Slow Pitch rod actions on the clock



Hold the rod under your elbow

Holding the rod butt under your elbow enables you to use different rod actions in a wide range. Many jiggers hold the rod under the armpit. You can put on a lot of power and/or speed in each stokes this way, but the range of motion would be limited.
It may take a while to get used to holding the rod under your elbow since the rod can slip away easily, but it’s really not that difficult. It’s really worth to practice this because it will open the easy access to all the range of rod actions that slow pitch can offer to you.

Hold the rod and tilt a little inward from the extension of your forearm. If you hold the rod with your left hand, tilt the rod a little toward your right.


You will feel the rod butt under your meaty part of your forearm, not directly under the bony elbow.

Think of it as a leverage. Your elbow is the point of lever. Your hand is the fulcrum. The rod tip is the point of action.
When you lift, you rotate your shoulder to push down the rod butt by your elbow. You flex your elbow a little to get the leverage, but not much. It’s never like fixing your elbow in one place and flex and extend to move the rods. You would burn out your upper arm pretty soon. And it’s easy for the rod to slip away from your elbow this way.

You should use bigger muscles around your shoulder. Shoulder is the center of action. Your elbow has constant contact on the rod. Elbow flexion is just supplementary.

jerkdown jerkup

Rod actions on the clock

Now you have full range of motion.

In order to understand the different rod actions, I suggest to map yourself on the clock.
Your elbow is the center of the clock. Directly above is 12 o’clock. Below is 6 o’clock. Toward the horizon is 3 o’clock.

Demonstrated below is a rod action, up to 2 o’clock, down to 4 o’clock.

jerk02up jerkdown04

Medium stroke range is about 1.5 hours to 2 hours around 3 o’clock.

You can change the stroke range. It can be 0.5-hour range. Or it can be 6-hour range.

How does the jig move? The jig goes up as much as you lift the rod plus as much as you reel, like 1/1, 1/2, or 1/4 turn. And the jig falls as much as you bring down the rod and no reeling.

Also, at what o’clock you have the stroke range makes different jig movements.

jerk04upYou can have the top of the stroke at 4 o’clock. The rod doesn’t bend much, so less spring-back. The jig does not get whipped much, so it’s likely to fall tail first with little hangtime.

jerk01upYou can bring it up to 1 o’clock. The rod bends deep and springs back strong. The jig gets whipped more, therefore, more hangtime and starts falling on its belly.
Sometimes you can have stronger currents to pull down the line. Or you can have soft action tone (the jig is relatively heavier to the rod power). And the rod tip doesn’t spring back at 2 o’clock and you want to whip the jig. Then you can raise your 2-hour stroke range to 1 o’clock to 3 o’clock. At this angle you’ll have more spring back action to whip the jig.

jerk12upYou can bring up all the way to 12 o’clock too. The rod spring back is the strongest. But I don’t bring it up this high unless it’s really necessary for long fall tactic because it’s really hard to control the rod tip.

Some people think you must always spring up the rod before dropping. But it’s really not always necessary. Even if the jig starts falling tail first, the center-balanced jigs always tries to lay on its side. Some jigs are quick to get on the belly and start flushing and spinning to fall. Some jigs are slow and swing like a falling leaf. Especially when you do longfall, you just need to pick up, lift slowly, and drop free-fall. No need for hangtime.

Now let’s take a look at it in the real field. See different stroke ranges in different hours.

(In order to show the clock, I have flipped the movie horizontally.)

The jig movements change not only by the range of rod actions, but also by the speed and rhythm of the rod actions, the reeling speed, timing, acceleration and how much handle turn, and whether or not you give a little tension to the fall or free-fall.
But rod action is a big part of it and I think it’s important that you are conscious of this physics.

I hope you find this article informative and helpful to you!

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  1. MattM

    Hi Totos, thank you for all the interesting info you provide on this lovely sport. I have a question. I find it very hard to hold the rod butt under my elbow as it keeps slipping. I am right handed and I use a right handed reel (I turn the reel with my right hand). Do you think that a left handed reel would be better? and also, I have noted in one of your videos (the one of the 8kg amberjack) that you use some kind of strap around your elbow. What is that? is it something one can buy?

    • Totos

      Hi Matt.
      Thank you so much for your compliments.
      Yes, the elbow. It just takes a little practice, that’s all.
      I had the same problem first and I tried the strap. I made it myself. It turned out it was a good practice but it wasn’t a good solution. Actions were OK on my elbow, but strikes were not. I learned to shift the rod butt into my armpit when I strike. But I couldn’t shift with the strap. So after a couple of trips, I removed the strap. I didn’t need it any longer.

      I’ve had some people came to Okinawa to fish with me. I gave them some lessons on the boat, and a few hours later, they were all doing beautiful slow pitch on the elbow. It’s not difficult at all once you get a hang of it.

      Drop your elbow and raise your hand toward horizon. Your forearm is pointing directly ahead, at 12 o’clock. Hold the rod, pointing to the horizon, but at 1 o’clock. You keep that angle. And you keep your elbow bent. And when you strike, just calmly move the rod butt under your armpit as you reel in some line slack, and strike. That’s all.
      Good luck!

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