One intriguing facet of our local fishing is the relatively recent entry of Asian-style vertical jigging. I guess most of us have a passing acquaintance with it - perhaps unknowingly, with the now-widespread use of the Shimano Trevala and Trevala S rods.
While there's been a growing minority of local guys that have embraced this specialized form of fishing, most of us (including me) have just gone ahead and incorporated these "softer-action" rods into our "usual" fishing efforts, without truly realizing what the benefits of vertical jigging actually are.
This is certainly fine, as the "Trevala-type" rods, with their slower actions have proven to be quite reliable, and their softer bend does provide more cushion to a decent fish's head shakes and boatside nose dives. But this was and still is not the intent of the designers of this type of rod.
They are actually shooting for a vertical "fluttering" of specifically-shaped jigs in the water column, in sort of a "lift and reel" motion. This, while not originated by Shimano, was first introduced to the majority of USA anglers - as the "Butterfly Jigging" method... by Shimano. No need to go into the actual early origins, in today's marketing-driven world its not really who designed what first, its actually all about who is first to market
for the masses - and its hard to argue against Shimano's marketing efforts in just about any theater of the fishing scene. For better or worse, they are without a doubt the best in the business at it.
In any case, I have been (slightly) bitten by all the fuss about vertical jigging - and its various sub-techniques, especially "Slow Jigging" and "Micro Jigging," and so have been exploring the prospect of incorporating this style of fishing into my arsenal for next season's bass and fluke fishing. Naturally these two species require a differing approach - I doubt fluke are regularly gonna come 20+ feet up in the water column to wack a metal jig - though its not outside the realm of possibility, I guess. The bass? No doubt they'll do it - and the "Slow Jigging" technique looks to be not dissimilar to a hybrid combination of squidding and the vertical "Lift and Drop" that we've been using forever with diamond jigs and the like.
This would be an example of the type of technique and tackle to which I am referring:
Note the relatively uber-light action of the rod he is using. Seems crazy, right? But a perusal of YouTube with a particular emphasis on the search term "slow jigging" will turn up tons of similar vids on the subject.
Our friends Kilsong at JignPop and Yong at Jigging World have been our local standouts in advancing Asian-style jigging techniques and so naturally I had to go check out what sticks were available for consideration. Not an easy task for a LI-based guy, I had to wait until I had some business in Jersey, local to those two shops. This finally occurred last Wednesday. I am interested in a rod of no more than 6'6", due to the height of my boat's gun'nels above the water and as stated I would only consider a rod that can serve double-duty Bass/fluke, in order to ascertain whether or not this fishing style is for me.
First up was JW. Yong was up in PEI, catching giant BFT, but I did get to speak extensively with his colleagues there. JW offers several different versions of factory and proprietary rods. Of course JW carries the various Shimano Trevala and Tescata rods. But also of great interest to me was the relatively new Daiwa Proteus SS series. I first noticed these at the Somerset Show, back in March. In fact a good buddy of mine purchased one while we were there, intending to use it for his "Ultra Light Togging" adventures on the Western South Shore. He's sort of a pioneer in the use of REALLY light tackle in very nasty, obstructed areas, so his feedback will be most valuable. The jury is still out on that application, naturally, but the verdict will come due in just a few weeks.
What I like about the Proteus SS jiggers was the somewhat faster action, in comparison to the Shimano Trevala S series. Whilst still fairly parabolic when really pushed, I feel that the faster tip section will better address the two types of fishing in which I envision using this new rod versus some slower-tipped sticks now on the market. What I found interesting is that Daiwa chose to wrap the guides on these rods in a conventional straight-up manner and so (correctly) utilized 13 (THIRTEEN!) tiny, uber-light Fuji K-series guides to keep the line off the blank at full flex. I've never seen that amount of guides on ANY rod, let alone one that measures just under 6'6" - but the rod balanced perfectly right at the reel seat, so they certainly have that right.
Nothing worse than an unbalanced rod - can't say how many I have down in the basement, handing from the joists. Anyway, I had a rough time choosing between the ML and M actions - if I go with one of these, I'd probably lean towards the lighter, it was a beautiful thing to see at full arch.
JW also had their house-brand Ghost Hunter series available in actions that I suppose would qualify them for slow jigging. These cost a bit more than the Daiwa factory rods, and the fit and finish showed why. Really nice pieces, and I was particularly struck by the 100 and 150-gram models. Either would work, with maybe a slight personal bias towards the slightly meatier 150-gram model. (1 ounce = 28 grams), so you could say that these rods are intended to properly work jigs in the four to six ounce range. Hard to believe, with their super-thin diameters and relatively soft actions - but that's exactly what this slow jigging technique calls for, and I have no doubt that these rods are correctly designed to move a jig in the proper fashion - which is illustrated in the above video.
Interestingly, JW chose to wrap their Ghost Hunter rods in a spiral fashion, to which I normally have an allergic reaction. But it makes perfect sense in this application, as the soft-ish action of these rods would call for maybe the same 13 guides if wrapped up top, as Daiwa did with the Proteus SS series. Anyway, I though they were beautiful pieces, built with quality components. I was under the impression that the blanks were made in China, but this shouldn't mean much, at least when discussed in the context of these rods - The Chinese will build to any level of quality that one is willing to pay for. And I've yet to hear of any Ghost Hunter failures, so this shouldn't be a determinant of relative quality, one rod to another. Besides, who really knows where Shimano builds their Trevalas, or Daiwa their new Proteus rods? For all we can know it might well be the same plant that the Ghost Hunters are coming out of. Chinese manufacturing is a bit "opaque" when it comes to this sort of thing.
