March 19 2017

My Canal Jigging Epiphany


*Featured canal sunset image for this blog post courtesy of*

When I first started fishing the Cape Cod Canal I did a lot of watching, trying to figure out how to even have a chance to catch a fish.

I heard about jigging, but had no idea how to go about it, until I saw a guy catch a very large fish on a crippled herring at the East End.

This man caught the huge striper by jigging violently, with large upward yanks with his rod. I remember writing down everything I saw him do, and I tried to exactly copy his jigging technique during my next Cape Cod Canal fishing excursion.

As I began to spend more time at the Canal, I noticed a lot of people doing what I now recognized as "violent jigging." These people would yank the rod violently upwards into the air, every 5 seconds or so, as they slowly reeled-in their line.


The "Violent Jigging" Fraternity

Jigging with sharp upward "violent" jerks of the rod does catch fish, but is there a better way?
Video by
Fish Monkey.

I soon became a member of the "violent jigging" fraternity, sometimes having success, but most of the time not. This has made me question my violent jigging technique.

The question now is...

Going into spring of 2017, should I continue to jig the Canal with large violent yanks of the rod, or should I use a modified, more subtle approach?

My arm and shoulder sure would appreciate a more subtle jigging approach! However I have caught some good fish by violently jigging.

In an effort to get answers to my Canal jigging questions, I started to attend fishing expos like the MSBA Expo in Hanover, and the New England Saltwater Fishing Show in Rhode Island. 

I went to seminars and listened to speakers who recommended very different jigging techniques than the violent upward strokes I had gotten used to seeing (and using) at the Cape Cod Canal.

Canal Jigging Guidance, from Al Gags

At this year's RISAA show I posed the same question to Al Gags during his seminar. Instead of a violent jigging action, Al recommends small twitches and shakes of the rod, at least when fishing his famous Whip-It-Fish lures.

Photo courtesy of - "Fooling Fish with Soft Plastics"

Al has made the observation that large violent yanks of the rod only succeed in pulling the lure away from the view of a potentially interested fish. It is important to remember that Whip-It-Fish have their own built-in swimming action, thanks to the bullet shaped head and paddle tail.

In fact, the very first fish I ever caught on a Whip-It-Fish was caught by letting the Whip-It-Fish swim in the current, with no extra action imparted by my rod.

So the question now is - "If violent jigging is not the best technique, then why does everybody still do it?"

Canal Jigging Guidance, from DJ Muller 

Author DJ Muller. Photo from the cover of his new book Fishing the Cape Cod Canal.

I remember DJ Mueller smiling and shaking his head when I described the violent Canal jigging technique, and I asked DJ if I should be jigging differently.

DJ replied with...

“You know Dex, when guys were using monofilament they had to really yank the rod to get the jig to move (due to monofilament stretching) especially with large amounts of line out in the current. Now with braided line you really don’t have to move the rod so much to get the jig to move."

All of a sudden the light bulb went on!

Violent jigging is no longer necessary, because today we use low-stretch braided lines for jigging at the Canal. However, violent jigging was once necessary in the "old days" when monofilament (which stretches a lot) was the only option.

My Canal Jigging Epiphany

After talking with DJ, I returned to the My Fishing Cape Cod booth and started discussing my findings with MFCC member Tom Simpson. Tom told me that when he jigged the Canal with mono, it was like "fishing with an elastic band with all that stretch."

So now I have my answer. Although the violent jigging technique works, it is no longer necessary, and in some cases may move the jig too much, and actually be detrimental, especially when using todays low-stretch braided lines.

In conclusion, with today's braided line, violent jigging probably makes the jig look unnatural. Plus it is taxing on your body.

This season I plan on utilizing a more subtle jigging approach. If nothing else, I know my shoulders, arms and back will appreciate the change!

Tight lines,


What do you think?

Let us know by commenting below.

About the author 

Dex Chadsey

Dex has been fishing since 1963, and has been a member of My Fishing Cape Cod since 2013. He and his dog Gracie can be found exploring and fishing anywhere from Block Island, to the Canal, to Chatham. You can learn more about Dex by clicking here.

