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How to jig for Salmon
Salmon fishing techniques and "how to catch Salmon" using jigs

Jigging is a term used to fish whereby you attach a weighted lure in the end of the line, let it down, raise the rod tip, let it back down, and repeat again. Well, it is not really that simple, there are a few other ingredients in the mix.

Rod: To do it right, the gear comes into play every bit as much in this method as trolling or mooching, however totally different equipment is used. You will probably want to use shorter rods with stiff butt sections and fast taper sensitive tip. Some prefer a 7’ to 7 ½’ length. These rods are different than a trolling or mooching rod. A backbouncing rod like the G. Loomis HSR-932C or Lamiglas Puget Jigger model G1302-T work well.

photo by David Johnson's Guided Sportfishing

Reel: Since you are cranking a lot more here than in any other method, you need a reel with a retrieve ratio of at least 4 to 1, with upwards to 5 to 1 being better. You don’t usually need a large reel, an Ambassedeur 5500, Diawa Millionare 35, Shimano Bantam 50 or Shimano Triton 200G will all work fine. You do need one with a good drag system however.

Line: You may want to fill the spool about half full with 20# mono, & then top it off with 125 yards or so of one of the new Spectra lines in about 30# size. This type of fishing is where the spectra type lines really pay off, because it has no stretch, and since it is a very small diameter, allows you to feel the take on the jig, plus reaching the bottom with less weight. You might consider using a 6’ shock leader of mono attached to a ball bearing swivel. This will help avoid pulling the hook out of the fish’s mouth during a hook set. It also may help to camouflage the line to the lure.

You may also want to place a ball bearing Sappo swivel on the terminal end of your line

Lure: If you are not sure what bait size is below you, use the smallest jig you can get away with and still reach bottom. After you catch a fish open it up & observe the stomach contents. This may help you select a jig to “Match the Hatch”. Brands of proven jigs are Crippled Herring, Point Wilson Dart, & Buzz Bomb to name a few. Colors of proven jigs may be green, blue/silver or white. Remove the existing hook & replace with a Siwash hook. At this time place a barrel swivel between the hook & the jig, this will help keep the fish from rolling & pulling the hook loose at the jig.

Hooks: Use SHARP hooks. The rule of thumb on hooks is that terbles have more hook ups, but a single Siwash hooks deeper and loses less fish. In the State of Washington, just be sure you are using barbless, or at least pinch the barb over.

Scent: Yes, put scent on the lure, Smelly Jelly is a good one, a couple of the flavors used can be Anchovie or Herring/Anis. This can also be a masking scent to cover your own smell.

Method: You need to find the bait school, spool out line & jig semi-slow. Jig your rod in about 2 foot motions, following the jig with the rod tip as it drops. This keeps you in contact with the lure at all times. When you get to the bottom, jig it up a couple of feet, let it fall back, raise it up 4 feet & let it fall back 2, raise it another 4’ & fall back another 2’ & work your way up past the bait. Then start over by going back down again if you are still in the bait fish.When the fish grabs the lure, it is just like it hit bottom and the line went slack. The bite is almost always when the jig is fluttering down like a wounded baitfish. Try to keep the rod tip low to the water so you will have room to make the hookset. Now comes a critical situation. You need to fish as vertical in the water column as possible. If not, you’re not fishing. Do what ever you need to do to fish straight under the boat. This could mean changing weight of the jig, or backing into the wind / current with a trolling motor to slow your drift.

Where: Jigging only works when the fish are stacking up in concentrations, like a river mouth, or when they are targeting bait fish like herring or candlefish.

Other Important items: One of the most important items here will be a good fishfinder. You may have noticed I said fishfinder not depthfinder. You need to know the depth of the water, but more important you need to know where the bait is, as where the bait is, that is also where the targeted fish are. Any sonar can give you the bottom depth, but you really need to have one that can be adjusted to show actual fish & bait as well.

You do not cover water like trolling when you jig, so you will need to be on top of concentrations of baitfish, afterall, you are trying to imitate baitfish with your lure. Without this you are just getting upper arm & body exercise.

The above information was used with the permission LeeRoy Wisner of
LeeRoy Wisner had posted several EXTREMELY informative articles on the Puget Sound Anglers website and we strongly recommend visiting that website or
click here to email him directly. As an editor's note I must say that in my lifetime of searching every available resource I have never come across so many helpful and informative articles as those written by LeeRoy Wisner. Thanks again and hats to LeeRoy for giving us permission to post these articles so that you can learn more about fishing and hopefully you catch more fish!