Guide to Jig Fishing: Techniques, Types of Fish and More

What is Jigging in Fishing

There are many popular fishing techniques practiced by anglers and jigging is one of the popular ones.

This versatile technique can be practiced in both saltwater and freshwater.

For all those who wonder - what is jigging in fishing?

Jigging is a fishing technique where anglers use jig baits and attract fish with mostly vertical, jerky, motion of the bait.

If you want to know more about jigging fishing, you will find details and answers to frequently asked questions in the following chapters:

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How Does Jigging Work?

For jigging, you will need a jig, which is special lure that contains lead sinker inside, and around it a rubber cover is moulded. Hook is also a part of this lure. Different sizes and weights of jigs exist, and anglers choose them according to a fish size, location and year time.

Unlike swimbaits and similar lures that move horizontally, jigs are presented in a vertical motion, mostly to fish near the bottom.

To be able to practice this technique, you will need a suitable rod which is sensitive and the angler can feel the fish strike and the lure itself.

Jigs have head and the body ...

Head of a jig can vary in colour, shape, size, and type. Hooks can also be different, depending on a targeted species of fish. The head can be round, coned or basically any shape you can think of.

Body is usually made of rubber or silicone and shapes are various, often imitating real fish, frogs or similar creatures.

In some parts of the USA, anglers use buck-tail jigs, made from deer hair, and those are a bit heavier and produce less movement.

Similar to other fishing techniques, this one too requires a bit of practice and experience.

What is Jigging in Fishing - Infographic

How Do You Do the Jig Fishing Technique?

Now when you know what is jigging, it is time to know more about fishing jigging techniques.

First of all, there are a few different jigging techniques, but they are very similar.

  • Saltwater jigging is a term that describes jigging in saltwater and the basic jigging technique for larger waters. It can be practiced in freshwater too, don’t let the name confuse you. This is practiced on large, open areas and it is basically casting and reeling the jigging lure together with up and down motion.

  • Shore jigging is a term that describes fishing from a shore, usually from a steep rock or a cliff, where you position the lure underneath your rod. If you want to practice jigging, you need to find a suitable location. Try a pier, a cliff, or a dock.

  • Ice fishing with Jig is also a popular and effective fishing technique without casting, suitable for fishing through ice holes with short rods. Lures are jigged vigorously to attract less active fish, with motions more pronounced than in summer. Walleye and perch respond well to this method. For this technique use cold-resistant, abrasion-proof lines to handle the sharp ice edges during strikes.

To be able to jig successfully, you will have to create an energetic jig action, that resembles an injured fish, in order to attract the fish you want to catch. 

When you cast, let your jig to hit the bottom and start working the lure in a way that you make small movement with the wrist of your hand. That movement will go across the rod and the line all the way to the lure.

Except for up and down movement, you can try side to side too. When the line becomes loose, reel a bit to keep it tight.

To work the jig, you can twitch it up and down slowly or very fast. You can combine twitching and reeling too. Any combination of movement may work, depending on a location and you will have to gain some personal experience.

Start by positioning the lure on the bottom, work it up about one third of a way up, and let it sink again. Because of the shape, jig will have a certain motion while sinking which could also attract fish.

Jigging will attract many of predatory species, like walleyes, snappers and bluefish, and strikes are going to be powerful.

What is Jigging in Fishing - Technique

What are Three Types of Jigging?

In this article I am talking about jigging in general, and beginners can learn the basics to try out and learn something new.

However, if we dive deeper into jigging, there are three main jigging types (techniques) and those are slow pitch, vertical speed, and cast and retrieve jigging.

All of these techniques differ in recommended equipment, location, fish size, lure weight and similar.

  • Slow pitch jigging is mostly done in deeper waters with medium action rods, fast reels, and wide and wobbly jiggs.

  • Vertical speed jigging is also suitable for deeper waters, but requires slower reels, fast, heavy and shorter rods and elongated heavy jiggs.

Both of these techniques are more suitable for conventional reels, however they can be done with suitable spinning reels if you are a beginner.

