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nvariably the question is eventually asked, “If you could only have one lure to catch bass what would it be?” Given the artificial lure avalanche created when I dump out a tackle box and the spectrum of lures available to today’s bass angler it seems like a crazy question. While I love the sudden stop of a fish inhaling a spinner or crankbait, the visual sight of a topwater explosion or any of the other descriptions depicting a bass hit, the single bait answer to the question, a jig. Tournament enthusiasts casting for cash from big boats, kayaks or any other craft will almost always have a rod rigged with a jig. Fishing for fun, food…a jig. A variety of styles for casting, pitchin’, flippin’ skippin’, let’s look at the details that make this simplistic bait a winner.

With a history of being made of “hair”, bear, fox, rabbit and other natural materials, early jigs were a change for fishermen looking for something different than the standard very early day wooden topwater lures or spoons, spinners or unsophisticated artificials to toss at unsophisticated fish. With minimal fishing pressure or exposure to bass baits fish were routinely caught and consumed. With a tradition that continues today anglers are constantly searching for the “magic” bait that bass can’t resist. Probing the depths with a new-fangled lure was exciting and effective. Jig trailers appeared in the form of pork rind or at some point soft plastics that were anything but soft. Prior to this jigs were fished “naked.” Enter the age and application of living rubber. The hair jigs were solely dependent on the action provided by the fishing rod and fisherman. A cast, let it fall to the desired depth, swim, twitch, twitch and repeat. Not too sexy but effective for the previously undisturbed deep water bass. Somewhere past the mid 1960’s the living rubber jigs made their appearance. The advantage was the inherent action of the rubber skirt. More lifelike in appearance arriving on the heels of the “rubber” worm, jigs offered another option to the angler. Now we got em’ what do we do with em’?

 Cast them out, work them back. A fairly unsophisticated, monotonous system was to merely launch the lure and just do whatever you think will fool a fish. Maybe the let it settle to the bottom, lift the rod, take up the line retrieve by the worm guys? Not much in the way of creativity but they caught bass.
 Evolution over the course of many seasons brought us a west coast technique described as “flipping”. A close range simple short line pendulum arc of the bait to heavy cover and hang on. Strikes were met with the hard hook set of a long rod and the ensuing fight was intense but short. In an effort to duplicate the success of flipping some Ozark anglers started to use an underhanded long range cast that kept them off the spooky fish and was quiet AND lethal. Pitching allows for covering a lot of water and creating an almost silent entry into the water which is frequently met with the immediate sensation of a bass inhaling the bait. While soft plastic baits of all descriptions are used this excels when a jig is tied to the end of the line.

 Where are the best jigging locations? Answer, simple, anywhere a bass can live is a possible target for working a jig. Shoreline cover that can be measured in inches to off shore points that register sixty feet of water on your electronics are just as likely to produce fish. The versatility of the jig sends you to weed beds, boat docks, fallen timber, rock piles, creek channels, points and any isolated cover. Don’t discount the thick stuff. Cold front or dirty water fish love to cozy up to heavy cover. Dropping a jig on their nose, “making a house call” bring out a giant.
 Advantage kayak casters. Giving them the silent treatment, the stealthy approach a kayak offers is a huge advantage for close up jig experiences. Navigating thin water and presenting jigs to fish that don’t get any pressure can produce some fifty fish days. I use my Bending Branches Angler Pro Carbon paddle to make minute adjustments positioning me to completely cover every angle of the prospective spot I’m jigging. The stable platform of Big Rig, Coosa, and the MayFly, to name a few, positions the kayak angler to stand and set the hook with ease. Using every approach aspect of the kayak to jig for bass almost guarantees they’ll never know what hit em’.
 Down to the details. My jig tools are simple, a seven foot medium heavy action rod a Lew’s reel Tournament Lite series LG1H, a reel that’s got the guts to handle BIG bass. I need a reel that I can cast or “feather a pitch equally well, the Lew’s line lets me do this. All my “feel baits” jigs as well as worms are cast on braided line. The strength and sensitivity are the key when I’m looking for line. To facilitate the quick on the water changes in color, style and weight of jigs I use a Line Cutterz ring. . I always feel the need for speed and effectiveness to make more cast and cover more water. I believe the key to catching any size bass is keeping the correct lure “wet”.

 Which jig? I’m a Strike King guy all the way. . The Structure jig in 3/8’ or ½ ounce is my choice 90% of the time. Super sharp hooks, a uniquely shaped head that “snakes” through heavy cover and a full skirt for eye appeal makes this jig ideal. Colors are simple choices, clear water, neutral colors and dark, combination colors in stained water. My jig trailer is the four inch Rage Tail Craw in color #229 Roadkill or #18 watermelon red. In detecting the jig bite it is imperative that your mind set is every cast could catch a fish and concentration on the feel of the lure upon retrieve. Confidence and concentration. The bite ranges from almost imperceptible to a not so gentle tug on the line. My best advice, if your fishing a ½ ounce jig and it suddenly feels like it weighs an ounce or that the line has been cut, set the hook. Experience is the best teacher.

When it’s all on the line, for my money if I could only have one lure it would be a jig.