Despite what 98% of the articles ever published on worming/jigging state, I’m convinced I catch far more fish by fishing a slack line. I would estimate that 75% or more of the fish I catch on worms/jigs I’m responding to something I feel in the line, through my fingers, rather than through the rod. Further, I feel these hits on a slack line, and I hook a far greater percentage of the fish that hit on a slack line, than those that hit on a tight line.
There are at least two good reasons for this. One is that it’s the only way to ensure that a light lure falls even close to vertically. If you’ve got tension on the line, the lure swings in an arc toward you as it sinks. If there’s a fish at the base of a tree in 8 feet of water and you cast to the top of the tree and hold the line tight, the jig will hit bottom anywhere from 3 to 6 feet from the base of the tree (depending on rod position, how far away from the target you are, and on jig and line weight). Even if they see it, the inactive fish you’re after with a jig type presentation won’t often swim that far to check it out. But allow that lure to sink on a slack line, and it will hit bottom almost directly under the postition it was in when you dropped the rod tip and let it sink. In other words, right smack in the fish’s face, where there’s little effort required to eat it.
The other advantage to slack line jigging is eliminating the windsock effect. If there’s tension on the line and a fish inhales your jig, the line tension is working against the fish. The jig or worm swings like a windsock, and the fish gets it tail first. Note that the tail is the end without a hook. I guarantee you’ll have a higher hooking percentage if the hook is actually in the fish’s mouth. On a slack line, you lose the windsock effect as there’s little line tension to interfere with the fish’s ability to inhale the lure. The fish gets the whole thing, every time.
I do most of my serious worm fishing with casting gear, but I do a tremendous amount of light line finesse fishing with small jigs, grubs and the like with spinning gear. With casting gear, keeping a finger in contact with the line at all times is a snap — just palm the reel and extend your index finger under the line guide. But with spinning gear, it’s difficult to maintain contact with the line while reeling (although I’ve seen some anglers do it by holding the rod and the line ahead of the reel seat). That’s not really a problem. It’s not important to maintain direct contact with the line while you’re actually reeling in slack. On the other hand, it’s quite easy to extend your index finger to touch the line while the lure is sinking, and especially as you pick up the last little bit of slack with the rod tip just before you move the lure the next time. That’s when you want the tactile feedback. If anything feels out of the ordinary or unexcpected then, you know the drill. Swing on it!