Different styles of jigging

I’ve been fortunate to be involved in slow pitch jigging (SPJ) for many years. SPJ has become my main fishing style and has also given me the opportunity to start my own fishing business, Ocean’s Legacy New Zealand. Since SPJ is still new to many in New Zealand and there are many other similar jigging styles out there, I thought this would be a great opportunity to summarize all the different jigging styles, share what I know, and hopefully some of you will find it useful. I’d love to hear your comments and constructive feedback.

1. Slow Pitch Jigging (SPJ)

SPJ imitates a wounded bait fish—an easy meal and a prime target for larger species. Imagine you are hunting for food. You see bait swimming away fast and another bait that’s wounded and can’t really swim. You know which one to go after. It sounds a bit cruel, but that’s what you see everywhere in wildlife. Because of this characteristic, SPJ is super effective and allows you to target a variety of species in many different conditions.

It is vertical fishing, so you need a certain depth to do it properly. You will be fishing at least in 30m or deeper, using 100g jigs or heavier. My favourite spots in the Hauraki Gulf are 50m deep, and I use 150-300g jigs depending on the sea conditions. Anything lighter or heavier will not create proper SPJ actions (see below for SLJ and Micro Jigging styles with lighter jigs).

It requires some techniques to make the jig flutter down, and you need some practice first. But it is a much slower action than fast/mechanical jigging, so once you get the hang of it, it will be easier on your body, and you can literally fish all day. 

Over the years, SPJ has evolved, and it is still evolving. It’s no longer just “wind and fall.” You can lift the rod and often speed jig it as part of the actions, but the basic actions and theory are the same. It is all about how you create enticing falling actions, and for that, you will need specialized gear, especially the rods and jigs.

The original style was invented in Japan, where a group of people tried to find a way to catch more species using a metal jig. In recent years, the concept of SPJ has been introduced to many other countries where their fisheries are very different from Japan. These countries, including New Zealand, are now supplying their own versions of SPJ gear and techniques to suit their own waters.

2. Slow Jigging

This is what many people still think is part of SPJ or is SPJ. Slow Jigging mainly involves Kabura/Tai Rubber style jigging and Inchiku jigging and has no similarity to the SPJ style, apart from its name. FYI, this could be more confusing, but in Japan, SPJ is often called Slow Jigging, and Slow Jigging is called Tai Rubber fishing and Inchiku fishing. Anyway, our Slow Jigging is simple. As many of you know, it is as simple as “drop the jig to the bottom and slow steady wind”.

3. Power Slow Pitch Jigging

SPJ normally utilizes relatively light gear, i.e., PE 1.5 – 2.5 lines. But in recent years, because of the effectiveness of SPJ, people started applying the SPJ method for targeting larger species such as 20+ kg kingfish and even tuna. It is still SPJ, but you are now fishing with PE 3.0 – 4.0 capable gear instead. This heavy style often works well for targeting Hauraki Gulf kingfish. Unlike traditional SPJ, you can power lift the rod to fight (with the right gear, of course). They may not be 20+ kg, but you will have less chance of losing the fish and the jig, particularly in reefy areas.

4. Deepwater Slow Pitch Jigging

Another version of SPJ. A typical gear setup is a PE 3.0 – 6.0 rod, so it is like the Power Slow Jigging, but you are fishing in deep water (200+ m), and the target species are bass, hapuka, bluenose, gemfish, etc. You will need a bigger spool to hold enough line, and the jig weight is 500+ g and can be around a kilo depending on the depth and current. The braid should have a small diameter to get the least water resistance, e.g., PE 2-3. This style is still new to many of us in NZ, but it is one of the most popular fishing styles in some other countries, and we see more specialized jigs, rods, and reels becoming available in the market.

5. Super Light Jigging (SLJ)

A light version of SPJ/Mechanical Jigging. The jig weight is between 30g – 100g, PE 1.0 – 2.0 with either spin or overhead reel. With the spin setup, you can fish in shallow areas as you cast the jig wide. The jig profile is small, which can be deadly when the fish are feeding on small bait or when they are not active. The term SLJ may be new to you. It’s already popular in Japan, and they distinguish between SLJ and Micro Jigging by the jig weight (SLJ = 30g – 100g and Micro Jigging = less than 30g). The SLJ jigs are typically designed to create more actions than micro jigs.

6. Micro Jigging

Micro Jigging involves using very light jigs, typically less than 30g, on light spin gear. This technique is perfect for targeting smaller species or when the fish are feeding on tiny bait. The setup usually includes a PE 1.0 or lighter line, which helps maintain sensitivity and enhances the action of the small jigs. Micro Jigging is effective in both shallow and deep waters, but it truly shines in shallow areas where fish are close to the shore or structure. Because the jigs are so light, they create a subtle and enticing movement that can trigger bites from even the most cautious fish. The key to successful Micro Jigging is a delicate and precise presentation. Anglers often use a combination of steady winds, pauses, rod twitches to make the jig wobble, dart and flutter like a baitfish.

7. Mechanical (Fast) Jigging

The most traditional jigging style for kingfish and still a very popular method. While SPJ imitates a wounded bait, Mechanical Jigging imitates a fleeing bait. It often wakes Kingfish up and they go mental. However, its fast and powerful jerking actions require a lot of energy and fitness.

8. Shore Jigging

Shore Jigging is a technique where anglers cast metal jigs from the shore or rocks into the ocean, aiming to mimic the erratic movements of a fleeing baitfish. This style of jigging is popular because it allows anglers to target many different species such as snapper, kahawai, trevally, gurnard and kingfish without needing a boat.

The gear used in shore jigging typically includes longer rods (9-10 feet) for greater casting distance and light jigs (10-60g). The technique involves a mix of fast retrieves and sharp rod jerks to create a lifelike action that entices predatory fish. Shore jigging is versatile and can be done from various coastal terrains, including beaches, cliffs, and piers.



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