How To: Shore Jigging

Shore jigging is an increasingly popular fishing method for landbased anglers around the country and once you give it a go, you’ll start to see why. Originating from the shores of Japan, shore jigging is exactly as it sounds in that a landbased angler will cast out a jig and work it back in a variety of ways. Shore jigging is different from boat-based jigging in that you’re not working your lures vertically, but horizontally, so you need to pay a bit more attention to get the action you want out of your jig.

In this article, I’ll cover safety, why anglers shore jig, some good species to chase, gear, what spots suit shore jigging, jigs, tactics, and more.

Safety

Firstly, and most importantly, safety is number one. You can fish this style from a range of areas from rock ledges, drop-offs, break walls, beaches, and more. When fishing from any landbased spot, especially rock ledges, please ensure the conditions (swell, wind, rain, etc) are safe for that spot and make sure to watch your spot before you go down to fish it in case the forecasts are wrong, and the spot is dangerous. Make sure to also take a lifejacket with you in case. No fish is worth risking your life.

Some useful sites for checking conditions are the Bureau of Meteorology, Willy Weather, and SeaBreeze to name a few. They’ll never be 100% accurate, but they’ll give you a better idea of what to expect. If you get to your spot and you’re still unsure if it’s safe or not, give it a miss and come back on a day where you can fish safely.

Why do anglers shore jig?

Simply, it is just another way to target fish. You can use bait, soft plastics, hard body lures, jigs, and more. Fishing is always about learning and trying new ways to fish to see what you enjoy, what works on the day, and being able to use your knowledge to get more bites.

Shore jigging has many benefits, and one of these is that it allows you to work multiple parts of the water column without having to change your lure. Depending on certain conditions and the jig you use, you can work your jig in different parts of the water. If we break the water into thirds, you can use a high-speed spin and jig style retrieve to work the top third, a slower spin and jig style with a longish pause to work the middle third and a long pause after your cast, or a slow spin and jig retrieve with a longer fall to work the bottom third of the water. Just be wary about snagging the bottom.

Another benefit of shore jigging is that it increases the range of species that you can target. While some landbased tactics are about fast retrieve, topwater action, or soaking baits in the wash, shore jigging gives you the ability to do both, and more. You can target species that like fast-moving lures such as kingfish, salmon, and bonito, but you can also use slower falling, flatter jigs and target other species such as snapper and jewfish! Being able to mix up your retrieve and tactics means you can experiment and hopefully find the magic combination that gets the bite!

Shore Jigging in Japan is a very popular technique and anglers target many of the same species we do in Australia.

What species can shore jiggers target?

Anglers that shore jig can target both pelagic and demersal species. While certain jigs are more effective on certain species, there’s a jig for every occasion. Shore jigging is a tactic that can be used all over Australia.

The main species that anglers chase when shore jigging are kingfish, salmon, bonito, flathead, snapper, mulloway, tuna, and more. Shore jigging is not limited to certain species, but it is always best to fish with a target species in mind as you will generally have more success than just throwing out any lure and hoping for the best. Fishing with a species in mind means you can tailor your tactics to that species instead of wasting time trying everything. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and catch a mixed bag, and other days you’ll get donuts, but it’s best to target one or two species.

What gear is needed for shore jigging?

Like all styles of fishing, you can use most rods and reels, but it is always best if you can afford a set-up for that specific style of fishing. As a rule of thumb for shore jigging, you’re best off using a rod from 9-10ft in the PE 1-4 range. Depending on the species in your area, you may even seek out a heavier combo in the PE5+ range.

The longer rod will allow you to cast further and help you fight the fish when it’s close to the shore or rock ledge. Having that length means you can keep your line off the rocks when it’s in close. Look for a rod with a softer tip as this will give you more control over your jig in the water than the opposite. A graphite carbon rod, with a soft tip, will be your best option here as the action you can impart on a jig with a carbon rod is much smoother and much nicer to fish with. You will also love having the strength graphite carbon provides when hooked up to a hard fighting fish. Another benefit is that they are rather lightweight and make it easy to cast hour after hour.

Within the Shimano range, we currently recommend the following rods.

Coltsniper BB PE 2, PE 3, PE 4
Anarchy 9’0” 6-12kg
Jewel 9’6” 8-15kg

As for reels, a Shimano reel from 5000 – 8000 will suit you best. Look for a reel with a higher gear ratio like a HG or XG reel. Similar to the rod, if you’re expecting to tangle with bigger species, you can opt for a 10000 – 14000 sized reel. Traditionally, PG reels are the go-to for jigging but being landbased means you’ll need to recover line quicker than jigging from a boat.

The Shimano Stella 6000HG and the Shimano Twin Power SWC 8000HG are awesome, top of the line options. Otherwise, the Saragosa SWA 8000HG or the Stradic SW 6000XG are good options. The braided line you use will depend on your reel and rod size but generally 20lb (PE1) for a 5000 reel up to 40-50lb (PE3-4) on an 8000 sized reel. The Shimano Grappler 8 or Ocea 8 premium PE braids are a great choice.

Your Ocea Fluorocarbon Leader size will depend on the area you intend to fish. Rock anglers will opt for a leader that is around 20-40lb heavier than the main line, whereas those fishing on beaches or sandy bottoms can afford a lighter leader due to the lack of structure they can be busted off on. About two metres of leader is enough.

Tying your leader to your main line is best done with an FG or PR knot. If you don’t know how to tie either, take the time to learn at least an FG knot. Hard fighting fish will expose any weak links in your set up and your knot quality can be the difference between landing that dream fish and not. The FG knot can be tied by hand and will take your fishing to the next level if you can get it right!

