Amberjack, donkey, AJ – whatever you call this broad-shouldered denizen found around the world in temperate to tropical waters – it's doubtful you can find a fish that hits a jig harder or bullies its way back into heavy offshore structure than the amberjack.
AJs are like your mother's brother who moved to Hawaii and hangs out in all the wrong places; the bad boys of the jack family always looking for a fight. Modern jigging techniques and tackle have opened the world of amberjack fishing to anyone who can get offshore and find a wreck, rock or reef and our staff will make sure you leave with all the right gear to tackle a donkey. Why are amberjack called donkeys? Because they are stubborn as a mule and pack a punch.
Let The Jig Flutter By
The flutter jigging technique brought over from Japan in recent years was developed initially for yellowtail, another member of the jack family, and uses a jig with a counterweighted, asymmetrical design that creates an exaggerated flutter as the rod tip is lifted and dropped during the retrieve
From high-sided narrow conventional reels with fast gear ratios to the smoothest of spinning reels with lots of grinding power, the choice of your reel is critical to success with the flutter technique. The beauty is both spinning and conventional reels are set up with braid for this technique and topped with a fluorocarbon leader tied to the jig, equally as deadly for amberjack. Whatever you are most comfortable with, we have the reel that is the perfect fit for your style
Since a softer rod tip is crucial to developing the right jig action, not only have many varieties of jigs been imported from Asia following the introduction of the technique, there has also been a breakthrough in rod design in both spinning and conventional rods. Our expert staff knows exactly the right rod action for the reel you choose.
We Know The Hot Lures
The colors, sizes and styles of jigs that work the best during any given season can change depending on what kind of forage amberjack are locked onto. For instance, brown, yellow and white jigs (sometime called scrambled egg) are usually very good any time squid or the brownish scads and mackerels are the main feed, while blues and silvers mimic flying fish and greens and blacks do the same for mullet and some mackerel.
Since much of the fishing is deep, it's hard to beat whites and/or reds. Our offshore pros here at the store have the latest information on the bite and can point you to the hot lures and colors.
Drop Deep For Action
As noted, amberjack are found around the world and another deep jigging technique developed for yellowtail has produced a lot of amberjack in spots like Hawaii and Mexico's Baja Peninsula. Called yo-yo jigging, the jigs are painted, 3- to 8-ounce elongated spheres of heavy metal with a treble hook dangling from the bottom. Flutter jigs, on the other hand, use single hooks attached to heavy cord with a loop that allows the hook to be passed through and secured to the top of the lure. Sounds complicated, but it's really simple and we can quickly show you how to set up the entire rig.
Big amberjack are found around the nastiest wrecks and reefs (as is a related species called the almaco jack). The yo-yo technique starts by letting the jig drop to the bottom before winding the lure back to the boat as fast as you can. You can even throw in some Baja-style rod action if you like. The pangeros south of the border will wind the tip of the rod down to the water and then rip the rod up to eye level in order to impart more speed and action to the lure. Wind down and repeat.
The flutter jig approach is a refined, more measured version of the pangeros' approach. The tip of the rod lifts the jig up and then both drop down as the angler gains line. Again, we can help you with technique. Just be sure to set the hook hard when you get bit and start cranking right away. The difference between a fish on the boat and a broken line is how quickly you can utilize the momentum of the fish chasing the lure to keep it from turning its head and heading back to freedom.
Let The Gear Do The Work
The flash and action of both techniques attract lots of bites from top to bottom, although most of the amberjack bites on the yo-yo and flutter jigs come in the the lower third to two-thirds of the water column. So spare yourself some grinding through empty water and let the lure drop back down before you reel it all the way back to the boat. Of course you never know when a wahoo, kingfish, blackfin or bonito might decide to bite if you keep winding.
You might feel like your arm is going to wear out, but a good high-speed reel does most of the work these days. Just relax and keep the lure moving like a baitfish or squid fleeing pursuit. There's a payoff when an amberjack catches its prey and that first punch is just the start of the battle. We've got the gear you need to lift your arms in victory as they cradle a big amberjack for a photo before it's released.