Setting up the Slow-Pitch Jigging
Let’s talk about how you set up your slow pitch tackle.
Overhead reel, or conventional reel, is best for Slow Pitch Jigging. Shimano’s Ocea Jigger 2000NR-HG has always been the favorite for Slow Pitch Jiggers. But the reel doesn’t have to be a specific one. Any overhead reel would be sufficient if it holds 400m of line, and the maximum speed is 90cm+ retrieve length per crank. (About 75cm speed at the depth you are fishing.)
- The reel should hold at least 400 meters of line.
- The reel should retrieve at least 90 centimeters per crank.
Why overhead reel?
- Because the overhead provides more information to anglers. The spinning reel generates greater momentum in the reeling rotation. The momentum makes it easy to retrieve fast and strong, but on the other hand, the centrifugal rotation is too loud for anglers to pick up subtle information from the line. The overhead has the axis of the rotation perpendicular to the line, getting anglers linked more directly with the line.
- Because the overhead tells you right when you touch the bottom. One of the main reasons you get snagged is to let the jig sit on the bottom. At the moment the jig touches the ground, the hook is still hanging in the water. if you can get it up right away you are less likely to get snagged.
- Because you can control the drop-down. A lot of times you get bites when you touch the bottom. A lot of bottom fish is watching your jig falling from above. By thumbing on the overhead reel, you can control the speed and play some tricks on the drop-down, and you don’t miss those bites. This is a great advantage.
When you are set up right with the overhead, you can gather so much information from the line. You can feel the layers of currents, a fish chasing around your jig, your split-ring clicking, and you can tell if it’s sand or rock when the jig touches the bottom. You can’t hear those things with spinning reels. Gathering information is the heart of Slow-Pitch Jigging.
The pioneering Poseidon series by Ever Green is the most popular rod for slow-pitch jigging.
Sato Sensei, the slow pitch jigging creator, spent 2 years to develop this rod when he was creating SPJ.
The characteristics of Slow-Pitch Jigging rod are:
- High carbon crispy blanks with thin in diameter
- Slow tapered parabolic action
- Highly resilient blanks
- Guides and reel seat settings for maximum sensitivity
SPJ rods are supposed to easily bend deep with the whole length at jerking and reeling. Then when you hold it up, it springs back slowly and strongly, accelerating and releasing the jig to swim on its side.
These rods are designed so that even when you give a small pitch like 1/2 1/4 or 1/8 turn, only 20cm to 30cm in length, the rod responds to spring up nicely, slow and long.
The maximum sensitivity is also the main requirement. The rod picks up a lot of information from the line and delivers it to your hands. It also means that your little actions and different tones change the behavior of the jig.
SPJ is a game of “listening”. In hi-speed jigging you do a lot of “talking”, meaning that you focus on doing something to the jig. In slow pitch jigging, you should listen as much as you talk. You make less actions, and you are letting the jig make actions on its own while you are paying attention to the jig movements and the ocean conditions.
We don’t worry about the rod strength to fight with a big fish. It’s not the rod’s job. The rod’s job is to dance the jig, invite fish bites, and hook them. After you hook a fish, it’s the reel’s job with its power and the tight, smooth drag to bring the fish home. We don’t pump the rod. Keep your rod down and reel in steady and calm. Like Sato Sensei says, “Don’t piss off the fish.”
I will discuss the fish fight strategy in a separate article.
PE line is essential for Slow-Pitch Jigging. Nylon monofilament or Fluorocarbons would not do. They are too thick in diameter and stretch too much.
The line is so important to deliver angler’s subtle actions to the jig, and also to deliver all the information back to the angler. Any PE line will do. Switching from monofilament or fluorocarbon, you’d be amazed how much communicative your jig can be.
The characteristics of PE line are;
- Very strong to the weight, so it can be so thin in diameter, cutting off influences of the currents.
- Doesn’t stretch, so you have direct control to what’s on the other end.
- Very week to friction.
- More expensive.
- Easy to lose or break off the fish because the line doesn’t stretch.
That is the general information. But each PE line is different as it’s braided differently, and coated differently. I will discuss the line in a separate article.
What size PE?
PE2.0 is the standard size for this game.
The size number is the Japanese measure, based on denir, the weight of the threads that are used to make the line for a certain length. Europe uses diameter. #2.0 is about 0.235mm. US uses poundage. But unlike mono and fluoro, where are basically one plastic line, PE line is braided. Diameter and poundage are all different, depending on how it’s braided and how tightly it’s braided. So Japanese use the amount of threads that are used to make the line.
PE1.5 is also popular.
Light line has its advantages. It catches less water influence. Staying vertical in a straight line is a key factor to get slow pitch going. If you have line slack in the water, it absorbs all your small actions. A thin, tightly braided, and coated PE line helps you have the direct control of the jig’s movement and the keen sensitivity.
The lighter line you use, the better contact rate you will get.
The heavier line you use, the better catch rate you will get.
Keep in mind that the length of the line between you and the fish has a lot to do with the strength. PE1.5 may seem too light if you have a 10kg fish 30 meters away. It probably is. But if you have a 10kg fish 80 meters away, it’s a different story. The same weight is dispersed throughout the length. 80 meters of line can hold a lot more weight than 30 meters of line.
