Project Description

trout jumping in lake okataina

If you haven’t tried jigging for trout and you enjoy getting out on the lake in your kayak or boat, we reckon you should give it a try.  Whether you’re young or old, an experienced angler or a “newbie”, it can be a fun and satisfying method to hook into some great fish.

Trout jigging is done with specially designed rigs which usually have 3 flies or soft lures.  Depending on where you fish, local regulations might restrict you to two flies per rig, so make sure you check this out beforehand.

How to tie a trout jigging rig…

The jigging rig is a simple paternoster design and although variations are possible, this is our recommendation when it comes to constructing a specialist rig.  The rig itself consists of a “backbone” with three branches, each holding your chosen fly.


The main “backbone” of the rig is made up of three one metre lengths of 10-12lb fluorocarbon, interconnected with your small swivels.  Off the bottom swivel, you run your one metre of 6lb leader.  The sinker is then tied at the bottom of this.  Using the lighter leader allows you to break this off if you get snagged which means you only lose a sinker, not the whole rig.  Try backing up on it first though.  You might get the whole rig back.

The next thing are the branches which hold your flies.  For these, use 8lb fluorocarbon and tie them on the upper eye of your three swivels.  The ideal length for each branch is 90mm although it’s ok to have them a little longer if you’re drifting.

How to choose your trout fly for jigging…

choosing your trout fly

Knowing what the trout are feeding on will help determine what fly you should use and increase your catch rate.    Typically, we would suggest you have a larger olive fly on the bottom, perhaps something like a size 4 or 6 Olive Woolly Bugger. (you could also try brown or black too)

The next fly needs to have a smaller hook – size 6 or 8.  Some suggested options are a Parsons Glory, Green Orbit, Jack Sprat or Orange Rabbit.

The top fly is often smaller again but be prepared to vary what you use.  Take smelt for example.  Depending on where they are in their life cycle, they can be anything from a whitish colour to a darker colour.  Their size will change too.  You could look at flies like Jack Sprat or Grey Ghost for lighter colours and then move up to Silver Dorothy and a Red Ginger Mick if you want a darker colour.

You should also give the pre-tied Black Magic Jellybean rigs a go.  These are the same rig but with a soft “lifelike” fish in place of the traditional trout fly.  They come in two colour selections.

Setting up for trout jigging…

Whether you make your own rig or buy them readymade, you are now ready to think about the rest of your set up.

The Rod and Reel:

When it comes to the rod and reel, you want a quality baitcasting reel and a 7-8ft rod rated 4-10lb.  Now you might be thinking, “that’s a long rod for my boat/kayak”.  The reason we go this way though is firstly due to the length of the rig.  That 3-4 metres means you need to be able to lift your rod tip high so that you’re not having to handline your fish to the boat if the trout has taken the bottom fly.  Secondly, it’s better to move around the boat if the drift is very slow.  This provides more action to your flies and covers more ground.  The longer rod lets you move around protruding outboard motors more easily and it allows you to get more purchase when striking a fish.

Good fishing line for trout jigging…

Hopefully, you’re able to use a depth sounder when you’re on the lake.  That will allow you to know exactly what depth the fish are sitting at.  With that in mind, you should be seeking a metred braid which will allow you to measure off the depth as you lower your rig.

Black Magic’s 12lb Rainbow Braid Elite is an ideal product for the job.  It changes colour every 10 metres but also has markers at every metre, so it’s a line and a depth sounder all in one!  An alternative you might consider is Black Magic 6kg SSP Fibre Glide which also has metre marks.  It doesn’t have the colour changeouts however.  When you are targeting a specific depth, don’t forget to allow for the length of your rig, and your shock leader if you are using one.

Speaking of shock leader, we do recommend using one.  It not only gives you good shock absorption, but it acts as a marker as well when you’re winding back up.  Attach 5-10 metres of 10-12lb monofilament leader to your mainline.  You can then tie the bottom end of the shock leader onto the top swivel on your rig.  We’d suggest our Deception as a great option for this job.

Finding the trout when lake fishing…

As always, finding fish is important and your sounder is your friend here.  It will tell you what depth they are at as well.  During the winter, the water is much colder, so trout can be more scattered.  As the warmer summer conditions take effect, thermoclines develop, and these can hold bait fish such as smelt.  The trout tend to congregate in larger groups underneath these schools.  Once you know what depth they are sitting at, aim to put your middle fly right in front of them.

fishing sounder showing trout on bottom and thermoclines above when jigging

What is the best technique for trout jigging?

If you have a choice, drift, as the only time we’d recommend anchoring is if it’s too windy for drifting.  Trout react to the passing motion of the flies, so having a drift will help entice a bite. If you have a GPS controlled electric engine to hold you in the general area of fish you have located that’s a great option too.  Once you have found some fish, hold that middle fly right in front of them and then lift your rod tip slowly up and down.  Hopefully, you’ll be hooked up before you know it.

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