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Canal jigging technique

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First off. hello to you all,

I've been reading your posts almost religiously and have a few posts on the NH/ME section. I'm from Worcester and don't get out to the canal to often but when I do I have always wanted to try jigging the ditch. Can someone please explain the technique of jigging in the canal to me. I usually fish it with cut bait and have lost my share of hooks on the bottom. How does one jig without losing a ton of lead in the process? Or is this just inevitable.


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Pole - there are many here that are FAR more experienced and better qualified than me to answer your question, but I'll share what I have learned over the past 3 years.......


First off, jig weight.....depends on wind, moon phase, stage of the current........that is to say, duing full and new moon times, the current runs a whole lot faster during it's full bore than it does when the moon is near 1st or last quarter.....has to do with tidal heights and tidal differences from the east to west end.....


Generally, you'll need anywhere from 3 to sometimes 5 or 6 ounces, depending on how far from "slack" you are on a particular day, and what the moon phase is.


The jigs are of many varieties......smiling bills with hair and pork rind trailers, eel skin jigs with of course an eel skin, bare bullet jigs with various types of rubber like Sluggos or Ledgerunner baits, heavy AVA jigs, heavy crippled herring jigs, etc.......that is really your choice of weapon.


As to actual jigging techniques, everyone has their own style, but what I practice......(note: I am using a Shimano Baitrunner Spinning reel, so my technique varies a bit from what other guys will say)....


Cast out as far as you can into the middle of the canal. Some guys will cast "upstream" somewhat, but doing so cuts down the distance you can get into the middle.


Depending on where you are, the stage of the water height, and the weight of the jig, count to about 10, and you will feel a "thump" of the jig on the bottom.


At this point, I set my Baitrunner on free spool, and thumb the spool. (Other will just leave the bail open.) The jig will be carried by the current downstream, and you will feel it bouncing along. It takes awhile (experience) to be able to differentiate between the jig bouncing and hitting rocks, and the feel of a hit. Nothing but experience can teach you that.


It is important to either be able to have the reel in freespool, ar have the bail open, because otherwise, your jig and line will travel in an arc back towards the bank, instead of travelling down the middle.


I let the jig drift on the bottom in the freespool/thumbing mode for maybe 2 minutes, giving the rod a jerk every once in awhile. How long to do that is also just learned from doing.


I then engage the reel, and start jigging back in.

Depending on how far I have casted, and how much line I have allowed to feed out, I usually get 10 - 12 "pumps and reels" of the jig before I know I am too close and have to reel very fast so as not to get hung up. (This is also spot dependent, and again, nothing but experience can teach you that).


You can get hits on the intial drop, during the drift, or while you are jigging back in.


That's a quick summary......the best thing to do is to go there and spend some time just watching people......you'll spot the ones that know what they are doing......just sit back and watch what them for a bit (That's how I learned).....


As far as losing lead.....yes, expect to lose a lot, especially when you first start out and are learning the technique and the spots......and then expect to lose some more even once you think you know what you are doing and the spots.....it's just the way of the canal......I lost two jigs myself today..... redface.gif


And just a note, speaking of losing jigs, since I pulled out about 500 yards of tangled up mono today, do yourself (and the rest of us jiggers) a favor, and put some 50-65 lb test braid on your reels and use a lower test mono leader (maybe 25 or so lb test)......you wanna be able to break off the leader when you get snagged (and you WILL), and not leave yards and yards of fishing line out there for others to get snagged on..... smile.gif

"You know the Bill of Rights is serving its purpose when it protects things you wish it didn't."


"You can no longer be oppressed if you are not afraid anymore - Unknown"


SOL Member #174

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Steve did a great job, and there's more than enough info to get you started.


I'll only add a couple of things:

1. It's very important to feel, and keep in contact with the bottom. That can also be important in many aspects of life, not just fishing. moon.giftongue.gif

You just don't want to "drag" you jig along the bottom. But rather, skim or sweep on or very near the bottom. Once you become adept at this, you'll cut your gear losses to a minimum. But keep in mind, we all lose some gear.

2.Carry different weight jigs depending on the stage of tide, and moon phase. A 5-6oz might be the ticket during the mid stages of a tide on a full moon. But as the tide drops, and therefore slows, that 5oz jig might be far too heavy for your location.

I often drop down to a 3 or even 2oz in places where water depth and current strength dictates.

