Getting the Hang of Spider Jigs
I confess. I often hear people - even
good anglers - confess they cannot get the hang of fishing the
spider jig. You also hear this a lot about the jig 'n pig (a
multi-strand silicone or rubber skirt with a plastic or pork
chunk trailer). All I can say is with either a spider jig or a
jig 'n pig - DO NOT RETRIEVE THEM! When you think of
spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, crankbaits, topwaters, you cast way out
and retrieve them horizontally...but with the spider jig,
I just pitch, flip or toss them close in and let them drop down vertically,
often getting hit on the drop or in the first ten seconds that
the spider jig sits motionless on bottom.
In my experience, I have gotten far
fewer hits trying to "retrieve" a spider jig
horizontally across bottom. I have rarely gotten hit trying to
retrieve them ABOVE bottom without making bottom contact. After
many years, I play my percentages by NOT fishing spider jigs
horizontally at all. Sure, I may miss a few
"horizontal" bites like this, but I feel I will get
more bites from making more vertical drops in the time I would
have otherwise wasted on a low percentage horizontal retrieve
with a spider jig. So think more vertical dropping the bait than
horizontally retrieving it for starters...that's the biggest tip
I can give you for spider jigs...and for jig 'n pigs too!
You may hear people say they were
"swimming" spider jigs across bottom. I cannot speak
for anyone else, of course, but what is really going on IMHO is
that the spider jigs are being pulled horizontally across rocks
on the bottom until they get to the edge of a rock or the lip of
a stair-step ledge -- then they are "dropped"
vertically off the rock or ledge. So yes, most of the
"time" is spent horizontally pulling the jig across
bottom, but most of the "hits" happen in the short time
it takes the jig to drop over the edge of a rock or a ledge.
On the other hand, Gitzits or tube baits
are very, very good to me in horizontal applications. Whereas a
spider jig is not a retrievable bait (for me), Gitzits can be
retrieved horizontally above bottom and get hits like mad. So,
it's a perfectly-matched pair of tools - the Gitzit and the
Spider Jig - that Garry Garland offers to you his customers! In
other articles at this web site, we have given you lots of good
Gitzit tube tips. In this article, we will focus on a few tips
for Garry Garland's Spider Jig which is actually a composite lure
built from three separate pieces: Spider Jig Heads, Spider
Skirts, and 4" Double Tail Grubs.
Garland's Spider Jig Heads. This kind of
jig head is commonly referred to as a "stand up" style
of jig head. These heads land on the bottom with the hook poised
upright. Just the perfect position to allow the spider jig
tentacles and tails to present a realistic crayfish appearance!
The jig heads have a long lead collar custom designed to hold
both the 4" Spider Skirt and 4" Double tail Grub. Just
thread the skirt all the way up. Then I use a little shot of
superglue to secure the double tail grub behind it.
The right jig weight.
I want to be sitting right on bottom with a spider jig. For
starters, I am going to think in eighths and fathoms: 1/8 oz. to
crawl bottom at one fathom (6 feet); 1/4 oz. to drag bottom at 12
feet (two fathoms) and 3/8 to bang bottom at three fathoms).
The right line. I am going to use at
least 12 lb. test on bottom with a Garland Spider Jig. In fact,
depending on the daily environmental conditions (wind velocity,
turbidity, surface chop, subsurface water movement, etc.) and
depending on whether it is an aggressive or finesse bite, I am
going to try to get away with 15 to 20 lb. test line if possible.
The right colors. I tend to match the
same double tail grub color with the same spider skirt color. In
dark water, this may not matter as much, and it may even be
preferable to have some small amount of color contrast between
the skirt and the tail for the fish to spot easily. But in clear
water, I usually match the exact same colors on skirts and tails.
I do use a few very subtle skirt/tail contrasts in clear water:
pumpkin pepper/chartreuse pepper, smoke sparkle/clear sparkle,
and smoke pepper/milky pepper.
