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Why the Jig?

After decades of bass fishing my tackle box(es) are crammed full of baits designed to fool bass, Americas number one gamefish. I carry only two small one sided boxes when I launch my Jackson Kayak, but I have back up boxes, large tackle totes from years ago and ancient boxes AND baits. unopened crankbaits, spinners baits still in blister packs, bags of soft plastic of every size, color and description. Tackle box trays are dominated by various crankbaits that will dive from two feet to a reported 20 feet.

My spinnerbait collection has short arm, double willow, turtle shell, single Colorado and quad (four bladed) models. Topwater tempters include cupped faced poppers, minnow “plugs”, dog walkers wake baits and buzzing baits that vary in blade size, weight and skirt colors. Nestled in a few small inconspicuous compartments sit the jigs. Stuffed in randomly are crawfish colors, neutral shades, a few hair jigs, different weights and head configurations. They rest waiting for their turn to hit the water. I even carry a small six compartment accessories box with a few proven favorites in the event that a deep water submerged tree “eats” one of my jigging baits.

Why this long-time love affair with the jig? If we scroll though pictures on my phone or in my computer, you’ll see fish photos of hundreds of bass that will attest to the effectiveness of the jig. The background of the photos depicts every season, any type of water and bass that could range from one pound to a largemouth of a lifetime an eleven (11) pounder.

Presentation Options-

Although it may not appear to be, but the jig is if nothing else versatile. A jig can be cast, flipped or pitched. For long distance, I cast past the target trying to let the jig arc into or past what I believe is the holding area. Of major importance in jig fishing keep constant contact with the bait. The pick-up is sometimes almost undetectable. I’ve been “pitching” jigs since the early eighties and demonstrating the technique at outdoor shows, on TV and had some national magazine coverage describing my opinions on this presentation. Pitching is an underhand style cast normally using baitcasting gear with an emphasis on a low trajectory, quiet entry in the water. Ideally and for me it’s a medium range approach between 10 and 30 feet. If you want to get close, then “flipping” with essentially a rods length of line and a pendulum swing drops the bait into heavy cover is an option.

The Jig Menu –

Shopping for jigs can prove a bit confusing. There’s a casting model, a flipping version, grass heads, football heads, skipping jigs, structure heads and probably a few more. Couple all that with colors and weights and skirt materials and you have complicated the process. To eliminate confusion, I arm myself with some simple choices. As far a weight, most of the time, I like two different weights, a ¼ ounce version and a 3/8ths ounce model. Too light is harder to cast, too heavy is more work than I want to do.

I also get “a feel” for the bait at the end of my line and to facilitate casting I make it a habit to throw the same weight jig, spinner, buzzer or Texas rigged worm. For me that’s 3/8ths ounce offerings. As far as colors, (take a deep breath) you should consider what you are trying to mimic in the world of bass food. Bass love crawfish, high energy, plentiful in most places and easy to catch.

A large percentage of my jigs have the seasonal crawfish patterns. The color of a crawfish in different environments changes throughout the year. Typically, a muted or burnt orange, some brown and a hint of muted green will be a good match. In clear water more neutral colors such as green pumpkin or watermelon are good clear water colors. For heavily stained water I go with black with a bit of chartreuse and maybe even a rattling jig. White skirts for a shad look alike and a bluegill skirted jig are included in my arsenal.

Jig Trailers –

The majority of the time I’m attempting to make my jig look like a crawfish. The swimming motion is my responsibility, the look belongs to the jig and the trailer. On a full-size jig, I use a Ragetail Craw and rarely does the trailer match the color of the jig. I like the contrast especially in “dirty” water. Throughout the year I use a color called Roadkill (#229) in the spring I might try a closer shade of craw (orange/green/brown) Bama Craw (#101) and in clear water a color popular with the bass watermelon red flake (#18). Same colors, smaller size in the Baby Ragetail craw for finesse jigs weighing in at 1/8th, 3/16ths or ¼ ounce. On waters receiving heavy fishing pressure suing a section of a Cut-R-Worm or a curly tail worm does generate bites from lure shy bass.

Heavyweights, Lightweights or? There are jigs that weigh over one ounce (I don’t own any) used for “punching” through mats, grass, pads and other aquatic vegetation. I prefer the slower fall of the 3/8ths ounce models even in fishing heavy cover, but the heavier versions exist. For cold, clear water and during the winter months the smaller jigs do get bit regularly. The bigger jigs, in my experience still draw bigger bass. With their, the bass’s metabolism decreased often a small meal is desirable. This requires an equipment change. (We’ll get to that) One trick is to employ the larger trailer on the downsized jig to achieve an agonizingly slower fall and keep the bait in the strike zone of the fish longer.

Advantage Jig –

The single hook gives a better chance for a solid hook set and lessens the likelihood that the fish can throw the bait. Single hook and weed guard (which can be the typical multi-section nylon or single wire variety) means the bait might not get hung up as easily. The shape of the head allows for working through submerged wood, heavy cover, through rock and around dock or bridge pilings. If the skirt gets “beat up” carry additional skirts which allows for a quick skirt change and NO Retie. With one hook point it’s advisable to carry a small diamond file hook sharpener to “touch up” the point occasionally.

Rods, Reels, Line –

Specifically chosen after experimenting because of the ability to 1. cast, 2.set the hook and the fish in, my preferences after years of trying to perfect the art of jig fishing are as follows: A 6’10” Lew’s medium heavy fast action Custom rod with a Lew’s Custom reel CPB1SH with a 7.5:1 gear ratio. I’m spooled up with K9line 40-pound braid to with fish out of the nastiest cover. For finesse fishing I go with the Lew’s Laser SG ONE, 6 ½ foot medium action spinning rod with a custom Speed Spin Pro reel loaded with 10-pound test K9 braid and a six-foot-long 8-pound test fluorocarbon leader.

Advice for the seasoned or novice jig fishing angler, if you feel anything different, a tap, the lure swimming off, mild resistance or ANY pressure. SET HOOK!
In the hands of the right angler….a jig can help you land more and bigger bass, that’s WHY THE JIG!