What is Vertical Jigging? [Everything for Fishing Success]

What is Vertical Jigging

When someone mentions jigging, the first thing that comes to your mind is probably the vertical type. However, there are three different ones.

Vertical is the one I am going to explain here, and alongside it under the jigging term, there are slow pitch jigging and cast and retrieve jigging too.

So, what is vertical jigging exactly? Well, it is a technique where lure is presented in a fast and erratic way. Anglers let it fall and then jig it back up while twitching their rod tips to create movement attractive to predators.

It can be done in both saltwater and freshwater, and when you get a hand for it, you will love its effectiveness!

Effectiveness is important here, but it is also a lot of fun! This technique provokes aggressive strikes and gives you an adrenalin rush!

Here I will tell you more about it and give some general guidelines for specialized equipment and targeted species!



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What Exactly is Vertical Jigging Fishing?

Vertical jigging is a technique done vertically in the water column, as the name suggests. Vertical bait movement is excellent for few different reasons.

Firstly, you have complete control over the depth where lure is presented, and secondly, staying over the same place eliminates snagging your lure, especially in freshwater.

Lure control is the main focus here, and you have to choose it wisely. I will tell you a bit more about it later. The same goes for equipment.

Vertical jigging is the “original” form of jigging, and it is the oldest one.

In slow pitch jigging and vertical jigging, there is no casting, and lure are simply lowered below you. It is the ideal technique for boat fishing when you can position yourself exactly above a desired location, however it can be done from the shore too, if the water in front of you is deep enough.

This technique is also known under the term butterfly jigging.

When it comes to the best locations, it will work over featureless bottom, as well as over rock piles or other bottom formations. In the sea, you can do it over reefs, wrecks, or basically anywhere where fish congregate.

Vertical Jigging - Infografic

How Do You Fish With Vertical Jigs?

This style of fishing is quite simple when you talk about it, however it requires a lot of practice to master it.

In simple words, you drop a metal weighted jig under you, and retrieve it with a specific motion where you twitch your rod to add a bit of erratic and unpredictable movement to your lure, to make it similar to real injured bait.

Jigs are manufactured in a way that they will flutter and wobble to attract predators.

Majority of the strikes will happen on the way up, when you are reeling in and twitching the lure. Those strikes can be very aggressive and your equipment must be good enough for the job (I suggest you to use just the best fishing rod brands).

When you master this entry level part, here is what you should focus on. This rhythmic motion done on retrieve is what it is all about, but don’t rely on twitching the rod tip only.

Reel is there to control the lure too, and crank it firmly in short but firm cranks with a pause in between. You will notice that the rod tip reacts under the pressure and as it straightens, crank it again.

This lure oscillation is what attracts fish. Practice a lot, and you will see the significant improvement.

What is the Difference Between Slow Pitch Jigging and Vertical Jigging?

What is vertical jigging can be understood better by comparing slow pitch vs vertical jigging.

Both are done vertically in a water column. Vertical jigging is faster, more erratic, and provokes aggressive bites while the lure is on a way up. Lures are shaped more elongated.

Slow pitch jigging is much slower, and a bit easier for a beginner. Here, the focus is on letting the lure fall. Majority of fish strikes happen as the lure is falling towards the bottom. Jig design for slow pitch is a bit different and done in a way that the lure does the job for you.

Both techniques can be done in saltwater and freshwater, and even for the same species. Water depth is also important, and these techniques are not suitable for shallower water.

When it comes to equipment, it also varies between the two.

Vertical Jigging - Boat

What are the Best Vertical Jigging Rod and Reel?

Vertical jigging setup requires strong and dependable equipment that won’t fail you. Here is what you need to know about the most important items.

Vertical jigging rod

Ideal rod for this is short, with a very reactive tip. Material used in construction of jigging rods are light to enable constant movement without making your hands hurt.

Action of the rod should be fast, with medium to heavy power, depending on where and what you are trying to catch.

These rods are highly sensitive to enable maximum feeling of the lure. Of course, they are rated for certain lure weights, so you have to consider that feature when pairing it with lures.

Bonus Tip: You can use Jigging rods even for bottom fishing ...

Vertical jigging reel

Best reels for this technique are conventional reels, although beginners can get away with high quality spinning reel.

Powerful drag is important due to strong and heavy predators that will be on the other end of your line. Reel spool should be able to accommodate a lot of line length. When it comes to gear ratio, it should be on the slower side, around 5.0:1 or even slower. Narrow spool is recommended.

Vertical jigging rod and reel should be paired to suit your specific conditions and targeted fish species when it comes to size.

What are the Best Vertical Jigging Lures?

Vertical jigging lures significantly vary in grams and as already mentioned, pair it with the rod. If fishing in stronger currents you will need to use a bit heavier than in steady water.

