An Introduction to Slow Pitch Jigging

Get the most out of this exciting method of fishing

By Anthony Dillon (Cover photo courtesy Reel Deal Fishing Charters
Slow Jigging - Norihiro Sato2
Norihiro Sato, creator of Slow Pitch Jigging.

This modern and innovative jigging technique was developed by Norihiro Sato in Japan.  Recognizing the speed jigging techniques worked effectively at certain times but not at others he set about developing and refining a new technique. Based on the principle that predatory fish are always looking for injured or easy prey he set about developing a method that closely mimicked this action. The actions of crippled fish entice reaction strikes which this method replicates. Widely used in Japan for several years, it is now spreading globally due to its effectiveness.

Slow pitch jigging is not slow reeling. It is a continuous sequence of stops and goes with each pitch of the rod. It’s basically 1 pitch per second. That tempo is very slow compared to the conventional style of speed jigging. With this method the rod bends upwards after a partial turn of the reel handle, full turn, ½ turn or a ¼ turn which imparts the action to the jig. After the pitch of the rod the rod springs back up releasing due to the whip action and the jig is tossed to the side. The center balanced jig slides to the side and moves in the horizontal position. It is when the jig is on its side that triggers the reaction strike. By lifting and rod and reeling a partial turn and then dropping the rod this again sees the jig free fall with its own built in action eliciting the strike as it drops. Various actions of the rod work well and it helps to experiment with rhythm and timing of the pitch on a particular day until the angler has dialed in on what works for that day and conditions.

This method has achieved tremendous results with all kinds of fish. With speed jigging the bottom dwellers are seldom caught, but with slow pitch they are the main target and readily attack a slow pitch jig. The pelagic’s including tuna, wahoo, kingfish, amberjacks, yellowtail, stripped bass all readily take a slow pitch jig, often as it is worked up through the water column or on the drop. The one essential part of this technique is the vertical alignment with your jig. A fast current or a fast drift will impact the effectiveness of this technique.


Conventional reels are best for Slow Pitch Jigging as they provide more information to the angler whilst fishing. The conventional has the axis of the rotation perpendicular to the line, linking the angler more directly with the line. You can feel the layers of currents, a fish chasing your jig, your split-ring clicking, and you can tell if it’s sand or rock when the jig touches the bottom. You can’t feel these things with spinning reels. Gathering information is at the heart of Slow-Pitch Jigging.


Slow Jigging - Hanta TAI 54S 2Slow pitch rods have very specific actions. They are thin in diameter, highly resilient blanks. Their guides and reel seats are designed for maximum sensitivity. They have a slow tapered parabolic action that easily bends deep through the whole length whilst jerking and reeling. Then when you hold it up it springs back slowly and strongly, accelerating and releasing the jig to swim on its side. These rods are designed so that even when you give a small pitch like 1/2, 1/4 or 1/8 turn, only 8” to 14” in length, the rod responds to spring up nicely, slow and long. The rod picks up a lot of information from the line and delivers it to your hands. It also means that your little actions and different tones do change the behaviors of the jig. Slow pitch is a game of listening. In hi-speed jigging you do a lot of talking, meaning that you are influencing the jig movements most of the time. In slow pitch jigging, you talk just a little. You only pitch the jig. And then while you let it swim and fall on its own, you do all the listening.

We don’t worry about the rod strength to fight with a big fish. It’s not our rod’s job. The rod’s job is to dance the jig, invite fish bites, and hook them. As soon as you hook a fish, that’s when your rod finishes its job. Now it’s your reel’s job with its power and the tight, smooth drag to bring the fish home. We don’t pump the rod. Just keep your rod straight down and reel in steady and calm. Like Sato Sensei says, “Don’t p%&s off the fish.”


Braided line is essential for Slow Pitch Jigging. Nylon monofilament is no use as it is too thick in diameter and stretches too much.
The line is so important to deliver the angler’s subtle actions to the jig, and also to deliver all the information back to the angler. The characteristics are very strong to the weight, this reduces diameter, reducing current influence. In additional by not stretching you have direct control to what’s on the other end. 40# to 60# is the standard range as the thicker the line the greater the water resistance thus reducing feedback to the angler. This creates a dilemma, either the finesse for picking up more bites, or the strength for catching big fish. The feedback is critical to this method of angling and thinner lines are the preference for precise feedback to the angler.


It’s common to have 5 to 8 yards of leader of Fluorocarbon. The leader is knotted to a solid ring, which is connected to a split ring which holds the jig and another solid ring with assist hooks. We don’t use swivels. They create unnecessary water resistance. Like Sato Sensei says, “The less metal parts in your system, the more contacts you get. The leader is there to prevent the braid from touching the bottom edges, to keep strong knot to the ring, and to absorb shocks from the fish fight by stretching.


Shimano Butterfly Jigs are a proven favorite of many Cape anglers.

There are a growing number of specialized jigs for Slow-Pitch Jigging on the market. They come in all shapes and colors but one thing in common is that they are center-balanced. The key factor of Slow-Pitch Jigging is to get the jig in horizontal position. Usually a leafy shape, and non-symmetry, one side is flat and one side is fat and shaped. There is a pattern of the color which is very popular. It is luminous paint in a zebra pattern. This mimics many types of juvenile fish hence its effectiveness.

Thanks to Toto’s from Japanese Anglers Secrets for his guidance and interpretation of these techniques and equipment –