The rig setup is very easy, but it is also the most important part of vertical jigging. You need the correct tools for the best fishing experience. You’re looking for power, flexibility, and strength in each part.
When picking reels the most important thing to look for is the gear speed. You want a lower speed around 4.9:1 to 4.4:1. The lower speed allows you to rip the jig through the deep waters with force and makes it much easier to reel in massive fish. Many companies make reels specifically for jigging, the most well-known are Shimano and Quantum.
You also have the choice of a spinning reel or conventional reel. Both styles work well, choose what is more comfortable for you. If you can’t decided, most people choose the spinning reel. If you do choose to go conventional I would recommend getting a narrow reel to keep your rig light and balanced.
Reels range a great deal in price. Top tier is around $600+, middle tier $200-$600, and entry level is $100 – $200. If you want a top end reel without the price, look for older models on craigslist or eBay. Top end reels will stay in great condition and a lot of shops can repair or recondition your reel.
There are a few factors when it comes to getting the perfect vertical jigging rod, they are:
- Balance – You do not want a top or bottom heavy rod; it will make jigging uncomfortable and reeling in fish more difficult.
- Power – Your rod should have some backbone, but have good flexibility. A flimsy rod will make it hard to reel in fish and a stiff rod will make it tiring to jig. I would lean toward the stiffer side for bigger fish.
- Weight – go LIGHT weight or you’ll tire yourself out just jigging.
- Action – This is the rod’s responsiveness to the bending force and is defined as Slow, Medium or Fast. Generally, slow means almost the entire rod will bend; fast means only the top of the rod will bend. For vertical jigging you want to stay with the slow to moderate action rods especially if you are fighting larger fish. Try to stay away from fast action rods.
- Sensitivity – Make sure the tip of the rod is flexibility or it will be difficult to create the correct jig actions.
- Length – Try to stay around 4’8” – 5’6”. Shorter rods are also better for bigger fish.
- Gram Rating – The gram rating on a rod is the max weight you want for the jigs. For example, for a gram rating of 400g stay with jigs in the 200g-400g range.
- PE rating – This is the recommended PE rated line you should use. The conversion is about 10 to 1, so a PE8 rod can handle 80lbs. Bigger fish require larger jigs so stay with PE6-8 rod and lines. For smaller fish stay around PE3-5. This is kind of confusing and not standardized well, as a result some companies have moved away the system and just tell you the recommended jig weights.
Rods can get pricey as well, top tier is $400+, second tier $200-$400, entry level $100-$200. I do not recommend starting with entry level rods if you’re gunning for the larger fish. You will definitely snap your rod very quickly.
The Line and Leader
When jigging you MUST use BRAIDED LINE! Too many people forget this and go cheap with the line. Braided line can handle a ton of capacity and is super flexible allowing you to maximize each hook up.
There are two types of braided line, colored and regular. The colored braid will alternate colors every 25 or so feet, it makes it easy to figure out how much line is out. Also make sure you get braided line with the correct test to match your rod.
Prices range from $40-$100. Most brands are similar, but I tend to stick with Diawa.
A lot of people also forget to use a leader. Tying the jig directly onto the braided line will not give proper action. There are two choices for leaders, shock leaders and fluorocarbon leaders. Fluorocarbon leaders are supposedly invisible to fish, but are not worth the extra cash unless you believe the target species is very line shy. Make sure you choose leader that is flexible for tying knots and is the correct test.
Prices range from $20-$50.
There are a huge array of jigs out there, but there are basically two types of jigs, Bottom or tail weighted and center weighted jigs.
Bottom or tail weighted jigs
They will sink faster and move in short up and down motions. They are great for targeting bottom fish.
Center weighted jigs
These descend much slower and will flutter side to side when jigged. Great for hitting more water columns.
Jigs are categorized by gram weight, pick heaver weights for deeper the water. Stay with heavy 250-400g in 150+ feet and 100-300g in inshore shallow areas.
Popular brands are: