How To: Jigging Techniques for Bluefin Tuna #215

Jigging for bluefin tuna is both more work and less work than casting. It’s less work in the sense that you tend to run and gun less and jigging can be less tiring than blind casting heavy plugs all day. That said, you often hook tuna in very deep water, making for a very arduous fight, especially on spinning gear.

Fast Jigging

Fast jigging is associated mostly with metals but is suitable for soft plastics and Epoxy Jigs, too. The bites tend to be more violent but you need to also pay careful attention to bites on the drop. Fast jigging is the best way to cover all levels of the water column and can often draw reaction strikes. It’s very hands-on and interactive.

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Steps:

  1. Drop to the bottom.
  2. Engage and reel quickly while jerking the rod while cranking.
  3. Stop at the maximum depth where you expect to leave the fish one.
  4. Drop back to bottom and repeat.
  5. Once you have too much line out due to boat drift, reel all the way up and start over.

Benefits:

  1. Easily cover all levels of the water column. The speed is good in that you can cover all the levels frequently.
  2. The speed is also good for drawing a reaction strike.
  3. Speed jigging is a good way to cut down on dogfish bites.
  4. Heavy Jigs and frequent re-positioning ideal for heavy currents

Fast Jigging Imitates: Mackerel, Herring
Top Hogy Imitation for this Method: Harness Pro Tail, 9oz. in Bone, Green or Silver

 

Slow Jigging

This is my favorite jigging technique for fishing with soft baits and I think the most underutilized. It’s a great technique for those fish you see on the fish finder that “won’t bite anything.” As compared to speed jigging, a slow-jigged lure is an easy target for lazy tuna. Slow jigging works best with eel tails such as the Hogy Harness Jig and Hogy Pro Tail Paddle Tail soft baits. You are relying mostly on boat drift and slow rod tip motions to work the bait. The natural softness of the plastic does the rest. It’s really a slow method. I jokingly teach people my method by instructing to fish like “you really don’t care about fishing.”

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Steps:

  1. Drop to a specific depth that you are targeting.
  2. Slowly raise your rod tip and let it fall slowly.
  3. Every few moments, change the depth by 10’ slow cranks, then repeat slow jig.
  4. Drop back to bottom and repeat.
  5. Once you have too much line out from boat drift, reel in and repeat.

Benefits:

  1. Stay in a key strike zone for a very long time.
  2. Natural subtle movements to present a slow easy bait for a lazy tuna to eat. The subtle movements of a soft bait tail are deadly.
  3. Easy technique for inexperienced guest on your boat.

Slow Jigging Imitates: Sand Eels, wounded Herring
Top Hogy Imitation For this Method: Hogy Harness Jig in Olive, Bone or Silver and the Hogy 6.5″ Paddle Tail in Olive, Bone or Silver

Hogy Harness Jig for Tuna
4oz. Tuna Harness Jig for Slow Jigging for Tuna

 

Twitch Jigging

Twitch jigging is a variation of the slow jig with the only difference being a series of sharp, fast twitches in the rod. It’s almost like you are vibrating the lure with rapid rod tip twitches. This technique works particularly well with the Hogy Sand Eel Jig. It’s long, slender profile responds with a lot jerking rod tip motions. The huge benefit to this technique is that you can really dial in a certain depth. This is a useful method when “sniping” fish you have identified on the fish finder.

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Steps:

  1. Drop to a specific depth that you are targeting.
  2. Twitch your rod with fast short movements.
  3. Every few moments, change the depth by 10’, repeat.
  4. Once you have too much line out from boat drift, reel in and repeat.

Benefits:

  1. Stay in a key strike zone for a very long time.
  2. Faster motions might trigger reaction strike.
  3. Allows metal lure depth, soft bait action.

Twitch Jigging Imitates: Sand Eels, wounded Herring, wounded Mackerel
Top Hogy Imitation For this Method: Hogy Sand Eel Jig in 6oz or 8oz

 

Dead Sticking – Jigging

If you are drifting for an extended period while blind casting, it’s often a good idea to drop a soft bait down deep and park the rod in the holder. It’s truly embarrassing to think about how effective this technique is as compared to all the energy and efforts anglers put into fooling tuna. While dead sticking,  you are literally just putting the rod in the holder and letting the boat do everything. It’s basically another variation of the slow jig. This is 100 percent a soft bait method as the plastic is moving with each rock of the boat.

Steps:

  1. Select heavy soft bait that will stay with the boat. Preferably at least 5oz or 6oz.
  2. Drop to a specific depth that you are targeting.
  3. Set drag and enjoy your sandwich 🙂

Benefits:

  1. Stay in a key strike zone for a very long time.
  2. Slow juicy lure dance
  3. You can eat lunch while fishing 🙂

Dead Stick Jigging Imitates: Sand Eels, wounded Herring, wounded Mackerel
Top Hogy Imitation For this Method: Hogy Sand Eel Jig, 6, 8oz