Vertical Jigging Rig Setup

in Fishing

You can go out and catch an amberjack, a yellow fin tuna, and a barracuda all in the same spot with the same jig!

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Vertical jigging is typically used for offshore deep water fishing because it is so good for catching mammoth sized fish and you can hit a huge range of water columns in one cast. However, there are variations of the technique that work well in shallow waters and in fresh waters. I usually have the most success near wrecks or reefs, but hunting with a fish finder works just as well.

The other great thing about vertical jigging is that the rigs are so easy to setup compared to traditional trolling or casting techniques. The technique is also so simple that you could jig in your sleep. The only real hard part is reeling in the monsters that drag you around the boat. If you hate the hassle of setting up trolling rigs and constantly driving around looking for fish, then you have to try vertical jigging.

The Rig Setup

The rig setup is very simple, but also one of the most important parts of vertical jigging. You need to correct tools if you want the best fishing experience. You're basically looking for power, flexibility, and strength in each part.

The Reel

When looking for reels the most important thing to look for is the gear speed. You want a lower speed around 4.9:1 to 4.4:1. The lower speed allows you to rip the jig through the deep waters with force and makes it much easier to reel in the massive fish. Many companies make reels specifically for jigging, they will usually be marked. The most well-known vertical jigging companies are Shimano and Quantum.

You also have the choice of a spinning reel or conventional reel. Either style is fine; just choose what is most comfortable to you. The more popular style is the spinning reel. If you do choose to go conventional I would recommend getting a narrow reel to keep your rig light and balanced.

Reels range a great deal in price. Top end is around $600+, middle end $200-$600, and entry level is $100 - $200. If you want a top end reel without the price, look for older models on craigslist or eBay. Top end reels will stay in great condition and a lot of shops can repair or recondition your reel.

The Rod

There are a couple factors when it comes to getting the perfect vertical jigging rod, they are:


  • Balance - You do not want a top or bottom heavy rod; it will make jigging uncomfortable and reeling in fish much more difficult.
  • Power - Your rod should have some backbone, but have good flexibility. A flimsy rod will make it hard to reel in fish and a stiff rod will make it tiring to jig. If you're targeting 50 pounders, I would lean toward the stiffer side.
  • Weight - go LIGHT weight or you'll be tire yourself out just jigging.
  • Action - This is the rod's responsiveness to the bending force and is usually defined as Slow, Medium or Fast. Generally, slow means almost the entire rod will bend; fast means only the top of the rod will bend. For vertical jigging you want to stay with the slow to moderate action rods especially if you are fighting larger fish. Try to stay away from fast action rods.
  • Sensitivity - Make sure the tip of the rod is flexibility, otherwise it will be difficult to create the correct jig actions.
  • Length - Try to stay between 4'8" to 5'6". Shy towards the shorter side if you're targeting massive fish.
  • Gram Rating - The gram rating on a rod is usually the max weight for your jigs. So if a gram rating is 400g, try to stay with jigs between 200g-400g.
  • PE rating - This is the recommended PE rated line you should use. The rough conversion is to multiply the PE by 10, so a PE8 rod can handle 80lbs. If you're hooking bigger fish and using larger jigs staying with PE6-8 rod and lines. If you're hooking smaller stay around PE3-5. Because this is kind of confusing, some companies have moved away from it and will just tell you the recommended jig weights.


Rods can also get pretty expensive, top tier is $400+, second tier $200-$400, entry level $100-$200. I do not recommend getting entry level rods if you're targeting larger fish, you'll snap them very quickly.

The Line and Leader

When vertical jigging you MUST use BRAIDED LINE! Too many people go cheap on the line and end up losing all the big catches. Braided line can handle a ton of capacity and is super flexible; again it is a must for vertical jigging.

There are two types of braided line, colored and regular. The only difference is the colored one will alternate colors every 25 or so feet, it makes it easy to determine how deep your line is. You also want to get braided line with enough test to match your rod.

Prices range from $40-$100. Most brands are pretty similar; I tend to stick with Diawa.