At the end of your leader, I find it best to tie on a swivel with a uni knot and on the other end of the swivel is a split ring. With a good pair of split ring pliers, you’ll be able to change jigs quickly and constantly without hassle meaning you can test what jig is working quickly. When attaching your jig to the split ring, make sure to attach it to the solid ring on the hooks or the nose of the jig, don’t attach it to another split ring.

Finally, while a lot of jigs come pre-rigged with assist hooks or trebles, or both, it is best to keep some spare assist hooks (single and double) in your tackle box in case you lose hooks or jigs or want to add a double hook for the slower days. You can play around with using hooks on the front of your jig only, or maybe a double up to and a single on the back, or a double on the back of your jig. Mix it up and see what works!

While the hook size is dependent on what you’re chasing, 1/0 – 4/0 should cover a lot of bases. If you’re expecting sizable fish, feel free to bump up the hook size. The length of your assist cord should be around 1/3 to ½ the length of your jig also.

Gear care

Like all styles of fishing, it’s inevitable that your gear will get saltwater on it in one way, or another so make sure to keep your gear away from the water as best you can and clean your gear well and correctly after each session to ensure it doesn’t rust and has a long life!

What are good spots to shore jig from?

Where you fish from depends on which area of Australia you live in. Shore jigging is becoming increasingly popular in areas like Sydney and along the NSW/VIC coastlines, but this style of fishing will work in many areas like WA & QLD. Rock ledges are a great spot to try shore jigging.

Rock ledges give you access to deep water from land. Ideally, you want to fish in water that is around 8-15m+ in depth. Access to deeper water gives you more room to work the jig, and more species to target. Water that is too shallow will make it hard for you to work your jig and ensure it has enough time to fall and get those bites. When fishing in other landbased areas, you still want to find access to deeper water, but also look for what environment the bottom is made up of, whether it is sandy and weedy, or rocky and snaggy. Each environment will hold different fish so put some time into researching what areas your target species lives in. If you’re on a spot that has a lot of wash in it, this will also be a great place to jig as the wash is often filled with a range of species.

Break walls, jetties and beaches are great spots to start too!

Jigs and tactics

There is a range of jig sizes shapes available for you to use. At a very top level, you have jigs that range from fast sinking, knife style jigs to slow sinking, butterfly style jigs. Each jig has a part to play in catching your target species. The fast-sinking jigs work well on a hot bite or for fish where you want to move your jigs at speed and the slow fall style jigs work well on slower fish who don’t chase fast prey and on those slower days, when the bite is tough, where you want your jig falling for longer. Knowing which jig to use in the conditions you’re fishing will help immensely. While it would be amazing to have someone tell you everything, the only way to really learn what works for you and your area is to get out there and do your own trial and error. Mix up jig shapes, colours, and your retrieves to see what works on the day. This is half the fun!

There is a range of jigs available across the country, but there are also shore-specific jigs which are jigs that are designed to be worked from the shore, not just the boat. While you can just use your everyday jigs or metals, it’s nice to have some in the tackle box.

Like other styles of fishing, what works each day will change. On clear days, a slow falling jig might be your go-to, but on a rougher, windier day, a knife jig could do the trick. That’s where the split ring set up comes in handy so you can change it on the spot to see what is working that day. If you’re struggling to get a bite, try slowing down your fishing, or using a slower falling jig. A majority of your hits will come on the fall of the jig, so when it’s tough, use a jig which gives you a longer fall time to entice those tentative bites.

That said, a majority of hits come on the fall or drop, you need to ensure you’re still somewhat in touch with your jig so you can feel these hits. If you have too much slack in your line, you may miss the hit and not react in time. Keeping that line somewhat tight means you’ll be able to feel those bites and hopefully strike and be on!

On days that you’re lucky enough to come across a school of baitfish busting up within reach, the “ol’ faithful” cast and fast retrieve can do wonders. As fancy as some jigs may be, leaving the rod tip down and winding a jig back as fast as you can, can work incredibly well. I think it is important to strike with jigs as you want to ensure those assist hooks are pinned properly.

How to land your fish

Once we’ve found the right jig, tactic, part of the water holding the fish and we’re on, it’s time to fight! After your fight it’s time to land the fish so you can measure, snap a quick pic of and release it or bleed and take home if you’re within your rights to do so.

Depending on where you’re fishing will determine how to land it. If you’re fishing in a spot that is in shallow water, it is best to either net your fish or walk it back to dry land where it can’t swim off.

If you’re on a higher ledge like a rock ledge, you can use a telescopic net, long gaff or have a mate grab the leader and leader it up. Just make sure you’re in a safe spot to retrieve your catch.

Regardless of where you are, never, and I mean never, use the rod to lift the fish up. This is the easiest way to snap your rod and these kinds of breaks are not covered by warranty. Carbon rods are extremely strong but are also light and will not do well lifting fish out of the water.

 

Conclusion

All in all, shore jigging is an extremely fun way of targeting fish from land. You can get technical and work your jig with an incredible amount of detail, or you can just rip it back through the water. Whatever works on the day works! Be sure to mix up your tactics, jig styles and colours.

If you can take only two things from this article, remember to stay in touch with your lure to ensure you feel any hits and most of your hits will come on the drop, so always be paying attention to what your jig is doing! Hopefully this article helps if you’re getting into shore jigging or just wanting to do more research. Tight lines and stay safe on the ledges!

 

Written by: Dane Hinchy