Follow Which Leader?
Leaders can be a contentious issue. Cummings is particular about using long leaders, whether they're 40-pound fluoro for stripers or 80-pound for bluefins.
"I feel you need a much longer leader than most anglers routinely use," he says. "I'll start with a 25-foot wind-on leader and fish it until it gets down to 18 or 20 feet.
"I don't know what happens, but there are times when we should get bit and we don't. We change the leader, and boom, there it is. There is some relationship between the jig and the resistance of the leader."
Secrest approaches things differently. "I seldom use more than 6 or 8 feet," he says. "My leader is 60-pound nylon mono for rockfish, 80 for general use, and I'll use 100- or 150-pound fluoro for tuna. I want to be able to put a couple of wraps around the reel spool with the fish at the boat. The length of the leader does not matter if I have the right rod for the size of jig I'm fishing."
Unlike traditional jigs, which are built on hooks, speed jigs are fished separately from their hooks. The leader is tied to a welded ring, and jigs are fastened to that with a split ring. Assist hooks, rigged by hook manufacturers on Kevlar or cable leads, are girth-hooked to the same welded ring.
This configuration allows the jig to swing freely as it is worked through the water column, and when the strike takes place, the fish is hooked by a single hook or paired assist hooks, and the jig hangs free. It's an action thing, says Cummings: "You want that jig independent so there is no drag or resistance on it." Everything goes on the solid ring that is fastened to the leader. "Even the highest quality split rings will open," he says. "I have landed a lot of tuna and not gotten the jig back."
Cummings offers a couple of deviations in hook configuration. "Usually I use one assist hook instead of a pair," he says. "I've found my hookup ratio is not compromised, and my landing rate seems better." He also ties his own assist hooks, opting for a shorter lead than what is available in pre-rigged hooks. "I make them just long enough to loop to the welded ring, instead of letting them reach the bottom of the jig," he says. "My hookup rate seems better, and it is a lot easier to handle the unhooking at boat-side with a shorter lead."