Start Catching Blackfish on Jigs With These Helpful Tips

Start Catching Blackfish On Jigs! Here are some tips on how to make the transition super successful.

Catching blackfish on jigs is an absolute game changer when fishing for tautog. The lighter tackle used for this type of fishing drastically contrasts more standard methods of catching these fish. Experienced anglers who attempt catching blackfish on jigs will find there is quite the learning curve. Often, I see guys who’ve been catching blackfish for years, but on heavier equipment, finding a great deal of trouble trying to make the switch. So this often leads to folks quitting before they can master the new technique. Start catching blackfish on jigs with these helpful tips!

Here’s a few tips I’ve gathered over the years. I’m sharing because I’d like to help you catch blackfish on jigs. However first read my comprehensive fishing article, Catching Black Fish With Jigs.

Catching Blackfish on Jigs
Author Matt Sorrentino with a nice early fall blackfish. Matt caught this white chin on a 1.5 oz Magictail Game Changer Tog Jig.

Start with a heavier jig and work down from there.

If you’ve been blackfishing for a while, you’re most likely using at least an 8 ounce weight regularly. It’s very easy to feel the bottom because these heavier weights add more tension to your line. It is easier to decipher what type of structure you’re on because of this and easier to find the holes you want to be fishing. When you attempt to throw a 1-2 oz jig down for the first time, everything is going to feel extremely off because of the weight difference. Start with a heavier weighted jig, get used to the feel and work your way down. The ideal weight is the lightest possible which will still get down and hold bottom.

Light Braided Line Is A Must

You’re fishing a light jig and anything that helps the jig get to the bottom faster and stay there is going to maximize your opportunities. Do you know the difference in abrasion resistance between 50# braid and 40# braid? How about 30-20 or 15-10#? Me neither! But I can promise you it’s insignificant. What is significant is the ability of the thinner lines to through providing the least water resistance. I use 15# Cortland Master Braid on my tog jigging fishing reels. The line is super strong and allows me to fish a locked up drag which is needed to hoist out and up double digit blackfish.

Please understand, my abrasion concern is countered by fishing extra long fluorocarbon leaders (commonly 5-8′ of 30/40/50# either Seaguar Blue Label Fluoro or Diamond Fluoro). Using an FG Knot the line to line connection is super strong and the knot has a very thing profile. This system is proven and I highly suggest you rig up this way too.

Don’t Swing!

Here’s where it’s going to get tough for seasoned vets. You’ve been dialed in for years. You know what the right bite feels like and you know when to swing. Well, now that you have a jig on, you’re wrong. Fishing tog jigs is a different game than rigs. You’ll need to re-learn the feel, the best advice I can give you is to let your first few baits get completely stolen. Let them eat it, just try to dial in the feel for the different type of bites. Everything is more sensitive now. This is the reason catching blackfish on jigs is so effective!

In the end, rely on what you know.

It’s still important when catching blackfish on jigs to fish in a similar fashion. You want the bait on the bottom. Don’t jig it! Ideally you’ll find piece of hard structure, ledges, caves, rock/concrete piles, wooden debris and obviously shipwrecks. Keep the bait still. When you get the right bite, or when your line goes slack (sometimes the fish will just pick up your jig and swim away) swing for the fences! Cross his eyes, reel quickly and get that fish up and away from that structure. It is crucial you react quickly here. If you fail to move the fish quickly I can assure you a broken heart and a few minutes in the penalty box retying.

A spring limit of nice Blackfish caught on Magictail Tog Jigs

The equipment I use for catching blackfish on jigs.

Rod – Daiwa Proteus

Reel – Daiwa Low Profile Baitcaster

Line – Cortland Master Braid

Leader – Diamond Pink Fluorocarbon

Jigs – Magictail Gamechanger Tog Jig

If you’d like to learn more and Start Catching Blackfish on Jigs…

I invite you to join me on a fishing trip. I frequently set up charters on New Jersey’s top boats at the season’s best dates. On the trips you will learn from myself and other experts in the field, the different tactics employed to catch blackfish on jigs. The all inclusive trip includes your fare and gratuity and some even have a rod and reel demos as well as free gifts and giveaways. For more info stay tuned to my Instagram Page better yet give me a follow and send a direct message introducing yourself.

Catching Blackfish With Jigs

by Matt Sorrentino (@swagmattic)

Whether you’re new to the game or an old salty dog with decades of experience dropping rigs on wrecks, there’s a lot to learn if you want to catch blackfish with jigs.

Have you tried to catch blackfish with jigs? You should! Why? At times they out fish rigs and produce really big catches. I must ask… How did anglers target summer flounder 10, 15, 20+ years ago? The majority now target them with jigs because it’s more effective. The migration to the jig occurred in the fluke, sea bass and tuna game years ago. Guess what… The tog game too!

Tog Jigs Offer The Most Natural Presentation Of Bait

Light tackle jigging for tautog is still a relatively new technique. The concept is simple.  Lighter line, small reels and lighter rods all directly contrast conventional tog fishing wisdom. But! Lighter tackle allows small jigs to get to the bottom faster and entice more bites. Also the jig’s stealth approach gives the fish a sense of security so they take the bait. Unlike heavy blackfish rig fishing (typically use 6+ ounce sinkers) the tog can pick up the jigs and swim away without feeling the tug of the line and weight as they crunch and munch the bait. Light tackle jigging for tog allows anglers the most natural presentation of baits. This directly results in more bites and more opportunities to catch.

