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The Joy of Jigging
While there certainly are many, many bass baits that will consistently catch fish there is one that works everywhere, almost any time (one exception, I don’t do ice fishing) and catches all sizes and species of bass. Paddlers, I give you the jig. There’s a quote that goes, “learn something about everything and everything about something”. When I started fishing for bass I decided I wanted to learn (and teach) as much as I could. Eventually my focus changed to fooling BIG bass. Yes, there are differences to catching the “cookie cutter” bass and the true giants. It’s a little more complicated than just making the correct lure choice. Here’s a pictorial view and some associated suggestions that have served me well for decades of pitchin’ a jig for trophy bass.

#1. Picking the perfect jig is complicated. Weight, color, size, line tie, hook, head shape and more all play a part in filling the compartments of you jig box. Matching a trailer to the jig. Because primarily a jig properly presented should imitate the look and motion of a crawfish. The size, shape and color of the trailer matter in the look and performance of the bait. You can closely match the color of the trailer to the bait or add a contrast to the color of the jig using the plastic craw trailer. A larger trailer Strike King Rage Tail Craw) ( on a lightweight jig (finesse jig could be as light as 1/8 oz.) slows the fall of the lure. A smaller trailer (Strike Kings Rage Tail baby craw) on a heavier jig (up to one oz.) increases the speed of the descent of the bait. The best normal bet for day to day fishing and conditions is to match the small trailer with the lightweight jig and larger trailer with the heavier jig.
#2. The look as they come out of the packaging. A few alterations can dramatically change the look and performance of a jig. Experimentation and creativity has a big payoff. The changes you apply add a different visual appeal for pressured fish and lets the lure swim, hop and crawl in unique ways.
#3. Taking a sharp scissors holding the jig upright start a three stage trimming of the jig. Towards the head of the bait shorten the strands to make them jump out. (Remember the carpenters rule: measure twice cut once.) You can add length back to the rubber stands. Move to the middle, make cuts that leave the next stage a bit longer. At the bottom especially toward the back of the bait leave some bands the original length. Why do this? When the jig enters the water the natural water pressure compacts the rubber stands on the bait. On the untrimmed jig the bands all compress the same way and open all at the same time. With the properly trimmed jig the strands actually open in three stages making it look “alive” while at rest and each time it’s lifted and allowed to drop. This look is much harder for the bass to resist and tempts the fish that follows the jig trying to decide whether to strike or not.

#4. This shows the line tie some are turned 90 degrees from this Strike King Structure Jig and it does affect the hook set. Also depicted is the spread of the weedguard. I merely pull the guard to either side and hold to change the mouth feel of fish on the initial inhalation of the bait. I also adds more surface to the protective weed guard and makes it more weedless and less likely to hang up.

#5. A “sticky” sharp Owner hook will effectively penetrate any part of the bass’ bony mouth and surrounding area. Half way up on the shank of the hook is a very pronounced bait keeper. This will snuggly hold the trailer straight and in place. The hook point is threaded into the center of the plastic and you slide it up about a half inch and punch the hook through.

#6. With a properly trimmed jig, prior to threading the trailer on I clip off the first segment of the trailer to create the snuggest fit to the base of the jig. The trailer also serves to make the bait mouth feel more natural to the fish meaning it accepts the baits and will hold on longer. Once a bass feels something unnatural in its mouth it will almost always immediately reject the jig.

#8. The finished ready to cast and catch jig.
Additionally I recommend a seven foot medium heavy action fishing rod for jigging chores. Braided line on a high quality reel is a plus for feel, strength and hook setting capabilities. Colors for jigs and trailers should match conditions and the color of the crawfish found locally. Dark colors for discolored waters and lighter shades or more neutral colors for clear water conditions. The versatile jig can be used in open water but shines when cast around cover in the form of submerged wood, weed beds, docks, rock and isolated objects on points, creek channels and other likely bass locations. Keep constant contact with the lure and at the first sign of anything different feel, line moving off or just a slight tug or tap, set the hook. Dedicate some time to this effective bass bait and you too will learn the joys of jigging.