  • The upward orientation of the hooks on bucktails, Savages, Whip It Fish, Patriot Fish, Hogys, Ronzis, and Sluggos help to avoid snagging the bottom regularly although as John and Ryan noted, at some point it will eventually happen. Snagging lobster pots or cables usually cannot be undone.

    When the jig head slips between a space in the rocks it is also difficult to get it out. A technique that sometimes helps in this situation is to hold the butt of the rod with one hand while whacking the under side of the rod with the other hand. The idea is to bounce the rod which then creates slack and can cause the jig to back out of where it is stuck. This technique may even work with lobster pots.

    My final attempt is always to point the rod tip at the stuck lure, wrap the line several times around the rod handle or my gloved hand, then walk away from the water until the lure comes free or the line breaks. This is always a good test of your knots! If the hook is merely caught in seaweed more often than not it will come free. Don’t try to pull it free with the rod bent or you stand a very possible chance of snapping your rod. I heard this happen from someone fishing near to me at the Canal one night, followed by a very loud and angry expletive!

  • Update to “My Canal Jigging Epiphany”
    This March, @admin and I put together a blog post entitled “My Canal Jigging Epiphany 16”. This season has been a great opportunity for me to experiment with my Canal technique and the theories expressed in that post. It’s amazing how a little success increases your confidence and leads to more success. It also helps a lot when the Canal is filled with big fish for over a month.
    During many Canal trips this season I have been swimming paddle tail jigs with a bit of a shake of the rod every once in a while. This is the technique that Al Gags recommended during our discussion at RISSA. This swimming approach seems to work better than the “violent jigging” technique discussed in the blog post, at least when using paddle tails.
    Swimming a jig works especially well at the end of the drift. I believe that a lot of the fish swim or drift along the drop off about 20 yards out from the shore at the Canal. At the end of your drift the jig is sweeping through this area and most of my hits come at this time. There is a fine line however between keeping your jig in the strike zone and getting too close to the bank down current as you will get hung up or snag the line of the guy next to you.

  • Hi Dex, I enjoyed reading your article and am impressed with your determination and commitment to be a proficient angler. For about 40 years, I have been designing a variety of fishing lures for various manufacturers, presently including Rapala / Luhr jensen (Crippled Herring), Wahoo Fishing Products (Kandlefish) and the Sonic BaitFish (Mack’s Lure Company).

    These are all metal jigs because my passion is the metal jig. The primary reason is their versatility (cast, jig, swim or troll). For the past twenty years, a metal jig is all I fish in fresh or salt water.

    Unlike the forceful jigging technique that was exposed in your article, I have always been more of a finesse mover of the rod. That’s because I mainly fish out of a boat vs casting from shore.

    Whenever I cast, or troll, I will add a small Indiana blade to the backside of the single tail hook. Attach the blade with a snap (not snap swivel) to the split ring. The fish react better to the side to side vs a rotary blade motion.

    We were the very first metal jig to use a metal spinner blade tail attractor. That was in the early 1980s. I almost never tip the jig with bait. The flash and sonic vibration, in all of my metal jigs, are what cause fish to strike.

    At times, when the bite dies while vertical jigging, I can almost always turn the bite back on by one, or all, of the following three tips…

    1) Downsize your jig as much as you possibly can and still be able to reach your target fish (critical!);

    2 ) Change colors;

    3) Tip the jig with a very small piece of natural bait or dab scent on the jig.

    For special tips on the use of these three jigs, please download my respective “Tech Sheets” on the above lure names to help you catch more fish. Or, contact me via email…[email protected].

