Why not pump the rod?


When we select which power model of the slow pitch rod to purchase, we don’t consider what kind of target size we are expecting. We consider what kind of action tone you want to have with what jig weight in what kind of water influence (water resistance).

For example, you want to have jig weight range of 150g to 250g. Strong action tone with 150g jig (sliding type) and soft action tone with 250g jig (fall type). The depth will be about 70m to 100m. On a controlled drift by the captain.

Then I would choose Power #4 rod.

How should I match the rod to the jig? →

WATER INFLUENCE is determined by the depth and the currents. It also depends on the wind which pushes your boat. It also depends of how your boat is operated. Free-drifting on the side of the boat. Drifting with a sea-anchor. Your captain maintains the boat up wind and control the drift to keep you vertical (with or without the spanker sail).
Unless you are vertical with the jig, you will get a lot of water resistance. When it’s hard to stay vertical, you would like to get one heavier power model to control the jig against water resistance. If you are vertical, power #3 rod can dance the jig at 200m deep.

Light line for the vertical game. →

Slow pitch clearly discriminates the function to dance 0.2kg jig and seduce the fish and the function to lift up and bring home a 5.0kg fish, or even a 20kg fish. We give the seduction role to the rod. And we give the bringing home part to the reel. Because we just can’t expect these 2 different tasks to the same rod.

So we don’t pump the rod to fight the fish. We point down the rod. We bring it up just a little bit to feel the tension, but not to lift the fish. Just for enough tension to listen to what’s going on at the other end.
I’ve heard people give suspicious look on slow pitch and suggest that this style of fight is really bad for your back. But it is really not that bad. I mean, people who hurt their back will hurt their back one way or another. But it’s really not about this point-down fight style. This style is actually less tiring and lifts up the fish faster.

But everyone learned how to pump the rod to fight the fish. It’s one of the first lessons of fishing. I didn’t question it when my dad taught me that. But let’s take a close look at it now.

Why pump the rod?

Advantage of pumping
  • You can use your body weight shift to lift.
  • The rod will be flexed with elasticity to stop and lift the fish, and to parry the impacts of fish fight at the same time.
  • The spinning reel needs the momentum of the rotation to perform its power. It doesn’t have much torque when the rotor just starts rotating. By pumping the rod, you are giving yourself a little time to start reeling with not much tension on the line. It would be rather very difficult to reel with the spinning without pumping the rod.
Disadvantage of pumping
  • The tension on the line changes by every pumping actions. You learn to keep the tension on the line as you pump. But the tension does change, otherwise you couldn’t reel well with the spinning.
  • If the rod isn’t adequate for the balance with the fish, the rod may be too soft to lift up the fish, or the rod may be too solid that it can unhook the fish.
  • You are being forced to lift the fish with extra power.

liftA liftB

When you hold a heavy weight, how would you hold it?

Do you extend your arm out like pic A? Do you just hang it down like pic B?

Imagine, in pic A, all the muscles working hard, your biceps, triceps and trapezius. Because you are positioning the weight way off of the center axis of your body, you need extra work to hold it. This is what you are doing when you are pumping the rod. All the muscle work of your arm would be done by your rod.

I’m not saying it is not a good way. It has all the reasons to work with the spinning reel.
You are not aligned with the weight so you have to do extra work, but you are allowed to use your whole body weight shift. The tension on the line changes by pumping the rod but that allows your spinning reel to work efficiently.
This is no problem at all.

Point-down Fight Style

The slow pitch rod is finely tuned to dance your jig in vertical alignment.
I should say all the slow pitch rods are made in different balance and with different priorities. But as Sato Sensei designed Slow Jerker which he developed slow pitch jigging on, it is NOT made to fight with the fish. The design was all dedicated to slow pitch jig actions, with highly-resilient blanks, thin in diameter and thin walled. The crispy blanks is even the least coated for cosmetic look. Everything was for the flexibility and the resiliency for the maximum sensitivity.

As a result, the role of lifting the fish has been given to the reel. We don’t lift the fish with the rod. Point down the rod and let the reel do the work.

Here’s a video from my recent fishing trip.

Advantage of point-down style
  • You can work less. Because you are holding the fish directly down, along your center axis of your body.
  • You can hold the rod butt under your armpit. Your hands can easily hold the reel. Clinging to the reel is totally unnecessary.
  • It’s important to reel in steadily and calmly. Sato Sensei points out that when the fish is lifted in a gentle manner, the fish lets itself be lifted without much fighting. If you pump the rod, it creates changes of tensions. It stimulates the fish and keeps it active. We say, “don’t make him mad.” If the fish is not mad, you can lift it much faster than when you fight aggressively to pull it up.

You may worry that the reel drag is not good enough to parry the impacts of fighting fish. When we hook a fish, it’s usually at least 50 meters away. We have 50-meters of line (plus at least a few meters of line slack) in the water resistance. This works as cushion for the impacts.

You also rely on the drag system to parry the impacts. No fish can go flat out for a long time (well, except for tuna.) When the fish wants to run, you should let it run and drag out the line. Then you put on incremental break with your thumb and finger. When you completely palm the reel, you can touch the line spool with your thumb from above and with your index finger from below. When you can’t stop with your fingers, sometimes you just have to tighten the drag to slow down the fish. But you want to adjust the drag with your fingers as much as possible.

Keep in mind that you are on the light line. You need to give away the line to catch big fish.


First, the fish wants to go down. Since you are still in the vertical, you are in the straight tag of war with the fish (fish A). You don’t want to take much risks here. If you go too tight on your drag (or your fingers) and the fish fights back equally, the balanced force has no where to go and it may snap your line system somewhere.
But after you give away the line and come to the diagonal position with fish B, it is not a straight tag of war anymore. When it becomes too tough for the fish to go AWAY from you, it will swim to the side and AROUND you. It’s a waliking-the-fish situation. Once you keep the fish walking, you are winning and the fish doesn’t realize it’s losing because the fish still can swim. But the reality is that the counter forces are working to brings up the fish, unless the fish suddenly realizes that it’s popping up and starts hustling down. That’s why we want to keep our lift steady and calm.

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

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