Jig Fishing Techniquesby: Steve vonBrandt
20 years ago, this bait was reserved for the sluggish bass, or for fishing in the heaviest cover, or for bottom fishing techniques. Today, this bait is being used at all times of the year, in a variety of different fashions.
Jig sizes have changed in recent years, along with skirt material and colors. The 3/8 ounce size remains the most popular, with smaller versions are being used more and more with great success. The smaller finesse type of jigs are much more effective in clear water, while the heavier, bulky versions are great for fishing stained to muddy water. Not that the heavier jig isn't effective in some shallower, open water, but a more compact 1/2 ounce bait is more effective. This is especially true when fishing some of the finger lakes of New York State, or any of the waters where smallmouth bass are also present. The heavier jig is more effective when the bass are aggressive, as it allows you to fish it faster and cover more water. When the fish are suspended, or you need to keep it in the strike zone longer, the lighter jig is more effective.
We always keep experimenting with several sizes, letting the bass tell us what they want. In the summer months, when we swim the jig around boat docks, we opt for the lighter 1/4 ounce size, with a plastic trailer, to imitate a crawfish or baitfish. Swimming the jig is a very effective technique that is overlooked by many weekend anglers. Most small jigs don't have a big enough hook to handle quality bass, which is why we use a Strike King Bitsy Bug. We have been using this bait since 1998, when we had great success with it in several local tournaments in cold water as well as in the summer. The Bitsy Bug has a bigger hook than most, and it handles larger bass well. In warmer, clear water, we like to use a grub or swimming worm as a trailer, this is very effective when you are trying to imitate a crawfish. In colder, or more stained to muddy waters, we like a bulkier trailer, as they displace more water and make it easier for the bass to home in on the bait.
Of course, it helps to know when you're getting a bite. Big bass really thump a jig with the same vigor they do a plastic worm, and many other strikes are felt simply as spongy sensation, or just like you're dragging weeds. That's why it is important to set the hook on anything that feels unnatural, it could be weeds, or it could be a 7 pounder!
While a black and blue jig seem to be the favorite, we like to match jig colors to the water conditions. A dark colored jig with a big crawfish trailer, moving on the bottom, does a great job imitating a crawfish, but a white jig swimming over cover and around boat docks does a good job of imitating a baitfish. This is great when bass want a slower presentation, or when you can't fish a crankbait or jerkbait with ease. Many times when bass are feeding on shad, but want a slower presentation than a spinnerbait, this is the best choice. It can also catch the bigger bass, that are ignoring the spinnerbait.
We like the plastic trailers in the summer months, and the pork in the winter. Pork is more pliable in cold water, while plastic gets stiff. In places where many anglers cast tubes or small finesse worms, such as clear water flats, we cast jigs in neutral colors, and catch bigger bass. Many times when bass ignore other baits, the jig will trigger a strike. This is also a great bait for night fishing.
Added: Thu Apr 10 2008
Last Modified: Fri May 15 2009
Fishing with Jigs
Reviewed by: Lightlinejohn, May 29 2009 8:44PM
Oh, I fish 10lb florocarbon line, nothing heaver.