The slow-pitch revolution!

If it’s new and exciting, you can guarantee Paul Senior will be in the mix somewhere, especially if it’s pretty and shiny and catches snapper. The Japanese have been at it again, this time introducing slow-pitch jigging.

This high-end, specialist jigging style has largely been developed by Norihiro Sato, an innovative angler who remains the leader in this method.

It’s a technique that reportedly appeals to many anglers, being: less physical than other forms of jigging; effective on a wider range of fish species; able to get lazy fish to bite; and generally catching more fish overall.

Having said that, I always wonder at the start of new lure cycles like this one, whether they’ll end up being successful in our market. New lures and techniques need to work as well or better than what is currently available or they will become a passing fad and end up in tackle shop ‘special bins’. It’s always hard to predict, but I go by a simple test: how well do they catch fish in New Zealand? Sometimes, in the process, I see components that need upgrading to suit our conditions. Pricing and all the advertising details don’t mean much unless the lure works. The lure assessment process is not always that simple either, as all lures are different. Some techniques are relatively easy to master, such as inchiku and kabura jigging, while others are harder to get the hang of, such as mechanical-jigging for kingfish, egi-ing for squid and now slow-pitch jigging.

In the case of the latter, the learning curve is steep, but once you crack this style of fishing, it can be super-deadly, especially when the fish are being fussy about what they’ll bite. So, when just starting out, be prepared to spend time learning and refining your technique until that light-bulb moment occurs, switching on success.Slow-pitch jigging says it all in the name, really: ‘slow’ means just that – go SLOW (especially the rod’s up-and-down movement; sometimes I even keep my rod tip still, relying on the rod and reel to give the lure the correct action) – and ‘pitch’ means one turn of the reel handle at a time.

Having the right rod is crucial, as it’s the rod’s reflexaction after being loaded by winding the reel’s handle, that imparts the correct action to the jig. The angler needs to particularly focus on the lure’s falling action, as I believe that aspect triggers the bigger fish to bite, not the retrieve. I have written about this in a previous article: it’s the jig’s fluttering downward action that entices the bite.

 If there is too much slack in the line while the lure is falling, you may miss the bite. Search ‘Slow-Pitch Jigging’ on YouTube and you’ll be able to see it in action for yourself. Slow-pitching rods are different to any other. For a start, as they are primarily designed to flip the jig onto its horizontal axis, they have very little in the way of grips, which can interfere with the rod’s action/recoil. You may think grips won’t make much difference, but they do. All the brands I have seen so far are similar in the placement and style of reel seats and components. They are also very light and sensitive, which means heaps of fun when used.

You will need an overhead reel with a longer cranking handle than normal, enabling you to really load the rod up by winding the reel quite fast at times. So yes, there are also specialist reels for slow-pitch jigging – or you can adapt an overhead reel by upgrading to a longer aftermarket handle.

As per normal, GSP braid and fluorocarbon trace are a must. When targeting snapper in the gulf, I use 8-10kg braid and
13-15kg fluorocarbon, which is a bit heavier than what’s used for inchiku jigging because there’s more strain on the jig’s knot.

The jigs are different too, having a top and a bottom. Typically, they look like the hull of a boat with a keel and a flat top or deck. You can see how they are designed to fall sideways through the water column – some even hum or vibrate while falling, which can really switch fish on.

Most seem to have zebra stripes made of glow paint on one or both sides, which I assume makes them flash more on the drop. I keep saying ‘drop’; keep this in mind when fishing, and concentrate on getting the best action while the jig is falling sideways through the water. This is where the magic happens: if you can’t get your jigs to do this, you may as well use a standard jig. Every style of lure has a secret. With inchikus it involves the rubber skirt lifting off the main body and wafting around; with slow-pitch jigs it’s the moments of horizontal freefall.

Slow-pitch jigging will catch all the fish you are currently catching with inchikus and jigs, including kingfish. You can jig all day without getting tired, as it’s the balance of rod and lure that creates the magic action. It’s also a very creative way to fish, as the subtle changes in techniques and styles are endless: you can pitch, flick, flip-drop, fall, quiver, do short falls, long falls – the sky is the limit. And this is why I find it such an attractive way to fish. So keep a lookout for the specialistrods, jigs and reels that are increasingly becoming available in New Zealand.

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