by Tim Moore
In my last column I discussed vertical jigging for lake trout. Vertical jigging is considered an art by many anglers. When fish are deep, whether on structure or suspended, vertical jigging is often the most effective method for catching them, and sometimes the only method. Regardless of which species of fish you are after, lure control and bite detection are two things that should remain on an angler’s mind while jigging. Understanding and being able to visualize what is going on beneath the surface can make all the difference.
Every lure has an action that maximizes its potential. That action is often referred to as the triggering factor. Some spoons are designed to flutter, while others are designed to dance. Jig heads tipped with various baits also have a specific method to entice the target species into biting. Sure, there will be the random day when fishing a lure in an unorthodox way will work great, but most of the time it will be necessary to produce a lure’s intended action if you want to increase your catch rate. Learning what your lure is supposed to be doing beneath the surface and practicing it in shallow water where you can see it will absolutely result in an increased number of bites.
Bite detection is another key factor when vertical jigging. If you can’t feel a bite, you won’t know when to set the hook. If you don’t set the hook when you get a strike, you will miss or lose most of the fish that bite. Braided line with a fluorocarbon leader is an absolute must when vertical jigging in 30’ of water or deeper. The lack of stretch offers greater sensitivity than monofilament and added power to detect bites and achieve better hook sets.
The key to better hook sets and lure control comes from keeping your jig vertical. Drift too fast and your jig will scope out at an angle. The further your jig scopes out from under the boat, the more your line arcs. When your line arcs you lose lure control and sensitivity, because you must first take up the slack in your line before your actions above the water are transmitted to your lure below, or vice versa. On windy days I will upsize the weight of my jigs and use a trolling motor to slow my drift. You want to be drifting slightly so that fish have to swim after it, but drift too fast and you will miss many chances.
Keep your jig vertical, make it dance, jump, or wobble, and try braided line to catch more fish. Visualize in your mind what you think your lure is doing below. If your lure isn’t doing exactly what you visualize that’s okay. Just keep track of what you thought it was doing every time you get bit. Then you can replicate whatever you were doing with your rod to see if it works again, and again. Over time you will develop a sense for what works at different times, and on different species.
Tim Moore is a professional fishing guide in New Hampshire. He owns and operates Tim Moore Outdoors, LLC. He is a member of the New England Outdoors Writers Association and the producer of Tim Moore Outdoors TV. Visit www.TimMooreOutdoors.com for more information.