A Case for Jigs
by Mike Hastings
Bassdozer with permission of Honey
Hole Magazine, Inc.
What if you were forced to choose
only one lure to fish in every situation? What would it be, a
spinnerbait, or possibly a soft plastic lure of some sort? Would
you choose a jig?
Jigs are arguably
one of, and possibly the most, productive bass lures of all time.
Certainly no other lure has produced as many trophy-sized bass as
jigs have. They deserve a dedicated rod and reel and a top shelf
location in your tackle box year round.
Virtually all tournament
circuits have adopted a five-fish limit, even though
game laws would allow a two-person team to bring 10 bass to the
scales. As a result, jigs play a more important role than ever in
tournament situations. Most successful tournament anglers will
agree that five jig fish will usually outweigh a five bass limit
caught on any other lure.
rewrote the bass tournament record book last year, mostly on the
strength of his jig fishing skills. I’ve heard other
professional bass tournament anglers quoted as having said that
if there’s a spinnerbait bite, there’s always a better jig
Jigs were once viewed by
most bass anglers as seasonal lures, best when used in cooler
water conditions. In reality, the jig bite improves as the water
warms, which makes them a viable lure choice any time of year.
Jigs will catch bass in open water, but are most effective when
fished in and around cover such as weed beds, brush piles,
standing timber, laydown logs, flooded brush, reeds, lily pads
and boat docks. You can pitch ‘em, flip ‘em, cast ‘em, swim
‘em or hop ‘em. When you combine the right presentation with
the right type of cover and water, it’s pure magic!
Jig is a generic term
that can be applied to a huge spectrum of lures. For purposes of
this article, we’ll focus on traditional lead-head jigs
featuring a silicone skirt and a fiber weed guard tipped with a
soft plastic or pork trailer.
Don’t think for a minute
that all jigs are created equal. Oldham’s jigs are my choice
for a number of reasons. First, the Gamakatzu hook is super sharp
out of the package and retains its sharpness better than any jig
hook I’ve used. Every Oldham jig is equipped with the Screwlock
attachment on the hook shank. This feature conserves soft plastic
trailers and positions them securely, preventing the trailers
from interfering with the hook point. The durable paint job and
optional eyes combined with an incredible color selection of the
finest quality skirts available set these jigs apart from the
It’s important to select
the proper jig for the type of cover and depth of
water you’re fishing. The single most important consideration
is jig size. You’ll need enough weight for your jig to
penetrate the type of cover you are fishing and provide adequate
feel. When flippin’ lay down logs or flooded brush in shallow
cooler water, a lighter jig, 1/4- to 1/2-ounce, will work fine.
On the other hand, if you’re fishing standing timber or brush
piles in 15 or 20 feet of water, or anytime the water is warm,
you’ll need a considerably heavier jig from 5/8- to 1-ounce).
Fishing vegetation such as hydrilla requires a heavy jig of 3/4-
to 1-1/4-ounce. The weight of the jig helps to penetrate the
vegetation and the fast rate of fall appeals to bass when their
metabolism is "turned up" in warm water.
Given the vast array of
colors available, it can be difficult to make a color
selection. The most important consideration is visibility. In
clear water, translucent natural colors such as crawdad, sunfish
and shad are your best bet. In stained water, darker and brighter
colors will produce well. Another rule of thumb is to use lighter
color shades on bright days and darker colors in cloudy and low
Soft plastic manufacturers continue
to expand and improve their color selections of crawworms and
plastic pork-style trailers. By combining the colors available in
jig skirts with soft plastics, you can match the natural forage
bass are feeding on year round.
Rattles can make a real
difference in many situations. In fact, anytime you’re
fishing a jig in heavy cover, try a rattle. My favorite is
available from Oldham’s Lures. It hangs from the hook on a
split ring and is secured with a piece of rubber tubing, just
like a trailer hook on a spinnerbait. This setup allows the
rattle to swing freely and be activated with every movement of
Jigs do not come out
of the package ready to fish. Trimming the length of the skirt
will add a considerable amount of action to your jig. You’ll
also need to modify the weed guard based on the type of cover you’re
fishing. Always be sure the weed guard does not extend beyond the
hook point and trim the length if necessary.
When fishing wood cover
such as flooded brush, standing timber and brush piles, work the
weed guard back and forth to loosen the fibers then spread them
out in a fan shape. Some anglers prefer to split the fibers, then
separate them to form a V-shape. Very little weed guard is
required for fishing vegetation such as hydrilla. Remove up to
3/4 of the fibers then spread the remaining fibers into a fan
After rigging the proper jig
for the task at hand, it’s important to match the
jig with the correct line size, rod and reel. Your line size and
rod should be directly related to the size of the jig and type of
cover you’re fishing. Because jigs feature stout hooks and have
a tendency to attract big bass, your rod should have a great deal
of sensitivity to help detect bites and ample backbone to assure
solid hook sets. I’ve found custom made Waterloo Rods to be the
very best available.
Whenever possible, I prefer
to use braided Lynch Line. When pitchin’ and flippin’ jigs,
braided line will enhance your feel and will not stretch like
monofilament when you set the hook. Monofilament line is only
necessary when fishing sparse cover or open water in extremely
In all situations,
a reel with a high gear ratio of about 6:1 is best. A fast
retrieve speed will allow you to take control of the fish quickly
and horse a big bass out of heavy cover.
Many anglers tell me they
don’t have confidence in jigs or find it difficult
to detect bites. Obviously, the only way to develop confidence
with jigs is to fish them enough to experience success. I would
encourage anyone who lacks confidence in jigs to fish with an
experienced "grass" angler who’s willing to share a
few pointers on pitchin’ jigs in hydrilla. This is the most
effective technique that I know of for consistently catching big
bass on a jig.
As far as detecting bites is
concerned, the more you fish them the more feel you’ll
develop. There are times when bass will absolutely hammer a jig,
making your hook set a simple matter of self-defense.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. When bass are biting
lightly, it’s very important to be a line watcher. It’s
fairly common to see your line twitch, wiggle or move sideways
without actually feeling the bite. If your jig feels heavy or
"welded" to the bottom, or even if you feel nothing at
all, set the hook! Eventually you’ll develop a sixth sense for
the not so obvious bites.
Considering that jigs
have produced the largest bass of my career, my heaviest
five-bass tournament limit and a lake record, I’m a firm
believer in the uncanny ability of jigs to produce bass,
especially big bass. Therefore, if I were forced to fish with
just one type of lure, jigs would be my choice. Case
Full time fishing guide Mike
Hastings draws from his extensive background as a professional
angler to provide the most comprehensive guide service available
on the best bass lakes in central Texas including Lake Bastrop,
Fayette County, Stillhouse Hollow and Travis. His total
commitment to the sport and future of bass fishing ensures that
every trip is an informative experience.
Experienced anglers will appreciate his
extensive knowledge of the lakes and productive fishing
techniques. Beginners will enjoy learning to catch fish as Mike
provides instruction in a patient and effective manner. Git Bit
Guide Service will work hard to provide a memorable fishing trip
tailored to your interests.
In addition to providing top quality,
client-focused fishing guide service since 1992, Mike competes in
national and regional bass tournaments, serves as Tournament
Director and Columnist for Honey Hole Magazine, appears in TV
fishing shows, is featured in newspaper and magazine articles and
provides instruction for fishing seminars.
Give Mike a call at 512-280-2861
Visit Mike on the web at www.gitbitfishing.com
Email Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org