Jigging for Kingfish
Please note that it is not neccessary to go out and buy a special rod and reel for jigging. These videos were shot using an inexpensive "set" rod & reel by Penn costing only $99.00 and a Tormenter Ballyhoo Jig (which doesn't care which rod you use) which will produce any time it is presented properly to a hungry fish!
Find your fish by either asking friends, looking for birds, looking for a fleet of boats, and then finally on your fish finder. This fish (and several others) was caught in around 150' of water off of Juno Beach, Florida. Looking around, we saw many boats live baiting with minimal success while we received strike after strike after strike!
See below for more details on ensuring success.
When targeting King Mackerel, depending on where you are, you will find them in small to incredibly large schools and in water from 20 feet to 200 feet. The rigs off of Louisana work great at attracting and holding King Mackerel. The beaches of Missippi, Alabama, and the Florida Gulf coast will have fish in very shallow water. In the Keys usually fish between 60 and 120', but sometimes as deep as 180'. This is the same off of the Florida East coast but as you move north, you will find them in increasingly shallower water (like the Gulf Coast). Finding out what water depth they are in on any given week should be as easy as calling your local tackle store or asking around.
Schools of Kings will show up well on most fish finders as they will usually take up a large portion in the water column. Many times you will see them from the bottom up to within 30 feet of the surface. When you find the school, when using the proper jig & technique, success should be almost certain.
Most people will use mono leader or flourocarbon (but mono is usually good enough). I used five feet of 50lb leader straight to the jig when I shot these videos. It is possible that I could have used 80lb and still got the hits. I tie the leader straight to the doubled 15lb with a perfection knot. I do not use a swivel as this will either shy away fish when they are finicky and sometimes get eaten by a King when they are hungry.
I made around fifteen drops in an hour or so and had a bite on every retreive except for maybe three. I landed four Kings, pulled the hook on one, had one take my lure (cutting the mono leader with its teeth) missed two bites, and caught five Bonitos. This was me fishing alone with only one jig working.
I did tie on a short piece of #4 wire (using an Allbright Special) between the jig and my mono leader after being cut off and this is when I went without a bite on three of five drops and I ended up cutting the wire off and tying the mono straight to my jig again. Afterward I had a 100% bite ratio again until I drifted off of the school. Make sure to check your mono leader near the jig after every bite so that you do not send down your jig on a leader that has been compromised by the King's sharp teeth! When the fish are "HOT" you will want the short piece of wire because if not you will probably lose quite a few jigs.
Most Tormenter Jigs will catch King Mackerel and water depth, drift, current, and the Kingfish themselves will determine which is the best choice for the day at hand. We have found that if the drift is not against the current the Ballyhoo Jig is probably the best choice, In the videos above I was fishing in 140 - 160 feet of water with a good 10 knots of wind and I reached the bottom easily with 15 lb test mono. You can see that there is literally no scope in the line and I am fishing straight up & down.
In the second video you will notice that I try jigging on the bottom several times looking for a Mutton Snapper before I start jigging the Ballyhoo to the top. You can see the difference in the speed and length of the jigging technique I use for bottom fishing and for fishing the water column above. These techniques have proven to be highly successful while using all of our models.
When the drift or line size or depth requires more weight, you can switch to the Chubby Jr or the Ribbonfish and depending on what the fish want one will work better than the other.
Shimano suggests that you need a special rod & reel to properly jig vertically, however, you can see in these videos that just an "off the rack" spinning combo with a flexible tip will do the job very well. I firmly believe that Shimano spent so much time and money promoting the vertical jigging to sell the rods and reels rather than the jigs.
There is no question that a rod meant specially for jigging equipped with a strong reel with the proper retrieve ratio will give you an advantage, but if you are watching your budget, please know that until you start going after Yellowfin Tuna and large Grouper where you need a stronger rod and heavy drag on your reel, the light spin tackle works great.
Some people prefer braided line as the diameter is thinner than mono and it is less drag against a current and you will also feel the bite more intensely than with mono. It is definitely better, but do not let the lack of having this line on your reel stop you from jigging successfully. I finally switched one of my reels over to braided line for jigging. I still have mono on the other spinning reels as I might use them for pitching baits to Dolphin and jigging on the same day. Fishing for Dolphin, I WANT the stretch in the line to keep from pulling hooks. (As it is, I already have too many rods on board) BUT, when going after larger and stronger fish, you will need stronger (and probably braided) line.
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