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
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
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.
- 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
- 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
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
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.
Enter the Shakey Jig
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
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
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
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
True, some pros have thrown shakey jig worms from first cast
to last, and won major events that way, throwing shakey jig worms
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.
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.
The Flat-Faced Shakey Jig
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
- 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
Since it is not affixed to the jig head, the worm remains as
flexible and unfettered and independent as possible on the shakey
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
About the Tru-Turn HitchHiker Clip
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
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
Hook Rigging. Yamamoto 4" S-series Senko
on shakey jig. In relatively snag-free areas, rig with hook
exposed as shown.
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
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:
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.
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 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
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
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
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
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.