November 16, 2017

My Favorite Winter Jigging Combo for Speckled Trout

The tackle I use may be slightly different from yours, but these details made the difference for me.

I'm not big on brands and I hate BS marketing.

I prefer things like specifications, numbers, items I can measure.

Because then I can be factual and get down to the nitty-gritty of how a thing really performs.

This is what I did when I wrote about choosing a good rod or selecting a baitcaster.

But at the end of the day, people want to know what I use.

So here it is in a nutshell:

  • St. Croix Avid-X AXC64MXF
  • Daiwa Tatula 80 8.1:1
  • 12lb Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon
  • Matrix Shad soft plastics and jigheads

And here is the longer explanation:

Winter Jigging Combo for Speckled Trout

During the winter I use a specific combination of tackle to help me achieve a great presentation to speckled trout.

What's a good presentation for cold weather?

A soft and slow fall.

Water temperature is low during winter, ranging from the low 40s to mid 50s.

In the realm of inshore fishing, that is cold.

This influences the metabolism of speckled trout and causes them to slow down.

They're not going to pursue a fast-moving bait, but one that is easily caught in front of them.

So a soft and slow fall is a great presentation to match the conditions.

The Tackle I Use to Achieve This Soft Presentation

What I use isn't just a rod and reel, but consists of a rod, reel, line and lure combination.

I just wanted to be clear.

Short and Light Rod

You need a rod for jigging, and jigging calls for a lot of casting and working of the lure.

This means fast motions up and down, like what you see in this video.

The best solution is using a shorter rod. Because there is less rod, there is less weight.

In this video I am using a rod that is 6'2". (Sorry guys, it was custom made and they aren't available for purchase. Otherwise I'd hook it up!)

Too Short?  Yes, a shorter rod weighs less, but that doesn't mean it's better.

The drawback with going shorter is losing your ability to quickly take up slack.

You can't achieve good hook sets if your rod isn't taking slack out of the line.

  • Longer rods remove more slack, faster.
  • Shorter rods remove less slack, slower.


Short rods can be hard to come by.

Few anglers buy short rods, so why should rod companies produce them?

So, for the reasons listed, a rod that is 6'6" is the general "best" solution.

But, you should also know that St. Croix makes sub-6'6" rods in their Avid X line.

The Avid X AXC64MXF is 6'4", medium power and extra fast action, and great for speckled trout.


This is easy. Just like the rod, you want a light reel.

Something in the 50-100 range is fine and should generally weigh under 7 ounces.

Anything heavier will wear you out.

I've experimented with a few different reels and really like Daiwa's Tatula 100 in an 8.1:1 gear ratio.

It's light, smooth and holds plenty of line for my wintertime jigging purposes!

I use a high-speed retrieve, 7.5:1, for quickly taking up slack.


12lb Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon is my first choice.

I have great reasons for doing so:

  • casts smoother than braid
  • more sensitive than monofilament
  • great abrasion resistance
  • sinks in the water

Braid casts like crap. I've used $30 100-yard spools of the best name-brand braid and it all eventually performs the same.

I'm not saying braid is a bad fishing line.

It's merely another tool in the toolbox, that I use for other applications.

Monofilament floats. I like to use something that sinks to get that smooth, slow fall.

With fluorocarbon, I can use a lighter jighead because it sinks.

Superior Presentation: from my experience, over the the winter of 2016-2017, an 1/8oz jighead paired with 12lb fluoro outperformed a 1/4oz jighead with braided line.

Despite casting at the same spot, using the same technique with similar rod/reel combos, the fluorocarbon and light jighead consistently got more bites.


For soft plastics I use Matrix Shad.

For different reasons but mostly because they just plain kick ass.

Chewed up Matrix Shad and Golden Eye Jighead

Matrix Shad and Golden Eye jigheads can take the abuse. This jighead caught 300+ speckled trout and the Matrix Shad survived 50 or so.

Lemonhead is the color I usually start with regardless of where I am fishing.

For jigheads I use the Goldeneye series, ranging from 1/8oz to 1/2oz, depending on water depth and speed.

Note: One of the biggest reasons anglers don't catch fish, especially in water 8ft deep or more, is because they choose the wrong sinking weight for their lure. This free course details how to do this correctly!


This winter jigging combo for speckled trout has worked for me and I'm confident it will work for you!

Hopefully I saved you time and money looking for a great jigging combo, and you get to have fun using it on the water.

Tight lines, y'all!

Captain Devin

About the Author

Devin is a former fishing guide and lifelong inshore angler. 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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  • I have used them but haven’t noticed a big difference. I catch well enough on 3″ paddle tails that I really don’t need to change it up. Thanks for commenting, Keith.

  • Have you tried out rat tail type plastics for winter? Like mirrolure Lil John xl?

    Texas saltwater fishing mag had an article awhile back implying rat tails fish better in winter than paddle tails due to they have much more exaggerated action (at the cost of less vibration). Of course I’ll try it out myself whenever I get back out there (who knows when, sigh), but wondered on your opinion.

  • Fishing line has no significant impact on accuracy, though casting accurately is key, like in the video in the article.

    Not all braid is made the same, therefore not possessing the same characteristics.

    And aren’t you assuming fish notice or even take time to study the line?

    I used that same combo during the summer. It did just fine.

    What matters is getting the right presentation.

  • Cool, I suppose that makes sense. So it’s not a matter of distance but accuracy? I think it’s interesting that fluoro sinks vs braid which floats normally which allows a lighter jighead. I also wonder if part of the difference you saw last year on braid vs flouro is also due to you fish slower in winter, so the fish would have more time to study the line and might think something doesn’t look right with the braid.

  • I’m not sure I understand the Braid vs Fluorocarbon. I was always told Braid casts better because it’s thinner diameter than anything else at similar line weights?

  • Capt. Devin,
    If you’re interested I could build some of these jigging rods for you to offer members interested in these types/styles of rods (I’d love to make you one to try out and help me critique)

  • Do you know what blank was used for your 6’2″ jigging rod? I’m interested in making one.

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