Spinning for Jacks

Spinning for Jack Success.

Whilst the popularity of spin fishing has grown immensely in the last decade, there are still several areas amongst the North Queensland fishing fraternity where the bait cast option still holds pole position.

The most prominent of these areas would have to be mangrove jack lure fishing. It’s not hard to understand why this is the case as jack fishing usually sees anglers deep up narrow snag filled creeks where long spin outfits are cramped for casting space.

Also fighting conditions are a big factor to consider with shorter bait cast outfits tending to suit the more stand and deliver style fight for jacks compared to whippier spin outfits which can allow jacks more leeway to scramble back to their snaggy homes.

Whilst the bait caster preference does have its advantages, using spin outfits when chasing jacks also has its many unseen advantages which when utilised, can really improve your chances of red success.

The first and probably most effective advantage of using spin gear when targeting jacks is the extra finesse that it can bring to both lure presentation and action.

Spin gear has long been the preferred choice for finesse style fishing for species such as bass and bream not only due to the lighter line used but because of the extra options it can provide when working that lure back to the boat.

The stiffer more rigid bait caster rods are excellent when slow rolling or twitching back hard body lures but when it comes to a softer approach it is hard to go past the finesse of spin.

Characterised by softer rod tips and more flexible sticks, spin gear allows the angler to impart smaller more subtle movements especially with soft plastic lures when hopping or flicking in around and under snags.

Whilst you can achieve the same type of action using bait cast gear, the overhand rod grip and action of a spin rod really does provide a better feel for this type of fishing and essentially achieves a better presentation.

Spin gear does tend to lend itself better to this lure manipulation as it fishes a lot more effectively up and down compared to bait cast which is more about horizontal cast and retrieve.

With this advantage comes the preference to fish soft plastics over hard bodies. Now I’m not going to make the call that soft plastics catch more jacks then hard bodies but when you consider how much longer you can keep a soft plastic in the strike zone, there is a strong case to consider.

Sinking a softy into the snags and twitching it ever so slightly on an almost a zero retrieve allows fish to get a real eye on your prize opposed to one that lands and swims away quite quickly.

Whilst this movement out of the strike zone can be effective on barra, jacks will typically only smash a lure tight to structure so keeping it as close to structure as long as possible will yield better results.

This has been further enhanced with the evolution of weedless jig heads. This has been a bonus for spin users as the ability to throw soft plastic lures deep into structure and work them right through the snaggy stuff with finesse flicks and twitches has seen ‘no go zones’ become ‘potential strike zones’ for lures.

Longer spin rods are perfect for this style of fishing as the overhand hand rod grip and vertical style of fishing allows the angler to work lures into areas where a more traditional cast and retrieve approach will not work.

Once again whilst this can be achieved using bait cast outfits, spin gear tends to perform much better in these situations. When you are chasing jacks the tighter you can get to the timber the more chances you will have to snaring a strike.

Probably the biggest area where spin has begun to move above and beyond the bait cast option is when using vibe style lures.

Whilst vibes have been a big hit on threadfin salmon and barramundi, they are also extremely effective on mangrove jacks especially when fished into deep submerged structure.

The vibe is perfectly suited to being fished with spin gear as once again, the vertical style rips and bounces can be maximised using a longer more flexible stick.

For myself I find fishing spin when using vibe brings a lot more potential in terms of getting the most out of the lures vibrating action and attraction.

This certainly translates into catches and on many occasions, the swap to a spin stick whilst vibing brings almost immediate success due to the enhanced action and feel it can provide.

Obviously spin gear will not be suitable to all jack fishing conditions, especially those extremely tight areas. However many rod manufacturers are catching onto the benefits of spin gear for our northern species and are developing shorter rods that don’t compromise on finesse.

One particular environment where spin does have a massive advantage when chasing jacks is around manmade structures such as canals, jetty’s and marinas.

It’s no secret that these areas have become a haven for mangrove jacks to thrive as they provide plenty of structure to hold bait and also make perfect ambush points.

As many of these are deeper water structures, they respond better to the vertical style technique associated with spin gear.

One of the biggest issues with spin gear and jack fishing is accuracy. Bait casters have always provided more pinpoint accuracy which is a massive success factor when chasing jacks.

With the development of technology especially in the use of micro guides, the gap has been closed considerably.

Since fishing heavily with spin, I have been using the NS Black Hole One Range that incorporates micro guide technology which essentially is the use of very small diameter guides.

This means there is only a very small area within the guides for the line to move around when casting, which leads to significantly accurate casting and lure placement.

In particular the last four sets of guides are incredibly small which make bullet pinpoint casting a breeze.

With the huge range of soft plastic lures and vibes on offer, improvements in rod and reel technology and different types of structures to fish, it’s hard to ignore the use of spin gear when chasing jacks.

So put down your bait casters and pick up a spin rod to maximise your chances of red success.