I really like both of those lines of rods, But I also wanted to see what Kil had to offer, heck, I was already in Jersey, right? And so I ran over to his office in Englewood Cliffs to check out JignPop. Geez, thank God for Garmin - as without my trusty GPS I'd still be driving around in circles - those Jersey roads are NOT simple to navigate. A bowl of overcooked spaghetti has less twists and turns than Jersey's road system. In any case I arrived at JignPop in just a little bit of time and found their office straight away. Naturally I missed Kil - he was in Korea, probably having another one of those sexy lunches that he likes to post about on his Noreast Board! But I did get to speak with his colleagues - who were super friendly and super helpful.
Here is a vid of Jane (I believe that is her name) - catching an 11lb blackfish on a 6'6" Black Hole Magic Eye stick. Though certainly not "Slow jigging" in any sense, does anyone not think that this type of rod would be super fun to use for tog?
Well anyway I must have watched that video at least ten times over the past season, carefully reviewing that rod's action under heavy duress, in order to divine how such a stick would fit into my rod collection. And certainly we all know by now that Kil has been out front of the "Asian-built" rod movement that has really caught on here in the USA - being our continental representative for NS Black Hole. Really beautiful pieces - with obvious attention to detail and quality. I was looking forward with high anticipation of getting with him on this subject. Too bad I missed him - I would have greatly enjoyed speaking with him in greater depth on this subject.
Of particular interest to me was the smallest/lightest of "Magic Eye" series the 571XXXH. What a misnomer, as I cannot say that the model number was an accurate representation of it's power - Maybe in alternate universe, but not the one that we live in, that's for sure! A very light to the hand and properly balanced piece, with a lively tip and a gorgeous deep bend. It would be right at home on my offshore fluke grounds, and has the stones for some slow jigging of the bass and bluefish that we are hoping to see run along our beaches in the coming months. Here's Kil, hard at work with that exact rod. Note that he fights that monster not so much with the rod, but with the big Jigging Master lever dragger as well:
Wow! Big fish on a little rod is where I'm heading - if only in my head. Nothing that powerful runs along our beaches, so I guess this rod would be a safe choice for my intended usage.
What might be of interest to those that prefer a less flashy build, is the news that Kil is now bringing in Black Hole's Magic Eye series in a more subtle finish, with a natural, neutral colored graphite blank, wrapped with black thread and blue accents. I guess he wanted an alternative to the louder white blank/red wraps versions that he originally offered. No matter, either way works for me, with super-nice and fairly exotic Fuji guides wrapped on it. Gorgeous rods.
Jane told me that their recently introduced job-specific Black Hole "Slow Jigger" line has been more popular with the local fluking crowd. Longer than that little Magic Eye at 6'6", and built with thinner and somewhat more sensitive blanks, minimalist grips, and lighter guide sets, I could see where she had a point. But d*mn, that graphite-colored Magic eye was a beautiful piece. What a nice rod!
Long Story short, I never did pull the trigger on a purchase in either location, because there are a ton of other choices out there in this type of rod - most built by companies that most of us have never really heard of. The issue is that other than the more mainstream offerings from the big rod entities like Shimano and Daiwa, we never really get a chance to see and touch this type of rod.
Of course we can meet up with Kil or Yong at some of the local Spring shows, but even then the selection is limited to the rods that they rep. For example, I am also quite interested in the Jigging Master "Wiki Rods Ocean Fire" slow jigging series, but where to see them? They are rated again in "grams" so its tough to gauge one of them against the rods I've already seen. Who can say what a manufacturer feels is the "correct" lure weight rating, one vs the other? Have to physically see them to know.
Here's an example of the JM Ocean Fire XXXUL in action on some Southern inshore species:
That's the lightest of the series and still its rated at 2-3.5oz lure weights - because the slow jigging technique utilizes the rod's softer action to impart the proper action to that type of lures. In that vid you can see that though they are not actually designed for light inshore fishing, they have zero problem bringing fairly large fish to the boat. Nice rods, but where to see? I have no idea.
So lots to think about, lots to continue researching. Plenty of info is available on-line, but actual hand-on evaluation of the more esoteric versions of this rod type? Not so easy to come by. But d@mn, those little Magic Eyes are nice rods, I'll say that with some certainty!
Now a word on "asian" PE reel and rod ratings, PE2, PE4, PE-whatever. A little confusing in the context of how we normally view fishing gear ratings. I found this on the interwebs and think its the best explanation of the PE-thingie (courtesy of oceanbluefishing.com):
Below is a guide that lists the diameter (in millimetres) of each PE rating.
The PE standard of measurement is based on a numbering system known as gouw, the system that the Japanese originally used to measure the diameter of silk thread. This measurement system has since been applied to monofilament and braided fishing lines. The PE stands for Polyethylene, the fibre used to make Dyneema and Spectra braided lines.
The PE rating is a constant measurement, so while two lines advertised as being rated to 50lb may actually test at different breaking strains, two lines with the same PE rating will always be the same diameter. As a very general rule, you can multiply the PE# by 10 to get an approximate breaking strain of a braided line, i.e. PE4 x 10 = 40lb, as it will rarely test below (10xPE#). However, the breaking strain can vary a great deal between different lines of the same diameter. This is especially true in many of the high end braids that use more strands and a tighter weave, resulting in a rounder, smoother finish and higher breaking strain for the same diameter as lines of lesser quality. For instance, YGK Galis Ultra Jig Man X8 in PE5 is rated to 86lb, but Sunline Super PE PE5 is rated to 50lb. Higher end lines are often specialised for either casting or vertical jigging, and usually carry a higher price tag to match their superior finish and higher breaking strain/diameter ratio.
Have a great Sunday and LET'S GO METS!