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“Jigging” for blackfish is a fun and effective way to target these crab-loving. For a long time, fishermen relied on rigs weighed down by heavy sinkers to present baits to tautog, but fishermen learned that tog would eat crab-baited jigheads, and in some situations, they even out-produced tog rigs.
What are tautog jigs?
Like most jigs, tautog jigs features a molded lead head with a hook. Tog fishermen favor jighead shapes that sit flat on the bottom with the hook and bait presented upward. While many early tog jigs were made with Upperman-style jigheads, fishermen today prefer ball, football, banana, and boxer-style jigheads.
Tog jigs are molded around stout, sharp hooks. Some fishermen prefer long-shank hooks for better hooksets, while short-shank hooks are still used on some tog jigs.
Tog jigs are painted in a variety of colors, with natural green and white-legger crab colors being the most popular, but glow, chartruese, and white also working well to attract a tog’s attention.
Tog jigs are available in sizes from 1/2 to 5 ounces, though most fishermen prefer tog jigs of 2 ounces or lighter.
Why use jigs?
Tog jigs allow anglers to effectively present crabs to tog using lighter tackle, which can lead to more bites and better hook-ups, expecially in shallow water. The way jigs present crabs standing up on the bottom helps them grab a tog’s attention, sometimes better than rigs, where the crab can be left to spin in the current.
When using jigs, an angler has direct contact with the baited jig, for better sensitivity, which gives the angler a better idea of when to set the hook – an item of much contention among tog fishermen.
Choosing a Tog Jig
Anglers should select the lightest tog jig they can use and still hold bottom. Experiment with jigs ranging from 1/2 to 2 ounces and adjust accordingly. Ideally, the jig will hold bottom without tumbling or drifting, thus, keeping the baited crab in the strike zone for longer.
In situations when a 2- or 2.5-ounce jig is not enough to hold bottom, it may be best to switch over to a rig.
For color, in clear water, fishermen prefer natural, or muted colors, and in darker or stained water, bright colors, including glow, may help a tog find your bait.
Tautog jigs painted in colors that match those of common baits like green crabs, white-leggers, fiddlers and Asian crabs. Even hermit crabs are a favorite blackfish bait.
When and where should I use jigs?
Tautog jigs are effective in almost all the same places that anglers opt for rigs. They can be fished vertically from a boat into a field of submerged boulders, or pitched and retrieved around the perimeter of one large piece of structure.
How to fish with tautog jigs:
Tog jigs are best fished on spinning tackle because of the lighter weights. Spool the reels with thin-diameter braided line of 20- or 30-pound test to reduce the water resistance on the line and help the jig hold bottom.
A 10-foot leader of 30- or 40-pound test fluorocarbon attached to the braided mainline with an FG or Albright Knot will provide stealth and abrasion-resistance against the craggy areas where tautog live. Attach the tog jigs to the leader with a Palomar, improved clinch or uni knot.
Drop the jig to the bottom and let it sit still. If no bites come quickly, move it around the structure, feeling for high spots or holes, where it can grab a tog’s attention.
The hits will vary, depending on the mood of the tog, from light scratches to heavy thumps. Sometimes, a tog will simply grab the crab-baited jig and swim off. The fishermen will notice the line get light, or see the line moving. Set the hook hard and reel to get the tog away from the structure!
Examples of Tog Jigs