.
You are probably seeing the junction on the surface between B and C, but what’s underneath is like this. Water mass A is apparently warmer. Water mass B is colder. But you have the colder and nutrient-rich deep ocean current underneath too.
So when you are at Point A, you have a single layer. At Point B, you have 3 layers of currents. At Point C, 2 layers.
Ironically, the layer boundary is a great place to fish. Difficult to fish, but the reward can be big.
Sometimes you can see it on the fish finder.
Sometimes you see a horizontal line of little bubbles underwater. The sounder picks up bubbles. Primarily the sounder picks up air bladders of the fish. And it becomes visible on the fish finder when the conflict is strong between 2 different water layers.
Also sometimes you see a school of fish and the shape has an unnaturally straight line on the top or on the bottom, like it’s cut out with a knife.
The 2 layer boundary is like a wall for small fish. Big fish chase and push the school up to the wall and the school shapes like it’s been crashed to a wall.
This is where your jig will certainly get contacts. Some big fish
also hide and ambush behind the wall. To big fish it’s not a wall, and it’s just a curtain. Because of the 2 different temperature water masses, you can’t see or hear the other side. Sometimes a few bait fish are pushed beyond the curtain and they are easy targets for the ambushers. Also, some big fish dash from behind the curtain blindly with their month open, into the school of fish on the other side. Because the bait fish do not see or hear behind the curtain, ambushers can attack with virtually no warning.
You can also feel the double-layers from the line. That’s what staying vertical and using sensitive tackles are for. You feel the jig heavy first, and suddenly it feels light. It means the bottom current is moving fast and the top current is loose.
When I think there may be a layer, say 15m off the bottom, I do slow pitch up to about 12m off the bottom, fast lift for about 5m to break through the curtain, then give a couple of slow pitch there (for about 3m). If I don’t get a contact, I immediately drop 10m straight down, do a couple of slow pitch (there’s a good chance here too), 5m fast lift through the curtain, another couple of slow pitch.
This is another reason why you should use 10m-marked line.
PE Light Line
If you have been jigging with PE4.0 or heavier, just switching it to PE2.0 would make a world of difference.
The lighter line catches less water. It keeps you in more vertical alignment. It connects you with the jig in a more straight line. It enables you move your jig with full control. It delivers you more information from the line. Therefore, you will get more contacts, more constantly and more effectively.
So before you worry about the jig types, the jig weights or the colors, or even before buying an expensive rod, you should consider getting yourself a good line.
Shimano EX8 is best for its strength, fine coating and durability.
But if you focus more on non-stretching property, Berkley (Japan) Super Fireline is cheaper. But make sure you get the colored one from Berkley Japan. 4-ply line stretches less, even though it squeaks at the guides. Sato Sensei uses Sunline Jigger ULT4. PE line stretches about 4%, which is a lot less than mono or fluoro. But that is 4 meters of stretch for 100 meters of line. 4-ply line and Fireline stretch even less.
Non-stretch line is hard to handle in a close quarters as it’s easy to break. But you don’t have to worry about that at the depth we do SPJ.
Worried about breaking your light line to a big fish?
Yes, it’s a gamble. This is your risk. That is our game. That is our challenge.
Heavier line does help you bring in a big fish.
Lighter line does bring you more contacts.
We are maneuvering in this dilemma between.
The fun part of slow pitch jigging, I think, is the sensitivity. You have good control on the jig. You can feel all the jig movements. You can sense how the water is down there. This sensitivity enables you to change the settings and the applications purposefully when it’s not working.
There’s a lot you can do to fight with a big fish on the light line. You need to learn the fighting skills in this point down fight style. You will watch these guys catching a 30kg amberjack and a 48kg dogtooth tuna with PE2.0.
There’s no simple answer. But just know that there are more than we think we can do to catch big fish with a light line. And before you change to heavier line, try using longer, heavier leader. PE line is weak to friction. Even PE5.0 can break easily if it scratches against a structure. When you have a line break, examine where, how and why the break happens. Be a good detective.
You can always test your line system when you give up on a snag. See where it breaks, and you will know where is the weakest place in your line system.
And I can assure you. As long as you take care of your line well, PE2.0 can hold.
Learn from your own experience.
I strongly encourage you to start using light line before worrying about big fish. See how you can move your jig. See what information you can collect from the line. Feel what kind of water influence you are getting. When you make actions, try to listen rather than just make your speech.
Try to find the edge of your line system with your thumbing. See where is your weakest point in your line system and see how you can improve it.
You’ll probably lose several big fish in your process. You may feel sorry that you didn’t use heavier line. Just think that, without light line to put you in a good alignment, you couldn’t have the learning experience. Big old fish is wise and hard to be fooled.
By the time you are at your best on the light line, you will probably have several different tackles and playing this gamble more in favor for you. But you would not learn most of this if you depend on heavy line just because you expect some day a big fish will suddenly bite on your jig.
You can be lucky to use a heavy line and catch big fish. But lucky is often unfortunate. If you don’t learn.
Hope the information helps you! Good luck!
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