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Jig Fishing Smallmouth


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Jig fishing isn't one of my specialities and I'm looking at getting into it. I fish mostly shallow clear rivers with slow to moderate current.  Whats your favorite jig/trailers for these conditions? Swim Jig? Football Jig? finesse jig? there's alot that goes into it and just hoping to skip some of the learning curve and not spend a bunch of $$ finding the best jigs. Thanks for an advice.

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I was at a point where I wanted to incorporate jigs into my river fishing too, but didn’t know where to start. I have had the most success on football and true finesse jigs. 
 

The football jigs are good, but they don’t result in many hookups for me which is frustrating. I believe this is because a lot of the fish hitting it, are too small to get the hook into their mouth. This results in a lot of swing and misses and can be really frustrating for a beginner to jig fishing. It takes a pretty decent sized smallmouth to inhale a full-sized football jig.
 

This is why I recommend starting with true finesse jigs; light wire hooks and light weights. You’ll probably catch more fish and become comfortable with the technique. Then you can try throwing a big jig with heavy tackle and seeing what happens. Retrieve wise, slow is the name of the game for me. I have the most bites when slowly creeping the jig and being patient. Even in the summer, when fish are active. I’ll randomly add a bigger “scoot” to imitate a fleeing crawfish. Another important factor for me is scent. I almost always use it for jig fishing. I like liquid mayhem garlic crawfish but buy the scent only if you believe in it.
 

Here are a few finesse jigs I can recommend:

 

Strike King Bitsy Bug: https://www.tacklewarehouse.com/search-tackle.html?start=0&count=30&searchtext=Bitsy+bug

 

Zman Shroomz Jig: 

https://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Z-Man_Shroomz_Micro_Finesse_Jig_2pk/descpage-ZMSMJ.html

 

Keitech Mono Jig: 

https://www.tacklewarehouse.com/search-tackle.html?start=0&count=30&prevsearch=Zman+finesse&searchtext=Tungsten+mono+
 

 

These are tiny! Especially the last two. You’ll have to use your spinning rod to throw all these. For the Zman and keitech jig, I recommend using a ZMan TRD Crawz as a trailer. 
 

For the Bitsy Bug, which is still small but much bigger than the other two, I’d recommend and trailer which is skinny and around 3”. Take a look at the Strike King Baby series. You can go with the baby versions of the rage craw, rage bug or rage menace. I also really like the Berkley Chigger Bug as a trailer for the Bitsy bug. 


Best of luck and let us know how it goes

 

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One of the best jigs to throw for Smallmouth, especially on rivers, is a Tube Jig.  Tube jigs are a "must have" for river Smallies.  I use light line (4, 6 or 8 lbs mono or florocarbon, but I personally prefer mono.  Start with the minimum weigh you can get away with based on current flow.  Cast quartering upstream, and do a little lift each time the jig settles to the bottom to make it drift a few inches (of feet depending on how the fish want it that day) downstream. Continue the "drift" until the jig is well below you in the river. Retrieve and repeat. I get many bites when the jig is curling around at the end of the drift, but the fish can hit at any time, so be alert...often you just notice that the jig seems to have just stalled in place and has stopped drifting, or there is suddenly a larger bow in the line than you would expect. That means a fish has picked it up and is either just sitting there with it, or has moved with the current. Most bites are subtle (but not always...sometimes they will about rip the rod out of your hands) so there is a bit of a learning curve to get to know when a fish has the jig, but it does not take long to get the hang of it. Experiment with jig weights....sometimes they want the tube to just barely move and drag along the bottom and other times them want the jig to move faster and higher up when you lift. Let the fish tell you what they want, and if bite stops, change up the weight and speed of presentation. The best colors are usually Watermelon, or try to match the color of the local crawfish population. You don't need to have every color under the rainbow...just keep it simple. The colors I listed, and black, white, or blue/black is all you need.  I prefer to use a light wire jig, as that can be pulled off rocks if it gets snagged without breaking your line.  Be sure to check the hook point often and sharpen it as needed if it is dull.  Good luck.

Tube jigs can work well on lakes also, especially around large rock structures, but I have my best luck with them in clear water flowing rivers.

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One not mentioned is the Super Fluke, yes, the 5.25 inch one.  On an unweighted 4/0 EWG worm hook.  In shallow water it's not unusual to see the wake of the fish going for it.

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Not sure if you can call it a jig but the confidence baits draggin' head with a soft plastic is killer.  It rarely gets hung up and has a thin wire but strong hook to aid in hookups.  They also have a finesse jig that is killer on river smallies.  

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I like the strike king bitsy flip . I don’t know what style head it is exactly but the ones that look close to Arkie style are good for all around fishing. Dragging swimming hopping whatever 

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1/8 to 5/8 oz ball head light wire jigs depending on current and snags. I like to go as slow as possible without loosing every jig.

 

Menace grubs, baby pit boss. Baby rage craw

 

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Strike King Bitsy Bug could be very good for SM, but I used Bass Patrol football jig more often. These are hand-tied finesse size football jigs, with a very stout but small size Gamakatsu hook (they changed to Mustad hook, and slightly thicker rubber skirt strand). I mostly use the 1/4oz or 3/8oz. They have two versions of skirts to choose - living rubber or regular silicone. And most importantly, they are very affordable. River jig fishing is bound to snagging. With these jigs, it wouldn't hurt much you lose a few along the trip. 

