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Chapter 1
As the Worm Turns (and Shakes)

New lures, new equipment and new bass-catching technologies are constantly being improved upon. Read any fishing magazine or catalog, watch any fishing show, visit any tackle shop or fishing web site, and we face a never-ending continuum of new offerings that manufacturers roll out in order to help us catch more and better bass.

Despite all the brain power, research, design, field testing, marketing and manufacturing prowess that the fishing industry packs into their latest and greatest bass-catching tools, the fact remains that bass themselves have never wavered in their partiality toward and preference for the lowly rubber worm. Better than anything else the fishing industry can concoct, the worm still reigns as king of all bass lures.

Why do bass love rubber worms so much? Why has the humble worm always been and always will be the number one bass lure? Unfortunately, it is a mystery for which we will never have an answer. In the ocean, it's plain to see that seaworms are plentiful and therefore regularly eaten by many saltwater species of fish. On dry land, we take it for granted that early birds get worms. But I have never seen or heard of too many worms that inhabit freshwater lakes, ponds and impoundments. You can read fishing report after report that state bass are feeding on shad, shiners, minnows, bluegill, perch, small panfish, crawfish, hellgrammites, dragonflies - you name it. But I have never read one fishing report that ever said bass are feasting on worms.

If you place one of the first rubber worms ever made side by side with one of the latest worms produced today, they'd practically appear identical. Although the rubber worm itself cannot be improved upon, new trends and new ways to use worms happen all the time. We can say Gary Yamamoto's Senko is a relatively new method of worming that became popular only within the past five years. Also, the dropshot method of drowning a worm was relatively unknown in North America except within the past decade. So news shapes of worms and ways to fish them do happen.

New ways to toss a bass a worm still occur today. Shaking jig worms is the latest trend to become popular. Top pros on the BASS and FLW tours have used shaking jig worms to win and place highly in prestigious tournaments starting just within the past few seasons and continuing into 2008. These top pros have brought shakey jig worms into the limelight across North America. The technique is still in its infancy in many regions, but effective. Most commonly, a long, slender straight-tailed finesse worm from four to six inches long is Texas-rigged on a round ball jig head. There's nothing extraordinary, except the worm is Texas-rigged on the jig head and the jig hook tends to be a little longer and larger than usual, approximately 4/0 in size.

In terms of action. sometimes the shaking jig worm may spiral as it falls on a slack line, and some anglers may shake it a few times as it falls. When it hits bottom, it does so head first. Depending on bottom composition, the worm may momentarily stand on its nose before keeling over on its side. The shaking jig worm's greatest merit is (as opposed to traditional exposed point jigs), it is snagless. Just deadstick it and let it lay there for a while, which is often when you get bit. Then shake it, stir it, hop it, swim it back slowly or do whatever works best for you when you worm.

Who knows why bass bite worms, but shakey jig worms has become the latest and most productive way for top pros to get bass to eat their worms. Keep your eye on this new trend, and see if shakey jig worms won't work for you too.

Interview with Southern Bass Pro Tom Mann Jr.

BASS and FLW pro Tom Mann Jr. of Buford, Georgia started shaking jig worms like a lot of other people way back when, about twenty years back.

When the fishing got tough, you'd grab a light spinning rod, some little worms, a few little jig heads and jiggle them down the deep and shady sides of boat houses, docks and bridges for suspended fish.

The jigheads used were often just crappie jigs with a hook barely big enough to hold a bass, says Mann. We threaded the worms onto the hooks and used them with an exposed hook point.

You'd cast out, start shaking the worm down, but if fish weren't suspended in the open water column, you couldn't let it get all the way to bottom because the exposed jig hook would get hung up as soon as it touched something. With the exposed hook, you couldn't fish deep brush near a boat dock.

Tom Mann Jr. laughs and says, "Back then, we didn't have enough sense to turn it around," meaning to Texas rig a worm on a jig. You just weren't supposed to Texas rig a jig. It took an awful long time for us to break that preconceived notion.

About six years ago, estimates Mann, the worm did turn. When we turned the worm around and Texas rigged it on a jig, if you used it around a boat house that had deep brush, now you could cover from top to bottom in one technique. That's when jig worms really became popular across the Southeast.

Today whether in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee or Arkansas, you won't see a bass boat without a 6-8 lb test spinning rod and a little worm Texas-rigged on a jig now. It would be a rare thing not to see one tied on, says Mann.

The shakey jig worm is not a technique to use all the time. It's basically:

  • A clear water technique
  • A deep water technique (say anything over 15 feet)
  • At its very best under tough conditions
  • Works best when you really need to make a small limit (five keeper bass)
  • It's not a big fish bait, but Tom Mann Jr. has caught a lot of big fish on it

With the Texas-rigged shakey jig worm, you have the jig nose digging on bottom. Meanwhile the worm tail stands up off bottom. There are a lot of different kinds of jig heads, but Mann favors fellow bass pro Fred Bland's Taco Jig. Made by Bush Hog Lures, there is an elongated 2/0 Eagle Claw hook in a Taco jig. The elongated hook shank lifts the worm tail up higher. When you shake it, there's more leverage to be gotten, more of a fulcrum effect to raise the tail. The hook simply stands the worm up more. Another reason why Mann loves it so much is it has a narrow gap hook that will fit a skinny finesse worm so nice. You don't want a wide gap hook for this technique, says Mann.

