Experience the Thrill of Slow Pitch Jigging
Tuna, from blackfin in the Gulf of Mexico to bluefin in the Northeast, aggressively attack slow-pitch jigs, often on the initial descent.
If we’re going to draw a comparison, slow pitch jigging can be likened to a cult following in the fishing world. Mention the name Benny Ortiz, the high priest of slow pitch jigging, and anglers will speak of him with reverent awe. It’s like listening to celebrity gossip more than a fishing conversation. “Benny loves this color for Pulley Ridge,” or “I think Benny will be on my trip later this summer,” and my personal favorite, “Don’t let Benny know you were using bait!”
Benny Ortiz, a true pioneer of slow-pitch jigging in the U.S., has harnessed his expertise to catch over 80 species while venturing into depths ranging from 50 to 2,000 feet. His seminars and teachings have made this technique more accessible to anglers of all skill levels, and his invaluable insights have inspired tackle manufacturers to create specialized lures and gear.
What is Slow Pitch Jigging?
Unlike the fast and furious speed jigging technique that mimics a fleeing baitfish to attract aggressive pelagic species, slow-pitch jigging masterfully imitates the movements of a wounded or dying baitfish. As Bunz, an experienced angler, explains, “The jig is fishing on the fall.” The slow fall of a well-crafted slow pitch jig creates a mesmerizing shimmy, dart, bob, and weave, covering a wider area compared to a traditional diamond jig that falls straight down. This tantalizing action attracts strikes not only from fast-swimming pelagics like tuna but also from slower bottom-dwelling species that are commonly caught on bait. Additionally, it can trigger strikes from fish that are in a negative feeding mode and may not actively pursue traditional bait presentations.
One of the advantages of slow-pitch jigging is that it is considerably less physically demanding compared to the aggressive speed jigging technique. The most enticing moments for the fish to strike are during the descent of the jig, not during the retrieval.
Unveiling the Secrets of Slow Pitch Jigging
To fully appreciate the art of slow pitch jigging, it is essential to understand its key components. Let’s dive deeper into the elements that make this technique so effective.
Jigs that Mesmerize
A slow-pitch jig is carefully crafted with a center-weighted, keeled design that enables it to flutter, dart, spiral, vibrate, or glide as it falls on a fully slack line. By applying a slight bit of resistance, such as the gentle touch of the thumb during the initial descent, the jig falls straight down, with its nose pointing towards the surface. During its free-fall, the slow-pitch jig gracefully kicks horizontally, enticingly imitating the movements of a wounded or dying baitfish.
Rods Engineered for Precision
To unleash the full potential of the jigs, a specialized rod is essential. These rods are incredibly lightweight and may resemble a largemouth bass rod more than a tool capable of battling a powerful tuna. The unique recoil action of a slow-pitch rod allows for an exquisite lift-and-pitch movement that enhances the jig’s enticing side-to-side kick. Most slow-pitch rods are designed without a foregrip, the cork or EVA section above the reel seat, as the focus is on working the jig rather than fighting the fish.
Reels Designed for Power and Precision
Reels play a crucial role in slow-pitch jigging and require a balance of power and retrieval speed. Whether you prefer compact and powerful conventional reels or spinning reels, the key is to have enough cranking power to handle fighting the fish while using a rod that provides relatively little backbone during the battle. Precision is paramount in slow-pitch jigging, and experienced anglers often memorize the number of inches of line retrieved with each turn of the handle to determine the jig’s position in the water column.
Harness the Power of Thin-Diameter Braids
Thin-diameter braided lines are indispensable in slow pitch jigging. These lines allow for a vertical presentation with lighter jigs, ensuring a natural and captivating movement. Anglers are advised to fish with lines lighter than what they are accustomed to, with 20-pound test as a starting point for most inshore fishing in the Northeast. This finer line diameter optimizes the jig’s action while maintaining the sensitivity required to detect even the subtlest fish interactions.
Unleash Your Inner Expertise with Slow Pitch Jigging
Slow pitch jigging has revolutionized the way anglers approach bottom fishing, making it a more engaging and rewarding experience. With its precision movements and ability to connect with the underwater world, slow-pitch jigging offers a new dimension to your angling repertoire.
So why not take a leap of faith and join the slow pitch jigging revolution? With the right gear and a touch of expertise, you’ll uncover a world of opportunities to reel in impressive catches. Experience the thrill and finesse of slow pitch jigging, and you might just become the next high priest of this captivating technique.
Where to Start: Gear Recommendations
If you’re eager to venture into the world of slow-pitch jigging, spinning tackle is an excellent starting point. Tsunami offers a range of rods that strike a balance between familiarity and the advantages of slow jigging, such as the Tsunami Trophy Slow Pitch 681 Heavy or the Tsunami Slimwave 701 Heavy.
For tuna enthusiasts, Parisi recommends pairing the Tsunami Trophy Slow Pitch 681 Heavy or the Maxel Platinum Slow Pitch 701 Heavy with the Tsunami SaltX6000 or Tsunami Evict 5000. Spool the reel with 40-pound-test PowerPro MaxCuatro for optimal performance. On the other hand, Bunz advises anglers new to slow-pitch jigging to consider round-profile conventional reels like the Penn Fathom 10N and Maxel Hybrid 20. As for rods, the Centaur Constellation series offers a moderately priced entry point.
While custom and imported slow-pitch jigs can come with hefty price tags, Bunz recommends cost-effective options like Nomad’s Gypsea and Buffalo, which are excellent choices under $20. The Savage Gear Squish Jig and Sea Falcon’s range of slow-pitch jigs also offer various styles suitable for Northeast inshore waters, all priced under $20.
So gear up, embrace the precision, and let the magic of slow pitch jigging take you on an extraordinary angling adventure. It’s time to elevate your fishing game and uncover a world of possibilities beneath the surface.