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Slow Pitch Jigging

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Slow Pitch Jigging

Slow pitch jigging is a technique with seemingly limitless potential. Also know as slow jigging, it's a technique no fish seems able to resist.

Slow Pitch Jigging

 

Slow-pitching jigging is very productive for bottom-dwelling species

 

What is Slow Pitch Jigging?

 

Unlike speed jigging, which is meant to imitate a fleeing baitfish and incite faster pelagic species, slow-pitch jigging imitates a wounded or dying baitfish. “The jig is fishing on the fall”. A falling slow pitch jig shimmies and darts, bobs and weaves, covering a wider area than, say, a diamond jig that mainly falls straight down. This action draws strikes not only from fast-swimming pelagics like tuna, but from slower-moving bottom-dwellers most commonly caught on bait. “It can also trigger strikes from fish that are in a negative feeding mode.”  “Fish that aren’t willing to swim through the water column to attack a bait.”

Slow-pitch jigging is also considerably less taxing on the angler than the aggressive speed jigging technique since the jig is at its most enticing as it falls, not as it’s retrieved.

But that description sounds only a bit different than the yo-yo style of vertical jigging that Northeast fishermen have used with diamond and Norwegian lures for time eternal. The difference, however, is in the “system.”

  • A slow-pitch jig is a center-weighted, keeled jig designed to flutter, dart, spiral, vibrate, or glide as it falls on a fully slack line.
  • With a slight bit of resistance, like that applied with the thumb as the jig makes its initial descent, the jig will fall straight down, with its nose pointed toward the surface. In free-fall, a slow pitch jig kicks horizontally, falling in a way that imitates a wounded or dying baitfish.

Whereas I can clip a Norwegian jig on to the same rod I soak clams with and still effectively catch cod, proper slow-pitch jigging requires specialized rods and jigs, along with a well-matched reel and line.

“It’s more sporting,” I Feel.  For species like black sea bass, where catching a limit is often a given during the season, you can either limit out in less than 10 drops with a clam baited high-low rig, winching fish to the surface two at a time, or make a day of it using slow pitch tackle to dial in the bite.

This trend of making bottom fishing more sporting has really taken hold in recent years. Where tog season was once the province of stiff conventional and big reels, many tog fishermen now ply their trade with lightweight spinning tackle and small tog jigs. Slow-pitch jigging is poised to do the same for black sea bass, porgies, cod, haddock, and pollock.

 

 

 

Jigs

The slow-pitch jigging system begins with the jig. The basic description of a slow-pitch jig is a center-weighted, keeled jig. There are variations on that shape, which impacts the jig’s action as it falls, but all slow-pitch jigs follow that formula.  Try a Mustad Rip Roller Slow Fall Jig Lumo Polkadot from B&J’s.   On a fully slack line, a slow-pitch jig may glide, quiver, spiral, or dart as it falls, imitating a wounded and dying baitfish—an easy meal that few fish, whether pelagics or bottom dwellers, can pass up.

Reel

Reels favored for the technique are compact and powerful, conventional ones (often narrow-spooled) or spinning reels that have a good balance of cranking power and a fast retrieval rate. Heavy cranking power is especially important for beating the fish while using a rod that provides relatively little backbone during the fight.

The most serious slow-pitch fishermen commit to memory how many inches of line reel retrieves with each turn of the handle. By counting the turns, they know exactly how far their jig is off the bottom.

It’s a precision technique, which is part of the fun. Being perfectly in tune with where the jig is in the water column, and what it’s doing, is one of the most satisfying parts of the technique.

Rods 

To get the best action out of these jigs requires the proper rod, which is extremely lightweight, typically 6'6" to 7'6" in height.  A slow-pitch rod has a leisurely, even recoil that lifts and then “pitches” the jig, allowing it to kick to the side and fall in an enticing way. Most slow-pitch rods are built without a fore grip, which is the cork or EVA section above the reel seat. On most rods, the fore grip aids in pumping the rod to put heat on the fish, but the action of a slow-pitch rod is designed to work the jig, not fight the fish.

The rod, more so than the angler, imparts the action to the jig, which makes slow-pitch jigging far less labor-intensive than speed jigging. A swift turn of the reel handle is enough to load the rod and pitch the jig. Then, once a fish is hooked, the fisherman relies on the power of the reel, not the rod, to turn it toward the boat.

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