As far as how to shake it, Mann shakes the worm as it swings down toward bottom, and just keeps shaking when it gets on bottom. The only time Tom Mann Jr. may not shake it is probably for smallmouth, when he'll drag it. For spotted bass and largemouth, Mann just constantly shakes and hops it. But for Lake Erie and Great Lakes smallmouth, he will pretty much drag it.

It will hang up a bit more than a normal Texas-rigged worm with a bullet sinker. When a bullet weight rolls over something, it doesn't make much difference which way it rolls. But with a jig head, if it flops over sideways (which it will) is when it gets stuck.

As for exactly what worm Mann uses, the 5" Yamamoto Kut-Tail (7L series) seems best of all for him, especially on the 2/0 size hook in a Taco Jig.

Green pumpkin (color 297) is what Mann throws 99.9% of the time. That is "the" basic color in clear water. If there is a bass down there that is going to eat a worm, green pumpkin will work says Tom. It works anywhere from Mann's home lake, Lanier, in Georgia all the way to California.

Mann also says a Texas-rigged shakey jig worm is a great comeback lure, meaning that when a fish swipes at or follows another lure, Mann will switch rods and throw the Texas-rigged jig worm back at the fish on the next cast, often catching it.

Interview with Western Bass Pro John Murray

Legendary Western bass pro John Murray has also been shaking jig worms a whole lot on the BASS and FLW Pro Tours in recent years.

Murray favors the 5" Slim Senko (9M series) in watermelon red pepper (color 208). That's pretty much the only bait that Murray puts on a shakey jig head.

Buckeye Lure's Spot Remover jig head works real good for Murray, and the 208 Slim Senko is a good bait to put on it. The Slim Senko tail has so much more action than many of the other finesse worms out there. The key to Murray is "moving it without moving it," meaning when he shakes it on bottom, the Slim Senko tail looks like a crawdad sticking its claws up.

If you watch bass in a tank approach a crawdad, the craw lifts its claws up real slow, which is what Murray tries to imitate when shaking his jig worm. Murray does not give it a lot of movement. He uses 6 or 8 lb test Yamamoto Sugoi line with a spinning rod. He's not wanting a real hard shake. He just moves the tip, not the whole rod. Murray sums it up as pretty much a finesse movement that he is trying to get from the bait.

Murray like long casts, and he like to move a shaking jig worm up hill. Most of all, Murray is attentive to try to keep the jig in a position that keeps the tail up. Going uphill, Murray maximizes the advantages of a flat-bottomed stand-up style jig head like the Spot Remover. This jig type going uphill keeps the waving tail up versus a rounded ball head jig which will roll over more often. The best areas for going uphill, for keeping constant bottom contact are areas with gravel. Pea gravel type banks don't have a snagging problem to go up them.

Sometimes you can't move the jig uphill. For instance, to try to go uphill through real big chunk rock is just going to get you snagged says Murray. In such cases, you are forced to move downhill, but going downhill gives you less of the constant bottom contact and less ability to keep the jig (and therefore tail) from falling over.

Murray feels that many of his fellow Western anglers have not tried Texas-rigged shakey jig worms yet - but they should says John. A lot of anglers out West currently dropshot. It's still new to many anglers to dropshot, and it's what Westerners currently go to when a finesse worm situation is required. However, Murray warns of occasions he has witnessed (such as on Beaver Lake. Arkansas) when a dropshot rig wouldn't work, but the very same worm on a shakey jig would catch many keepers. It's the constant bottom contact Murray feels that makes the shakey jig worm work so well.

There is no doubt that shaking jig worms has gained a strong resurgence recently. Murray smiles wisely when he says it is a hot technique for top bass pros right now, but like all fishing trends, will fade in time.


Chapter 2
Enter the Shakey Jig

Innovation runs rampant in bass fishing, especially in lures. That's not to say lures are the only things being innovated. Rods, reels, line, tackle bags, boats, motors, trailers, electronics and tow rigs constantly get better for us. Yet it is only the lure that the fish has an interest in. The fish has no interest whatsoever in the rest of the stuff. All necessary? Surely, maybe. Yet the fish considers the lure alone, and rewards the angler who presents it in the manner that is most fitting for the fish to bite it.

Only problem is, if you present good lures too many times too effectively, it's possible that bass build up resistance to them. Whether that's true or not, we suspect it.

That's why we jump on what's new, the next hot lure. There's a feeling that bass require this, that old lures lose effectiveness. We say why new lures suddenly work so swell is that fish havenít seen them before, so they haven't built up resistance to them.

Therefore we crave innovation in fishing lures. Lately, the pendulum of bass fishing innovation is swinging eastward and to the south. They've got the Biosonix bass boom box thing blaring out of Louisiana. The Rad Lures Chatterbait thumps out of South Carolina. The whole new red hook craze - a megatrend - stemmed out of Alabama. It's not like they were the first to put red lipstick on a bass lure. Look at vintage freshwater lures (eBay's a good place for that), and you'll see half red, half white lures were very popular back in the early days of bassdom.

With or without red hooks, another new trend that works is the shakey jig, also spawned out of the southeast. The genius of it is to Texas rig a finesse worm on a light jig head, thereby making it snag less. As simple as that sounds, it was not done much before.

Today however, whether in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas or states thereabout, you won't see a savvy bass boater without a 6-8 lb test spinning rod and a little worm Texas-rigged on a jig now. It's the Southeast angler's answer - and upgrade - to Western light line finesse tactics like the dropshot.

The shakey jig is not yet used as much in the North, Central or Western USA but anglers everywhere are increasingly catching on. Do give it a try. It's fun and refreshing to use new methods that work swell.

