Slow pitch jigging is a technique with seemingly limitless potential. Also known as slow jigging, it’s a technique that no fish seems able to resist – Grouper, Amberjack, Tilefish, and even Tuna fall victim to this high-tech way of fishing. It seems almost unbelievable when you see the size of the equipment you’re working with. But looks, as they say, are deceptive – and slow pitch jigs are masters of deception.
In order to perfect this technique, you’ll need to forget everything you know about fishing and invest in some seriously premium gear. Once you do, you’ll be hooking into more fish than you ever thought possible. But what is slow pitch jigging? Where did it suddenly appear from? And most importantly, how do you do it? This short guide answers all these questions and more.
What is Slow Pitch Jigging?
Five years ago, hardly anyone in the States had heard of slow pitching. In fact, the technique itself hasn’t been around much longer than that. It was first developed in Japan by a deep-water angler called Norihiro Sato. He was looking for a way to target fish even when they weren’t actively feeding. What he ended up with was one of the most effective techniques ever invented.
The fundamental difference between slow pitch and regular jigging is how your “bait” behaves. You’re not imitating a fish trying to escape – this would be too much effort for a resting fish to bother with. Instead, you use small, precise movements to mimic a wounded fish trying and failing to swim away from the seafloor. It’s an easy snack that even the laziest Grouper can’t resist.
Sato completely rewrote the rules when making this technique. Anglers weren’t limited by the fish’s feeding times anymore. They didn’t need any bait or chum to attract deep-water bottom fish. Instead, they were catching huge reef fish on tackle that looks too small for most freshwater species. And what’s more, they were doing it consistently at any time of day.
What Equipment Do I Need?
This is an entirely new way of fishing. Because of this, it comes with an entire new tackle box. Here is a breakdown of the equipment involved and what makes it all so special.
Slow Pitch Jigging Rod
Slow pitch rods feel almost comically thin when you first pick them up (“You catch Amberjack with this? You must be joking!”). The secret to their strength is their parabolic bend. They flex evenly from grip to tip, distributing the weight for extra durability. They’re matched to the jigs themselves and are rated in grams, from 60 g twigs to “heavy” 400 g rods for taking on the biggest and deepest fish out there.
Slow Pitch Jigging Reel
Slow pitch jigging reels are a thing of beauty – small and narrow, but impressively geared and able to take some serious punishment. They’re designed to let you adjust your drag as you fight the fish, which is key to the whole technique. Most people use overhead casting reels. These give anglers more sensitivity and line control than spinning gear.
Slow Pitch Jigging Lures
The best jigs are handmade in Japan and can easily set you back $50 a piece. Jigs come in anything from 50 g to 500 g weights and more shapes and colors than you can imagine. They all have one thing in common, though: They’re designed to flutter and jerk in the water, imitating an injured fish or squid. They also fall through the water more easily than your average jig.
Slow Pitch Jigging Line
Most slow pitch line is high-end polyethylene braid. Eight-strain is the braid of choice because it’s more rounded and smooth. This lets it flow on and off the reel more easily. PE line has some serious advantages for this style of fishing: It doesn’t stretch, it cuts through the water with minimal resistance, and it’s incredibly strong for its diameter. It’s designed to be light enough for precision jigging 500 feet down, without snapping as soon as a fish takes your lure.
Slow Pitch Jigging Terminal Tackle
We weren’t kidding when we said you needed a new tackle box. From special leaders to custom split pins and swivels, this style of fishing comes with a long shopping list. The most important things are the hooks, though.
Slow pitch jigging assist hooks come in pairs which attach at the head and tail of your jig. They’re small and razor sharp, designed to puncture deep into the fish both in the jaw and the body cavity. This spreads the weight for a stronger hold, letting you use impossibly thin hooks to keep the presentation as subtle as possible. Sadly, it does rule out catch and release much of the time.
Slow Pitch Jigging Technique
So you’re loaded up with equipment, now it’s time to put it to use. A lot comes down to knowing your gear and how it behaves, but there are some golden rules to bear in mind. This is a step by step guide to a few of the basics.
Setting Up Your Tackle
Successful slow pitch jigging is a balancing act, where the right rod, reel, jig, and line class changes day by day. In strong currents and deep water, lighter rods and line with heavier jigs give you more control. If you’re targeting a specific species, the size of your hooks and even the length of the assist cord makes a huge difference. You need to make a lot of these decisions in the moment.
Once you’re set up, it’s time to drop your jig and get to work. You can get the occasional strike on the way down, so keep an eye out for any slack on the line as it falls. The real action starts when you reach the bottom, though. This is the strike zone for most of the fish you’ll be targeting.
Presenting and Working Your Jigs
In an ideal world, a vertical presentation gives you the most control and finesse with your movements. This isn’t always possible, though, especially when the winds and currents are strong. In this case, heavier, faster-falling jigs and lighter line let you keep a tighter handle on your lure.
There are a few ways to work your jigs. You can mainly use your rod, angling diagonally down then quickly pulling up 90 degrees. Otherwise, you can keep the rod flat and make a sharp turn on the reel. You can also mix the two, pulling up slightly with a half-crank on the reel for good measure.
However you do it, the idea is to let the rod soak up the tension then spring back straight. This “pitches” your jig off the seafloor, giving it that signature limping motion of injured prey. It will then fall slowly down to the floor, allowing nearby fish plenty of time to take a bite at it.
Fighting the Fish
This is where all your equipment gets put to the test. Unlike normal tackle, you don’t use the rod to fight the fish. Instead, it’s the gearing and the drag on the reel itself which takes the strain. Angle your rod tip straight at the fish and resist the reflex to pump or lift.
No matter how well-made your reel is, you can’t put the brakes on a 50 lb Grouper with such light tackle. Instead, you have to let the fish run when it tries and reel it in when you can. Count on your drag to slow and turn the fish. Once it turns, use your reel’s gearing to slowly but firmly guide the fish to the surface.
Slow pitch jigging is all about finesse, balance, and really knowing your gear. You need to know exactly how much drag you can safely pile on and how quickly you can reel in when the fish runs your way. It takes a lot of practice, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll easily outfish any other technique around.
Have you tried slow pitch jigging? Do you want to now? Maybe you have some tips for us. Drop us a comment below either way – we would love to hear from you!