Fishing for lingcod with live bait is all fun and games, but for me the reel excitement comes when the conditions allow me to drop metal bar jigs.
A lot of guys like to use rubber swimbaits teamed with leadheads. These lures work great, but I prefer working metal. My whole game revolves around getting to the bottom quickly and staying there until I hook up. Metal bars sink quicker than swimbaits and I think they are just as effective at catching fish. As a result you won’t find any swimbaits in my gear.
Fishing metal jigs is simply, but if you want to achieve maximum result you’ll need to follow the steps I’m about to outline. First of all you’ll need a selection of baitfish shaped jigs in the 6 to 10 ounce range. Color isn’t a big consideration. My favorites are blue and silver or purple and black. I do well with these color combinations, but they are the only ones I ever use. I’ve got a few jigs that have almost no color left on them and they still work well, so that’s why I believe color isn’t a big factor.
When you buy a new jig the first thing you want to do is replace the hook with a moderately priced oversize bronze treble. The hook is going to take a beating in the rocks, so don’t waste your money on premium quality hooks. You want to use bronze hooks because you can usually bend them out when they snag and then you can bend them back into shape when you bring them up. It is smart to carry a small hook file in your pocket when fishing, so you can touch up the hooks between drifts.
Okay, let’s pretend we are at the bottom fishing grounds and you decide to drop a jig. You want to select a jig that is heavy enough to reach the bottom quickly, this usually means you’ll be using a 7 or 8 ounce model when fishing from a charter boat. You can often go lighter from a private boat.
To rig up, attach a large swivel to the end of your braid and then knot on a 24 inch 40 pound test leader of abrasion resistant mono. I prefer P-Line CXX or Trilene Big Game. The jig is knotted directly to the end of the mono leader. If you become snagged and can’t get the jig free, the mono leader will break before your braid and you won’t loose any line.
Once you’ve got your jig attached to the rod it is time to step up to the rail of the boat. You want to be on the side of the boat facing toward the direction the boat is drifting. While thumbing your reel take it out of gear, drop the rod tip toward the water and pitch the jig out directly in front of you. Start out with a short 20 foot flip. If the drift is moderately fast to fast you’ll have to flip the jig out farther.
As soon as the jig hits the water allow it to sink. When you feel the jig hit the bottom, Retrieve the slack and started working the jig up and down using 2 to 4 foot strokes of the rod tip. As the boat drifts toward the jig you’ll have to keep retrieving line. Most anglers are right handed and most conventional reels have the handle on the right side.
To retrieve line, don’t waste time passing the rod from the right hand to the left hand. Simple hold the rod sideways, reach across and crank the reel with you left hand while you continue working the bait. You want to feel the bait tick the bottom on the down strokes, but do not allow the jig to drag across the bottom.
Before long the jig will be directly below you and then it will sweep under the boat. Once it goes beneath the boat reel it up and start all over again. If you leave the jig under the boat you’ll snag up in short order.
A lot of anglers that are new to jigging wonder what a strike feels like. Well suffice to say that when a fish strikes you’ll know it. Picture how it would feel if one of your buddies grabbed your line and gave it a mighty tug. Big bottom fish are not dainty. It‘s a tough neighborhood down there and they typically hit like a ton of bricks.
Your job is to crank for all you’re worth when a hookup occurs to keep that potential jackpot winner out of the snags!