The concept has been around forever, or at least since the late seventies when Charlie Brewer from Tennessee crafted a slim four-inch straight-tailed worm and jig head for it. He taught anglers to Texas rig the worm on his jig and do nothing but reel real slow and steady with no angler-imparted action. Brewer held a notion the exaggerated wiggling motion of most bass baits was not natural. Skinny minnows, which Brewer felt his small slim worm looked like, propel themselves in straight lines with hardly noticeable tail flicks most of the time. That's a condensed version of Charlie Brewer's Slider Fishing philosophy right there.

Fast forward to today, and the latest word on finesse worms is also a method of Texas-rigging them on shakey jig heads to be snagless. Unlike Brewer, most modern day worm wizards vehemently shake and shiver their jig worms now. Some anglers almost constantly impart action.

That's nice, but it doesn't need to be that way. Even though the very name - shakey jig - seems to suggest something, you can never give two shakes, just let it drop and deadstick it. Drag it, drown it, hop, crawl or swim it.

Think of it this way. A watchful guard dog can't help but bark at strangers. It won't matter whether those strangers are shaking or not. Likewise a bass can hardly help but bite a worm whether it's shaken or not even stirred. It's what dogs and bass do best. So don't worry if your shaking jig worm doesn't shake.

Another thing you may want to try with shakey jigs is to break out of the mindset that it's a light tackle, little finesse worm technique.

Even all y'all in the southeast where the shakey jig trend originated, you do not need to go light tackle and little worms on shakey jigs. Give it a fresh try with some big beefy worms.

Leave behind the 1/8 ounce jigs, 6 pound test and 4" worms. You can use 10 or 12 pound test, 1/4 to 3/8 oz jig heads with hooks manly enough to handle bulky 6 to 7 inch worms. Use as big a worm as you would otherwise Texas-rig with a bullet sinker, except on a shakey jig.

Odds are that you'll get more bites on finesse worms, but a bigger five fish limit on big worms. This is something several top Western pros have learned the last few years they've fished the national pro tour stops in the Southeast - that the bigger average bass in the Southeast ate bigger worms than they used to finesse out West.

In closing, do you really need shakey jigs? How did you and your bass get along all these years without them? And will you continue to be effective against bass if you don't start using them? Shakey jigs are the latest innovation, and bass haven't seen them before. That makes them necessary. If you don't think so, why do so many top pros use shakey jigs now versus a couple years ago when no pros used them? The answer is, new lures and new tactics are necessary for success. So be innovative. It's not the shakey jig itself these fish desire, it's the innovation.

Factoring Shakey Jigs into Every Day

Many of the pros who have are using shakey jigs today are not always one-dimensional with them. What I mean is, there are other pros who almost exclusively flip jigs or fish topwaters or deep-diving crankbaits or have a major skill they live and die with. When the fish want what these pros are famous for, they do very well indeed. But fish are fickle, and all the fish in a lake may somehow collectively decide they're just not going to hit jigs or topwater much any given day or weekend.

Then what do you do? Your strength reverts to a weakness at those times.

True, some pros have thrown shakey jig worms from first cast to last, and won major events that way, throwing shakey jig worms exclusively.

Yet, most pros who have done well with finesse worms and shakey jigs use them more as an extra added option rather than a way of life. Kevin Van Dam is a power fisherman. According to most accounts, he's well-known for spinnerbaits and jerkbaits for instance. Van Dam has added finesse worm fishing with shakey jigs to his game plan in recent years. Is is a coincidence that Van Dam's been in the winner's circle more often since then?

Ish Monroe is another stellar example of a top pro who I've seen use finesse worms as a prudent option to supplement his game plan. A few years back, in the US Open (the biggest pro tournament held west of the Mississippi), I fished with Ish. He'd go down a stretch of shoreline with the trolling motor fairly high. If the bank was shady or rippled by a breeze, he'd plow a buzzbait. In the sunny, smooth-surfaced sections, he'd dance a Reaction Innovation's Vixen (topwater similar to a Heddon Super Spook or Lucky Craft Sammy type). Most fish he raised this way would just slap at his bait. A few got stuck, but most only nipped the heels of Monroe's lures as if to let him know they were there. That was perfectly fine with him. You see, Monroe was keeping notes and writing down names. After he thoroughly worked through a spot, he'd fire up the big motor to head for the next place. But before leaving, Ish circled back and dropped a finesse worm where he felt worthwhile fish had risen to his surface presentations. Overall, this tacked five minutes onto each spot, and resulted in a few more bites and a few more decent fish landed per spot. It was a high percentage ploy. Like sampling everything on every tray going down the entire buffet line, and then going back for seconds to cherry pick what you now know to be the very best stuff.

So that's why I say that, first, pros using finesse worms lately aren't one-dimensional but versatile about fitting it into their day. Second, they tend to fit it into every day. We often read things like "a reaction bite is on" or conversely, "fish prefer finesse under bluebird skies." However, how I've observed pros using finesse worms recently, is that they aren't stereotyping a day as a "reaction" or "finesse" day, but they are blending finesse worms in as a productive part of any day under any conditions.


Chapter 3
The Flat-Faced Shakey Jig

A new style of shaking Texas-rigged jig worms has evolved across the Southeast USA over the past five years and longer. Yet it is only within the last few years (since 2005) that top BASS and FLW pros have used them to win and place highly in prominent national tournaments. The growing success of these top pros has brought the shakey jig technique to national attention. Today, the shakey jig worm is one of the hottest tactics across North America and it's practiced in Japan. Anglers across Europe are just now (2007) starting to discover shakey jigs also.