 

TW have them in stock here: https://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Bass_Patrol/catpage-BP.html   The living rubber ones are my favorite, though the color choice is limited. 

 

Speaking of SM jig fishing, I've heard many talks about the importance of scents from SM gurus, but personally I find that the right action is more effective than scents and colors.  A living rubber skirt jig with the right trailer, such as Baby Rage Claw, has been very successful for me. Big one small one, they all love it. 

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2 hours ago, newapti5 said:

Strike King Bitsy Bug could be very good for SM, but I used Bass Patrol football jig more often. These are hand-tied finesse size football jigs, with a very stout but small size Gamakatsu hook. I mostly use the 1/4oz or 3/8oz. They have two versions of skirts to choose - living rubber or regular silicone. And most importantly, they are very affordable. River jig fishing is bound to snagging. With these jigs, it wouldn't hurt much you lose a few along the trip. 

 

TW have them in stock here: https://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Bass_Patrol/catpage-BP.html   The living rubber ones are my favorite, though the color choice is limited. 

 

Speaking of SM jig fishing, I heard many talks about the importance of scenes from SM gurus, but personally I find that the right action is more effective than scenes and colors.  A living rubber skirt jig with the right trailer, such as Baby Rage Claw, has been very successful for me. Big one small one, they all love it. 

Scenes? 

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Small finesse cut jigs with a craw style trailer are a great option, i also like to throw swim jigs in 1/4 and 3/8 with a 3-5” kalins grub, however these draw alot more attention from northern pike than anything else.

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I use one jig for SMbass.  It’s the version 2 Keitech football jig.  3/8th 

 

I use either the green pumpkin or that brown one.  I use tiny trailers.  Some rage craw thing.  
 

this is for CA smallies.  Your mileage may vary. ;)  
 

(I’m gonna try a hula grub this year!)

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On 12/8/2021 at 3:39 PM, Darth-Baiter said:

I use one jig for SMbass.  It’s the version 2 Keitech football jig.  3/8th 

 

I use either the green pumpkin or that brown one.  I use tiny trailers.  Some rage craw thing.  
 

this is for CA smallies.  Your mileage may vary. ;)  
 

(I’m gonna try a hula grub this year!)

Hula grubs are very good. They were one of the first jig plastics i threw that wasnt a straight curlytail or tube. As ive started making my own lures, ive gotten away from them, but im definitely missing out on bites. I actually like to texas rig mine with a 3/0 ewg and a 1/16 to 3/32 ounce bullet sinker. Bullet sinkers come through rock surprisingly well and i like the delayed falling action when hopping from the plastic pausing while the weight drops.

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27 minutes ago, Bdnoble84 said:

Hula grubs are very good. They were one of the first jig plastics i threw that wasnt a straight curlytail or tube. As ive started making my own lures, ive gotten away from them, but im definitely missing out on bites. I actually like to texas rig mine with a 3/0 ewg and a 1/16 to 3/32 ounce bullet sinker. Bullet sinkers come through rock surprisingly well and i like the delayed falling action when hopping from the plastic pausing while the weight drops.

Are you pegging the weight?  Thanks for the tips.  My first attempt was a fail, but I’m waiting for spring for the real effort. 

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4 hours ago, Darth-Baiter said:

Are you pegging the weight?  Thanks for the tips.  My first attempt was a fail, but I’m waiting for spring for the real effort. 

I am not, thats why it freefalls a bit. 

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Most of my fishing is river smallies and most of that is with some kind of jig. I do use a lot of small stuff but don't be afraid to try something larger.

 

After all these years I'm still finding new combinations that work well. I tend to prefer rubber over silicone but I use plenty of silicone. My tubes are mostly green pumpkin but my rubber jig skirts are usually black...a little bit of blue mixed in is ok but I can do without it.

 

An arky head with a paddle-tail trailer is good but I use some craw trailers and a ned or tiny child is great although the later isn't really a jig.

 

Last year I bought a bunch of hair jigs but my season ended early and I never really used them. I'm going to buy some more and try real hard to fit them in next year...too many choices and not enough time on the water.

 

Normally my PB for the year is on a 3/8 oz black arky in the spring but last year it was on a zoom finesse worm splitshot rig in the fall...go figure. 

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I’ve fished the Shenandoah and Upper Potomac for years, and jigs have always been productive.  A tube is always my first choice.  Almost never fails to catch some nice smallies.  Kirt Howe in post above nails the presentation.
My most productive skirted jig has been the 3/8oz Luck E Strike football jig in Green Pumpkin, Purple Flash with Berkley Chigger Craw in Black Red Fleck for trailer.  And then there’s the Blue Black version with matching trailer.  

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You can catch smallies on full sized jigs - try dragging one with a chunk trailer. But if I am fishing in a lake with only smallies I'm usually going with a smaller size jig like a Strike King Bitsy Bug or a Keitech finesse football jig.

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On 12/5/2021 at 8:42 PM, TnRiver46 said:

I like the strike king bitsy flip . I don’t know what style head it is exactly but the ones that look close to Arkie style are good for all around fishing. Dragging swimming hopping whatever 

I'll second this. Solid jig at a good price. 3" twin tail grub trailer.

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