Ever since speed jigs came onto the scene a decade ago, anglers have been scratching their heads trying to figure out the best way to rig them.
You'll find multiple rigging methods with some calling for a single assist hook up top, or tandem hooks. Others say it's effective to add a hook to the bottom of the jig. With several variations out there, we wanted to take a closer at the best hook-to-jig and leader-to-jig configurations.
To cut through the swirl of contradictory information out there on this topic, I spent two days fishing offshore in the Mid-Atlantic with a Shimano rep and two more days fishing with different Shimano reps in Florida. I then spent an entire season researching and field-testing different rigging and jigging methods to figure out which setup matched up the best with each type of fishing situation. All of the testing ultimately culminated in the book Rudow's Guide to Modern Jigging.
So I'm pretty dang comfortable when I say that the rigging methods we're about to detail will help you plug the fish box.
HOOKS UP TOP
The single- and/or double-hook jig rigged up top is probably the most recommended method to rig a speed jig. The most important item to note is that you don't want to attach the hook directly to the eye of the jig itself, but instead latch it to a solid ring by pushing the hook's short leader through the ring, then running the hook back through the loop on the end of the leader. The solid ring is then attached to a split ring, which is in turn attached to the eye of the jig. You also attach your leader to the solid ring.
By rigging the jig this way, the jig dangles from the split ring, rather than being in between you and the fish. This arrangement also gives the jig a lot more freedom of motion to do its zigging and zagging in the water, as opposed to when the leader is connected directly to the jig's eye.
One question remains, however, should you use one hook or two? Through our testing, it didn't make any noticeable difference whatsoever in strike-to-hookup ratios. With double-hook jigs, however, tangles between the two hooks and/or the hooks and leader was more common than tangles with the single-hook rig. Thus, we land solidly on the side of using a single hook rigged to the top.
HOOKS DOWN BELOW
Hooks attached to the bottom of the jig can be connected directly to the jig's lower eye, or via a split ring, it doesn't make any noticeable difference at all. Hooks with short leaders can be doubled back through the loop, while others will need a split ring added to create the attachment point. The bigger variable to keep in mind here is deciding whether to put on a single hook or a treble. This depends a great deal on what species you're fishing for, and how you're jigging.
When speed-jigging in open water, the jig is always moving up through the water and the top hook is plastered back against the side of the jig by water pressure. If a fish strikes, there's an excellent chance of a hook up. Quite often, however, fish will follow the jig moving up through the water but prefer to strike it as it sinks. Jigs rigged with a top hook lose their effectiveness in this scenario because as the jig sinks, the hook is pulled up and away from the jig. Unless the fish inhales the entire jig, you'll swing and miss over and over because the hook never enters the fish's mouth. In this situation, adding a hook to the bottom of the jig becomes imperative.
During my season of testing, when jigging for bluefin tuna feeding at mid-depth, the fish usually hit jigs zipping up through the water column and adding a bottom hook had no effect on the hook-up ratio. The same was true when fast-cranking jigs for kingfish. However, when the bluefin were feeding on sand eels at or near bottom in 80 to 140 feet of water, they usually struck the jig just above bottom as it fell, and they'd miss the hook time and time again, resulting in a strike-to-hookup ratio of just 10-to-one. Adding the lower hook boosted the strike-to-hookup ratio by a whopping 60 percent. When using a treble instead of a single hook, the ratio went up by another 10 percent.
When jigging for black sea bass, wreckfish, and/or blueline tilefish, all of which usually hit jigs on the drop, the ratio went up by about 60 percent with a bottom hook. But there's a catch... Since these fish tend to cluster around structure, jigs with trebles snagged the bottom. We lost a bunch of jigs and speed jigs aren't cheap! Eliminating the lower hook vastly reduced snags and even though the strike-to-hook-up ratio plummeted, it was well worth using a top hook only.
One other highly effective method of targeting the structure- or bottom-oriented species with the jigs was to bait the bottom hook and/or the top hook with a squid strip or fish chunk. Fish bit immediately after touching bottom and bringing the jig up a crank or two. Keeping the jig up above the structure but still close to the bottom and reducing the jigging motion to a wiggle and hover tempted strikes while minimizing snags.
* When fish are in open water and striking a fast-moving jig, one top hook is all that's necessary and adding hooks doesn't increase effectiveness.
* Adding a second hook up top increases tangles without increasing effectiveness, in all situations.
* When fish are striking the jig as it falls, adding a single hook to the bottom of the jig significantly increases hook-ups and adding a treble increases them even more.
* Adding a single hook to the bottom of the jig increases snags when fishing around structure. Adding a treble hook increases snags even more.
When fishing a single-hook jig where fish are hitting the jig on the fall, slide a small rubber band up around the jig. Place the band over the short hook leader, right where it meets the eye of the hook, to keep the hook up against the side of the jig. Your ratio won't go up as much as adding a lower hook, but it does help substantially.
abcd - These optional are all commonly seen methods of rigging: a) a single hook up top; b) two hooks up top; c) a single up top and a single added on the bottom of the jig; and d) a single up top and a treble added on bottom.
Bass014 - When jigging for structure-oriented fish like sea bass, using a single hook up top, only, will reduce the number of strikes that result in hook-ups. However, it will also radically reduce the number of snags you experience.
Bfint004 - Through a year of testing, a five-inch pink/silver with a single hook rigged up top resulted in more bluefin catches than any other rig. In all the years since, this rig has probably accounted for at least half of all the bluefin caught on my boat while jigging (and many while jigging on other people's boats).
Bftjigging-057 - When the fish are striking on the fall, adding a treble to the aft end of the jig will greatly increase your strike-to-hook-up ratio.
Grouperkeywest004 - Most of the Shimano pros stick with a single hook rigged up top. However, some of them do use two hooks up top - and the rubber band trick on occasion.
IMG-0985 - When yellowfin strike a speed jig it's usually on a fast crank, and as a result, the top hook commonly gets the job done.
Jerkjigs006 - Some manufacturers sell their jigs pre-rigged, usually with a single or double hook up top. Note, however, that they'll all still have the lower attachment point so customizing the rigging is easy.