Many fine brands of shakey jig heads have appeared on the market to meet anglers growing interest in them. Some of the earliest shapes were often just round ball jigs retrofitted with a long shank hook. There's nothing wrong with that, and in fact, many of the earliest shakey jig shapes and brands still remain the most popular of all.

  • Flat-Faced Design

The shakey jig you see here is a flat-faced design. The design incorporates a flat-bottomed bean shape with rounded-off edges. You can say it's a football shape, however the end tips of the jig head are rounded off more than usual for a football jig. Let's say it's more of a bean shape and flattened on the bottom, so it stands up practically straight. With the end tips rounded off, the end tips of the jig are less protrusive for easily moving back into the mouth when a bass gulps or engulfs it.

  • Stand Up Action

The hook shank "stands up" in order to hold the worm practically straight up off the bottom at times. Overall, the worm falls toward bottom nose-down and stands on the bottom with the tail up - at times - at least momentarily. The worm is not always in this upright position. That's often a misconception about shakey jig worms, that they stand worms up on bottom. However, the wide flat head here facilitates the worm being in that upright posture more often than many other shakey jig shapes out there.


Obviously they can stand up, but the overall action due to the flat face plate is a lot more versatile than just standing. The jig only stands at rest, and even then, only momentarily. When the line is pulled, the "pull point" of the line tie eye lifts the head up so it crawls or glides across the bottom with a tight line. When you stop pulling the line, it noses down and stands up again. Most people refer to this tail-up standing posture as a craw in a defensive stance. Every time you stop pulling the line, it noses down on bottom and stands up again. However, this is also exactly how fish feed, by nosing down over a meal on the bottom. Even bass feed this way, by putting their noses down, their tails high up, in order to pluck a meal off the bottom. So the tight-line, sliding, gliding and then sudden stand-up action and nosing down when the line is relaxed, that's exactly how fish feed on the bottom - and if there's one thing that infuriates bass, it is to see a smaller critter brazenly feeding in front of them. It causes a pecking order instinct reaction from the bass to peck or strike the jig that's "feeding" out of turn.

  • Three Point Perch

Although the flat face plate lets this shakey jig stand flat-footed on bottom (even if just momentarily), it will eventually keel over as all shakey jigs will keel over. However, due to the oblong sideways shape, this shakey jig  head resists rolling over. It won't roll over and put the worm in the dirt as easily as does a ball jig or other jig shape. It will often perch in a three point stance with the hook upright, and since the wire clip is elevated above the jig head, it keeps the worm pointing upward at a 30 degree angle. Since the entire worm is essentially elevated or raised above the jig head, the worm should not lay on bottom, but - this is key - the worm will be raised slightly, elevated above bottom. The worm won't touch dirt, making it more visible, more like a hovering critter hunkered down close to, but not dragging its belly in the dirt. The sideways oblong jig head will be in the dirt, and the shank of the hook will be in the dirt - but the worm will be elevated slightly above the dirt, with the worm tail pointing up at about a 30 degree angle.


Even when they tip over, they perch in a three point stance which tends to keep the hook upright. The three points are the two tips of the sideways oblong head and the back end of the hook shank. The jig won't always keep in this position, and it will roll over on rugged, uneven bottom - but it rolls on its side less than other jig shapes. Most other shakey jig shapes cannot maintain this kind of three point stance that keeps the worm pointing upward and out of the dirt.

  • Levitating Act

So the worm's head is raised above the jig head for starters since the worm head is screwed in above the jig head. And the worm tail is raised (by the embedded hook point) above the worm head on a 30 degree angle, even with a non-floating worm. This is something a lot of other shakey jigs can't do - this worm-elevating feat.  The oblong head tends to take a three point stance (the two tips of the head and the back of the hook shank equals the three perch points). That three point stance keeps the worm elevated above the bottom even when the worm has fallen down and is not standing up on the flat jig face. The three-point stance keeps the worm elevated above the jig head and pointed upward at about a 30 degree angle. It is almost like raising the succulent worm up to offer it to a bass! Most other shakey jigs will roll on the side and lay the worm and the hook flat on bottom in the mud and muck.


This shakey jig will often remain with the hook upright, and since the worm is held levitated above the jig, it keeps the worm pointing upward, raised above the muck where it's visible and looks natural.

  • Free-Swinging Tru-Turn Hitch Hiker Clip

This shakey jig has no molded-in keeper collar. A Tru-Turn HitchHiker coil is clipped on the eye of an extra long shank wide gap Mustad hook. It has an Opti-Angle Ultra Point, extra long shank, extra wide round bend. It is a medium diameter wire that's perfect for making solid hooksets on 6, 8 and 10 pound test. It penetrates easily on gear in that range, and it has ample strength to land big fish played properly on gear in that 6 to 10 pound test range. The 3/16th has a 4/0. The 1/4 a 5/0. The 3/8th and 1/2 oz both have 6/0 hook sizes.

  • The Swinging Tree Hammock

The worm is never solidly and immovably fixed to the jig - ever. It is as if the worm is cradled in a free-swinging tree hammock. The worm is not permanently fixed to the jig - it is suspended in between the wire coil and the embedded hook point. This feature sets this shakey jig apart from other jigs that affix the worm head immovably to a permanently molded-in coil, or that affix the worm head using an immovable keeper collar on the hook shank.


Since it is not affixed to the jig head, the worm remains as flexible and unfettered and independent as possible on the shakey jig.

