Vertical Jigging for Flatheads

In the past, I have had instances where I have gotten my bait snagged on bottom and while trying to work it loose, I have had a flathead take the bait. This has happened to me on a few occasions and I know of others who have had similar experiences. I have been trying to come up with a way to replicate that and vertical jigging is the best solution I have thought of thus far. This past week, I finally got around to trying it out and I was very pleased with the results.
For my setup, I was using 3/4 ounce Hogy Barbarian Jig Heads. These jig heads have a heavy duty hook that will hold up well to any size flathead I could encounter. Above my jig head, I had a 3 foot leader of 50lb. test Berkley Big Game Monofilament for abrasion resistance since I knew I was going to be fishing down in some rocks and other obstructions. For my main line, I was using 30lb test Power Pro braid. This is a much lighter main line than I typically use for my catfishing setups but I wanted a lighter line due to the fact that I knew I would be getting snagged periodically and would need to break off. With the buoyancy of a kayak, it is very difficult to get the leverage necessary to break off heavy line. I also opted for a graphite rod instead of my usual Ugly Stik Catfish rods for the extra sensitivity.
Once I got on the water, I caught some bluegill to use for bait. I wanted to start with live bluegill because I wanted the bait kicking and putting off vibration as I dropped it down in front of the flatheads' faces. I baited my jig head with a live bluegill and I also suspended a couple more off the back of the kayak. The area I was fishing was a ledge on Watts Bar ranging from 35-40 feet deep. It is an area where I have caught several good flatheads in the past so I knew it had potential. This particular ledge is full of snags and other obstacles that create perfect lairs for flatheads.
The first fish I caught was a small blue cat. It wasn't what I was after but it was still encouraging to catch a fish using the technique. As I continued to make my way down the ledge, one thing I quickly realized is that this is a tiresome technique. The live bluegill created a surprising amount of resistance as I constantly lifted and lowered the jig. My efforts were rewarded though. It wasn't long after catching the first fish that I hooked into another. This time it was a flathead. While fighting this fish, one of my rods with the suspended bait went down. After landing the first flathead on my jigging rod, I reeled in the other which, much to my surprise, was another flathead. A double with flatheads is always a fun time in the kayak.
After another hour of jigging with the live bluegill, I decided to make a switch. I started using cut bluegill with the hook ran through their mouth and out through their back. This greatly reduced the amount of resistance I felt as I jigged the bait up and down. Shortly after making the switch I hooked into another flathead.
Bluegill tend to bleed out pretty quickly so I was changing my bait every 15 minutes or so to try to keep it fresh. Whether or not it makes a difference with vertical jigging is unknown since I am looking to get more of a reaction bite but I knew it couldn't hurt my cause. I had been fishing for another hour or so with no action when I felt the thump. After being towed around in the kayak for a couple minutes, I got the fish to the surface and realized I had caught another flathead. This one ended up being the biggest of the day.
I certainly didn't set any records with the size of the fish I caught but I was very encouraged that this technique worked just like I thought it would. I ended up with four flatheads in right at 4 hours of fishing with three of them being caught on the jig. Most importantly though, I had a blast catching them on the jig. This is definitely a technique I will continue to use in the future. The video of all the action will be posted to my YouTube channel soon. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss any of my adventures.
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