Bass Fishing, Bass Lures, Bass Boats, Russ Bassdozer

Shop @ Bassdozer Store | Lures, Rods, Reels | Boats, Motors, Electronics | Expert Articles | Reports | States | News | Forums | Tournaments | Clubs | Federations | Guides | Links | Books | Magazines | Surf Fishing | About Us  | Terms of Use

Fishing the Shad Jig

Chapter 1
Why I Like My Whites

By Russ Bassdozer

Back in the days before soft baits were invented... Well, maybe they had been invented but no one I knew had ever used any yet. Instead most of us used "whites" - jigheads dressed with the seductive come-hither breathing pulse of lustrous hand-tied soft white bucktail and a pennant of homemade bleached white pork rind to heighten the allure with salty taste, fleshy texture and ripply wriggle.

When soft plastics did come onto the scene in a big way (popularized by the Mister Twister Company), my confidence and success has never wavered with white twister tail jigs. In my lifetime I've landed more gamefish, including bass, on white jigs with white pork or white twisters than all other lures and colors combined. So it should come as no surprise when I say, "I like my whites!"

Just within the past month, I've been landing a ton of smallmouth fun almost exclusively on big white jigs.

Here are a few recent photos (see below). They may not seem too big for your backyard - but a 2 to 3 pound smallie (or 4 or 5 of them) plus countless 1-3 lb bronzebacks are a daily occurrence for me here on Lake Powell whenever I can find and fish the shad. Some people, myself included, say Powell is the most scenic bass fishery in the world. And it has 1,800 miles of shoreline. You can fish a few new miles every day - and every inch is filled with feisty smallmouth!

As you may deduce from the white jigs in some of the photos - following shad is the key. It's not always easy to find shad, but when you do, the presence of shad overrules all other conditions - time of day, temperature, location, cover, structure - all take a backseat to shad. Unless there is something like a cloudy green bloom or a wind-blown mudline or a seeping creek, shad don't seem to want to be much shallower (except to spawn at dawn) than twenty feet. Usually they will not cross over an extended point, rock ledge, creek channel or sand bar that is shallower than twenty feet on the inside (unless forced over by game fish). Since few other lures are equally effective as jigs at such depths, the game plan is primarily 1/2 oz to 1 oz white jigs, depending on wind and depth. Did I mention huge walleye schools and stripers by the hundreds follow the wind-loving shad too?

It's not clear to me whether wind blows the shad around involuntarily - or whether the shad willingly follow and seek out the wind-blown shores. Whatever the reason, shad are the wind's biggest fans. They flock to it. Wherever the wind blows toward a constricted shoreline, forming a sort of wind funnel - shad will be in the apex of the funnel and stacked off the deep points and deepwater breaks leading into the mouth of the funnel. Wind makes shad more predictable. A windless day can be harder to predict where shad concentrate. It's easier to find and fish shad in the wind.

In terms of the baits themselves, jig-swimming legend Tom Monsoor was the spark who inspired me to swim rather than bounce, crawl or hop jigs on bottom. FLW pro Monsoor's forte is to swim say a 1/4 oz finesse jig. Yet I am using Tom's swimming system with heavier flipping-type and sturdy football jigs up to 1 oz.

Many persons ask, how do you swim it? Monsoor himself hasn't said much yet. Not that he isn't much of a talker, just hasn't had the mike time yet. In this information void, a bunch of armchair experts rush to respond, "You swim it just like it's a spinnerbait, except it's a jig!" Actually, I don't think so. A spinnerbait likes to lift like a whirlybird helicopter. A jig does the opposite, it likes to descend. So I was pleased to hear Tom Monsoor confirm he fishes swimming jigs like crankbaits this morning when we talked by phone. To me, I too maneuver my swimming jig more like a crankbait, the same manner and speed of retrieve. Just as with a crankbait, I get a high percentage of hits as the swimming jig stutters over high spots on the bottom. And when it stops stuttering, meaning it passed over the high spot, just slow way down or stop turning the handle - again a high percentage bite maneuver, just like a crankbait. Also, like Monsoor mentioned today, I too deploy different size jigs to descend to different depths. This is akin to using different size cranks to achieve different descents. A 3/8 oz jig swims less than five feet, a 1/2 oz jig swims from zero to ten feet. I tie on a 3/4 oz jig for zero to twenty-five feet. A 1 oz jig can be swum from zero to forty feet on a single retrieve. These may sound like heavy jigs, but they ring the dinner gong swimming past a bass - even a one ounce jig in one foot of water.

