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If jigging for cod is so easy then why do some anglers catch less than others?
By Tim Coleman
Tags: inshore, offshore

Editor’s Note: This article was written when cod fishing was still open in the Gulf of Maine, but the techniques described here hold true in the waters south of the Cape where cod fishing remains open today.

I once heard it said cod jigging wasn’t rocket science but in the next breath one wonders why a percentage of anglers catch less than their counterparts on the other side of the boat. Why indeed?

Super braids have opened up new worlds for cod jiggers. The super-thin lines feel bites better than mono and set the hook much easier than the springy mono in deep water. Lots of cod bites come as the jig is lowered back to the bottom after lifting it the length of the rod. It’s then the jig is easiest to catch as it slowly moves down, looking like wounded prey or so I was always taught.

Years back Captain George Hilton gave me a tip that’s brought in many steakers. We were out on a deeper edge of Platts Bank, the last drop of the day, looking for bigger game. George advised me and others up in the bow to let the jig drop very slowly, keeping a tight line as the hit was often nothing more than the jig stopping before it hit bottom. The reason the jig stopped was a fish grabbed it.

Thirty-pound braid has the diameter of 8-pound mono. The thinner line has less water resistance so you can use lighter jigs and lighter tackle. It’s very possible today to catch well on a 5- to 7-ounce jigs drifting in 250 to 300 feet of water, easily keeping the lure in the strike zone, a few feet of the bottom.

You could work out the math somehow, showing how much less strain is on ones back and arms during a full day, lifting a 14-ounce jig with mono versus a 7-ouncer with braid. Less wear and tear might be a factor for a bad versus successful trip, especially if you have the family along for a day of fishing.

With today's braided lines it’s very possible to catch well on a 5- to 7-ounce jigs drifting in 250 to 300 feet of water.

Drifting is usually best for jigging; anchoring up is usually done when bait fishing for haddock but cod will come around, the scent of the bait drawing them in just like most other fish in saltwater than can be chummed up. The chum in the summer also brings dogs but you can sometimes let them swim off by pulling up the bait rigs, letting the whole deal sit for 20 minutes while you break for coffee or lunch. If they persist you don’t have much choice but to pull the hook and head off to a greener pasture.

Braid also lets you fish deeper spots unthinkable using mono. One summer Jimmy The Greek and I caught a 30-pound cod in 530 feet of water east of the bank during slack current on a 13-ounce jig, braid and a rod some might think too light for such deep water. The very same rod that can bucktail up bass in Galilee Breachway can catch cod on a calm day in 500-plus feet off Stellwagen Bank.

Captain Timmy Tower and his fares are fishing deeper and deeper. Last year they caught a 46-pound hake off a dragger wreck near Shearer Ridge in 106 fathoms and a new state record for cusk in Maine off a wreck in 420 off the north side of Jeffreys Ledge.

Other spots the braid is handy is on some of the deeper humps to the northeast and east of Provincetown, both areas within easy reach of today’s boats with twin engines. Those humps are prime for haddock in the summer, sometimes everybody fishing in their T-shirts on a beautiful, calm day.

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