Slow Pitch Jigging: The Complete Guide
Jun 18, 2019 | 6 minute read Comments
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Reading Time: 6 minutes

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.

A man in a blue shirt and sunglasses holding a large orange fish with a slow pitch jig hanging out of its mouth

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.

Three happy anglers holding a large Grouper with a small slow pitch jig in its mouth. To the right, Another person is holding a camera and taking a photo.

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

An angler in a blue shirt and a white hat holding a bending slow pitch jigging rod over the side of a boat

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

The side of a boat looking towards the stern with three slow pitch jigging rods in rod holders attached to a bronze rail in the foreground

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 Jigs

An angler in a blue shirt and a white hat holding a grouper fish with a white slow pitch jig hanging out of its mouth.

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

A man wearing jeans and a white and red jacket leaning on the side of a boat with ocean in the background. The man is holding a fish in one hand and a jigging lure in the other, with a fishing rod held between his legs.

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 Terminal Tackle

An Amberjack fish with a white and pink jigging lure hanging out of its mouth attached by an assist hook on a swivel.

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

An angler in a blue white holding a fishing rod in his crossed arms with ocean and sky in the background

This guy spent 20 minutes carefully picking his setup before he was ready to pose with it.

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

Two anglers fishing with slow pitch jigging rods over the side of a boat on the sea.

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

A young angler in a red jacket fighting a fish with his fishing rod bent over the side of a boat.

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!

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Comments (23)
  • Luis A. Mispireta

    Apr 20, 2019

    I have rather a question. Since the rods are not powerful, how do you set the hook; lift the rod? or reel fast to set the hook?

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      Sean

      Apr 22, 2019

      Hello Luis,

      Thanks for reading.

      While slow pitch rods are slimmer than normal rods, they can still withstand hook setting with a jerk. Another thing to help spread the load is having assist hooks. These thin, sharp hooks will often attach to your fish at multiple points, evenly spreading the pressure and giving you a better chance to land it.

      I hope you’ll find this helpful.

      Have a great day!

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      Luis A. Mispireta

      Apr 22, 2019

      GOT IT. THANKS

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      Sean

      Apr 23, 2019

      You’re most welcome, Luis.

      Tight lines!

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      Chua Tock Neng

      May 17, 2019

      For slowfall there is no need to set hook if you are using the right jigging hook.

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  • Nazam

    Apr 23, 2019

    Hi. Im new to jigging. Is there any way i get to keep the jig when the hook got snagged? Since the hooks tide on superstrong cord, most likely it will break on the main or leader. If the hooks tide on smaller fluoro, will it effect the jigs movement or the hookup?

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      Albert

      Apr 24, 2019

      Hi Nazam,

      Good question!

      To some extent, it depends on how many hooks get snagged. If a few of them snag, chances are you’ll lose the jig. Even if it’s only one, you may still lose your jig as the line that attaches them is normally made of wire or kevlar.

      Assist hooks usually come in pairs, so there’s a chance they can rub against each other once they hook in. This can be bad news for less heavy-duty line or chord. Because of this, assist line is usually stronger than your main line.

      I’m not really sure how fluorocarbon would affect the movement or the hookup. You could probably expect slightly more stretch than with wire, but not enough to make a noticeable difference. I guess the only way to find out is to give it a try!

      I hope this helps, and be sure to let us know if you try it out yourself.

      Tight lines!

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      Nazam

      May 11, 2019

      Thanks for the info. I’ve been on few jigging trips around my area. Another thing that i noticed was, the vessel and the captain plays a big role. The boat drift and sonar fish finder is the major factor. And believe it or not, the capt also plays big part in the getting snagged frequency..

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      Albert

      May 13, 2019

      Hi Nazam,

      So true, a skilled captain who knows their boat makes all the difference!

      Tight lines,
      Albert

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  • Des

    May 14, 2019

    Can slow pitch jigging be done from a jetty/pier? Assuming using a light weighted jig (20-30g), and say 7ft rod? Also, is a low profile baitcaster reel suitable instead of overhead/conventional reel? Pls advise. 🙂

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      Albert

      May 15, 2019

      Hi Des,

      Unfortunately, slow pitch jigging would be pretty difficult from a pier or jetty unless there’s absolutely no current. Part of what makes the technique so effective is the constant feedback you get from your lure, which only happens when your line is dead vertical through the water. This is the same reason that anchoring up around a reef doesn’t work – you need to move with the current to keep your line straight.