When to try a football jig head. Football
jig heads have become popular for deep water fishing in rocky
lakes, particularly Western lakes with sheer, shady rock walls
and bottoms, like in dammed canyons for instance. They are also
becoming popular across the entire country now - mostly used on
rocky and hard-bottomed water right on the bottom with spider
Garry's brother, Bobby Garland sells a great football head jig
in 1/8, 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, 5/8. All sizes come with 4/0 Mustad
Needlepoint hooks. The Mustad Needlepoint is a fine, dependable
and strong hook in the 4/0 size. Bobby's not on the web, but he
is at 870-481-5363. These football jig heads go great Garry's
spider skirts and tails on hard-bottomed structure or rocks that
are relatively free of weed/wood/brush. In the rocky areas where
footballs are used, the wide sides of the football jig head keep
it from getting stuck in cracks. The wide football face is too
bulbous and will rock, roll and bounce over small snags and
crevices in the rocks, rather than get lodged into them like more
streamlined jig heads. With a football, usually the head and not
the hook gets stuck. The wide sides prevent it from getting
lodged too deeply, thereby giving you a better chance to gently
back it out and continue fishing!
Another situation where footballs excel is when you are
drifting spider jigs along in a current and occasionally bouncing
bottom as you drift. In these cases, you cast upcurrent, let the
jig hit bottom and sweep downcurrent. Most other jig shapes will
lay down and die like a dog, rolling and dragging along bottom as
the water current pushes pressure against your line which bellies
and drags the jig sideways downstream. So, if you are going to be
using a bottom-bouncing approach with a spider jig in current,
then a football jig is a good choice to use for clean hard
bottoms like sand, shell, gravel and rock beds! As the jig sweeps
down, the broad sides and balance of the football will keep the
hook pointed upright whereas most other jig shapes will roll over
on their sides and scrape the hook point across bottom whenever
there is a bit of slack in your line.
Anywhere you encounter weeds or brush snags, the football head
fails miserably. The bulbous heads get glopped in weeds. The
broad head gets hung in fine vees between branches. As you jiggle
it, the hook gets stuck too. In these cases, you can step up to a
football jig that sports a weedless fiberguard hook protector.
Even if the football head gets stuck, the fiberguard will prevent
the hook from also getting stuck, and the fiberguard does prevent
some of the "green beard" that grows on hooks when you
fish around weeds. However, it is usually better to step up from
the football to a weedless Arkie style jig.
When to try an Arkie Head. An Arkie head
is not as wide or bulbous as a football jig - but the Arkie is
wide enough so it won't overturn easily or fall into little
crevices easily. The big benefit for weeds and wood is that
an Arkie jig almost always has a heavy protective fiberguard plus
the hook eye that is all the way forward on the jig's nose and
the nose is moderately streamlined so it that gets through snags
and sheds weeds better than a football. That's the compromise --
football best in rocks but poor in wood -- Arkie not as good in
rocks but better in weeds/wood. Now, if you are going to leave
the rocks behind and get all up into the weeds/brush, you need
something even more streamlined than the Arkie...
In weed and brush cover, I use the
spider jig superglued on a streamlined pointy-nosed fiberguard
jig head. The line tie eye is right on the tip of the pointy nose
which is often bullet or arrow-shaped. The fiberguard makes it
weedless and snagless and the pointy nose comes through weeds and
brush best. I just let it fall through the weed and brush cover
until it hits bottom, then I shake it, stir it...and often just
wind in my string to drop it into the next spot in the cover.
Apples & Oranges. Spider jigs are
very much like jig 'n pigs to me! So maybe think of a jig 'n pig
as a big, bulky Florida orange while a Spider Jig is a smaller
more delicate tangerine finesse bait! That is pretty much how I
envision a spider grub - as a smaller, more refined version of a
jig 'n pig for use in more open, clearer water finesse situations
with spooky bass. The major differences between a spider grub and
a jig n' pig is that the spider jig offers a smaller
silhouette. Plus the spider comes in many attractive translucent
and sparkling glitter colors. Other than that, I use jig'n pigs
and spider jigs identically - as vertical "dropbaits."
I plop one in, drop it down, shake it, stir it...and rewind my
string to plop it into the next spot in cover - or drop it down
the next underwater ledge.
True, you can also use Gitzits as vertical dropbaits but they
aren't substitutes for spider jigs either. Just like apples
aren't oranges. Try them both and see which one the bass prefer
at any given moment. Sometimes the orange gets 'em and the apple