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SNAP THAT JIG

If you haven’t mastered, or at least attempted this deadly technique, you are missing the boat on greatly improving your fishing game. From light tackle to surf, snap jigging will change your way of looking at bucktail or leadhead fishing.
By Fred Golofaro
SNAP THAT JIG
The snap jigging technique is especially deadly on stripers.

I’ve been fishing bucktails for most of my fishing life. As a young teen probing Long Island’s bridges, and then as a light tackle guide targeting stripers, weakfish, fluke and blues, the bucktail was my primary tool. I even resisted the onslaught of rubber Shrimp Touts during the hey days of weakfishing during the 70s, preferring instead to feed the yellowfins Smilin’ Bill style bucktails, which frequently outfished the plastic shrimp imitations.

Over the years, I had developed a series of presentations, each designed to meet specific fishing situations, or in some cases, geared toward fishing a specific location. All were based on an exceptional level of success which created a wealth of confidence in these presentations. There was the tantalizingly slow retrieve and gentle jigging action for stripers, weakfish and fluke in shallow bays. The slow, steady retrieve of a bucktail as it was swept along the face of a bridge’s shadow line, and the exaggerated jigging motion when working the 30 to 40 foot depths along ocean beaches during the late fall migration.

Over the years, there were other variations of working these versatile leadheads, but it wasn’t until I began fishing with John Paduano that all of the confidence built over the previous 30 to 40 years was severely tested. I began fishing with John some sixteen or seventeen years ago, and for the first time, found myself consistently being outfished in the bucktail game. There is no shame in being outfished by John – I can offer a long list of very good anglers that have been “embarrassed” by him over the years.

His approach, best referred to as “snap jigging,” is relatively simple and makes a world of sense. John, who has been tying his own bucktails for the better part of 25 years and is the creator of Premium Bucktails (www.premiumbucktails.com), works “his” bucktails hard. He applies an exaggerated jigging action to his retrieve, which, depending upon current strength and speed of drift, ranges from stationary to slow. This hard jigging technique results in the bucktail darting up, and then gliding or fluttering down to the bottom, which closely replicates the movement of a crippled baitfish. If you have ever watched the antics of an injured baitfish, I think you would agree that the action generated by this technique results in the bucktail reacting very much like a maimed baitfish.

Before we attribute all of the success of this approach to the action imparted by this jigging technique, understand that successful bucktailing is very much a game of feel, and it takes time and practice to develop that feel. The timing of the jigging motion and a feel for the bottom are critical factors that can only be acquired by time on the water. Another consideration when applying this approach to bucktailing is the need to fish with braided lines. Using any other line for this type of fishing puts you at a severe disadvantage when it comes to “feel.”

And, contrary to popular belief, you do not always need to add a trailer such as pork rind or a soft plastic bait to your jig. In fact, John fishes his bucktails unadorned almost exclusively, and I have been fishing them that way in certain situations for decades with considerable success. When stripers or weakfish are feeding on small baits, or gorging themselves on grass or sand shrimp, a small, unadorned bucktail will frequently outfish one with a trailer.

Properly applying the technique described above to your bucktailing efforts can become tiring, but can also pay big dividends when executed properly. Give it a try this season and see if it doesn’t give you an edge in the bucktail game.

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