    I will always reply to you quickly, or eventually, if I am traveling. Good health and good catching, my fellow anglers…Pete (Capt Pete Rosko)

    • Pete,
      Thanks for your reply. Your history of making metal jigs is really interesting. I am familiar with the Crippled Herring but not the others you mentioned. When I first started fishing the Cape Cod Canal, I would see a lot of anglers using the Crippled Herring, now not so much. Not sure why, as it is an effective lure and perfect for the Canal. As I wrote in the article, the first large fish I saw caught at the Canal was on a crippled Herring. I studied the angler’s technique and tried to replicate it for many years thereafter until I eventually discovered what works best for me.
      Tom Simpson, who is in my circle of fishing friends, also makes his own metal lures out of antique spoons that his wife Jane buys at the thrift shop. He has caught at least one bass on every lure that he has made for himself. In another life I used to fish from head boats off of the Jersey Shore. The lure of choice for Bluefish was an Ava 47 with or without a surgical tubing tail. Only recently did I realize that metals were also effective for Bass as well. I always thought they were just for Bluefish. They cast forever and are a great sand eel imitation. I also used to use the Luhr Jensen Krocodile Spoon

      You mentioned attaching spinner blades to jigs, something that I haven’t used for Striped Bass. I associate that type of hardware with fresh water and specifically with what is used for salmon and Lake trout in trolling open water like the Great Lakes. I should have thought of that as it is a technique that was once successfully used for Striped Bass. I remember reading about it as a kid. They used to put a sand worm on a hook behind several spinners then troll the rig around Pleasant Bay behind a row boat. This accounted for many large Bass being caught.

      My evolution of retrieve technique has continued as I have had great success with utilizing the concepts of slow, slow, stop, and shake when retrieving Magic Swimmers, Needlefish, Savage Sandeels, Bucktails, Super Strike Little Necks, Joe Baggs Patriot Fish, and Swarters. The visual I have in my head is that I am live lining the lure to the fish. I first discovered this one morning on a Cuttyhunk beach when I could see a school of bass hanging out and learned what caused them to hit and what did not.

      I have spent a lot of time this winter reading and listening to Alberto Knie and John Skinner discuss bucktailing technique. They both talk about how important “the sweep” of your bucktail is instead of having your lure act like a “bait fish on steroids”. This is especially true for big fish.
      Thanks for your information. As fishermen we need to be constantly open to discovering new ways of doing things. As Billy the Greek says, if you only fish one way, you will only catch fish when their behavior matches those techniques. Alberto Knie advises us “don’t be a one dimensional fisherman, folks”. To me, learning about this stuff is almost as much fun as doing it.

    • Pete,
      You should contact DJ Muller about your Crippled Herring. He has been touting the lure in his recent Facebook Podcasts. According to DJ, the heavier Crippled Herring (3 – 5 oz) are the perfect lure to reach bass when conditions are absolutely gnarly. They cut through the wind when casting and will get down in the water column when other lures are swept down the beach by heavy waves and undertow. He also likes that they flutter on the drop. Contact him on Facebook and tell him Dex sent you.

  • Hi all! I caught my first (and only) Canal Striper on a pink bucktail jig! My brother had recently told me that if I don’t see any fish on top of the water, change it up and use a jig! There were lots of guys using topwater plugs with no results, so I changed it up! The Striper was 27 1/2 inches long! There was also a gentleman there catching squid on a sabiki looking rig. Later that day when I was excitedly telling my brother my fish story, he said that the pink bucktail may have worked because squid were around. I thought that seemed like a good theory! Anyway it was a blast! And the camaraderie around the Canal, especially when you have a fish on is fantastic! Looking forward to the Spring!

    • I’d say that is a terrific theory! Sounds like you had a blast that day Leslie.

      Hopefully there will be plenty more mornings like that for you this spring/summer. Tight lines!

    • Fish will travel through the Canal at different depths Leslie, not just the surface. This depends on bait, light conditions, current, water temperature and other factors. They will also hold in certain areas relating to bottom features.

      It is a good strategy to use different lures to check out different depths when trying to find fish. A well stocked Canal bag includes poppers and other surface lures, mid water swimmers like Magic Swimmers, and jigs like buck tails and paddle tails.

      You can also regulate how deep a jig like a Savage Sandeel runs by how soon you start your retrieve. When fishing a Savage or a Patriot Fish I will start my retrieve soon after the jig hits the water every fourth cast or so and often pick up a fish near the surface. By varying the start of your retrieve you can sift the water even if you have a limited supply of lures.