The Grand Illusion

Getting back to the shad and the jigs that imitate them, I start the grand illusion by using silicone rubber skirts from Skirts Plus in Savage, Minnesota. Out of necessity, silicone skirts have evolved shad scale patterns that surpass most soft plastic baits. Speaking with Tom Monsoor, he agreed. Reason is the very flat fine-cut strands necessitate super fine glitters and blush-type applications of color (called Interference). These super fine glitters and zephyry glints of Interference create subtle tinges of azurine blue, aquamarine green and pinkish-purple color flashes that shad schools emit at times. On the other hand, most soft plastics, even the thin grub tails, are much thicker than skirt strands. Hence they are often molded using larger-flaked, coarser glitters than silicone skirts. Soft plastic manufacturers can tend to be heavy-handed with soft plastic dyes too. Like dousing too much perfume, it can overpower a bait as compared to the more alluring waft of Interference blush reflecting in a wriggling silicone skirt. So I believe therein exists an opportunity for soft bait manufacturers to modernize their shad-imitating grubs to better match the fine-grained shad scale patterns and subtle blushes found in silicone skirting material.

The robust palette of SkirtsPlus strands I like for shad patterns are:

Standard Glitter
  1. Clear / Green Crystal
  2. Firecracker (Clear / Red, Blue, Silver Flake)
  3. Clear / Blue Interference
  4. Clear / Blue Interference, Green Crystal
  5. Clear / Green Interference
  6. Clear / Violet Interference, Black
  7. Light Pearl Blue / Green Crystal, Black
  8. Clear / Silver Hologram
  9. Clear / Blue Interference, Black

Metallic Shadowstrand

  1. Metallic Natural


  1. Clear / Silver, Silver Hologram
Fine Glitter Shadowstrand
  1. Clear / Neon Silver
  2. Clear / Purple Crystal, Black
  3. Clear / Blue Crystal, Black
  4. Clear / Green Crystal, Black
  5. Smoke / Blue Crystal, Black
  6. Smoke / Green Crystal, Black

Nature Scales Plus Barbed Wire

Optionally, these may be used on top of the skirt to apply a dorsal back color darker than the underlying shad belly color:

  1. Clear / Black Barbed Wire, Blue Crystal
  2. Clear / Black Barbed Wire, Green Crystal
  3. Clear / Black Barbed Wire, Purple Crystal
  4. Smoke / Black Barbed Wire, Blue Crystal

As good as silicone skirt shad colors are however, skirts alone won't work well without a soft plastic grub or pork rind pennant trailer. Rigging a grub trailer, it is important to hit the mold seam line where you poke the hook out, and the sickle-shaped tail should always point down on a jig. When rigged, the grub should lie perfectly straight on the hook. I use three models of Yamamoto single tail grub trailers for shad jigs:

