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Fishing For Stripers with Diamond or Butterfly Jigs.
Fishing with Diamond or butterfly jigs can be quite an art and
knowing some of the basics can save you a lot of headaches when
trying to fish this way. We will go over some of the important
points in this article.
What is Diamond Jigging.
Diamond jigging is a general term used to describe a technique for
fishing deep water with solid metal jigs. This can be from 2-6
ounces or more in weight and are normally only used in water that is
40 feet or more in depth. I usually don't try deeper
than 100 feet for stripers and bluefish. You normally drop the jig to the
bottom and reel it up to the surface. There are other
techniques also, such as reeling a number of cranks and stopping,
then repeating until it reaches the surface. Sometimes you
reel, stop and jig, then reel again. Other times you drop
to the bottom, crank three times, then just jig the rod, without
reeling it. Depends on what method the fish are into on the
day, or at that stage of the tide. In general, the faster the
tide the slower the retrieve. Pay attention to what
action gives the best results, and use it repeatedly.
Keeping the Line Tight.
You must keep the line tight at all times. If you're jigging,
go down slowly enough that the line stays tight as you go down.
Don't flick the rod at the top, this will make the jig keep going
and fool you into thinking it was a hit, and can also lead to a
tangled jig that can fool you into thinking a small fish is on the
Responding to the Hit.
This depends on whether the fish is hooked or not. If you have
hooked the fish, then fight the fish to the surface. If a bluefish
is hooked, get him moving and pull the fish away
from the pack, as the jig is hanging out of his mouth and if you
don't get him away the rest of the pack will come in and try to get
a piece of the action, potentially cutting the line off and losing
the jig. If you
missed the fish, then either make the jig fall right away as if
injured or reel it fast three cranks and stop, then repeat.
Look at it this way: a bait fish that gets hits is either wounded and
will flop, or it will be uninjured and run for it's life.
Mimicking these natural behaviors will lead to more
successful fishing. Think like a fish. If there are a lot of
Bluefish around, it is possible to get frustrated by the number of hits where it seems like you have the fish hooked for a few seconds
and then he gets off. This is typical of bluefish, as anything
of 6" or more in length they like to hit in the middle, and since
they have teeth, they can hold on to the jig and pull for bit, then let go
and have the hook miss them. Reel faster to get them to hit it
in the back. The most important thing to note is what type of
retrieve is being used and where is your jig in the water column when the fish hit.
Is it only at the beginning of the retrieve? Only when moving the
jig slow or fast? Paying attention to these things will allow for
When using a conventional reel, keep your thumb on the spool
and feel with the rod and line as the jig drops, as it may be hit many
times as the jig drops to the bottom, and with the conventional the
can be stopped with your thumb on the spool, then and lift the rod to hook the
fish, and lock the spool to fight the fish.
How to Fish the Water Column.
When fishing very deep water, you may find that the fish are very
close to the bottom or only in the middle. It is important to
pay attention to your fish finder and note these conditions, as it
makes no sense to reel all the way to the surface if the fish are
holding on the bottom. In that case, reel it up only a small
part of the way then drop the jig back down to the bottom. If
you see the fish feeding near the surface, then cast toward them and
let the jig sink only a small part of the way before retrieving it.
Keep your eye on the water and your jig as it reaches the surface, a
fish may be following the jig and this will tell you if fish are
there. Often they follow and do not strike because they are
waiting for some specific behavior from the lure or they are getting
too good a look at it. Try a varying the retrieve more.
Type of Fishing Rods to Use.
I personally prefer to use graphite or graphite-core rods with light
tips and somewhat softer actions, at about 7' in length. The flexibility in the rod tip
helps soften the effect of most people’s jigging to make it look
more natural, and less jerky. It is also easy to feel a hit with
this type of rod. The extra length also makes it easier to
keep the line tight.
Which Jigs to Use.
Most of the time this doesn't matter. We use diamond jigs with
single salmon hooks, or with limerick hooks with the bend and a
piece of tubing, or butterfly jigs. It's best to have a couple
of options and try them until you find if there is s specific
preference shown for one of the jig types you're using. If the
others are not producing much, then switch everyone to the jig that
is working. Some companies make Butterfly jigs under different
names, like Cabela's, which produces a freestyle jig.
Rigging your Jigs.
Braided line should be on the reels, in 30 or 50lb test with a 6 or
8 foot mono leader at the end and tied directly to the jig without a
snap swivel. We use Trilene Big Game mono in green, it
is soft and easier to tie knots with, and much less expensive
compared to flourocarbon, which is rarely needed. A uni-knot
to uni-knot connection should be used between the braid and the
mono, as this can be wound right through the rod's tip without
damaging the guide as a swivel would. Braided line will allow
you to feel hits more readily and give more action to the jig in
deep water since it has significantly less stretch than monofilament
Where to Fish.
You need to be where the fish are. Diamond jigging normally
occurs when the fish are plentiful in an area and that area is
normally one where there is a strong current running over structure
such as large boulders or a sandbar. The North Rip at Block
Island and the Race at Fisher's Island are two examples of this type
of structure with strong currents. Use your sonar to locate
the fish, then move up drift of their location and drift through,
jigging until the boat has passed by and no more fish are being
marked or caught. Then reposition the boat for another drift.
This is very important! When moving back up drift, do not go at high
speed, don't exceed 10-12 knots. You may think the fish are
deep enough that the boat's noise and presence would not effect
them, but I have fished many years and noticed that when I'm fishing
an area and other boats show up and add their motor noise and
presence with no thought of being stealthy the fishing drops off
dramatically every time.
When Diamond Jigging Stops Working.
The speed of your drift can affect the fishing in a positive or
negative way. When the tide slows down diamond jigging can
become less productive. Often it gets to the point
where you need to use an extremely fast retrieve to get fish to
strike it, this is when you might as well start trolling, otherwise
everyone will be worn out in short order trying to reel fast enough
to catch fish. Conversely, too fast can also be an
issue, this typically occurs during a "spring" tide. This is
when the sun and the moon are on the same side of the earth,
creating the highest and lowest possible tides. The fast
current makes it difficult to get the jig down where the fish are
and keep it there. In this situation, your only option
is to cast the jig up drift and let it fall, so it gets to the
bottom before you reach it. It is then necessary to continue
letting line out in order to keep the jig near the bottom.
After the line reaches an angle of 45 degrees it's necessary to
bring it in and start over, probably also time to go around for
another drift. If you can't get any fish in this situation,
you may need to troll very slowly against the tide in order to be
attention to what happens and the techniques that work. Use
your depth finder, don't think that stopping next to a boat that has
fish on is going to work for you, or watching all the other boats,
use the tools that you've got and the other boats will be following