      In terms of the reels, slow pitch jigging gear is generally custom made for the technique to get the most accurate communication with your lure without losing power. Overhead reels just give you the most information and control of your line.

      I’m going to tip my hat to the bible of slow pitch jigging: Anglers Secrets. This guy is a real master of the technique, and a great place to start if you’re serious about getting into it. Hope it helps.

      Tight lines!

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  • Haitham

    Jun 5, 2019

    Can you tell us the best 5 reels that can be used for slow jigging

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      Albert

      Jun 5, 2019

      Hi Haitham,

      Tough question! It really depends on your budget, as well as your depth, weight etc.

      If money’s no issue, either the Ocea Jigger and Trinidad ranges from Shimano, Studio Ocean Mark’s Blue Heaven, or Maxel’s Transformer series. All of these cost $500+, though.

      If you’re on more of a budget, Daiwa Lexa WNs and Abu Garcia Revos are pretty decent.

      Does anyone else have a suggestion? What are you all using?

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      Assem Aly

      Jun 8, 2019

      Hello Haitham,

      As the guys advise here.. it completely depends on the waters you’re targting and expected species in those waters.

      I fish at 70m depth in Hurghada – Red Sea, I intent to use: Maxel hybrid slow jigging reel hy20c and Risky Player 683 hybrid rod. It’s a multitasking gear so i can make some light jigging as well.

      For deeper waters.. you need a reel with more line capacity and a harder rod to do the pitch action with efficient tone.. the deeper you go down – the more resistance you get against your pitch action.

      My Best Wishes!

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  • chuck

    Jun 6, 2019

    saltiga star drag or ocea jigger are the only way to go. a good less expensive option is the diawa saltist star drag. keep in mind that the rod is the most expensive and important component in slow pitch..

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  • Tim

    Jun 17, 2019

    I’m looking for some heavier jigs around 300-350g. What brands are out there? I currently have 100-250g jigs and I’m using a phenix Titan slow pitch paired with shimano Tranx 400hg

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      Albert

      Jun 18, 2019

      Hi Tim,

      As with all things slow-pitch related, it really depends on what you’re going after, where, and how far down, as well as your budget.

      The brands with the best variety out there are authentic Japanese names like DeepLiner and Seafloor Control (DeepLiner also has a handy species compatibility guide to help you choose the right jigs).

      These can be a bit pricey, especially once you add shipping, but you get what you pay for.

      Otherwise, Shimano has a fair few slow-pitch jigs that go up to the 325-350g range.

      Anybody else got some tips? What are your favorite heavy jigs?

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  • LAWRENCE MARTIN VENDARGON

    Jul 11, 2019

    would 30lb powerpro line be adequate and would a 30lb fluorocarbon leader be adequate when fishing deeper waters

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      Sean

      Jul 12, 2019

      Hello Lawrence,

      Thanks for the question.

      While they are great lines for more conventional fishing techniques, the fluorocarbon and braided lines aren’t adequate for slow pitch jigging.

      If you’d like to fish deeper waters, I’d recommend using a PE 2.0 line.

      I hope you’ll find this helpful.

      Tight lines!

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  • Felipe

    Jul 12, 2019

    Hi. I know it is not the ideal choice, but can I use a spinning reel when slow jigging? I am getting a gomoku rod to use with my twinpower 4000 pg, it wheights less then 300g, I would speed jig with it but hey, why not try some slow jigging with it?

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      Sean

      Jul 12, 2019

      Hello Felipe,

      Thanks for reading.

      You can definitely try, people have been using the Twinpower 4000 PG for slow jigging very successfully. Its gear ratio is 4,1 : 1, you’ll be retrieving around 27.5 inches of reel per rotation, which is not too much by any means.

      We say definitely give it a go! Let us know if you catch a keeper.

      Tight lines!

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  • Sisneme

    Jul 28, 2019

    I have recently had an interest for slow jigging but have some difficulty in buying the right gear.
    At the moment I have lot of spinning reels for jigging, I wanna get a slow pitch spinning rod. Would someone recommend me one below $150.
    I wanna use lures between 100g to 250g
    I would be jigging at about 80m to 120m deep.

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      Albert

      Jul 29, 2019

      Hi Sisneme,

      Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend using any slow pitch rod under $150. The rod is the backbone of the entire setup and cheaper blanks just aren’t made as well.

      However, if that’s your budget, I completely understand. Your best bet would be something like Major Craft’s Giant Killing or Crostage ranges.

      I hope that helps!

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