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So you want to be a Jig Star?

December 19, 2019
So you want to be a  Jig Star?

For me, chasing kingfish on jigs is where my craze and passion for fishing started.

There is a formula for catching kings and it simply doesn't involve buying the most expensive gear and dropping a jig down and expecting a king to be there waiting with its mouth wide open. As the age-old saying goes; no pain no gain and that's exactly what is required to catching kingfish on jigs.

You need to be prepared to jig your arms off - almost literally.

In this guide we will look at the following:

  • how to mechanical jig
  • what to do on the initial hookup
  • how to fight the fish
  • knots required to get you setup and along the way

Mechanical jigging

A good starting point to practice this technique is sit in the lounge with a rod and reel and practice the rhythm over and over while you are watching tv. It usually takes a couple of weekend's solid jigging on the boat to get the rhythm nailed.

Start slow and think about each stroke, it will eventually become second nature. Mechanical Jigging is not about being the fastest jigger, it's about rhythm and timing.

Speed has a place, as some days kings will want jigs moving a little quicker than normal but a great technique/rhythm will result in great results.

mechanical jigging part 1

1) You will see the rod is held relatively high with the arm of the reel at 12 O’clock. As you drop the rod or start the stroke you will then start to turn the handle (this retrieves the slack line on the drop of the rod).

Mechanical jigging step 2

2) Now the rod is near horizontal and the reel arm should also match the rod being horizontal.

Mechanical jigging step 3

3) We continue to drop the rod and  we are now at the bottom of the stroke and the reel arm should be at 6 O’clock. So from the top of the stroke to the bottom of stroke equates to half a revolution on the reel. Moving from the bottom of the stroke back to the top of the stroke we complete another half a revolution of the reel from the 6 O’clock to 12 O’clock position back to picture 1.

4) This is one stroke or cycle. You then repeat this action smoothly with only a quick pause at the top of each stroke

Now we are ready to try our hand at jigging. But first we need to make sure the boat is over the target and held over the target.

So someone is going to need to take this role or take turns at this. When the crew is jigging, their lines are best vertical so the boat will need to be put into reverse every now and then according to the conditions.  

On the spot

Fighting the fish

Once you get that initial hookup keep jigging for 3 or 4 strokes to ensure you really set that hook deep. While completing the extra strokes over emphasis the stroke each time to set the hook home.

This is where the pain starts. Its head is turned and heading south so do not go to gimbal, I repeat DO NOT GO TO GIMBAL.

Fight the fish under your arm. If it's a solid fish you will find yourself glued to the rail, not being able to do much. Try and get a bit of line back before you switch to the gimbal. We now have the rod in the gimbal and ready for a game of tug of war.

Firstly, never lift the rod past 45 degrees as this diminishes the rod's power and you could point load and break the rod.

Work out how much you need to drop the rod to make one turn on the arm. Keep your shoulders back and left arm straight on the fore grip. Hunching over is your worst enemy and will hurt your back.

Once through the aggressive stage of the fight you can then start to regain as much line as possible. Another key tip that I like to do is change from the gimbal back to fighting the fish under the arm. This allows you to point the rod at the fish if it decides to take a blistering run when you least expect it.  You are almost there and can see colour.

Now, back the drag off to say 25%. Why you ask? Kingfish have a tendency to see the boat and make one last dash for the bottom. So when you have a high drag setting and an angle close to the boat something has to give.

All going well the fish will be yours soon enough.

Fighting the fish

Drag settings

Manufacturers of rods and reels will state what the maximum drag rating or setting the gear can take so try your best to stick within these guides.

I like to set most of my lever drag reels to 20kg of drag at the sunset position when using 37kg line. Now, I am yet to use this number in a fight but it's for my piece of mind. At strike we are running 12kgs of drag and this is where you want your reel to be set when jigging when using 37kg line.

When using other line strengths, the rule of thumb is to set your reelís drag to one third of the lines breaking strain. For example, when using 24kg line, set the drag to 8kg at strike.

We seldom get past strike on 37kg line, but when we do we know we are onto a goodie. We will push the drag somewhere past strike for the first part of the fight before we reduce the drag back to something a little more comfortable and forgiving on ourselves.

Generally speaking, when fighting the fish you want your drag to be a little tougher than what the king can pull. The king should still be able to burst away but as it's a fine balance. It's not a case of knocking it to sunset and leaving it there the entire fight.

When moving locations, place the jig in the rod holder along with the rod, don't put the hook through the stripper guide or the first eye above the reel seat.  If it comes loose the jig can bounce, swing and hurt anglers or damage the rod.

Another nice jig-caught species

Line and knots


When it comes to jigging, using coloured braid that changes colour every 10m is a must. The purpose for this is for you to be able to calculate the depth your jig has dropped to.  If for example you find your target species sitting between 30-40 m, you will drop down 5 colors or 50m and work the jig up through the sign to 20m. Braid strength for jigging is usually 24-37kg with the leader ranging from 37-60kg.

PR Knot -  This knot is used to connect your braid to your leader. It requires a PR Bobbin tool, which most fishing shops will stock.  Practice makes perfect as your first attempt may take 15 minutes and with practice you should get this down to around two and a half minutes.

AG Chain Knot to Rizzuto - This knot is used to connect your leader to the lure. Again, this is best learnt from watching a video. My key tip for tying this knot is to be generous with leaving a lot of tag end to work with.

Assist Rig (Connecting the hook to a solid ring) - I have saved the best for last, and for me, this is the most vital part for rigging your setup. You should never trust a rig off the shelf. Most jigs come pre-rigged, which we change for our own assist rig.

There are a number of brands that have excellent hooks - Owner, Jig Star, Oishi & Gamakatsu to name a few.

I have completed a tutorial on how to "re-rig ya jig".

Video: Re-rig your jig

​Video: How to tie Rizzuto knot

Video: Mechanical jigging in action

Video: How to tie a PR knot

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