Butterfly Jigging The road to the development of the Butterfly Jigging system began in the early 1990s in Japan. Many of Shimano’s most innovative products have migrated to the U.S. from across the Pacific Ocean. The Shimano product development staff studied the techniques anglers in Japan were using to catch fish in depths as great as 500 feet. Almost a decade before anyone I knew ever spooled a braided “superline” onto a reel or tied up a fluorocarbon leader, Shimano was working with these revolutionary products to create an efficient and lightweight fishing system that allowed anglers to catch large fish, like bluefin tuna, without bulky, cumbersome tackle.
The system Shimano unveiled in 2005 involves light, yet powerful rods, high-speed reels and specialized wind-on fluorocarbon leaders. The crux of the system is the Butterfly Jig. Though the jigs look simple enough, every aspect of the lure is carefully designed and engineered. The “assist hooks” that I thought were a bit suspect actually provide more secure hook-ups than fixed hooks. This is because they give the angler a more direct connection to the fish, and the fish are unable to use the lure as a lever to dislodge the hook.
Butterfly Jigs got their name from the butterfly-like fluttering motion that occurs underwater and the butterfly jig system catches tuna, bottom fish and even salmon.
With shorter and more powerful rods, fast powerful reels, braided line, fluorocarbon leaders and free-swinging hooks. The entire system is easy to manage and lightweight for long hours of fishing without wearing out the angler. Once the fish bites, you can feel every movement the fish makes because the system is so sensitive.
Other features include the Trinidad reel or Stella spinning reel, which works at high speeds for better jig handling for fast fish like tuna or dragging large bottom fish up from the deep.
Depending on your target species and their depth it is best to try different techniques but all fish don’t react to the same jig motion, you can use the same rod and reel but different jigs for a variety of NW species. From my experience I can give you a few tips. I will start with tuna as most people, especially a number of private captains on the coast jig for tuna. Tuna like a side to side motion. Picture a squid darting for it’s life going from left to right and right to left. Imitate this action while reeling. The majority of my tuna have been hooked in waters 20 to 150 feet deep on 5 or 7 ounce Shimano regular butterfly jigs. Always let the drop an extra 50 to 100 feet below your sonar fish marks before starting the retrieve.
Salmon seem to like the action of a flatside jig. I have had the best luck working the bottom ten feet of the water column using a lift and drop action and from time to time switching up to a shaking action, which is holding the jig at the same depth and shaking the rod tip up and down without reeling. For coho work the entire water column with a faster action.
Jigging Bottom fish
First of all they will hit any jig its amazing how aggressive black bass are. The key is to use the heaviest jig that you can constantly work. I prefer a 7 or 9 ounce jig in any color with two top hooks. Normally I do not put the bottom hook on as it snags a lot. The large flat sided jigs work best for ling cod and halibut. Just jig right off the bottom.
Rods reels and line
The Trevala rod is the key to this setup and will help detect the type of action taking place with the butterfly jigs. With the Trevala rods, you will know exactly what the lure is doing as soon as you pull it up on the rod. Jigging rods I have been using are the Trevala rated at 50-100 and 65-200. I have these both in spinning and casting configurations. The 65-200 works better for halibut fishing with the 12-16oz jigs. For reels I match the Trevala rods up to Shimano Trinidad 16N for casting rods and Stella 6000 for my spinning rods. Shimano just started marketing the all Trez rods which can be used for many of the same fisheries as the Trevala but are even more versatile to cover many more types of fishing situations.
Using braid or synthetic line is an absolute necessity to get the maximum performance from your jigging outfit. When you are in 200 feet of water and you drop down to target fish you can literally feel the initial hit immediately. I use Power Pro 65lb in green with a bimini twist at the end and a 10 foot top shot of 50 or 60lb fluorocarbon for the heavy gear, and 30 pound for salmon and sea bass. If you don’t like tying a bimini you can also use a small Spro swivel. These are super strong, very small barrel swivels that can be reeled through the eyes of the rod. Don’t use a standard barrel swivels as they will BREAK!
Buy a good set of split ring pliers for working with the split rings so you can change jigs in as little as 60 seconds.
Butterfly Jig Styles:
Butterfly Jig Regular: When the jig is dropped, ensure the tip of the rod is facing down as you lift and lower the rod tip with an upward circular motion. When reeling use a tight circular motion close to the body. This is useful for fast or slow retrieves.
Butterfly Flat-Side Jig: This innovative design provides the best action in the most common situations of angle-vertical jigging while drifting from a boat. The Rear/Center Weight Balance Design lets this jig fall to the bottom quickly with a swinging motion. The Asymmetric 3-D Design in conjunction with a Flat Half Mirror Finish, provides a look that especially appeals to bottom species while on the drop or the retrieve. The off-set eyeball position allows for the use of two different hook lengths for an overall better hooking ratio.
Butterfly Long: The long jigging method works with spinning and conventional tackle. Hold the rod butt loosely under your armpit depending on the tackle method. Once the jig is dropped low, the rod tip will face down. Perform an upward jerking action in order to bring the rod tip up and wind down the line till it is tight and the rod will be lowered to starting position.
Shallow Water Butterfly: Shallow Water Butterfly jigs come with three different styles and motions. “Slidend” is a side-to-side motion, “Whiligig” is a spiral motion and “Centervortex” for a multiple motion. All three styles of jigs are perfect for fishing shallow-water up to 150 feet of water. These are new jigs this year.
I have been using the Shimano Butterfly jigging system for about 6 years now and have found it to be the most versatile fishing system I own. I use the same rods and reels for salmon, bottom fish, halibut and tuna. All I have to do is change the leader and the jig style. I even take these setups to Mexico for the Salt Patrol Marlin Tournament in November and by adding a 100lb leader fish this system will work for marlin and sailfish. For more information on Butterfly Jigging visit www.Shimano.com
Capt John Keizer