A lot of people forget to use a leader. Tying your jig straight onto your braided line will not give you good results. There are two options for leaders, shock leaders and fluorocarbon leaders. Fluorocarbon leaders are supposed to be invisible to fish, but are not worth the extra money unless you think the target species is very line shy. Make sure you choose leader that is nice and flexible or tying knots will drive you crazy.

Prices range from $20-$50.

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The Jigs

There are a huge variety of jigs out there, which is one of the reasons this site was created. There are basically two types of jigs, Bottom or tail weighted and center weighted jigs.

Bottom or tail weighted
jigs will sink faster and move in short up and down movements. These are great for targeting bottom fish.

Center weighted jigs
Drop much slower and will flutter side to side when jigged. Great for hitting more water columns.

Gram Weight
Jigs are categorized by gram weight, usually you want to go with heaver weights the deeper the water is. Stick with heavy 250-400g in 150+ feet and 100-300g in inshore areas.

Popular brands are:

Easter Tackle
Jigging Master
OTI - Google SearchWalleye Fishing Jig - Casting & Retrieve Jigging Tips to Success!

When you start fishing with walleye fishing jigs, you need to develop a keen sense of touch and concentration. Walleyes are finicky biters and you may feel anything from a sharp tap, or you may just see your line start to go tight slowly. An active walleye will inhale a walleye jig as they swim, then they will exhale the water back through their gills. The sucking action by a walleye will produce a sharp tap sensation so immediately, set the hook. Many times when walleyes are not actively feeding they will just put their mouth over the jig. All you will see is your line start to move slightly! Set the hook!

Newbie walleye fisherman go home empty handed many times because they fail to set the hook correctly. Manny beginners make the mistake of waiting for a sharp tap or strike on their walleye fishing jig like if they were fishing for other game fish with a crankbait. Key Walleye tip: Walleyes will hit your jig when it is sinking not on the upward and forward movement.

The best thing you can do is set the hook any time you think something is out of the norm of your rhythm. Just a quick jerk of your rod with your wrists.If there's nothing there nothing hurt anyway. If the walleye jig sinks differently than your normal rhythm set the hook! More then likely there is a walleye "mouthing" your jig. If you think you have caught a weed on your retrieve and the drag is spilling line, set the hook! this could very well be a walleye. Those pesky little perch will sometimes just peck at our jigs,or is it a perch? Set the hook! that pesky little peck could very well be a walleye!

Key walleye tip: You need to be able to feel even the smallest peck, or line movement so you need to keep your line taut when ever the jig is sinking. If you twitch your rod tip, then drop it back rapidly as the jig sinks, slack will form and you will not feel the strike. Instead , lower the jig with tension on the line, as if you were setting it gently on bottom.

You will detect more strikes if you carefully watch your line and rod tip. Many times, you will see a that you cannot feel. If you see your line twitch were it enters the water, or the line moves slightly to the side, set the hook.

Key Steps: How To Cast and Retrieve A walleye fishing jig

Step#1 LIFT the jig with a slight pop of the rod tip, then let the jig sink all the way to the bottom. How much of a "pop" will depend on how the fish are reacting the day you are fishing. If the fishing is real slow, and the fish are not moving much then try a very slow retrieve.

Step#2 Lower the rod tip, key point: this is when you will get your walleye strike or bite. Make sure you keep the line taut at all times when the jig is sinking. Go ahead and repeat lifting and lowering your rod tip. Try to develop a good pattern and make sure you reel your up a bit after you twitch the walleye jig.

Step#3 STRIKES Remember a walleye hit will come when the jig is floating back to the bottom, not when the jig is moving upwards or forwards. If you feel a sharp tap that means the walleye has sucked in the jig, set the hook immediately!If the fish aren't active all you will see is your line tighten slightly, or the jig doesn't descend to bottom naturally.

Step#4 SET THE HOOK immediately when you feel anything unusual, a walleye spits out a walleye fishing jig quickly. A Flick of the wrists result in a faster hook set then a long sweep of the arms, but you will need a stiff rod to sink the hook.

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Vertical Jigging Rig Setup

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This article was published on 2011/01/11