November 7, 2017

Skills & Knowledge of Jigging for Speckled Trout (Part Three)


The skills and knowledge needed to catch speckled trout with a jig are revealed in the last part of this three part series.


In parts one and two I went over the rod, reel, line and lure you need to jig for speckled trout. Now I go over how to use them.

If you need to catch up you can do so here:

  1. Why Lake Pontchartrain is so Hard to Fish
  2. Which Rod and Reel You Need
  3. Which Lures Work Best

Jigging is a special application that requires specific tackle, but that tackle is useless without a skilled angler employing them.

Skills & Knowledge of Jigging for Speckled Trout

You need to learn these things:

  • a new way of casting
  • match jighead weight to water depth and speed
  • get your head “in the water”

New Casting Skills

Just like there are different kinds of tackle, there are different methods of casting.

There are overhead casts, side casts, roll casts, pitching, etc.

Overhead Casts

Overhead casts are the traditional casting method, often used by inshore anglers armed with spinning tackle and popping corks.

You can put a lot of power into a cast using this method!

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But an overhead cast doesn’t work that well around bridges. If the reasons aren’t obvious, then let me illustrate them for you.

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Most bridges we fish have low clearances and cannot accommodate an overhead cast.

Trestles Bridge Clearance

And even if you didn’t hit the bridge with your overhead cast, your lure would still fall short of the mark.

Overhead cast bait is swept back

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The unique structure of a bridge (or dock, tree limbs, etc.) presents a unique challenge that requires a new, unique way of casting.

Roll Casting

This is the solution to this challenge.

A well-executed roll cast will send your lure flying low over the water, with minimal arc, underneath the clearance of a short bridge.

With a roll cast, you can get under the bridge and give the lure enough “runway” to descend to the speckled trout.

This video from LAFB Elite does a great job of illustrating a roll cast.

Note how much lower the lure flies.

Skipping lures and pitching are effective as well but, for the sake of brevity, are not included in this article.

Roll Casting is Not Enough

A roll cast can only get your bait down to the bottom if it flies completely to the other side of the bridge.

Roll Casting Example

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Due to conditions at hand, you cannot always make that perfect roll cast under and across the bridge.

On top of that, trout may be holding to a piling. They do this to get out of strong current rushing between bridge pilings.

When this is the case, you must make super-accurate casts to the piling.

But it gets tougher...

Casting to fish holding tight to structure creates a whole new challenge.

The “runway” the lure needs to get to the bottom went from being 10 feet to ten inches, if that.

Quick Refresher

Remember that a “runway” is the horizontal distance a lure needs in order to travel the vertical distance to the bottom of the water, where feeding trout await.

In the marsh, we have luxurious runways of 10 yards or more. When casting under bridges, 10-15 feet and when casting to fish holding close to pilings, less than a foot.

How do we meet this challenge?

  • by utilizing the advantages of casting tackle
  • employing the technique described below

Slack Line Jigging

This is a special technique using slack intentionally put into fishing line to get a good presentation on speckled trout.

This is possible because casting reels have the unique ability to continue paying out line even after the lure has stopped moving forward in a cast.

Note: If you haven't begun using baitcasters then you really need to give it a shot and, if you're not sure which one is for you, check out this guide to buying a good baitcaster.

Using this aspect of baitcasters, we can let out more line than is necessary by keeping the spool spinning even after the lure hits the water!

To avoid the dreaded backlash, you simultaneously lift up on the rod and give a little bit of thumb to slow the spool down.

With this advantage you are able to defeat the “short runway” challenge.

You can put enough slack in the line to allow the lure to drop straight down, and not swing on the rod tip, away from the piling.

I’m hoping you’re not confused and that this doodle helps explain the concept more clearly.

lure rotates axis rod tip

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Breaking the cardinal rule of “keep your line tight” is part of how we succeed in such a unique scenario.

slack line jigging

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You can amplify the effect by using a heavier jighead, like a half ounce. 

Just remember a lighter jighead has better action and gives the fish less leverage to spit the hook.

slack line on bridges

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Here's a video from fishing Hwy 11 in Lake Pontchartrain.

You can see how I cast and let line out while lifting the rod, and even included a couple catches to show it works! 

Watch more roll casting and casting here.

Weight Selection

There is no point in re-hashing weight selection, because it's already covered in detail here: Properly Selecting Jighead Weight

Holding The Reel

People ask about this and it ultimately depends on your personal ergonomics, but I feel this is the proper way to hold a baitcaster.


The knowledge in this article opens new doors to anglers and, if used properly, they will begin to catch more specks in Lake Pontchartrain!

Better than that, the understanding of water geometry and how to manipulate their tackle to achieve new presentations allows anglers to identify new fishing spots and catch in places they never did before.

This knowledge can be applied anywhere, and is far more important than basic things like experimenting with lure color.

I took time to hone these skills in Lake Pontchartrain and the Biloxi Marsh, and have become a better angler because of it.

In fact, it helped me land this lunker bass.

Give it a shot, and you will too!

Captain Devin

About the Author

Devin is a veteran of the Iraq War and former fishing guide. He founded Louisiana Fishing Blog in 2012 to share his ideas as a charter captain and still writes in it today. Since then he's created a fishing university — LAFB Elite — where he teaches inshore anglers how to safely navigate Louisiana's coast and catch more fish.

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  • Great info as usual I practice my side casting all the time especially on windy day’s to get out further under the wind . I will also make a small circle with the tip of the pole to cast and keep the line tight.

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