  • Lastly, we have cast and retrieve jigging that has some similarities with spinning as it requires casting. It is the most versatile technique as it can be done along the bottom, in deeper or shallower water, with various jiggs, and with either spinning on low profile baitcasting reel.

But, here we wont go into details and I will continue with the basics about jigging. If you are interested in this topic, check out my “different types of jigging” article.

What Gear Do You Need for Jig Fishing?

When selecting gear for jig fishing, the right jigging rod and reel combination is crucial

A quality jigging fishing rod should be shorter with a longer handle, highly flexible, and built to withstand the stress of a striking fish. Rod tips should be neither too stiff nor too soft to ensure proper lure action and responsiveness. 

Look for casting weights between 40 and 200 grams to cover a variety species of fish. Shimano and Daiwa are reputable brands offering durable models like the Daiwa Saltiga.

The jigging reel should have precise drag, capable of handling strong tension, with a narrow spool designed for braided lines to promote even line lay and reduced sideway torque. A medium gear ratio around 5.0:1 is recommended for beginners.

As for the fishing line, braided lines are preferred due to their minimal stretch, enhancing jig control and fish hook setting. A fluorocarbon leader line, about 3 ft long with a test strength of 20-40 lbs or higher (depending on the fish you are targeting), is recommended for its abrasion resistance and invisibility in water.

And one more thing - don't forget to match your line with the rod's weight class and consider depth-coloring for easy depth tracking. 

With the right rod and reel setup, rod tip, and high-quality fishing line, your jig hooks are sure to catch the attention of your target fish.

What is Jigging in Fishing? Rod and Reel!

What are The Most Successful Jig Lures?

When choosing a lure, you must pair it with the rod and the line.

Secondly, you have to think about the fish you are trying to catch and the water where you are fishing. Bigger lures will attract bigger fish, and choose accordingly.

Bright colours are there to attract fish in murky waters. More natural and pale colours should be used in clear waters.

Jigging spoons

Jigging spoons are great for lake fishing and catching trout and similar species.

The best thing about spoons is that when you work them, and then let them sink, they will sink in a fluttering, back and forward, motion, that is great to attract fish.

Many anglers will say that switching from their usual lure choice to jigging spoons resulted in great fishing success because the fish were very interested in this erratic motion.

Spoons are also made of metal and while they flutter, they reflect light. This reflection can sometimes work better than using bright colours.

Rapala has a wide selection of jigging spoons, suitable for almost any jigging occasion. 

Jigging worms on jighead

These soft plastic jigging fishing lures are especially good for bass fishing. These are also known as shakey head worms or jig head worms.

Choose a soft plastic worm and attach it to a jig head. This bait will wiggle and wobble underneath the water and resemble a real worm.

When you let it sink, it will not make a lot of motion, so working it properly is a key to success. For a beginner, the best way is to reel is straight while doing erratic up and down motion in between reeling.

What is Jigging in Fishing - Lures

What Fish Species Can You Catch With a Jig?

When using a jig, anglers have the opportunity to catch a variety of species of fish.

  • In freshwater environments, jigs are effective for catching largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, trout, bluegill, and crappie. These fish are attracted to the jig's lifelike movement and the way it imitates natural prey.

  • In saltwater environments, jigs are also effective for catching a wide range of fish species including grouper, squid, and other saltwater fish.

Whether fishing in freshwater or saltwater, using a jig can increase the chances of landing a diverse range of fish species.

What is Jigging in Fishing - Fish-Species

Conclusion

Jigging is fun, exciting, and most importantly, successful fishing technique. Jigging can be done throughout the year, even in icy waters.

For a beginner, figuring out how to work the lure properly can be challenging, but don’t give up and keep practicing.

Invest in a decent equipment, follow the given advice and soon you will know a lot more about what is jigging and how to do it properly.

And one more tip, if you are fishing from a boat, position yourself in the opposite way of drifting, so that the lure does not end up under the boat. If the boat is drifting downwind, you should position yourself on a boat to face the wind.

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind Slo-fishing.si and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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