      Another good tactic is to try fishing deeper even if you see fish on top and other people are catching lots of small fish with surface lures. Sometimes there will be bigger fish underneath the smaller fish. These fish often go uncaught as everyone focuses on the activity that they see on the surface.

      The Canal learning curve is tough, but each time you go you can learn something new. I find it very satisfying to figure out the puzzle and those days when you have success will sustain you for a long time.

      • Thanks for the input Dex! All this is such interesting information! Love it! The Patriot Fish is on my list to purchase.

  • I’m new to fishing the canal. Thanks for this article I caught my first keeper at the canal a few weeks back just on a classic 2 oz lead head buck tail with a white soft bait tail. Just on a slow retrieve down by the east end between the Sagamore bridge and Scusset Beach. Does anyone have any preference on jigs? I used a those savage eels that everyone seems too like but they kept getting caught on the rocks and the seaweed and lost them both. I used the replacement tails on the old lead head and it worked well had a shirt hook up with a bluefish that shredded the soft bait.

    • Hey Nathan, congratulations on your fist “keeper” on the Canal.
      I use jigs as a “learning tool” and I use them A lot.
      I myself an a “newbie” to the Canal and just recently had the great opportunity to spend 4 days on the Canal and just wrote about it here on MFCC, “4Days on the Canal” , it was a learning experience.
      I used 2-3 oz. Savage style jigs to learn a lot about the Canal, its structure , current speeds at certain times etc.
      If you were losing jigs you may want to ask yourself why and how heavy was the jig, at what current were you using the jig, how deep was the area, and could you have been using a smaller jig to keep the jig riding higher in the current, fortunately or unfortunately jigs are lost because they are doing exactly what we want them to be doing and that is getting deep to where the fish are hiding, I lose plenty of jigs trust me , I don’t like it but that’s often the name of the game when I’m trying to “learn” a new area.
      I spent the majority of time between poles 300 and 90 on the Cape side with nothing heavier than a 3oz. Savage style jig just learning the area and only lost 3 or 4 jigs in 4 days, I think I managed 21 fish over the course and only a few that weren’t keepers, it was an amazing experience.
      So in your question, myself , I liked the 2-3 oz. weights but had 4oz, as well and didn’t need to use them for the times of day and tide that I was fishing, others may say they like the 4-5oz but that relies on what what tide and current speed your are fishing also.
      So good luck and keep on experimenting and learing, the more we understand about an area , the more we are effectively able to fish it.

    • Good insight above from Stephen.

      You will lose far less jigs if you begin your retrieve immediately after the jig hits bottom.

      Depending on the current and the area you are fishing, it could take anywhere from 7-20 seconds for a 4 ounce jig to hit bottom.

      With some practice you will feel the subtle “bump” of the jig hitting bottom. I count down the seconds it takes for the jig to reach bottom, and when in doubt I begin my retrieve a little early.

      I hope that helps a little Nathan. Good luck if you give it a try this week.

      PS – don’t forget about good old fashioned bucktail jigs. They are more durable than Savage Sandeels and they work!


    • Hey Nathan,
      My favorites are the Savage Sand Eel and the Joe Baggs Patriot Fish. I mostly use the Green Mackerel color in the 3, 4, or 5 oz weight. It pays to try different colors too. One night I was catching using the Mackerel Joe Baggs and then the bite stopped. I switched to a white color and again started catching on just about every cast. When morning came I was so tired from fighting big fish that I stopped fishing even though people around me were still hooking up!

  • This season has been a great opportunity for me to experiment with my Canal technique. It’s amazing how a little success increases your confidence and leads to more success. It also helps a lot when the Canal is filled with big fish for over a month. I have been swimming paddle tail jigs with a bit of a shake of the rod every once in a while. This has worked very well especially at the end of the drift. I believe that a lot of the fish swim or drift along the drop off about 20 yards out from the shore. At the end of your drift the jig is sweeping along this area and most of my hits come at this time. You don’t want to get too close to the bank as you will get hung up or snag the line of the guy next to you. This swimming approach seems to work better than the “violent jigging” technique, at least when using paddle tails.

