Global in Concept
Both the general concepts and specific tactics used by Schmidt and Blum apply wherever flutter jigging is practiced, whether it’s in the inshore or offshore waters of the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Gulf of Mexico or Pacific. I’ve flutter jigged with good success for black sea bass off Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts; bluefish and striped bass off Connecticut; amberjack from Virginia Beach down through Key West; and tuna and wahoo off south Florida and in the Bahamas and Gulf of Mexico. Of course, there are subtleties involved with being species-specific, including leader selection and adapting to the environment you’re fishing (i.e., in channels, bays, inlets, passes or canyons; over reefs or wrecks; or under bait and birds).
When fishing for toothy pelagics, I’ll still stick with a fluorocarbon leader — unless the fish are so solid they’re not deterred by a light (38- to 40-pound-test) single-strand wire leader. However, I’ll change my retrieve. When dropping under floating debris and dolphin schools for wahoo, I’ll let the flutter jig fall about 100 feet, then engage the drag and retrieve the jig as quickly and as straight as possible, so it looks like a healthy bait racing for the surface. That way if a wahoo strikes, it just may catch the flutter jig below the head and miss the fluorocarbon leader. If the jig were whipped in traditional fashion, a fish would likely strike on the fall, when the jig is ahead of the leader. When that happens, the fish catches the jig and leader on the bite, and you lose both jig and target!
Regardless of species, two things should remain foremost when selecting or rigging a flutter-style jig. Since line twist can become an issue due to the jigs’ inherent erratic action, a swivel should be incorporated into the system, whether it’s joining the leader and the fishing line or it’s on the jig itself. This is especially true when you’re using a flutter jig in conjunction with spin tackle. It’s also important to add or make sure the jig has a solid eye ring. Avoid tying your line directly to the split-ring eye, as stories continue to mount on how fish are lost when the fishing line slides into the split ring — and eventually off of it.
Once you try flutter jigs over the course of several trips and review your score cards, you’ll wonder why you didn’t jump on the flutter-jig bandwagon a long time ago.
Flutter Jigging 101
1. Braided line is a must, because its thin diameter cuts through the water better than a monofilament of the same breaking strength. This enables lighter jigs to reach and hold bottom better. Braid telegraphs the feel and action of the jig and even the subtlest strike. There’s no stretch, so positive hookups soar, especially with deep bottomfish.
2. Use small conventional reels and the new generation of light yet strong jigging and casting rods. Flutter jigging requires elbow grease, and lightweight tackle eliminates early fatigue.
3. Even though a flutter jig eye has a solid ring to tie to, use an overhand loop knot to join leader to lure. This will provide a bit more freedom for the jig to dance and maximize its action.
4. A single hook is proving just as effective as a dual setup. It’s also easier on fish and the angler doing the releasing.
5. An increasing number of anglers have been replacing the standard J hook with an in-line circle hook and discovering better hookup and landing results.
6. Make sure a swivel is incorporated into the flutter-jig system. This will alleviate line twist caused by the action of the jig, particularly when fishing on spin tackle.
7. Avoid tying the leader to a split ring. There’s a risk of losing your jig and fish because the leader can slip through the ring.