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Jig Fishing Basics

Ask any 10 bass anglers worth their salt to depict their Top 3 choices for catching big bass and the majority will rate the rubber-skirted jig right near the top of the list.

In fact, most savvy bass anglers would be quick to agree that the jig is the best `year-round' producer of bass weighing seven pounds and more. This is true for several reasons, one of the most obvious being the lure's anatomy.

The jig is designed in a such a manner that can penetrate the heavy cover where big bass live. It comes equipped with a lead head that's molded around a stout hook, the point of which is protected by a plastic weed guard. The weed guard makes the lure virtually snag free, so it can be tossed into dense moss or brush with very little worry. Just below the head of the lure at the top of the hook is a lip that acts as a keeper to secure a removable rubber skirt. The jig's construction makes the hook stand on end as the bait is hopped along the bottom, thus causing the skirt to pulsate with the lure's every move.

While the jig can be effective when fished alone, I prefer pairing it with some sort of trailer that is color coordinated with the skirt. I'll generally go with a craw or worm trailer during the summer and early fall and then switch to an Uncle Josh No. 100 jumbo pork frog during winter and spring. That's because pork is more buoyant than soft plastic, so you'll naturally get a slower fall and coax more strikes when the fish are sluggish or suspended.

Plus, pork makes the bait appear larger and likewise makes the lure more appealing to big bass. Another key element that makes the jig so deadly on whopper bass stems from the fact it is an extremely slow-moving lure. When dragged or hopped slowly across the bottom, I believe the bait imitates a lizard, crawfish or bream foraging for food. These are all preferred sources of food for the largemouth.

Last-but-not least, the jig is an extremely versatile lure. It comes in an assortment of sizes ranging from 1/8-ounce up to 1 1/2-ounce.
It can be flipped or pitched into heavy cover, fished vertically along steep drops or cast parallel with heavy cover or structure.
I'll utilize all of these methods at one time or another during the course of the year on the pro circuit, the preferred tactic depending heavily on the season of the year, the type and density of the available cover.

Take winter, for instance. I'll cast the jig more than anything else during the winter months.
Once the water temperature dips below 55 degrees on my home lake, Table Rock Lake, what I like to do is fish a 1/4 or 1/2-ounce jig/pork along the edges of some of the deeper creeks. These creeks will range in depth from 8-10 feet on the bank to 20-30 feet in the creekbed itself.
I will fish the straightaways in a creek. But through experience, I've learned that the largest concentrations of fish are usually found on the inside or outside bends.
They'll often stack up in great number on bends this time of year. So where you find one, there likely will be another. In retrospect, it is imperative to use a depthfinder to keep in contact with the creek's edge. That way, you can cast to the bank and work the bait slowly along the lip until it falls off into the deeper bed. This is where the majority of the fish will be holding.

Another good spot to cast a jig for big bass during the winter might be where there is a long, sloping point that comes out of 8-10 feet of water and eventually dumps into a deeper creek or river channel. Just cast across the point and work the bait slowly back to the boat. I can't begin to count the number of four to six-pound bass I've caught on a Jig in this type of water with the casting technique. Regardless of whether the jig is cast, pitched or flipped, you need to realize that around 70 percent of the strikes are going to occur on the initial fall.

The strike is most often detected by a subtle "thump," which occurs when the bass inhales the lure. On occasion, however, the strike won't be felt. Only seen. That's why it is important to watch for the slightest movement in the line, right where it enters the water. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, reel down to take any slack out of the line and drive the hook home.

While proper lure presentation and skill both play large parts in catching bass consistently on the jig, neither will work to your full advantage unless you're equipped properly to carry them out. In my opinion, a quality rod is the most critical piece of equipment needed to fish the jig effectively. By quality, I'm not talking about the 6 1/2-foot medium action junkers you can buy for $20-30 at local department stores. A good jig fishing rod is one that boasts maximum sensitivity, stiffness to allow for a good hookset when the line is draped over heavy cover and enough backbone to horse a big fish out of the cover and into the boat. A good jig rod will cost you around $80-$100. But it will be well worth the money. Among the better brands are All-Star, Browning, Quantum, Garcia, Castaway and G-Loomis, Etc.

For light jigging (7/16-ounce and less), I like a 6'6" or 6'10'" rod with a medium-heavy action. But for heavy jigging (1/2-ounce and bigger) you'll need the heaviest cue stick you can find. My personal preference is a 6'10" or 7'6" with a heavy action.

Choosing the proper line is yet another critical decision. I'll rarely fish a jig with anything less than 15-pound test. One of the super braids or fusion lines also could be an option, especially when fishing a reservoir where there is an abundance of standing timber, stumps, brush or dense hydrilla to contend with.


Much is said about picking the right color for a situation, but with jig fishing, choosing the correct weight can be equally important. The weight of the jig has an effect on how fast it falls, as well as how deep you can effectively fish it. The Strike King Pro Model jig I designed comes in 5/16-, 3/8-, 7/16- and 1-ounce. The following is a summary of how I like to use them.

The 3/8-ounce jig is probably my most popular choice with a 1/2-ounce my second. I use the 3/8-ounce when I!m flipping and pitching in water from 1 to 5 feet deep, and the 7/16-ounce when fishing deeper than 5 feet. A high percentage of anglers who flip and pitch choose the 1/2-ounce as their first choice. I use a bit lighter bait than some because I think a little slower fall appeals to the great big fish, especially in colder water.

If I'm casting the jig where I!m strictly fishing the bottom, I go to the 7/16-ounce. When I get into fishing boat docks where I need to get down to a depth of 10 or 15 feet, or in the summertime when the water warms up and the fish are more active, then I lean toward the 1 oz. ounce jig.

I also go to the 7/16 ounce jig when I have to bust the bait down through matted sawdust or down through vegetation such as milfoil or hydrilla. I use the 1-ounce jig on the heavy mats, busting down through the log jams, busting down through matted hydrilla, and real heavy vegetation where you have to get down through the surface clutter to get to the fish. That!s the way I put it down where it struts its stuff.

A 5/16-ounce jig is probably my favorite for fishing rivers with a lot of silt on the bottom !V common to most rivers. You don!t want the jig to bury up in the silt, and the 5/16 ounce has a little slower fall. I!ll also go to the 1/4-ounce if I!m on a fishery that doesn!t have many big fish.

Different weights are also used with different water temperatures and different cover conditions. If you!re trying to make a jig fall down in bass hiding places, it!s very important for it to fall at the correct speed. Keep in mind if you!re using a lure that!|s retrieved horizontally, the colder the water the slower the retrieve you normally want to make. In cold water that speed is often slower than slow, and that's when you need to go to the lighter baits.

In warmer water the bass metabolism is a little faster, as well as the metabolism of everything they feed on, so a jig is going to look a little more natural if it's darting around a little more. That's when I lean more toward the 7/16-ounce bait. I don't really like to give specific water temperatures because I think it's an experimental thing. But, if you're looking at 70-degree and colder water temperatures, you probably need to use a 3/8-ounce jig. If you're looking at water temperatures 70 degrees and above, you'll do better with a 7/16-ounce model.

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