Catching a limit of Blackfish takes skill and the right fishing tackle.  Here, fisherman Matt caught Tautog using Magictail and Tog jigs with crab.
December 6th with a limit+ of blackfish/tautog using a 2oz MagicTail Tog Jig.

Tog Jig Options

The obvious first step to catching blackfish with jigs is to pick out the jig. There are a variety of tog jigs options on the market. With all of the brand names,  at some point you’ll ask, “What type of tog jig should I use?” Or “What is the best blackfish jig?  In my book, the answer is simple. It’s in the name of the jig…  The Magictail “Game Changer” Tog Jig is the best jig. Whether targeting blackfish from the boat on reefs and wrecks or land based fishing. Magictail Tog Jigs outproduce!

The 3 Classic Types of Jigs For Blackfishing

In order to make a lead head jig it all starts with a mold and a hook. The lead is the easy part. In the early days, there were really only a few styles of tog jigs due to the lack of molds. The three styles that made the most sense for making blackfish jigs were…

  • The Bean Jig – Resembles an oversized lima bean with flat sides. When sitting, it lies on its side with the hook facing sideways.
  • The Football Jig– Resembles a football shaped lead head that is perpendicular to the hook. When sitting, the hook points upright.
  • The Banana Jig – Features a snag resistant design; eye tie forward, slender width, curved like lead head belly (hence the name). Similar to the football jig, the hook points upright when sitting.

It has been said that some shapes fall faster than others. This can be the case when dropping a naked jig; however, tog jigs are always fished baited with crab. All three shapes listed above will get down and stay down about the same. There’s more important characteristics to focus on.

The Magictail Game Changer Tog Jig Series was developed after years of fishing experience catching black fish on jigs. Building on the features top tog anglers demand and evolving from its predecessors, Magictail made a custom mold to offer the most innovative tog jig to date!

Magictail Tautog Jig used to catch Tog.
This photo shows the unique design of the Magictail Tog Jig.

So what sets the MagicTail Game Changer Tog Jig apart from the Football and the Banana Jig? 

It’s all in the intricate design, the Magictail Game Changer Tog Jigs have a unique shape which offers benefits. Like the football and banana style tog jigs the hook point always faces up. The flat curved bottom (banana jig trait) ensures the jig is always on the bottom correctly. It lays flat and doesn’t roll. The jig is center weighted and its shape is very snag resistant.

The Magictail Tog Jig Secrets That Sets Them Apart From The Rest

The most important characteristic however, is how the lead belly sits with the hook standing tall. This keeps the bait slightly raised off the bottom with open space between the hook and the bottom structure. This allows the fish to swim in and take a clean swipe at the whole hook. It makes the elaborately timed hook set process a whole lot easier and increase your hookup percentage.

Choosing The Right Jig With The Right Hook

Just like selecting an all purpose hook, the same rules apply. Match the hook to the bait or the bait to the hook. The hook choice in a tog jig is important. It must be strong and sharp. Moreover, the shank length matters! Short shank vs long shark is personal preference and it changes depending on the size of bait. A tog jig with a long shank hook (such as the Magic Tail Game Changer Tog Jig) allows for hooking of bigger bait, a must when fishing large pieces of crab, half crabs and whole crabs. Tog jigs with short shank hooks (such as the Magictail Back Bay Tog Jig) are best when fishing smaller baits. These are best when using Asian Crabs and Fiddler Crabs. It’s also common for anglers to bury these short shank tog jigs inside of a medium crab section.

Does Color Matter?

In my experiences I have not found one color to outperform another in every circumstance. Everyday can be different so it’s best to have a spread of colors to cover your bases.

You can’t go wrong matching the jig color to the bait. For example when fishing green crabs, pair the bait with the green/orange “Green Crab” jig color. When fishing white crabs go for the white “White Crab” jig. Magictail does a really good job offering these natural color patterns.

I’ve also done good using the high visibility colors like the chart/orange and the metallic green coined “First Drop” as well as the glow on cloudy days and when the water is dirty. Just a heads up… glow always catches!

How do Blackfish feed?

Tautog pick at their food.  They’re typically chewing on mussels, barnacles and other crustaceans clinging to rocks and structure.  When feeding off the bottom they come at the bait from above and pluck at it.  That is why you get those small taps when you first feel the fish.  Setting the hook on a tog is a process that gets refined only with practice and experience. But as common sense would point out, if the fish’s point of attack is from above the jig, you would ideally want the hook pointing in that direction.  When you swing that hook is more likely to land and set in the fish mouth then with a side facing jig. 

Looking for more info on targeting tautog with jigs? Check out my other blog post, Start Catching Blackfish on Jigs With These Helpful Tips!

Tog Fishing Informative Videos 

Check out the video links below to learn more about catching blackfish with jigs more specifically the the Magictail Game Changer Tog Jig advantage!