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Jigging Tackle for Trout

Jigging is an active method of catching trout, where you use the rod constantly. So you need light tackle or your jigging arm is going to get very tired – but the real reason is that you need to use relatively small light lures. If you were using heavy line the jig would have to pull the line down through the water and this would kill the lure’s action.

Here is a rule-of-thumb guide to lure weight for a given line weight:

2 kg line – 20gm jig, 3 kg line – 30gm jig, 4 kg line – 40gm jig. (But be careful some lakes have an upper weight limit on jigs – check it out)

Those of you reading this while still awake will have noted that the jig weight guide (which works for all jigs, fresh and saltwater) takes the breaking strain of the line in kilos, add a zero and that is the jig weight in grams. For example, 6kg line + 0 = 60gm jig. Easy.

The rod should be at least 1.8m long, and rated for 2 – 4kg (4 to 8lb) line. (Read the preceding section on spinning rods for an explanation of rod ratings.) I tend to go for fast action rods, that is, rods where most of the bend is in the top third, but a medium action rod, (most of the bend in the top two thirds), does a good job and can provide some extra ‘insurance’ if you hook a big feisty fish.

A digression – one of the key demands of designing a rod, pretty much any rod, is to ensure that when a fish has been hooked the rod will offer the fisherman every assistance to land the fish. This is achieved by the rod bending under load to absorb the darts and lunges of the fish and by the rod in trying to recover its shape i.e. straighten-up, keeping constant pressure on the fish.

The reel should be an ‘overhead’ reel or bait-casting reel. Actually they are the same thing, just a different name. An overhead reel is called that because it sits on top of the rod, as opposed to a spinning reel which hangs below the rod.

The reel should be able to hold about 330m of 3kg (6lb) line.

Ideally the reel will have a 5:1 retrieve – this means that every time you turn the reel handle the spool goes round 5 times – a 5:1 retrieve is quite quick and it means you can retrieve the lure and change it or clean weed off it that much more quickly.

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Look for a reel with a good drag system, a system that is smooth.

You can tell if a reel’s drag system is less than optimum by putting some line on the reel, the reel on a rod, the line through the rod guides.

Attach a friend, wife, significant other, partner on life’s journey, child, or Husky on the end of the line, and have them run off pulling the line. If the rod tip ‘nods’, that is repeatedly bends and straightens as the line is pulled off, the drag is sticky. If the rod tip stays curved under load and does not buck and kick, the drag is just right. A good drag system is very important because the light line you are using leaves little room for a ‘sticky’ drag.

There are some reels on the market that have a line counter. These tell you, pretty accurately, how much line is off the reel.

Now when I first saw these, I fell about laughing, but when you start thinking about it, trout tend to stay in a quite narrow band of water depth, so to jig successfully your jig needs to be jigging where the fish are. How do you know how much line is off the reel – use a line counter, if you can stand the flak from your mates – that is till you get fish and they don’t.

You can jig with a spinning reel, but it is not ideal. You have to open the bail-arm to let the jig drop, and if a fish hits it on the drop, which is very common, it is not possible to strike until you can close the bail arm. But you can use a spinning reel to jig soft plastic baits.

There are some lines available that are multi-coloured, usually every ten feet or so. These can give you a quite accurate idea where your jig is. The other way of achieving depth indication from the line is to actually mark the line with an indelible marker. One mark for ten feet, two for twenty and so on.

So how do you know where the fish are? Use your sounder which we covered earlier, but I will repeat myself:

Jigging without the benefit of a sounder (fish-finder) is just exercise for your jigging arm.

You could cheat and follow a boat with a sounder all day and jig when they jig – though this might make them a tad testy.

Sea Anchor

There is another item you could think about, and that is a sea anchor. A sea anchor could be a purpose bought thing, or a ten litre paint drum with a rope yoked through the open top, and a few 1" diameter holes in the bottom. You can tie in a buoy to the rear of the drum, it helps in retrieval.

If the wind is blowing too hard the jigs will stream out behind the boat and once they get past about 45 degrees they seem to become less effective. A sea anchor will help to slow down that rate of drift and allow your jigs to be as close to vertical as possible for as long as possible.

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The array of jigs available is amazing, and the beaut thing is they will all catch fish – if you use them at the right time, in the right place, and you are good enough. This was actually a smart-ass answer we gave customers in the tackle shop I owned, if they asked if a particular lure would work, but there is more than a large helping of truth in the answer.

Buying the most recommended jig will not catch a trout if you do not use it properly, where there are fish. Of course even using a absolutely guaranteed sure-fire jig properly where there are no fish will have the same result.

Metal Jigs

As I said, just about any jig (brand & style) will do. The key to catching a trout with a jig is to make the jig look like a baitfish in trouble so the trout will bite it. Colour and action should be the criteria in your selection. And you will not be surprised to learn that colour choice should be much the same as for trolling lures, silver, silver-base blue over, silver-base gold over, black with gold stripes, green & yellow and many more.

A couple of things to watch:

Get Rid Of Treble Hooks

Ban treble hooks

If the shop where you buy your lures has only treble hooks on the lures get them to cut off two of the hooks. Trying to get a set of trebles out of the mouth of an undersized fish or a fish you are releasing will do a great deal of damage, and severely hamper the fish’s chances of survival.

If you really want a great reason for getting rid of treble hooks, just wait for the day when a lively fish jumps and sticks two of the hooks in part of your person – single hooks are best!

You can place a fly (wet fly) above the jig; this seems to add some further enticement. Some jigs have a fly as the jig hook.

Another thing you can do to add further movement to a jig is to thread a soft plastic worm, eel, or flat body, over the hook. It all helps.

Soft Plastic Lead Head Jigs

I know I harp on about these things but I have just had so much success with them, and so have a number of fishermen whose knowledge and success are well known. The trouble has been that these lures were just too hard to get of in this country – that has changed and most stores are stocking the little beasties.

But remember if you use soft plastic baits in New Zealand fresh water, they must not contain scent or other attractants, and you may not apply the same to your baits.

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