    • Roger that dex, landed some of the biggest fish at the end of the drift just keep payn attetion not to get that close to the bank a nd get hung up

    • It will be interesting to see how jigging techniques evolve at the Canal in response to improvements in equipment.

    • i still don’t use braid dex but i am still reluctant to use a violent jogging action anywhere. when fishing deep rocky areas though i will always strike at any bump, it could be rocks or a fish there’s only one way to find out. i understand the appeal of braid but im just an old timer set in my ways. i don’t think the amount of stretch in mono is too much to effective. that. ring said my approach is low and slow. thanks.

  • dex, i still fish mono, i know ‘knuckle dragger” it isn’t necessary to jig violently in order to move the jig. mono doesn’t stretch that much. as long as i let it sink a steady retrieve works for me, especially in shallower water. thanks.

    • When fishing on my small boat in Barnstable Harbor, I power drift sea worms using a simple fish finder rig with a circle hook. I place a light weight rod in a rod holder on each side of the boat with the bail closed. When even a small fish hits, the strike brings the rod tip down to the gunwale. I use mono on these rods so the stretch will absorb some of the power of the strike. This prevents too much pressure on the rod and the fish’s mouth. Mono definitely has it’s place!

  • Makes sense Dex. Fishing friends and guides advice using paddle tail jigs in SW FL inshore waters has been “slow steady retrieve, this is not a jerk bait”. Paddle tails w jig heads have a nice swimming action at a steady retrieve and I`ve had success with that. Sometimes I`ll stop and let the lure sink then restart the slow retrieve. Does that advice hold for the CCC? AlsoI hadn’t`t realized that there was THAT much stretch in mono, thanks for the info!!

    • Al Gags speaks about his Whip It Fish having a wobble action initiated by the jig head as well as a swimming action from the paddle tail. A slow steady retrieve is a great way to work these lures at the Canal. Your method of stopping and then restarting the retrieve will work as well. Many Canal jiggers report that most of their hits come as the jig is dropping. Al also recommends letting the Whip It Fish move in the current without a retrieve or with just a shake of the rod. When the jig has finished it’s swing from one side to the other, you bring it in.

    • Thanks Jay,
      I enjoyed reading all the comments and opinions from other members on this topic. Discussion is a great way to learn new things, that’s for sure.

  • Nice article Dex, with some pretty interesting conclusions based on your research.
    I would like to comment on DJ’s comments about the conversion of Canal Jiggers from mono to braid. Most of the Canal regulars in the 1960’s right up until the super braids became popular, did not use mono for jigging. They used Dacron. Dacron has significantly less stretch than mono. It in fact has a little less stretch than super braids. Dacron was so popular among Canal jiggers that Red Top used to carry it in 36# test. The jiggers preferred the 36# test over the more commonly available 30# or 50# test Dacrons.
    The guys jigging at the time were not all using the Herculean jigging technique. They varied the energetic nature of their jigging. Their were many techniques which varied from drifting to the violent jigging you spoke of.
    Interestingly enough, it seemed as though at least 75% of all the hits on jigs occurred when the jig was falling. Maybe that’s why a lot of individuals use the more violent jigging technique. Maybe what they are trying to accomplish, consciously or not, is the longer falling period.

    Most of the larger fish that I’m aware that were caught jigging, at the time, were caught on eelskin rigs not bucktail jigs.
    Just my take on it, your opinion may vary.

    I do like the Whipit Fish. I managed to get a nice bass in the Canal last summer even though I only had a very limited amount of time to devote to fishing. Once I move back to the area, hopefully I will be able to devote more time to a great deal of fun pursuit.

    • Thanks for the information Mike. 30 years ago I used Dacron when jigging for tuna but didn’t know that it was historically used for jigging the Canal.
      That would make sense that most hits would come as the jig was falling. Bass often hold in drop offs or behind high points to stay out of the current. If a jig falls into one of these holes it would be in the strike zone for these fish.

  • Great topic Dex.