  • Mid-Water Gliding Action

The flat face enhances gliding action and causes the jig head to react more and impart more action to the attached worm due to increased water pressure pushing against the wide surface area of the flat face as it glides forward. This increased pressure occurs on a slack line fall, a semi-slack line fall or on a tight-line glide as the jig simply pendulum swings toward the pull of the fishing line (even water drag against a a slack line pendulums a jig) and the combined force of gravity until the jig encounters a mid-water obstruction or reaches bottom - or gets hit by a bass!

This increased water pressure against the flat jig face also occurs on the retrieve as the line is reeled in, pulling the jig in with the fishing line, creating a built-in shake as described in the next paragraph.

  • Built-In Shake

What's nice about this shakey jig is it can do the shaking for you. You don't have to shake it! What could be easier? The wide-lobed flat face of this jig is remindful in one sense of the flat metal plate at the front of an Arbogast Jitterbug. If you've ever seen the Jitterbug, you know that metal plate (which looks like the flat front of this shakey jig) makes a Jitterbug wiggle and shake back and forth. Now, the shakey jigs here have nowhere near the vigorous side-to-side thrashing of a surface-crawling Jitterbug, but the wide flat front of this shakey jig does have the same sort of effect (but less pronounced) on a finesse worm.

The shake starts in the head and ripples through the worm body, causing the tail to vibrate and shake as the worm falls, is lifted or retrieved. It causes a finesse worm to shake, shudder, wiggle and woggle unpredictably. The action changes constantly. The action is never the same twice. Sometimes it is just a tail shiver or shudder and next moment it's almost an S-shaped eel-like wriggle. This unpredictable, non-repetitive action is highly attractive to fish. It is more life-like than the repetitive mechanical movement most lures make.

  • Lifting Action

The angled face plate also causes lift, and that's a very good thing. Constant rising off bottom and settling back to bottom are what small fish, crawdads and other bottom creatures do constantly. It's their major mode of movement. Most do not just drag their carcasses across the bottom. The lifting and falling glide of this flat football jig mimics the most common rise-and-fall movements of all bottom creatures.

  • Slamming Action.

As this flat-faced jig lifts off bottom, it does not lift too far and it will pendulum-swing toward the pull of the fishing line. So it swings forward and slams the flat face plate head-on into any hard objects that are raised slightly higher than the surrounding bottom. This sudden full frontal impact shock - or "slamming" action is an incredible strike trigger.


A Few Words on Worms

Long, slender worms in the 5 to 6 inch range seem to shake the best with the 1/4 and 3/8 oz size shakey jig heads. Smaller 4 inch worms can be rigged on the 3/16 oz size. The 3/16 oz size is better matched to 6 to 8 pound test and a slightly more limber rod. The 1/4 oz size is suitable for a range of 6 to 10 pound test. The 3/8 oz size fits best with 8, 10 and even 12 pound test.

Different brands of worms act differently and it is well worth it to experiment to see the different shakes, shimmies and squiggles that different brands, sizes and styles of worms will make on this Shakey Jig head. You should try your favorites to see how they perform.

  • One particular worm that works well is Gary Yamamoto's 5" Slim Senko (9M model). The 9M Senko has a more fluid S-shaped motion on this Shakey Jig. When you hop and pop it across the bottom, it almost looks like a live worm squirming in the water. Very natural and strike-provoking!
     
  • A second great worm for the 1/4 and 3/8 oz size shakey jig is Yamamoto's 5-3/4" Kut Tail Worm (7C model). The 7C Kut Tail has more of a tight quiver and tail ripple as it free falls, is lifted or hopped.
     
  • A third worm is Yamamoto's 5" Kut Tail Worm (7L model). The 7L is long, slender and shakes it's tail as it falls on a slack line, is lifted and dropped.
     
  • The 3/16 oz size shakey jig head will work with the above-mentioned worms which are 5 inches or longer. The 3/16 oz head will give these worms a slower fall than the 1/4 to 3/8 oz head. Importantly, the 3/16 oz is the preferred size for smaller 4" worms such as Yamamoto's 4" Slim Senko (9J model) or 4" Kut Tail Worm (7-series) and other worms in the 4" size category using 6 to 8 pound test line.
     
  • When other anglers are catching bass on dropshot rigs, that's one prime time to use the shakey jig. Simply use the same worm as on a dropshot, but don't be surprised if you catch more fish with the same worm Texas-rigged on this shakey jig.
     
  • Now here's a good tip and one of the lesser-known secrets of shakey jig. It is considered to be a finesse worm, small, slender worm and light tackle technique. Guys take that as a given, and even top pros don't step up out of the small worm light tackle mindset with a shakey jig. Indeed, some of the top tournaments in the country have been won using light tackle (6-8 pound test), light shakey jigs and little worms. But it doesn't need to be that way. Do the math. If you use smaller worms, odds are you'll catch smaller bass. If you use bigger worms, odds are in your favor that bigger bass will bite them. It's that simple. The 1/4 and 3/8 oz shakey jigs have a stout enough hook to handle thicker 6 to 7 inch plus worms on 10 to 12 pound test. Worms like Yamamoto's meaty 6-1/2"  Kut Tail (7X model) are deadly this way. Not all shakey jigs on the market have the hook to handle this, but the 3/8 and 1/4 oz shakey jigs here do.