Of course with some fish that go to the rock for cover, you need to stop the fish somehow, and you are temped to use heavier line. You can use as heavy as PE3.0. But you will sacrifice your contact rate. And I don’t recommend to go heavier than that. If you do, don’t think about slow pitch jigging and do hi-speed jigging.
Whether or not you use PE2.0 or PE3.0, if the tensioned PE line touches the bottom, that’s the end of the game. So I would still recommend PE2.0. If you are after a big fish that runs to the bottom, before you decide to switch to heavier PE line, consider to stay with PE2.0 and use longer, heavier leader. If you are fishing around 50 meters, sure, OK, you might as well use PE3.0.
If you are just beginning SPJ, I recommend to start with PE2.0. And if you can afford the second reel, load PE1.5. You can switch the reel with lighter line when the fish is slow or the condition is tough to stay vertical. This move can make a big difference in contact rate. You don’t learn anything if you don’t get contacts.
How much PE to load?
Sato Sensei and the slow pitch jigging experts say “Load 600m PE.” Because you never know what you hook. And you need to let out your line to catch big fish. Well, these guys sometimes catch sailfish on PE2.0! (With the support of the boat of course.)
It’s common to have 5 to 8 meters of leader of Fluorocarbon. The leader is knotted to a solid ring, which is connected to a split ring which holds the jig and another solid ring with assist hooks. We don’t use swivels. They create unnecessary water resistance. Like Sato Sensei says, “The less metal parts in your system, the more contacts you get.
The leader is there to prevent PE from touching the bottom edges, to keep strong knot to the ring, and to absorb shocks from the fish fight by stretching.
We’ll talk about the knots on another page.
What size leader?
We usually FC #10 (40lb), #12 (48lb), up to #16 (55lb). #20 (70lb) is rare, but if you mean to catch a big fish that runs to the bottom, it’s needed. I use #12 usually. #14 or #16 when you expect big ones. #10 when the fish is slow. Again, the thinner the line is, the more contacts you can get.
In this line system, and with my fight style, I’ve never had a line break at PE line. It’s usually the leader. When PE line breaks, what you should be suspicious first is that the line was damaged before that. So don’t worry too much about using a light PE line. You should be purposeful when you choose the leader, how heavy and how long, and always be tight and perfect at knots.
There are a growing number of specialized jigs for Slow-Pitch Jigging on the market. Never heard of a new jig which isn’t titled “for Slow-Pitch Jigging” for a while now.
They come in all shapes and colors but one thing in common is that they are center-balanced. And one side is flat and the other side is fat. The key factor of Slow-Pitch Jigging is to let the jig swim or fall on its own in a horizontal position. And the fat side is always on the bottom and the flat side in on top side.
There are roughly 3 categories they can be divided into.
They specialize in falling. They are usually “fat” in shape. They are designed to be used by Long-Fall Jerk. They do all kinds of performance and falling patterns so that the strategy is to give the jig as much time to fall as possible. They usually do not slide or swim at the pitch. Some of them go too wild on a lift up. So soft lift upward, and using the whole length of your rod, give a long fall. They do work in a lot of occasions. Very dependable in a deep water or in a strong current, in situations where Slow-Pitch Jigging doesn’t work well.
These specialize in responding to subtle actions. They have pointy heads, and the tails come in different shapes because they are each designed to perform special movements in falling as well. They are great in Slow-Pitch Jerk, or combination with Long-Fall Jerk. They react well both to subtle actions and to energetic actions, and swim to slide and fall on its side.
They specialize in sliding to the sides. They work well with High Pitch Jerk mainly. High Pitch is different from hi-speed jigging. High Pitch utilizes the strong impacts at the pitch and let the jig swim to the side. It’s still based on 1 pitch per second tempo basically. Some jigs generate such great forward momentum and brilliant hydrodynamics that they swim for so long and it can be 1 pitch for 2 or 3 seconds. Unlike hi-speed jigging, you give good intervals between pitches so that the jig swims on its own to the side.
Does the color make a difference?
I don’t know… But I think the colors make much more difference to us anglers than to the fish. When the new color comes out I just want to make a bait right away. And it feels like it catches more fish but maybe that’s because I use it more often than others.
Does fish see colors? Anglers can talk about it for hours. But we are not talking about the surface fishing. In most areas it’s pretty dark at 100m deep.
If we Humans hunt in the wild, we must use full potentials of our sensors. But vision is what we heavily rely on. That is how we evolved according to our environment and our strategies to survive in it. So the colors are pretty important for us.
How about fish? They have 2 eyes like us. But what’s very different is their hearing. Their ears are all along their body. This tells something, I think. They should see things. But probably they rely a lot more on their hearing.
Dolphins and whales used to be land mammals and evolved into the ocean. What they developed is the auditory sensor system called echo-location. Sounds travel much faster and further in water than in the air. That confirms me that the in-water environment is a world of sounds.
There is a pattern of the color which is very popular recently. It is luminous paint in a zebra pattern. Luminous paint is considered effective around 100m deep or deeper.
But I do catch with or without.
And I don’t get fish with or without.
These days I find myself more and more not worry about colors. But the zebra pattern makes sense in a way because a lot of juvenile fish has this pattern on their body. They must be familiar to the pattern.
Hope the information helps you! Good luck!
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