Jig Tactics for Bass
By Scott M. Petersen
Looking through my tackle box when I got to the lake I was trying to decide what I should start with, after a few minutes I decided to tie on and throw a jig. I do not care what conditions you are faced with; you cannot go wrong when you are fishing a jig for bass. Let's talk about five ways to fish a jig for bass throughout the seasons.
Swim Jigs have been one of the top choices the last few years when it comes to jigs and bass fishing. What started as an accident has now turned out to be a great tactic to give bass a different look at jigs and how they are fished. How many times has this happened to you? You make a cast that falls short of your target, so instead of fishing the jig back to the boat, you start to reel the jig back for another cast. As the jig gets closer to the boat you see a bass follow the jig. Your first instinct is to stop the jig. When you do that the bass stops, turns and swims away. After seeing this a few times some pros got the idea to fish the jig all the way back to the boat. To their surprise they started to trigger strikes and catch bass. Thus the swim jig tactic was born. What started out as a regular bass jig has now changed to specialty swim jigs that are now on the market. My choice for this tactic is to use an Outkast Swim Jig.
Simply put, if you can fish a spinnerbait you can fish a swim jig. Many times I will give a swim jig to a new fishermen instead of a spinner bait, because the swim jig is at times, more fishable than a spinner bait. Fishing a swim jig is simple. Make your cast and start to reel the jig back to the boat. When reeling, do not try to impart any action into the jig. I have seen bass get turned off by a jig that has too much action. You just simply want to cast and reel.
How fast you reel will have to do with the jig size you are using and how deep you want to fish. For the majority of my swim jig fishing I use either 1/4 or 3/8 ounce jigs. One of the keys to getting more bass to strike a swim jig is the trailer that is used. The majority of the time I use a five inch Outkast Fat Tail Grub, but I keep my options open and experiment. Plastic chunks, Naughty Bugs and even double tail grubs are all great options to try from time to time. Play with different trailers and see how they affect your jig and the bass. You will soon learn what trailer to use for the conditions you are fishing.
For fishing the swim jig I use a seven foot medium action rod, teamed with a matching baitcaster spooled with twelve to seventeen pound fluorocarbon line. The lower stretch factor of fluorocarbon line helps me get a better hook set when bass are on the move and hitting light. I suggest you use a sweep set when setting the hook. If you try to set the hook by raising your rod over your head, you will miss more bass than you will catch.
As the summer months go on, bass will start to take up residence in deeper water along the outside weedline edges, or they may move even deeper to off shore humps. When this happens you cannot beat a jig worm presentation when the bite is tough.
Four and six inch worms will be the choice when it comes to plastics. These will be mated to an Outkast Money Jig. The sizes I use and carry are mainly 1/16, 1/8 and 3/16 ounce. When faced with cold front conditions bass will slow down and you have to follow by going to smaller baits to get bites.
To fish the Money Jig presentation I use a seven-foot medium action rod, teamed up with a spinning reel, spooled with either six or eight pound mono or fluorocarbon line. Special note here: The lighter the line, the more bites you will get. My rule of thumb is that if I am fishing along the weed edge I use eight pound line. This allows me a few extra pounds in line size in the event the bass get into the weeds. If I am fishing in open water I will opt for six pound line. I feel I get more bites using the smaller line.
If you are looking for bass that are located on off shore rocks you cannot beat using an Outkast Touchdown Jig. The 1/2 and 3/4 ounce jigs allow you to explore the bottom as you fish, making sure you are spending key time on the prime structure that will hold the biggest bass of the spot. When fishing this jig I have two ways that I rig the bait. Usually, I rig the jig in a traditional way with an Outkast Spider Grub. However, when I want a different look, I will add a Hitch Hiker and thread on a craw. When rigging the jig this way I get a great craw imitation that gets bites when the regular spider grub rigged Touchdown will not.
The key to fishing a football Jig is the retrieve. Do not hop the jig along the bottom like you would when fishing a traditional jig. Instead, drag the jig along the bottom. That is what transfers to you the bottom makeup. When you get your jig next to a rock, try to rock it back and forth a few times before you move the jig onto the next rock. This action will get you more strikes by the end of your day of fishing.
When it comes to fishing the Touchdown Jig I use either a seven foot heavy action baitcasting rod or a seven and a half foot flipping stick. Either rod is teamed with a matching reel that is spooled with fifteen to twenty pound fluorocarbon line.
Snap and Pop
When bass move out onto the flats during post spawn they will start to take up summer residence. Some bass will stay shallow, while others will make movements towards the deeper weedline and clumps located outside of the weedline edge. When these bass become active they will often station themselves on the tops of the weed edges and feed as food passes by. At other times they will bury down in the weeds near the bottom and wait for food to pass by. If you place your lure close enough you may get a reaction strike, but if it is not, you will not get their attention and a bite. To appeal to this mood you need something that will get a reaction from the bass. This is when I turn to the Outkast RT Jig and fish a little snap and pop tactic.
This is not fishing for the faint hearted. This is power bass fishing all the way. Use either 1/2 or 3/4 ounce jigs for this tactic. Make short casts and let the RT Jig fall to the bottom. Once the jig hits the bottom, give the rod a good snap. This will pop the jig off of the bottom and out of the weeds. Then let the jig settle back to the bottom and try again. With the jig hopping out of the weeds this is generally when a reaction bite will occur, so pay special attention when you move the jig again.
When it comes to equipment, this is power fishing all the way. I suggest the use of seven foot to seven and a half foot heavy action flipping sticks, teamed with high retrieve reels spooled with twenty to thirty pound fluorocarbon line. The reason for the use of fluorocarbon instead of braid is water clarity factors. If I am fishing in clear water conditions I opt to use fluorocarbon line. If the water clarity is low I will use braid if conditions call for it.
Flipping and Pitching
Flipping and Pitching is a variation of the Snap and Pop technique. If the bite is slow and the fish are buried down in the grass, you cannot beat flippin and pitching. When it comes to flipping, match the jig to the cover that you are going to fish. Here you have to cover all your bases. For example, I carry all sizes of the Outkast RT Jig in my box. There will be days when you have to finesse flip your jigs to get critical bites and then there will be days when you have to power your jig through the cover to even get your bait into the bass zone.
For flipping and pitching I use the same equipment as with the Snap and Pop technique.
Give these tactics a try this season you will see that there is never a bad time to use a jig.
Please remember to practice CPR (Catch, Photo and Release). The future of fishing is in your hands. For more timely tips and tactics for bass please log onto fishinginsider.com