Importance of the Initial Fall

Most brands of finesse worms will shake and squiggle to some degree on the initial fall toward bottom. Your worm will often get belted before it even reaches bottom. When a worm does hit bottom, it is often an abrupt stop, and the tail of the worm still wants to keep going even after the head has stopped. This makes the worm act as if it's been stunned by the bottom impact. Keep in mind, since this is a broad bean shape head, it will keep your worm perched atop the bottom and out of snags that would otherwise engulf and bury ball head or other jig head shapes. Most often, the jig here will stand the worm up initially after its been stunned by the impact, and then some additional body movement tends to happen as the worm folds over in half or slowly lays down. Between the squiggling initial fall, the sudden stunned convulsion as it hits the bottom, standing up and then keeling over after a momentary pause, there's not much else you need to do here at times except set the hook and reel in the fish!

If there is no hit during the initial fall, additional lifts and drops and hops all cause finesse worms to shake and shudder and swim unpredictably, never the same way twice as they are raised a few feet up and then allowed to fall back to bottom. Even on a steady retrieve, finesse worms tend to squirm and swim when retrieved at a moderate speed on this shakey jig. On the retrieve, while the worm is swimming back to you, you can throw in jerks and pops and pauses just like you would retrieve a hard plastic lipped jerkbait, and this jig head will cause the finesse worm to act like a jerkbait does. It is the unpredictable and non-repetitive pattern of shakes and shimmies that causes this jig head to be truly great, and to fool fish into thinking the worm is alive. It does look alive. It's not a mechanical repetitive movement like a wide-wobbling crankbait. You can perhaps say it is more like a tight-swimming hard plastic lipped jerkbait, except this shakey jig starts and stops, at first a tight shudder, then suddenly more of a wiggle, and never quite the same way twice. This is exactly the unpredictable start-and-stop, fast burst then slow glide series of moves a live baitfish would make.

The description above, that is the best way to fish this shakey jig since it does the shaking for you on the initial fall and when you lift and drop it. Keep in mind, you want to maximize or facilitate this jigs ability to do the shaking for you. So how you let it drop, lift and fall or retrieve should all be aimed at getting the shakey jig to shake the worm itself. There's a little knack to getting the jig to activate that built-in shake, but with a little practice, you'll learn how to do it. Additionally, you can also use any of the tactics used with any other shakey jigs. You can shake the rod as it falls. Shake it as it's on the bottom. Drag it without shaking. You can do absolutely nothing as it falls and deadstick it on bottom for what seems like forever. You can cast out, engage the reel, and let it pendulum arc back to you through the water column. Especially to pendulum down roughly following a sloping bottom structure is an easy, surprisingly effective, yet little-used technique. We already describe swimming it back to you, throwing in an occasional rod flick, or simply swim it straight and steady. What you want is for it to squiggle unpredictably as it swims.

Overall, the biggest misconception about shakey jigs is you need to shake them. You do not. You could never shake a shakey jig even once, and still catch as many or more fish as those who shiver the spit out of them. It's the same thing often said how to fish a dropshot rig, to shake it. Yet I've never shaken a dropshot yet, and catch as many or more fish than those who shake it. Yes, shaking a shakey jig (or dropshot) will catch fish, even win tournaments, but don't feel obligated to shake it. Be versatile.


About the Tru-Turn HitchHiker Clip

A separate Tru-Turn HitchHiker coil is used to clip to the hook eye. You screw the worm head on, and then the super sharp point of the extra long shank hook can be buried and hidden Texas-style within the worm. Now you're ready! There's really no reason to ever unclip the coil, but if you do, spread the clip loop open slightly with your thumbnail to remove it. Squeeze the clip loop closed again with your thumbnail once you clip it on again. It should never really come off (squeeze it shut) and it does not interfere with the fishing line or knot. Best of all, a worm cannot easily be pulled off the Tru-Turn HitchHiker coil by a fish, and the coil does not tear a worm up as much as other barbed keeper types or jig head collars. It truly is a great approach!

The Tru-Turn HitchHiker coil also helps the worm shake by itself. There is not much of the worm body that is fixed or "frozen" by this set-up. The Tru-Turn HitchHiker coil goes into the head only about 1/4" is all, yet it holds the worm more securely than most anything else. It even holds better than super glue! Only 1/4" of the worm is fixed, and then the small section where the hook point is buried in the worm. The entire rest of the worm body is free to squirm, not threaded on the jig hook, and since the coil itself is loosely clipped on but not fixed immovable on the jig, the worm is really held in free-floating suspension, so it can squirm and shake more than on any other type of shaking or spot jig worm head.


Shaking with Other Soft Plastic Shapes

Of course, the shakey jig's not just limited to worms. You can Texas rig craws, tubes, grubs, hula grubs, lizards or most any other soft baits on this Shakey Jig. See for yourself if this isn't one of the best 6 to 10 pound test range jig head applications you've ever used - bar none. And best of all, it's a jig tactic but the bait is Texas rigged to be weedless and snagless.

No matter what soft bait shape you use, the results wil often be "flat" out too much fun!

Here are a few rigging suggestions for other soft plastic shapes beside worms:


Shakey jig rigged with legless reversed Gary Yamamoto Hula Grub. A good way to get twice as many fish from a single hula grub is to first use it on a football jig for instance with baitcasting gear, until bass tear the legs off. Then turn it around and put it on a spinning rod with a shakey jig as shown above.


Tex-Skin Rig. Another modified bait. This time the Yamamoto Medium Craw with an inch pinched off the body. Hook is Tex-skin rigged, meaning the point is tucked barely beneath the bait's skin. The point won't pick up weeds but it will pull out from under the plastic skin easily when a fish nips it.


Tex-Exposed Rigging. Kimami Swimming Senko Tex-exposed on shakey jig. The point here is not tucked back under the skin, but lays close on top for relatively open water.