3. Don't be afraid to make short casts. Most of the time you simply want to rear back, and throw the jig as far as you can. But more often than not, the bass are right in close, often right on the drop-off. Sometimes even using a 5oz jig, I often throw only 75' b/c the bass might be stacked up in a rip or drop off close to shore. There are many places in the canal that have 50+ feet of water 50' off the rocks. Those are prime locations for bass to rest to keep out of the current, and ambush bait as it cruises the shoreline.

The Sultan of Sluggo

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Great advice so far. Couple of other things I can add.


Use braid. It makes a huge difference. Obviously, it's more sensitive and you'll feel light strikes you'd never know were there with mono. But, in addition, I really feel it helps you cut down on lost jigs. Using a 50 or 65# braid that's the same diameter as 12# allows you to cut the water better and reach bottom without as much belly in the line from the current. 30# or 40# mono (which is what I used before braid) gets "pushed" more by the current and also, it absorbs water and swells, so you have even more surface area resisting the current. Braid also doesn't belly as much in a crosswind, and the prevailing SW winds of summer are a crosswind along much of the Canal. The upshot is, you can use a lighter jig and still get down. In places where I might have to use a 4 or 4-1/2 oz jig with mono, I can use a 2-1/2 or 3 with braid. Lighter jigs won't hang as much, and the greater sensitivity of braid allows you to feel when your jigs is in trouble and lets you "rescue" it faster.


I like to use a gentle, slow lift and let my jig fall on a tight line. Some of the other Canal guys would disagree and advise using one or several hard hauls back on the rod. I feel that when you jig like this, your jig is falling on 3-4 feet of slack line, and since most hits will come as the jig is falling, you miss too many. But, find the way you prefer.


Plastic trailers, like 7 or 10 inch FinS fish, 9" Sluggos, and the bigger Ledgerunner baits, also work well on a plain heavy jig head. In fact, there are times they'll outproduce the standard bucktail jig. I've found that fish hold onto a soft plastic much longer than they'll hold onto a bucktail, giving you more time to detect the strike and set the hook.

"…if catching fish is your only objective, you are either new to the game or too narrowly focused on measurable results.” - D. Stuver

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Excellent stuff. icon14.gifclapping.gif


I've got one other exercise I can add. Unfortunately, you must have the time and conditions to give this a shot.


Arrive at dead slack water ( preferrably in no wind). Throw jig ( 4oz) out to middle of canal or your desired location. Count the jig down to the bottom. I use a regular count instead of seconds. You'll find just how damn deep the place really is. Now, yank the rod tip ( lifting jig off the botton)and count how long it takes for the jig to settle back down in still water. Once again, you'll be surprised how long it takes for 4oz to regain the bottom ( I get a five count usually).


Now continue this process thru the 1st hour + that it takes for the current to get cranking again. The count gets longer and longer because the current is drifting the jig.


I've done this many many times in the 20 + spots that are my favorites so that I can judge where I must throw on the surface in order to get the jig exactly where I want it to hit bottom.


Now......, add a fierce wind in and........ never mind. It gets complicated if you're really insane.

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JP gave some excellent advice. The "count down" method really does help you become aquainted with the bottom in various locations. I've been doing it subconsciuosly now for decades.

For instance, after a while you'll know that at Pole 1-- it takes 11 seconds for your jig to hit bottom at half tide.

But, some day you'll arrive at your favorite location, and the wind will be blowing 25mph, s/w, and you'll have a tough time feeling bottom. But, you'll know that the 4oz jig your throwing in that particular spot should hit bottom at the count of "one-one-thousand and eleven"...

The Sultan of Sluggo

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Ok, enough info has been desseminated about fishing the canal tonight so that even my grandmother could catch a bass there.

All this "good will" and "loose lips" is getting me wound up tight as a drum! cwm8.gif

I'm not going to be able to sleep tonight. cwm31.gif

I've said too much! eek.gif

Rememeber, this is " The Canal "! cwm8.gif

Everything's a secret! cwm13.gif


Has anyone on SOL actually met....bobG? tongue.gif

The Sultan of Sluggo

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Yep. How many time have you stood next to a guy or watched from the service road and counted down his jig in your head ? You know its 24 to the bottom and the guy starts yanking away at 15. He hasn't got a chance - he's jigging 10' off the bottom. Those are usually the poor buggers who tell me " there's nothin' out there". tongue.gif

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"Poor buggers"...

The only other guy I ever heard say that was my Dad. wink.gif

You're showing your age JP! wink.giftongue.gif


Plus, it's almost 11pm, and you're still up? If you're up this late, you're not going out in the morning. Now I'm wondering why? confused.gif

What does JP know that I don't? cwm13.gif

The Sultan of Sluggo

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