We’re 60 miles offshore and the ocean is calm. I can hear my heart pounding through my chest. Then Captain Mike Jackson shouts, “The screen is lit. Let ‘em drop!” I release the jig, hit the bottom, close the bail, and then start cranking fast and furious. Then, it happened - an impact so hard that it shocked every bit of bone in my body. “Welcome to
What is Vertical Jigging? Unlike jigging for bluefish or cod, vertical jigging (also known as “deepwater jigging”, “speed jigging”, or “Japanese-style jigging”) involves using all of your arms, legs, and back muscles to rapidly “rip” a jig at blistering speeds through the water column in well over 300 ft of water. Vertical jigging has been developed over decades predominantly in countries surrounding the Indian and Pacific oceans, but in the
Author with wahoo caught while vertical jigging on June 14,
2009 aboard Liveline Charters (
With such thick leaders, all versions of Albright knots are strongly discouraged because any bend on the leader will cause the main line at the knot to be worn down as it repeatedly passes through the guides during fishing. Once you’ve decided on the knot, the leader should be set as long as 10-12 ft. Justification? Trimming will be required as you keep fishing, grazing structures, and/or changing terminal tackle. The longer line may also help hide the braided main line from a fish’s view.
Fig.1. Cartoon summarizing lines, knots, and terminal tackle ready for vertical
jigging. Inset diagram modified from image on ownerhooks.com.
Jigs. Selection of the right vertical jig is the foundation of one’s arsenal. Generally, the shape of these jigs range from long-and-thin to short-and-fat. Since the thrust of the vertical jigging market has occurred outside the
Rods and Reels. Vertical jigging can be accomplished with spinning gear or conventional reels. Arguably, this is THE most important investment for a vertical jigging first timer. On my first trip, I made the mistake of bringing a $250 reel (that shall remain nameless) advertised as a “high speed jigging reel.” I didn’t want to spend the money and buy a high-priced Shimano Stella, Daiwa Dogfight, or Accurate TwinSpin. So what, right? Who really needs the advertised 55lbs of drag? Well, as I quickly learned, it matters. Towards the end of my first trip, an estimated 50” Amberjack took some serious drag on me and broke the anti-reverse on my new reel. On that same trip, I also heard the drag on my friend’s high-priced “all purpose” spinning reel (that shall also remain nameless) slip and crack. Suffice it to say, you absolutely need to do the research and purchase the right reel. Another friend tried the Shimano Saragosa, but it held up just fine. So, whichever reel you choose, in our experience, at least the top-shelf three listed above and the Saragosa seem up to the task.
When it comes to vertical jigging, make sure you invest in the right
gear. The fish of a lifetime will make short work of shoddy equipment.
Matt Derba with 65” (fork-length) amberjack caught
aboard Liveline Charters (
vertical jigging on October 4, 2009. The right rod and
reel makes all the difference when the fish of a
lifetime finds your jig.
Jigging also produces monster hauls. Personally, I’ve seen 70+lb wahoo, 110+lb amberjack, and 300+lb sharks fall to a jig. If you’ve ever wanted to land a fish that tests “extreme” in extreme sportfishing, this is it. Each species will test you in different ways. For instance, the Greater Amberjack is an incredible fighter. The best way to describe the spirit of an amberjack is an all-in-one fish bearing the best fighting qualities of all our NY local species: they run like a mammoth striped bass, dive like a slob tog, and never gives up like a bluefish.
Capt. Mike Jackson, owner of Liveline Charters, with a 16lb hogfish caught
while vertical jigging on November 30, 2009. Photo courtesy of M. Jackson.
Giving Credit Where It’s Due. Over coffee at a diner one December 2008 night, a friend (who insists on remaining anonymous) said to me, “Peter, next year we gotta try something new. Ever heard of vertical jigging?” At first, I gave him a skeptic’s glare and replied, “Dude, I’m perfectly okay with striped bass and trout fishing for now.” Obviously, I eventually came around. As I reminisce, I am indebted now to this friend who encouraged me to take that leap of faith in trying something new in fishing. With only one year of experience, he and I can’t believe that our local fishing this year has been kept to such a minimum with every dollar saved for the next drive down to
Therefore, I cannot take any credit for the suggestions listed above. No one really can. Every tip and trick came from a friend, forum, or fellow fanatic. Most importantly, Captain Mike Jackson, owner Liveline Charters, truly made the experience real and exhilarating by putting us on the fish. The best part is, there are plenty of new things left to learn! Like my friend did for me, I want to encourage you to not let the thought of vertical jigging intimidate you as it first did me. You just need to prepare the right equipment and keep an open mind. If you want to try vertical jigging, you can make it happen. If fact, if done right, it may very well change your perspective on fishing forever. It did me in.
Capt. Mike Jackson
Shops and Stores:
Kilsong’s Jigging World: www.jignpop.com
Salty Water Tackle