When it comes to pink salmon in rivers my favorite way to fish for them is by jigging. It always seems to get bites when other methods aren’t producing. Plus I tie my own jigs and really like catching fish on gear that I’ve created.
Jigging works best in holding water where the fish are bunched up until they are ready to go upstream. For pinks this is often the slower water out of the main current, back eddies and “frog water.”
Rod and Reel
Since this is a cast and retrieve technique most people use a spinning rod and reel since they are easy to cast. But casting rods are also used.
You’ll want a rod rated for 10-15# line and a 0.5-1.0 ounce lure. You’ll want it to have a moderate to fast action to get a good hookset when jigging.
Most steelhead rods are ideal for this, such as this Lamiglas.
You’ll want to pair it will a decent spinning reel. It is hard to beat the price/performance point of the Pfluger President.
I spool mine with 10# mono, like Maxima Ultragreen
For terminal tackle you’ll need a jig of course. In the rivers it is best to stay away from buzz bombs and other metal jigs. Instead you should use a twitching jig. These jigs tend to have longer tails and more flowing material to give it movement in the water.
One form of twitching jig that is very popular for pinks is one made by combining a pink hoochie with a jig head. Those long rubbery tentacles move in the water just like the marabou on traditional jigs.
Depending on casting distance needed use 1/4 to 1/2 oz jig. I mostly use a 3/8 oz jig made with lots of long hot pink marabou.
Tie the jig directly to the mainline. No need to use a leader, unless your mainline is really heavy or high vis. I like using a loop knot, so that the jig has a bit more freedom of movement.
How To Fish
To fish with a jig – either from a boat or shore – you’ll want to:
- Position yourself slightly upstream from where you want to fish
- Cast straight out across the current
- Wait for the jig to get close to bottom (I usually start by counting to 3)
- Then do a quick upward jerk on the rod that moves the rod tip about 1 foot
- Lower the rod down, reeling in the slack line as you go
- Repeat that jigging motion until the jig is out of position, then reel all the way in and recast
The fish often take the jig on the drop, so be prepared to set the hook if you feel resistance on the next jig up, or the lure seems to stop dropping.
It is important to get the lure near the bottom, so wait for it to drop longer until you are sure you are getting close.