For fishing our wrecks from 90 to 400 ft of water, I can’t think of a better artificial bait than a vertical jig. I’m not saying you can’t do the same thing with a comparable sized buck tail jig in the hands of an experienced jigger, but, for day in day out, the vertical is easier to use. I can’t think of a species that inhabits our waters that won’t eat one. For bottom fish, like snapper and grouper, I like to give the vertical jig four to five quick snaps off the bottom and let it flutter back to the bottom. Be ready to really put the hammer on the bottom dwellers, or they will take your jig home with them if given the chance. There are a couple different ways to work these jigs for mid water species; I believe mainly due to the fact that some of them simply can’t catch it. Tunas, and all the jack species, like it moving fast, so you really have to get a rapid jigging motion going, as well as a fairly quick retrieve on the reel. The second way to work it for mid water fish, like cobia and African pompano, is a sharp snap of the rod, then drop the rod slowly, keeping the line taunt while retrieving the slack with the reel; basically slowing the assent and decent of the jig.
So, with all the good stuff about these fish catching marvels, why would we do anything else? Well, a couple reasons that pop up quick are: it will flat out wear you out working one--I won’t randomly drop a vertical jig unless I’m marking fish on my machine; and, number two, they are fairly pricey--anywhere from $6 to $20 a piece. If you only take a couple with you offshore to drop on the wrecks, you may not be doing it long because the sharks love eating tuna as much as you do. It’s funny how one vertical jig will last me six trips, then I will lose six in six drops. Normally, six to ten jigs will get me thru the day.
I started making my own assist hooks a while back, on a windy day, just to see if I could do it. It turned out it saved me a lot of money, and I could make them just how I wanted them in regards to length and hook size as well. To start, hollow core 100 pound test (or larger) Dacron, or hollow core braid, will work just fine. Cut around a foot off. Run a folded over length of kingfish wire halfway up the center and push it through. Place the far end into the folded wire and pull the wire out. This will create a doubled length of Dacron with a loop. Tie your selected extra-strong hook onto the Dacron and reference the jig for the appropriate length (shorter is better). Lastly, step it to place a small section of heat shrink material over the eye of the hook/knot. Be careful when applying heat, as not to damage the line.
Now you have your own customized assist hooks and you can save those extra dollars to celebrate your vertical jigging success back on dry land! Cheers!
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