Jigs and How to Use Them
By Nick Welu
For starters, I am a firm believer in using braided line. I usually stick to fifty- pound Power-Pro, and if I am fishing in clear water, I will put a twenty-pound P-Line Fluorocarbon leader that is about twenty inches long. My rod selection is a seven foot two inch Shimano Sellus Worm/Jig. My reel is a Lew's Speed Spool Bait Caster with a 6.4:1 gear ratio. A lot of folks prefer a faster ratio such as a 7.1:1 or a 7.4:1. They believe that if you hook a bass say in weeds or under a dock, you need something to rip it outta there. I agree with them but I am more comfortable using a 6.4:1 ratio. Try not to stray below a 6.4:1 ratio, it may be too slow. My Shimano rod is a Medium Heavy power with a Fast Action tip. Some prefer Heavy power rods for jigging, but to me it's a bit overkill, especially if you are using a lighter jig such as quarter ounce. Unless you fish somewhere with a lot of submerged weeds, structure, or lilly pads, then a heavy power rod would be ideal. However, that is why I use braid; so I can rip my bait out of there and the line won’t get torn up like plastic lines. Also, the reason why I use a leader in clear water is because if I have my jig tied to braid and the water depth clarity is over five to seven feet, then it just looks like a crawfish being pulled by a piece of rope. The fluorocarbon leader gives me that edge so the bass don’t see my line. I have experienced this first hand. A couple years back fishing in a tournament for my high school, we were fishing the pre-spawn in some very clear water, and I was using a jig with braided line and saw this bass just sitting right outside a weed-line about four feet down. I danced my jig as best I could but nothing worked. Finally my fishing coach suggested I tie on a fluorocarbon leader, which I did, pitched my jig back out there and the bass hit instantly.
Now to my jig selection. I have a lot of different kinds of jigs. However, I have about three to four jig companies that I always have as my go-to jigs. The first company I use is Booyah. I use three different jigs by them; the Boo Jig, Swim n Jig and Pigskin Jig. One reason why I choose Booyah is because I love the presentation that their jigs provide for me. They stand up easier and their skirts don’t fold down like some do, their skirts stay up and fan out and provide the perfect amount of bulk and profile; I have them in black and blue, white shad, black and red and green pumpkin.
I also like to use the Bitsy Bug by Strike King. If the bite is really slow and light, I usually like to tie this on and throw it out there. I have one Bitsy Bug in water melon, and the other in bleeding black and blue.
The third company I use strictly for bulk. They are the Buckeye Mop and Mini Mop Jigs. These jigs in particular have a tremendous amount of bulk to them and are perfect in stained water. I only have one color and that is black and blue because that is all I use in stained water.
Another Jig I use is the Jewel Bait Eakins' Flip'n Jig. This Jig is a finesse Jig and I love throwing this out there during the spawn season. Now I only have one color for this jig as well and that's in green pumpkin green flash. Some tend to throw on a trailer that is the same color as the jig, but for this color I stray a little and use a Sweet Beaver by Reaction Innovation called California 420. It's important that you have the dark side of the Sweet Beaver facing up.
I have other companies I use as well but these are the ones that provide me with the most success when it comes to pulling those huge lunkers out.
In addition to your jig selection, your trailer selection is just as important, if not more important. I have only three companies that I use when it comes to trailer selection. My go-to trailer before any other is the Sweet Beaver by Reaction Innovation. They have a great swirl pattern when fished by themselves on a Texas or Drop-shot rig, and have outstanding two-tone colors. Not only are they tough little suckers and compact, but they can survive multiple hits by bass. They have outward facing ribs that create pressure waves that attract bass like no other. When the water first thaws out, keep the tails together but as the pre-spawn starts, split the tails apart, just like you would on the appendages on a lizard or brush hog.
The second company is Uncle Josh. They make trailers out of actual pork which gives a great feel, taste and presentation for bass. I use both MAXX Pork and The Original Pork Frog as my trailers. Some say that they are hard to take off your jig. You need to take them off and put them back in their container because they will dry out. Uncle Josh provides a little pre-made hole to put your hook through so you don’t have to go through the hassle of punching it through. In that one side of the body is fleshy and the other is a beveled texture, you want to put the hook through the beveled texture and when you take it off, angle it a little bit. You may have to wiggle it around to get it off. The more you use it the easier it will slide off.
The third company I use is Net bait. I absolutely love using their Paca Craw. The Paca Craw features a small body that has 2 claw "appendages" that are just massive. They add a nice profile to any jig you fish them with. The claws flap when moved and create a ton of vibration and pressure waves. I especially love using them with swim jigs. I've had bass that come up from the shadows of weed lines and just hammer my swim jigs, all because of the trailer I was using.
Now, just because you have all this fancy stuff, all you have to do is cast out your jig and trailer combination and you'll get a bass right? Not exactly. I have four techniques I use when fishing jigs. Two techniques are obvious just by their names.
The Swim Jig
Just cast it out, depending on the depth let it sink a little and swim it back. Now don’t just throw it into open water and expect it to get bit. A swim jig is basically a spinner-bait without the blades. You MUST fish it the same as a spinner-bait. Throw it back behind a fallen tree and swim it back. Throw it over weeds, next to a weed line, next to cover, on a shelf, under structure, next to structure; and if you hit a stump, let it fall just like you would spinner-bait. (Cover- Lilly pads, cattails, matted grass, any type of forage that is right on top of the water)
(Structure- any type of stump, dock, rock, pillar, fallen tree, logs etc.) The other is obvious as well.
The Hopping Jig
I call it hopping, mainly because it is easier to memorize. Just hop the jig back to you. I usually alternate sequences by hopping it three times, letting it set for ten to fifteen seconds then hopping it twice, and so on. It's pretty easy.
Another technique is one I like to use to find out what is on the bottom of the water I'm fishing so I can get a feel of the area below me - and it'll get you fish too. It's as simple as jigging. Cast your jig out, let it sink to the bottom, and drag it. No need to reel it, bounce it, jig it, swim it or anything; just drag. All you got to do is twist at the waist away from where you casted, turn back, reel up the slack, and repeat. This technique I use a lot from when the water first thaws, until it freezes again. It helps me feel for transition points, and if there is grass, sand, muck, etc. This also imitates a crawfish scavenging the bottom for food.
The last technique is a bit tricky, but you can get the hang of it. I call it whacking a jig. I use this mostly during the pre-spawn all the way through the spawn and post spawn. Basically I do this so I can get a reaction bite out of the fish. There are times where I'm fishing a bed and the bass is just staring at my jig but he or she just will not bite. That’s when I take my jig and whack it off the bottom. It cannot be too soft to where it will not have any affect, or too strong to where you pull it out of the water, it has to be just the right amount. Since bass don’t have hands, they have to react with their mouths. I've gotten a lot of fish by them staring at my jig and then just whacking it off the bottom.