Open Hook Rigging. Yamamoto 4" S-series Senko on shakey jig. In relatively snag-free areas, rig with hook exposed as shown.


Chapter 4
Swimming Shakey Jigs

We're witnessing an unprecedented shift of pro bass fishing techniques the past few seasons (say from 2005 onward).

On the top pro tours in the USA, the legacy and domination of top pro wins with staunch staples like crankbaits, Texas-rigged worms, flipping jigs and spinnerbaits isn't over, but it's not the only way anymore.

Lures, tactics and even locations being fished by winning pros are often new and unfamiliar at pro levels. A few examples include big rubber jigs, saltwater-sized pencil poppers, waking plastic-lipped floating and jointed minnows, plus humongous soft swimbaits to name a few unprecedented approaches we've seen pros embrace and win with lately. Some of these lures and techniques are regional practices not widely-used outside their areas, such as big rubber jigs in Georgia, big trout swimbaits in California or wiggle diggles (jointed Red Fins) in Missouri for example.

What all these regional favorites have in common is that these techniques are being used (many for the first time) by top pro anglers to win in top competitions.

The last several seasons, top pros have won and place highly with such new tactics. New, that is, at top pro levels. With the heavy media coverage of top pros on TV and in fishing magazines, these new and often regional tactics become communicated and disseminated to local and recreational anglers everywhere, causing major shifts in lure usage nationwide.

That's not to say every bass angler has gone and gotten a saltwater pencil popper, but do you have a Chatterbait due to top tournament successes reported with it in early 2006? Do you have a new interest in fishing deep with football jigs or shakey jigs since top pros have repeatedly won with such jig types by fishing deeper locations the past few seasons? Like many bass anglers, you probably have or will incorporate shakey jigs and football jigs into your repertoire, based on top pro's recent successes with such lures.

The shakey jig in particular was virtually unheard of across much of the country - until top pro anglers started to use them several seasons ago. Since then, due to top pros continuing to demonstrate success with shakey jigs, it is an incredibly popular tactic across the USA today.

Shakey jigs are associated with long, slender finesse worms and with 6, 8 or 10 pound test finesse spinning gear. It's hard to find a winning pro today who isn't using finesse spinning gear as part of his winning methods today. Consider however, such gear was relatively unused by top pros until a few seasons ago. You rarely if ever saw light spinnign rods used as much as they are now.

Beginning at the Bottom

Shakey jigs are not originally geared toward shallow water or the bank. One accepted way to use a shakey jig is to let it hit bottom in moderately deep water, say in the 10 to 30 foot range. Many anglers believe the shakey jig design will stand a finesse worm upright on its nose (which actually isn't the case much of the time). As the name implies, many anglers then shake the line to make the worm quiver and shake on the bottom. Keep in mind however, it's often the initial fall and touchdown - or it is a lackluster pause in the shaking process, when most bites occur.


On left and right: Two shakey jigs for bottom contact. In center: Two shakey swim jigs.

Swimming Shakey Jigs

The Shakey Swim Jigs shown below can be used and works swell exactly as described above in a bottom-hugging approach. Yet its special value is, as the name implies, swimming and shaking it, keeping it moving above bottom. Swimming and shaking - not bottom-hugging - is what this Shakey Swim Jig is all about.


Getting the most out of swimming soft baits is what the shakey swim jig is all about..

The shakey swim jig is optimized for swimming style soft baits like Gary Yamamoto's Swimming Senko, single tail grubs or any other brand or model of soft plastic bait used with the swimming method. However, it will work swell with straight-tail worms, small craw worms or any other soft baits that can be rigged on it. It is not designed to bounce bottom, although it can do that perfectly. It is purposely designed and optimized to swim soft baits anywhere from just below the surface to just above the bottom, and all mid-level depths in between:

  • Sub-Surface

Use near the surface, and just keep it coming at you in open water. It can be swam through weeds emerging close to the surface - or swam through deeper weed beds growing closer to the bottom.

  • Mid-Strolling

Means to swim through suspended bass at any mid depth in the water column (called "mid-strolling" in Japan). This is a term coined and tactic practiced in Japan whereby a Japanese angler casts out and will softly shake the rod tip ever-so-gently little by little and have the lure swim back to the angler anywhere from 3 to 15 feet deep in the middle range of the water column - slowly. The retrieve speed can be from zero (just letting the lure pendulum fall back toward you with no reeling) to whatever reeling pace is needed to maintain a target depth level. That is, you should reel slower to maintain a 15 foot depth level, often requiring momentary pauses in the retrieve. Brief pauses in the reeling not only help the jig counter its ever-present tendency to ride up higher in the water, but the brief pauses are also high percentage strike moments. During the pause, the jig will reverse its tendency to rise and it will instead want to settle lower. When reeling is resumed, the jig will again want to ride up again. The overall up-down-up effect of a brief pause is a natural strike trigger.

So you will need to reel slower (often requiring pauses) to maintain a deeper strolling level. You will need to reel a little quicker (with the rod tip up) to maintain a higher (say a five foot) strolling level through the water column.

What anglers in Japan do during the retrieve, they shake it maybe 75% of the time. The other 25% should be equally-spaced, short intervals when it falls or glides slowly. Think of three slow turns of the reel (75%) while lightly shaking, then one slower, steady turn (25%) without shaking.

The mid-strolling technique excels under tough conditions, or whenever bass are suspended at mid-levels in the water column.

