How far off the bottom do you play?

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I wanted to know how much is required to lift the jig above the bottom? And how many rounds of reel usually you are doing in every drop?

How far off the bottom do you play?

Wow. This is a very critical question. I mean, this really makes a big difference on how productive you are. You may be fishing for the same amount of time as someone next to you. But if you are moving your jig where there’s no fish, the contact rate will be so much different. If someone always catches more fish than others, he’s probably spending more time in where the fish is.

It really depends on the situation and your target.
And I’m not good enough, or confident enough to tell you exact instructions. I just give you general ideas here.

I always try to position myself where it’s easy to look at the fish locater. If I can’t, I still try to come to the fish locater as much as I can. I try to see the geological features, the shape of the bait groups, and if there’s any signs of big ones around. The shape of the bait groups can tell you a lot about how active the fish are down there. Concentrated or not. On the bottom or off. If there’s any multi-layers.

Multi-layered currents →

watermass1If there’s a double layer, it means there are 2 water masses not mixing together because they have different temperatures etc. It’s very hard for small baits to cross that line. It’s like a wall to them. Big fish take advantage of that. They chase the baits up against the wall to hunt.
Also, you can see or hear on the other side of the wall. It’s a perfect ambush situation. Some baits break through the wall by being chased, like baits breaking the surface to jump in the air. The big fish hang around in the other side of the wall and pick on those fugitives. Or, big fish just can dash and break through the wall with its mouth wide open.

For anglers, it’s where to target. If I see the double layer at 5m off the bottom, I make long rod actions with little reeling. My jig will be doing a lot of ups and downs around the double layers, but not changing the depth much. Or I do high speed lift to break through the wall, and do little hesitation moves. I will just repeat those move at the 5m line.

But in general, I first lift up to 20m or 30m. Faster lifts than usual. I’m hoping it attracts a big swimmer. Even if there’s no signs of fish at that depth, fish can chase up that much very easily. It also takes out the line slack I have allowed in the initial long drop. It will make the following series of moves more direct.

Then for the next couples of plays, I will do what I think is appropriate. If I’m targeting bottom demersal fish, I play no higher than 10m. Sometimes just under 5m. If I’m targeting open water swimmers, I play up to 10m to 20m, depending on the situations. And sometimes I combine them. For the first 5 meters, I play slow and soft, lots of falls, then switch gears to fast and energetic actions up to 15 meters. It’s funny, a lot of times contacts come when I switch gears.

After 4 or 5 plays for nothing, I do fast lift up to 20m or so again. Just checking to see if there’s anyone around by then who may be interested in fast moving jig. Also to take out the line slack. Also after a long lift, the jig will drop to a different place to start another round.

It may take a while to understand what the sounder is showing and meaning to you. But I think it’s very important. And it’s more fun that way too. You will be more focused to your game. When you come to the fish locater, the captain may teach you a lot of things too.

It depends on the reel and on the depth how many meters your reel retrieves per crank. It’s important that you have a general idea. It doesn’t have to be exact. It helps you to know what is the maximum retrieve length per crank for your reel. That is the speed when the spool is loaded. It will be less where you fish. It depends on the depth and what line you use. It helps you to understand if you have a colored line (different colors every meter).

Hope this information helps you!

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