    I did 70% of jigging versus 30% top water + swimmers this past season at the canal. I caught more and bigger fish jigging than the years that I mostly did top water and swimmers. However violent jigging does take a toll on your back. So this past season I decided to mostly use the strategy mentioned by Brian. I let the current do the work and bounce the jig along the bottom. 80% of the hits I got were at the end of the striking area when I would slightly lift the jig from the bottom and just reel straight with moderate speed.

      • Maybe a following fish strikes if it believes the prey is making a break to escape? If you watch baitfish they are usually swimming placidly or holding in one area or in the current. I believe that a change of direction or speed will trigger a strike. Often while fishing swimming plugs a hit will come when I stop my retrieve and basically live line the plug.

          • I remember looking into the water several years ago at the Oak Bluffs SSA Pier with fascination. Large schools of baitfish would meander around the pilings while large Striped Bass would lazily swim around the outside of the bait. They were all in clear view as I watched from above. Once in a while you would see a flurry of activity when a bass would charge into the bait for just a few seconds. Then right after that each group would settle into it’s routine of slowly swimming around the pilings.
            I kept trying to see what baitfish behavior would trigger the bass to strike, but could never figure it out. Something caused the bass to attack, but it was so subtle that I didn’t notice.
            I think that the concept of “violent jigging” (a change of direction that may look like an attempt of a baitfish to escape) is sound. However I believe that when you are using braided line and long stiff jigging rods this technique will move the jig too much.
            The jig can be pulled away from the view of a following fish or look unnatural. I’ve never seen a small spearing suddenly shoot up 5 feet in the water column. Al Gags recommends small twitches and shakes of the rod when using the Whip it Fish. I would fish a buck tail a bit more aggressively than a Whip It Fish but not to the extent of “violent jigging”
            These are great discussions to have Brian, as we try and figure out fish behavior from our limited interactions and observations. We don’t necessarily know why a fish does what they do but more information can help us predict what they will do in certain situations.

  • Dex, Keep us informed as to how you do this year, I’m certainly going to try it. I have yet to catch anything jigging, but I’m still trying to get the hang of “jigging”. I feel I will be able to spend more time fishing the canal if I can jig between slack tides and hopefully pick up some larger fish.

    • I will do that Carl, you as well. John Skinner has some great videos on using a bucktail on open beaches that you might want to check out. You can find them on YouTube. Ryan also has an excellent video report on using a Whip it Fish to jig inlets.

  • Dex,
    Just my take, but the more important thing to consider is “how will the fish know it’s there” and “how will I trigger a strike”. I posted my thesis on appealing to striped bass in the forum the other day. No scholarly research I have found gives definitive information to how we are supposed to fish. BUT, what research tells us is to control the variables of sight, sound and smell with our lures. The violent jerking motion could potentially mimic the movement of a squid, but does it smell and sound like a squid? Perhaps a darting bait fish may make this same movement, but not over a prolonged distance covered by motion in casting range.
    In the case of soft baits, a little twitch of the tail or bouncing motion along the bottom (without creating water disturbance) may a better bet. If you were using something like a jumping minnow, SP minnow, or something that rattled, the jerking motion may create a better rattle and draw fish in from further distances, however, you’re also running the risk of violently jerking a lure away from a bass trying to bite.
    During daylight under decent water conditions, they don’t feed as easily because they’re sight doesn’t quite compare to that of bait fish. They are also sort of hefty sluggish feeders. In murky or night time waters they rely less on vision and more on sound and smell, in which case they have better vision that other species they share the water with, and are optimal night time predators. None the less, they are still fairly limited by sight; and their receptors, though keen to pick up on water disturbances, may not be able to make contact with a lure while doing this hard jigging.
    All things considered, I would be willing to bet it doesn’t help to perpetually do this hard jigging (expect maybe once or twice in a cast to facilitate hard rattling, for the purpose of sound magnification).

    • On a side note, when I’m fishing waters moving left/right or right/left, I only reel enough to keep tension on the line or lift the lure high enough to clear obstructions. Often once I pull up the initial casting slack, I don’t reel at all until I’ve maxed out my “window of presentation”. This was taught to me by my fishing mentor, Herb Tilton. I’ve passed on the technique to many fisherman who have found it useful. I think Andrew mentioned it during his write up last summer about fishing the Vineyard.

