QUICK GUIDE TO JIGGING INSHORE PLASTICS
These jigging tips are designed to help you improve your skills and are based on many years of experience.
Soft plastics have been a fish catching phenomenon in the estuaries and freshwater reaches of Australia. However, they are also extremely effective on a range of inshore species that reside in slightly deeper water. From temperate and subtropical snapper to tropical Queenfish and Fingermark, soft plastic lures are dynamite fish deceivers.
Inshore fishing with soft plastics usually requires a deeper water jigging technique from the decks of trailer boats. Here’s a quick guide to jigging reefs, wrecks and structure for inshore species.
FINDING YOUR MARK
The very first step for jigging inshore areas is to locate your fishing grounds. Sometimes these deep-water marks are conspicuous locations next to a pylon or channel marker, but they also include underwater wrecks, reefs or rubble fields. Use your GPS and sounder to locate submerged fishing grounds.
One of the best indicators of underwater structure in tropical waters is when a sea snake is spotted grabbing air at the surface. Ensure you mark or explore any such observations.
In relatively calm water, an electric motor is an effective means to hover over a mark. This is made even easier by GPS enabled electric motors that record a waypoint and automatically hold on it.
If the underwater rubble or structure is extensive, sometimes a drift is a good way to cover ground. Position your boat upstream or upwind and drift over and along the structure.
The final option is to anchor over a mark. I’d reserve this option for strong currents and employ it as a last resort. Anchor ropes make jigging the depths and fighting big fish problematic and heighten the likelihood of a tangle or bust-off. If the current is sufficiently strong that it requires anchoring, it’s likely to be difficult for jigging too.
BOMBING THE DEPTHS
Inshore jigging requires bigger plastics, stronger hooks and heavier jigs. Jig weight needs to be tailored to the depth and current, with larger jigs required for deeper water and stronger currents.
Monitor the water depth on your sounder and identify the depth at which your target species are holding. Choose an appropriate weight jig to get the plastics down to the ideal depth. A lightly weighted jig that wafts the plastic down is a great way to target snapper in calm water.
Count down or estimate the depth of a downward drop to reach fish in midwater. This technique is made easier with depth finder braid that has 1m and 10m increments colour coded onto the line.
Another method to reach fish holding above the bottom is to drop the plastics to the sediment and then wind back a few metres before commencing the jigging action. Be wary using this technique around wrecks or complex structure.
Elongate shad or stick bait plastics are the best choices for inshore jigging. Most of the larger target species prey on schools of baitfish, so any plastic that resembles a struggling or injured baitfish will catch fish. Paddle tail and prawn style plastics also work well in some circumstances.
Lure action varies by target species. Bottom-dwelling fish such as Snapper and Cod will respond to subtle jigs and jerks. However, pelagic species such as Queenfish and Trevally aggressively strike plastics that are rapidly ripped through the water column in an erratic manner. Vary your retrieve based on the target species and don’t be afraid to experiment or probe the water column at different depths.
The best soft plastic jigging outfit requires a rod with plenty of backbone and a firm responsive tip for whipping action into heavy jigs. Choose an 8-15kg graphite spin rod based on your primary target species. Lighter rods will be more appropriate for Snapper and heavier rods for Kingfish, Trevally and Queenfish.
Reels of approximately size 40-60 with a fast ratio retrieve and solid drag are ideal. Select braid mainlines of 20-40lb and use leaders between 20-60lb based on the species, water clarity and surrounding structure. The bigger the fish and the more treacherous the terrain, the heavier the leader required.
Jigging is a great way to target inshore aquatic beasts. It’s a very reliable way to draw strikes and is an exciting method for hauling monsters out of the deep. Arm yourself with a jigging outfit, locate some submerged structure and get jiggy with it.
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