  • Swimming Deep and Slow

Swimming soft baits deep and slow close to the bottom can be done with the same tactics as mid-strolling, except touching bottom occasionally to make sure you are in the strike zone. There are many times that bass wil not rise much above bottom, and the painstakingly slow method of swimming jigs just above bottom often gets them when mid-depth or surface presentations fail.


The same size 4/0 Mustad Ultra Point round bend hook is used in both the 1/8 and 5/32 oz shakey swim jig sizes shown above. This strong medium wire hook matches well with 6, 8, 10 or up to 12 lb test line. The hook has an extremely low angle eye positioned to shed weeds and debris as the jig swims through cover. This jig and hook work best with finesse-sized soft baits and finesse fishing rods/reels/lines in the 6, 8, 10 class range, up to 12 pound test. On such gear, the jig can handle something up to the size of a 5" Senko or 5" Swimming Senko with ease.


The hook point can be rigged exposed for fishing open water, tex-exposed for light to medium cover, and Texas rigged for dense cover as shown here:

Don't screw the bait down too tightly too close to the jig head. There are more than enough turns on the screw wire so that just a few turns will attach a soft bait more securely than most any other means of attachment including glue. So don't screw the bait on too tightly. In fact, try to "suspend" the bait relatively set back from the jig head on the wire coil.

One common theory with jigs is to incorporate the jig head as a part of the bait presentation. An example is a jig head shaped like a fish face with eyes, realistically etch gills, etched fins, etc. With the swimming shakey jig here, it is not part of the bait presentation. Don't try to incorporate it as the head of the worm or bait. It is only a dot of ballast strategically suspended on the hook wire in order to aid casting distance, accuracy and most importantly, to govern proper swimming balance of a soft swimming bait. With some colors, such as the red-painted jigs, they also add a small spot of color flash, but it would be wrong to think of the jig head as the worm or bait head. It's just a strategic blob of balance weight put there to help make soft swimming baits swim at their very best. You'll see this in action when you start swimming a few baits with this jig.

This jig is so nice;y balanced that even an ordinary Senko (can one call the Senko ordinary?) on the shakey swim jig will swagger and sway, squirm and squiggle like a live earthworm that's fallen into the water. Just keep a semi-tight line fall, and the Senko will vibrate both its tips, undulate its body in an oscillating S movement as it falls on a semi-tight line. A Senko makes somewhat the same famous shimmy and shake on the swimming shakey jig as when a Senko is fished weightless. It take's a little study and practice to perfect this shimmying fall with the swimming shakey jig, but it is worthwhile to master it.

With the jig of course, it's a faster fall and gets deeper than a weightless Senko, yet has the very same tip movement and body vibration. The jig head lets you fish a Senko faster and deeper than possible weightless, without any loss of squirm or squiggle as it falls on a semi-tight line. Once it reaches bottom, wait a spell and then start a series of slow lifts followed by pauses. The lifts will raise the Senko above bottom, attracting attention. On the pauses (with a semi-tight line) the Senko will wriggle and squirm like alive as it glides forward and toward the bottom again. Repeat the lifts and pauses is all you need to do. It's too simple and devastating in its effectiveness. There's no better way I know to fish a weighted Texas-rigged Senko.


Chapter 5
Going Big with Shakey Jigs

In 2006 and 2007, we have watched the top BASS and FLW pros on TV in the process of learning to go deeper and heavier to tap into the last remaining unpressured quality-size bass residing deep on offshore ledges, humps and sunken rockpiles. With the increasing popularity of bass fishing overall and local tournament fishing in particular, these deep offshore bass are the last untapped goldmine of big bass, and heavier jigs like these are the kind of ticket that pros are usinfg now to tap into them. That;s not to say you won't catch big bass with smaller or lighter weight offerings, you will, but the fact reamins that pros are going to heavier weight jigs and bigger, longer worms up to ten inches long in order to win major tournaments in recent years.

Therefore, this is a larger, heavier size shakey jig than normally seen. It's a 1/2 oz shakey jig with 6/0 hook

These shakey jigs are available in 3/16th (4/0), 1/4 oz (5/0) and 3/8th (5/0) sizes. Now, this is the latest and largest 1/2 oz size with a 6/0 hook.

This 1/2 oz (6/0) size handles bigger, beefier, longer worms (7" to 10" worms) that appeal to better-than-average size bass that tend to not be interested in smaller finesse worms. You've seen the top BASS and FLW pros on TV using these bigger, beefier, longer type worms for kicker bass during the post-spawn this spring. It's almost an in-water cull tactic to appeal to these bigger bass that are spawned out. They're not making the effort to whack every little minnow that saunters by, but they will do what it takes to get a bigger meal.

Truly, it's not just post-spawn either, but all year, the truth is big worms and big shakey jigs like this tend to attract big fish. On the other hand, finesse worms and finesse-sized shakey jigs tend to attract smaller fish.


Customer Ray Gifford Shakey Jigs an Eight Pounder

Congratulations to customer Ray Gifford who gave this fine bass the shakes!

Ray writes: "The fish pictured here is an 8 pounder. I was using one of your 1/2 oz flat shakey jigs, green pumpkin with red hook at Roosevelt Lake near Phoenix, Arizona. Love those jigs as they always fool the larger fish for me. Honestly, those flat shakey jigs have caught me better fish on San Carlos and Roosevelt. I just don't take the camera with me on tournaments as a jinx precaution. If I did I would have more photos of 6's and 7's on your jig. My partner has been upset with me more than I can remember because I spank him with this jig with regularity. My partner and I have a 2 day championship coming up in October so I am sure your shakey jig will be relied on there." - Ray Gifford, a satisfied customer from Arizona.

 
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