      • This is your “ticking” technique that you showed me the last time we fished together on the Vineyard. The line and lure represent the hand of a clock as they tick along. Very effective!

      • Great topic Dex.

        I did 70% of jigging versus 30% top water + swimmers this past season at the canal. I caught more and bigger fish jigging than the years that I mostly did top water and swimmers. However violent jigging does take a toll on your back. So this past season I decided to mostly use the strategy mentioned by Brian. I let the current do the work and bounce the jig along the bottom. 80% of the hits I got were at the end of the striking area when I would slightly lift the jig from the bottom and just reel straight with moderate speed.

        • I think most people start that way when first jigging the Canal, Papi. When you’re trying to learn you do what you see everybody else doing. What you and Brian are talking about should keep the jig near the bottom and let you hit the holes at places like the Cribbin. Hopefully we can develop some new techniques that will prove successful.

    • Hey Brian,
      Yes, fishing the same way all the time will yield very inconsistent results. The most effective method to present one’s bait or lure in any given situation depends on many variables. As these variables change, so should how we fish and what we fish with. We have all had times when we went from a fish on every cast to nothing at all. Then when we made a change in our position, technique, tackle, or offering the action would pick up again. This is a great discussion to have. Thanks for your contribution!

      • That’s a very good point Dex! I was shopping with Ron McKey at the RISSA show and as we critiqued old tackle he said “you never want to limit yourself”.
        I think it would be awesome to actually set up some fishing experiments with good controls to test the waters with specific techniques. I know just the scientist to guide our experiment. What do you say a couple of us get together and agree to stick to certain methods just to see what happens?

        • Sounds like a plan Brian! Did you see Ron’s swimming Spooks that are new for this season? They have a metal plate in front similar to a Danny. They also have a Bunker profile. I was tempted but I really have enough plugs!

  • Unfortunately, I don’t think there is one particular jigging style that is always going to be the “best”. There is one style that might work best on a particular night, that might not work the next night.

    The fish have to tell you what they want. On top of the style, the rod you use is going to be a factor. If you’re jogging with an Uglx Stix, it’s going to take a lot more effort to lift a jig off the bottom than it will with a 1209.

    I vary my jigging (on the rare occasions when I jig), but mostly try to keep the jig as close to the bottom as possible with subtle lifts.

    • After watching the “Running the Coast” video I am going to use jigs a lot more on open beaches and (very carefully) in boulder fields. DJ Muller tells us to think of our lure as the tool that we use to find the fish. We need to be searching for fish, not just making long casts.

      • I haven’t seen the video yet, but I have been using jigs my entire life from an early age.
        We would often use 1/4-1/8oz. jigs for Walleye fishing on the Mohawk River in NY. wether they may be Marabou or plastic “curly tail “, on 8lb test and 7ft. med/light rods.
        Understanding what your jigs are doing at 50-75 and even 100 ft away from you is essential and is only learned after Many outings and trial and error, I Always say to learn an area with jigs means your going to lose jigs, that’s a fact.
        I use jigs a lot to “feel” an area, search depths, and aquaint myself to current in and on rivers.
        The first time I fished the Canal I put a jig on, we were on the South side and I knew right away we were on the wrong side due to rain and windy conditions, moving over to (near) Scussett beach area, I was able to fish in calmer conditions thereby letting me focus on shorter casts and leading to more precise presentations, casting above current lines and into large eddy pools I caught my first Striper ever on the Canal.
        What I’m trying to stress is that your lure (Jig) is Always doing something in the current, whether it is falling or you are slowly jigging it on the fall to jigging it back to you against the current And being able to use that current as an addition to your cast/presentation in a way that enables you to cover As Much area as possible with That cast ,and to Locate fish. Each time we cast, we can cover another 10 ft. of area and break that area down until we are knowledgeable of depth, structure and possibly even Fish ! So..Now , knowing this, it means that a 50yrd. cast could contain as much as 50 casts to completely canvas an area !!
        I absolutely Love jigs and jigging, they are a Great addition to anyones arsenal of knowledge.