  1. 5" Tough Grub (18T series). Molded of a harder plastic formulation that tears less and does not pull down off the jig collar easily. Unfortunately the tough 18T's are only made in a few colors, but they include my two favorite shad trailer colors: Pearl Blue w/ Silver (031) and Cream White (036).
  2. 5" Standard Grub (18 series). Yamamoto's stock soft plastic formulation. These are softer, tear more easily and slip down the hook more often than 18T's. That's not a criticism. Quite the contrary, they are awesome grubs that come in a cornucopia of shad colors: Pearl Blue w/ Silver (031); Cream White (036); Luminous White (038); Smoke w/Silver (135); Clear w/Silver (136); Smoke w/ Black & Silver (177); Clear w/Black (187); Clear w/Red, Blue & Silver (195);  Daiquiri w/ Black & Hologram (237); Blue Pearl w/Black & Hologram (239); Gold Pearl (300); and Pearl w/Black & Gold (303).
  3. 6" Stretch 40 Grub (2 series). Yamamoto's Stretch 40 grub is not very popular. It's relatively unknown. This is not a condemnation of the Stretch 40. Quite the contrary, it is an awesome bass catcher. It's just a markedly different and unique shape than people expect in a grub. It has a much longer, slimmer body as well as a shorter tail than the 18 series. Most people prefer the very familiar-looking 18 series grub. The problem here is fish have a nasty knack for picking grubs up by the tail all too often, and the 18-series has just too ample a tail to attack. Bass can obsess on it. With only the wafer-thin tail being lipped, you rip the tail off when you attempt to set the hook. For that reason, I am reluctant to dye grub tail tips. Tail dye only reinforces the bad habit bass have of lipping grub tails. When bass become fixated on lipping the tail only, the Stretch 40's abbreviated tail presents less of a target to attack. I pinch the Stretch 40's long body down to make it even harder for a bass to go for the tail. The tail is still producing plenty of strike-inducing attraction - yet it becomes more awkward for a bass to try to lip the tail. It would be like us trying to eat spaghetti with a spoon. It's much easier to use a fork, or in the case of a bass, bite the whole bait. So on those tail-lipping days, the pinched-down smaller profile Stretch 40 gets the affirmative head wobble from me. To shorten a Stretch 40, always pinch your fingers down on the piece you intend to discard. This short piece will become badly mushed and misshapen from the pressure exerted by your fingertips. However, the part you intend to thread on your hook will be left in perfect shape. When it comes to colors, unfortunately Stretch 40's are only made in a few, but they include Pearl Blue w/ Silver (031) and Smoke w/ Black & Silver (177) which have been staple producers for me for over twenty years. They also come in Clear w/Black (187) and Gold Pearl (300) which are shad trailer colors. Yet most of the time, an 031 Stretch 40 is for me.

Folks, I hope that is enough for you today. There's so much more I am going to tell you, but all this ruminating about shad jigs has got me hankering to hit the big pond that is Lake Powell. I am off to swim some big whites past chunky smallmouth like those below. When we meet again on this Internet page next week, I will share with you yet another informative chapter of my lifelong story of "Why I Like My Whites".

The trailer in this photo is something few modern anglers have ever used - a pork strip. We'll talk all about the lost generation of deadly pork strips when we meet again next week.

Keep in mind, a soft grub may work swell when use without a skirt to match smaller size shad. However, a silicone skirt used alone without a grub does not work well.

Good fishing and best regards until next week! - from Russ Bassdozer

Shop at Bassdozer's Store
Bassdozer Store
Men's Clothing at
Bass Pro Shops

May I ask you for a favor please? Please start here first whenever you shop online. Click on any store logo above or book below. Bassdozer gets a small sales commission if you begin shopping at these stores from here. You always get the same low price you would pay anyway. Thank you kindly for shopping at Bassdozer.

Kevin Vandam's Bass Strategies
Kevin Vandam

Secrets of a Champion
Kevin VanDam

Fishing on the Edge
Mike Iaconelli

Big Bass Zone
Bill Siemantel

Denny Brauer's Jig Fishing Secrets

Denny Brauer

Denny Brauer's Winning Tournament Tactics

Denny Bauer

Monte Burke

Thank you for visiting. Please enjoy!
Bass fishing lures, bass boats
Worldwide Bass Fishing, Bass Lures, Bass Boats