For this vertical presentation lures are elongated and they make completely different motion than those used for slow pitch. Metal body has single hook or multiple ones that are swinging free.

Jigging action done by the angler is crucial to create movement, unlike in slow pitch jigging where you can simply let the lure fall. Cross section of a jig determines its action, and every manufacturer has something unique. Whichever you choose from reputable brands will do the job.

Tapered edges are used to create dart-like motion upon retrieve. Due to very aggressive bites, hooksets are frequently very firm and secure.

And one more TIP: Don't forget to choose the best color of jigging lure for the correct fish ...

What is the Best Fishing Line for Vertical Jigging?

The best fishing line for vertical jigging is definitely braided line (you can also check my article about how are fishing lines made). These lines are very strong, have lower diameter, and more importantly, they have no stretch.

This lack of stretchiness enables you to feel your jig action much better. Depending on targeted fish, chosen type of reel, and its rating for recommended lines, choose the one that does the trick. Thicker lines are stronger but also more affected by the currents, so it is the key to find a perfect combination of thickness and strength.

Around 20lbs can do the job for a beginner. For small fish like crappie or walleye you can go with 8 to 10 lbs, while 50 to 80 lbs is used for very big saltwater fish. For mid-size fish like grouper or snapper in saltwater, around 30 to 40 lbs will do the job.

Leader lines can be added, when necessary, due to high visibility of braids. There are braids made especially for jigging, however those cost a fortune, and you can use any quality made braid for this technique.

Chose those with 8 strands and don’t worry about visibility. High visibility can even help you in some situations.

One option to combine are also copolymer fishing lines ...

Vertical Jigging - Braided Line

What are the Targeted Fish Species for Vertical Jigging?

This technique can land you almost any predatory fish you can think of, anywhere. From jigging in rivers for walleye, to offshore jigging for tuna!

As a beginner, you should focus on smaller and easier to handle species, so I will mention those.


Crappies are the most fun fish to catch in fall and winter. Vertical jigging for crappie is best for those times when crapes migrate to deeper water. They will follow their prey to those areas and continue to feed. As jigging is best for deeper water, this is your time to go!

Use small jigs positioned right above crappies and use those that resemble minnows in terms of color.


Same as crappie, vertical jigging for walleye requires minnow resembling jigs. Spinning equipment can also be used, and for smaller freshwater fish you don’t have to use conventional reels if you don’t know how.

Twitch you lure close to the bottom in a fast and aggressive manner. This technique works in all seasons for walleye, you just have to locate them. The best results are when you present your jig to a school of walleyes.

If you are ice fisher don't miss this article about "How to Jig for Walleye Ice fishing?".


Vertical jigging for lake trout is best in summer, when these cold water loving fish migrate to deeper areas. Finding fish in the middle of the lake requires a boat, so make sure that you can make it stay in place to keep the jig completely vertical. Baitfish resembling jigs are a great option here.

Trout in very deep waters can strike very gently, so it is recommended not to let the lure fall and to jig it slowly on the fall to so that you can feel the strikes if they happen. For jigging up and provoking hard strikes, do fast and determined motions.

Vertical Jigging - Trout


Vertical jigging for salmon is an extremely efficient technique and you can expect some large fish and hard strikes!

To be successful, find areas where salmon congregate on the bottom and present them your jig almost at the bottom, over them. In my experience jigs of green and silver colors work the best for this fish. The more darting action the jig has, the better for salmon!


And lastly, here is vertical jigging for bass. When bass migrates into deep waters, during summer and winter, jigging becomes the best catching technique!

Some anglers even use saltwater jigs for hungry bass, but you can get away with anything that is made for fast action. Natural, baitfish resembling shape works the best!

Bass can be a bit lazy at this time of year, or even hard to locate, so I would advise you to use a fish finder to locate it. This recommendation is valid for all species, not just bass!


Vertical jigging is excellent for a number of saltwater predators, even the larger fish offshore while deep sea jigging. To land them, you will need to use a bit heavier equipment, however, the technique is the same!

Here is what you can catch:

• Rockfish
• Yellowfin Tuna
• Bluefin Tuna
• King mackerel
• Grouper
• Striper
• Snapper
• Wahoo

Of course, there are a lot more predatory saltwater species to catch around the world, depending on your location.

Related: To learn more you can also read my article about "Does Jig [Head] Color Matter?".

Vertical Jigging - Wahoo


Hopefully I answered everything about what is vertical jigging! This technique is excellent for both fresh- and saltwater gamefish of almost any size! From jigging for walleye to jigging for tuna offshore, this technique is suitable for both complete beginners and very experienced anglers.

Choosing proper equipment and lures is the key to success, and by investing a bit more in the beginning you will be paying it off with success on the long run!

Lure presentation and rod and reel handling that produce the most effective motion will come with time, and if you are a beginner, go out and practice as much as you can!

About Me

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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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