        • It takes a lot of discipline to stick with that plan Stephan. I find that I always start with great intentions to sift the water, but often lose patience and end up just casting straight out.

          • Yes , absolutely it does, We fish for Stripers on the upper Hudson River in NY at the Federal Dam each spring, early April through May, and use jigs in 1oz. to 3oz. almost exclusively, its Very difficult and time consuming, anglers are arm to arm at times and you don’t want to lose your spot moving around, so I guess you learn A lot from making repeated casts and perfecting the presentations, I’m no expert at all on Any type of fishing, but in the 40 plus years I have been, I”ve come to find out that the Fish have the final decision. !!
            I”ve been tying flies for over 30 yrs and now making casting jigs for stripers for the last 3yrs, I”d love to talk to you more about fishing jigs on the Canal as I am a complete newbie to it and only fished it twice, Always trying to learn from the more experienced.
            Thanks again, Great article !!

            • I would be happy to help you with any questions if I can. Other members are very knowledgeable about the Canal as well. In particular you might want to contact Ryan Collins, Alberto Pina (Papi), Brian Dongelewic, Paul Moriarty, Mario Quijada, or Ryan Turcotte.

  • My jigging has always come with a subtle approach, but if I saw someone “violently” jigging and catching fish I’m sure I would have joined right in, no question. Thanks for saving me And my arms Dex !!

    • Hopefully this technique will show good results this season. Special thanks to Ryan Collins for his additions to the post and for some great editing.

  • Al’s lures are a winner ! When working the cannel I generally cast 15°-20° from a 12 O’clock position “left or right” depending on tidal direction.
    Current / velocity / depth pretty much dictates how long it takes to get on the bottom then I just work it at various speeds. Thinking like a fish ! As we know, the cows are lazy & lay low & deep. Hoping to get more time in this season. GREAT SITE here Ryan

    • Caught my First Canal striper on an Al Gags whip -it 2oz,my first trip to the Canal, I never would have thrown that if it wasn’t for this site.

      • That’s impressive Stephen, it took me several trips to the Canal before I finally caught a bass. Ryan has helped a lot of people enjoy their fishing more, that’s for sure.

    • Many times I have stopped by Canal Bait and Tackle to hear Jeff tell me about some 40 pounder that had been caught recently from a deep hole in the Canal bottom. It seems that every time they were caught with a Whip It Fish. I always pick up something when I listen to Al Gags give a presentation.

      • D J Mueller”s book ” Fishing the Cape Cod Canal” wont be released until May 1st, you can pre-order now for $9.95
        I Will get this one !!

        • DJ is presenting a “Bass Class” on Sunday, March 26 at Saltwater Edge in Middletown, Rhode Island. Cost is $75. Not sure about the time. MFCC member Ned Bean will be attending to take advantage of DJ’s presentation about Cuttyhunk and Block Island.

          • Dex, thank you for starting this jigging thread! You know how I feel about the bucktail jig and that for me at least, it’s the most productive artificial in my bag. The beauty of jigging depends on your site and situation, i.e., inlet, open beach, bay, boat, rips, etc. No single technique will be the “be all, end all”. I tend to agree with Steve and Brian in that you need to ascertain the ambient conditions, (local intel and knowledge really helps), and then decide what technique will increase your percentages for a strike. Yes…when within the ability of the angler, use jigs that invite as many sensory stimuli to fish as possible, e.g., rattles, scent, color. Prior to which you absolutely need to have confidence that the places you jig hold fish. Now there’s another global topic…eh? While I’m not a canal rat, I love jigging in rips and rips, draws, lips and pools. Regardless of the site, I’m always going with the “Green Hornet” or “Kato”, AKA the chartreuse over white Smilin’ Bill/Joe Baggs or the same in White. All this said what I love best is to fish with folks who employ different techniques and to exchange ideas…hopefully with a cigar and a cold IPA.

            • I usually just look to my right and say “hey Ned, how were you fishing that jig when you caught that last big fish”? and “do you have any more of those Green things”? Works like a charm!

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