Jigging for Trout

Tom Crawford takes a slightly different approach to lure fishing for trout.
Vertical jigging is becoming very popular in salt water fishing in Tasmania with the release of many large and sophisticated jig's hitting the market. But very few people try this method for trout. One of the biggest problem trout fisherman face is getting their lure or fly down to where the fish are sitting. This technique cures that problem. Jigging for trout has been extremely popular in New Zealand for quite some time and has produced many good sized fish there. In this article I will give you a look into what I believe should be one of the more popular fishing techniques in Tasmania in years to come.

As you would expect the most important thing to do first is find the fish. This is where a good sounder will come into play. Most of us have sounders in our boat and almost any sounder will aid you in this technique of fishing.
The key is to look for drop offs, holes or structure deep under the water where trout love to feed and congregate. Once you have found one this is where you should start jig fishing.
From my experience trout tend to hang around on average 40 cm to 80 cm from the bottom.
It is important that your lure reaches where the fish are and one of the most important pieces of tackle for this job is multi colored line. You can buy multi colored braids and monofilament. I prefer to use braid for its near zero stretch factor but the choice is up to you. With this you can count your colors as they descend into the lake. On average a color change will happen about every 10 metres, but all lines vary. This is very handy as if you need to be 30 metres down you simply let out 3 colors of line. If you wish to use non colored line try using a permanent marker on you line at 10 metre intervals.
When lowering your lure it should fall slightly below where you believe the fish are. This allows your lure to be right in the fish's face when you jig it up. From my experience they often hit the lure on the drop, similar to soft plastic fishing techniques. This will mean often you will hook the fish when you simply jig the lure.
When dropping your line you should control the line with your finger for two reasons:
(1) This will slow your drop and allow you to count the color's easily and,
(2) Often you will get a strike on the way down and your finger will give you enough resistance and time to hook the fish.
When jigging the lure you will be raising and dropping the lure approximately 30 cm each time. The speed of the jig is determined by how active the fish are. In the colder months I suggest you slow your jig down and summer months a fast jig often works well.

The best thing about this style is that you can simply use a typical trout spin out fit. 6'6" to 7'6" is perfect. I prefer to use the American drop shot style rods such as G.Loomis DSR820s. The rod should be rated to handle 4-8lb line. The tip should be sensitive with a lot of power in the bottom half to help set the hook.
There are many different jig set ups, but maybe the most simple is a heavy jig lure by itself. But there are many different variations of this and one of my favorites is a large silver slice at the bottom with no hook, this is used purely as an attractor and weight with two droppers coming off above it. A rig like this seems odd in freshwater, but it works. This rig is similar to a paternoster rig, which nearly everyone has used for flathead or other salt water applications. The key is to use a weight or lure that matches the breaking strain of your line. This is why braid comes in handy. You can use heavy braids and still keep the diameter down. The key is to use a braid which will support the weight of the lure/weight but not break your rod. In most cases a weight/lure of between 20 grams to 40 grams will be fine. With these weights you should use 2-4kg line. If you increase your sinker/lure weight from this it is important that you either up grade your rod and line or be very careful not to over tighten your drag on your reel.
You can use a mixture of things on the arms of the rig. These include flies, soft plastics, hard bodies and some times even bait.
I tend to use a mixture of flies and soft plastics. What you will find is that the fly will move slowly in the water when jigged and the soft plastic will sink much faster. This works particularly well as the trout has two options. The fly will often be the lure that gets hit. The bottom metal lure will get the fishes attention and the fly, being the slow moving lure will often get hit.

You can use a variety of colors and sizes. The thing to remember is that your lure is often deep and there for is in the dark parts of the water. Using lures and flies of brighter colour can often be the key here. Bright chartreuse and silvers are often good. Lures with a mixture can be great; some of the Berkley Gulp range are particularly good as they have a selection of bright colors with that Gulp scent which fish just find irresistible. Remember color reacts differently according to how light penetrates water. When fishing at night you will need to select a color or pattern that will attract a night feeding trout, these are when silvers and flashy lures work particularly well. During the day I recommend that you to also select eye catching colors but a little more subtle. During the day the idea is to grab their attention not scare them off.
The way trout see is very similar to the way we do. They can see a vast spectrum of colors and are also able to focus near and far. When selecting your lure color there are a few things to keep in mind. When light penetrates the water it will be absorbed at different depths. The colors with longer wave lengths are reds then oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigos and violets. All these colors are absorbed first and as a result will appear black in the water at certain depths. The color red is absorbed within 20 feet, orange within 40 feet and yellow will go to about 70 feet. Green and blue will almost travel as far as the light goes, so often these are good colors that often get over looked.

The first action is fairly simple, move your rod up and down in slow motion to create an action of a wounded bait fish darting up and slowly sinking back down. As I mentioned before trout will often grab the lure on the way back down.
The second action is slow but quite large lifts letting your lure have maximum fall time. This is a good action when trout are particularly shy and not in feeding mode.
Another variations of this can be done by actually casting your rig out as if you were spinning. Allow your weight to sink to the bottom and jig the lure up and down as if you were vertical jigging but instead of leaving in the same place wind the rig in a little on each jig. The key is to wind up the slack line you create with each jig. This slow retrieve works particularly well. Your weight at the bottom disturbs the bottom creating a puff of dirt and this will grab a trout's attention. This works well when you are fishing the top of a drop off or if there is some fast moving water.
The key is to imitate wounded bait fish so when you are jigging keep this in mind and you will often be rewarded with success. When winding your line up remember that trout will often follow your lure all the way to the top and strike so a slow retrieve is recommended.
How often do I jig is a question I often get and answer is simple. Every 60 seconds give it action. If a trout has not come and had a go at your lure in 60 seconds give it another lift.
When you are trying this technique and the trout seem not to be on the bite vary your actions. Use a combination of one really fast lift followed by two really fast lifts or on the other hand small frequent lifts. Try any thing you want often it can be something as simple as the speed you lift it that can be the difference between fish and none.

Tom Crawford
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