SLOW-PITCH JIGGING: TERMINAL TACKLE
NOT NEW BUT NOT KNOWN
SLOW PITCH JIGGING ANGLER AND EXPERT
BREAKS DOWN THE BASICS.
LINE TO LINE CONNECTIONS
As mentioned earlier, slow-pitch rods have small guides. This means that bulky line-to-line connections are a no-no in order to have the connection easily and seamlessly pass through the guides. There are two methods of connection that are generally used, the FG knot (Fine Grip) or the PR knot (Page Ranking). Both are fairly meticulous in their methods, where the FG retains approximately 80-85% of the total breaking strength of the line, and the PR, if tied correctly, retains 100% strength.
The FG Knot can be tied without a tool and is generally a good starting point for most slow pitch jiggers. It is comprised of over/under wraps cinched down by hand and finished with multiple overhand knots. As a shorter connection as compared to a PR knot, this method is generally preferred for casting applications.
The PR Knot requires a PR Bobbin, similar to a fly-tying bobbin. This requires spinning down wraps over the line, and then tight, concentric wraps back down the initial turns, similar to how a Bimini Twist is finished. The knot is finished with overhand knots, and finalized with a 5 or 6 turn Rizzuto over both the braid and fluoro/mono for the ultimate slim, strong connection. This knot can be intimidating at first, but after a few tries, anyone can figure it out. It is what I use on all of my set-ups.
There are two methods of connecting the jig to the fluoro/mono leader: (1) with a solid ring, or (2) with a ball bearing swivel. The knot to the terminal connection can be simple or intricate, but the most important factor is to have a knot that you are confident in, and that you can repeatedly tie in your sleep or from a moving boat. For this, I generally use a simple Palomar knot.
The reason for the solid ring or for the ball bearing swivel is to provide a terminal connection where the jig can be quickly and easily interchanged, without having to retie the terminal knot. The selection of a solid ring (usually in the size 5 to 6.5 range) or ball bearing swivel (usually in size 4 to 5 size) is a personal preference. In past experience, I’ve noticed that when larger fish spin on the way up the ball bearing swivel allows for the fish to spin independently of the mainline, reducing line twist. While any swivel can work, a ball-bearing swivel is preferred because it has less resistance and spins more freely than a traditional swivel. Clips or other bulky connections are not advised.
From the terminal connection, the jig is attached to the mainline with a split ring. Having a good pair of split ring pliers is crucial, and allows for a quick and effortless switch of a jig while selecting the right jig for the day. Hooks will be attached to the split ring, allowing the hooks to swing independently from the jig, which will result in a straight-line connection to the fish and will eliminate the ability of the fish to use the jig as a lever to wedge the hook out of its mouth.
Short and fat to long and lean, and everything in between. But what do you use and when do you use it? The quick answer is there is no substitution for time on the water, and there is no magic bullet to find what jig will be right for that particular day. Factors will include depth, current, drifting vs. anchored, targeted species, techniques used, even time of day.
So how do we pick? The most important factor for jig selection is what jig will keep you the most vertical in the conditions you are facing, and learning how your jig falls in the water has a huge impact. Some jigs have long back-sliding action. Some fall like a leaf from a tree.
As a general rule of thumb, one and a half grams of jig weight for each foot of depth, up to about 300ft. After that, about a gram per foot, until very deep water, over 450ft. However, this can vary wildly depending on the current, tide, drift speed, and wind. If that requires you to downsize, then do it. If you need to use larger/heavier jigs, then do that too.
Jigs are generally rigged with two upper hooks and two lower hooks. Hook sizes range from very small, to a little bigger than very small. Generally, I use 3/0 or 4/0 hooks when fishing double upper and lower rigs. The multiple hooks act as a trap and help relieve the pressure of any one hook from straightening. Here is my standard rigging setup:
For deeper water applications, and when targeting larger fish (or when your local fishing regulations mandate), I tend to use a larger single upper and single lower hook. I’ve found that the larger singles tend to have more secure hook sets in the mouth, rather than snags with the smaller hooks. Plenty of fish have been landed either way, but trying out what works best for you, in your particular fishery, is going to be paramount.
But why two sets of hooks? The answer is that fish generally strike from the head first, and they rarely swim backwards. If the jig is moving toward the head of the jig on the fall (usually where the eye is located), the fish will strike from that side.