Hopefully, I can help. Nothing in fishing is a slam-dunk, but nothing in fishing yanks my chain, or in this case my jigging rod, like vertical jigging.
Here are five things to consider that might just take your game to a new level.
The knot you use and its placement is as much a part of the presentation as the jig style you choose. It needs to cinch up tight enough to keep your jig horizontal as you work through your jigging strokes. If the knot slips to the front of the jig eye, the jig will hang from your line at an unnatural, and unattractive, angle.
Try a palomar or Trilene Knot to prevent slippage and always check your knot periodically to make sure it's positioned at the top of the jig eye or toward the back of the eye.
Go big or go home. Vertical jigging is all about appearance and control, and bigger jigs offer both, especially in the moving water situations where jigs often excel. Many companies don't produce jigs larger than 3/8th-ounce, and many don't use premium hooks in the correct size for their largest jigs. I use a lot of jigs up to 1 ounce in size. Hutch Tackle is a good source for high-quality larger jigs, and I pour a lot of my own using components from Do-It Molds.
Stinger hooks can make a big difference in vertical jigging situations. When the water is still cold, the fish are a little sluggish and the current is moving at a rapid pace, walleyes sometimes just nip at a jig or simply can't move enough water to inhale it. I tie my own stingers using 10-pound Berkley Fireline or 10-pound Berkley XT with No. 10 Daiichi bleeding red treble hooks. If it's snaggy, bury the treble in the minnow or crawler or plastic body you've used to tip the jig. Otherwise, let it dangle free to make it easier for those walleyes to suck it in.
Head styles are another critical consideration—think aqua-dynamic. Choose a head that will work with the current rather than against it, such as a teardrop head or a Hutch head, which are also balanced jigs that stay vertical. The rest of your presentation should be streamlined to work in coordination with the jig head. If you are using minnows or plastic bodies, get them on the jig straight to reduce spin, wind knots and line twist.
The right jigging stick completes the play! This is where I am going to put my money where the sensitivity is, and maybe use a little money from the “reel budget” and buy a less expensive and smaller reel. THE combo to have is St. Croix’s LegendXtreme LXS70MF paired with an Abu Garcia Cardinal STX5 or STX10. To stay the course onto ultimate sensitivity, spool up with a no stretch superline with a thin diameter such as Berkley Fireline 8/3 or Berkley Trilene Braid 10/2. (Both numbers are Pound-test/Diameter)
Lastly, see the jig and be the jig. Get inside its head. Make it wiggle and jiggle like something a walleye will eat, whether that's a lively minnow, a wounded baitfish or even a dead minnow. Get a routine of four or five jigging cadences and work through them until you find the one the fish respond to on a particular day. Don't worry about what other people are doing around you or even in your own boat. Get your own dabble down.
Take a vertical leap this open-water season. It’s a great way to slam-dunk walleyes into a horizontal position!
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