How To Fish Finesse Jigs
Finesse jig fishing is a secret weapon among many pros. Learn their techniques in-depth in this detailed video all about finesse jig fishing.
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Glenn: How do you like that? A finance jig. A little finesse jig. Come here, you. There we go. Come here, you. Give me your face. Look at that, right on the roof of the mouth. Finesse jigging.
Hey folks, Glenn May here with BassResource.com. And today, I wanna talk to you a little bit about finesse jigs and how to fish them. Yeah, these are really a unique kind of jig compared to your normal flipping and casting jigs. And everybody should have these in your tackle box. And let me just show you what this looks like here. You see that? The strands, the front strands are a lot shorter. The other strands, it's thinner. It's not as bulky, not as thick. It's a small, compact bait. That's what you want.
These are to be used in the traditional sense of the word. These are great when fishing is really slow and you have to finesse the fish to bite. This is when they bite, they're not aggressive, they're kinda lethargic hanging out near the bottom. They may be hanging out near cover but they're not gonna run out and chase down your baits that are going by them. You're gonna have to work 'em hard. When traditional jigs are a bit too bulky, this is a nice, compact size, anywhere you would throw, say, tube baits, darter head jigs.
I've been throwing finesse jigs for over 30 years. I have found a variety of different ways to fish them in a variety of different situations. I wanna take you through that today.
I'm gonna really key on two main different ways of doing it. One is the traditional finesse style of fishing that everybody does. I'm gonna start off with that and then I'm gonna show you another way to fish it that some people may not have considered and I think you're gonna like it. So let's start off with how to fish it, the traditional finesse fishing, starting off with rigging.
Okay, so with finesse fishing, that conjures up an image of light line fishing with spinning tackle. And you're right, that's what I have here. This is a 7-foot, medium power, fast-action rod. It's got a lot of tip to it, a lot of give. And you're gonna need that because you're fishing a light line. And traditionally, finesse jigs have a light wire hook. So the key about this with the reel here is it doesn't matter too much about the gear ratio on it. Because you're not fishing it fast, so you don't need a high-speed reel. What I'm most interested in is a nice, smooth drag. Make sure you get yourself a reel that's got a real good drag system in it that's nice and...see, nice and smooth. That's what you want when you're fishing these jigs because when the fish is pulling and fighting on you, you gotta let the rod and the line all work together with the drag so you don't break anything.
And guys, don't be afraid to downsize to 6-pound test. You know, I used 10-pound for a long, long time, I was real nervous about it. I was afraid of breaking off and losing fish. After a few years of doing that, I finally got up the courage to try 8-pound tests. Ooh, big step. And I thought for sure I'd be breaking off more fish or having to tie a lot more often because the line just can't handle it. Well, I got enough confidence over that over the years where none of those issues actually surfaced. I'm telling you guys, 6 pounds, 6.2-pound line, once you work yourself up to it, if you can use 6-pound, that's definitely gonna make a big difference.
Okay, so on it, I've got here a Booyah finesse jig. What I like here about this jig head, look at the ball, look at the shape of it. It's a ball head jig. And I'm throwing it in rocks and cover in this particular instance. The ball head jig, it doesn't get hung up in the rocks as much. It doesn't have any protrusions, it doesn't have an odd shape that can wedge itself in the rocks, so that helps reduce hang-ups. And the other thing is, look, see that? The line ties on the top. I'm telling you guys, this is absolutely critical when you're fishing rocks. If you've got the line tie in the front, what happens is if the bait falls down in the rocks then it's gonna wedge itself in there. And when you pull to try to get it out, all you're gonna do is you're gonna tighten it right up against the rock and you're not gonna get it out. If the line ties on the top, a lot of times you can get the lure to come out the way it fell into the rocks just by that line tie, the nature of it being at the top.
So that's critical. This is really good for fishing in the rocks. This is good for fishing in light weeds, light cover, that sorta thing. It's not designed here to fish in heavy, heavy cover but that's not what we're doing with this finesse style of fishing.
So that's the gear and that's the reason why I rig it up the way I do. I've got a trailer on here, just a small craw trailer which helps add in the fall, it slows it down and gives it a more natural look. That's how I rig it. Now let's go fishing.
There we are. Little guy, he thinks he's big. That'll work. Couldn't stand my little finesse jig. See that? Right on the roof of the mouth. Little guy but they're fun.
All right, so for finesse jigging, as you see out here, it's kind of a rocky bank, rocky shoreline, fairly steep drop. I'm sitting here in about 16, 17 feet of water. Drops off pretty quickly and it's got these big boulders in between everything, great place to fish. This is a great place, normally you would fish, say, a tube jig or a football head jig with a twin tail grub, something like that. This is where the finesse jig really shines.
The thing is when you throw it out here, first one I'm gonna tell you is when you're jigging it back, you lift it up off the bottom but don't lift it up very far. Because on a steep grade like this, see, it's like this...the lure, you lift it up a little bit and then it travels out, and then it's got a further way to fall. So it's actually dropping more than the amount you lift it up. So you don't have to lift it up, you don't have to do this big movement. It's subtle movements. That's the beauty of fishing the finesse jig.
So the first thing you wanna do...I'm gonna show you a couple different methods of fishing this. First thing you wanna do is just cast it out there and when it hits the water, let it go on slack line and watch it very carefully. You're watching the line for any twitches, jumps, or maybe the line's going into the water and suddenly starts accelerating, something like that. That's usually a fish on the line, so you probably wanna set the hook.
If you're not exactly sure how deep it is, what you might wanna do is start a countdown method. Throw it out there and just go, "One, two, three..." you know, until it hits the bottom. And keep doing that.
Pretty soon you get a pretty good idea, say between four and five is the bottom, for example. Now another time you cast it out there and after two, it stops falling, well, chances are a fish hit it. Or at the converse, you go, "Three, four, five, six, seven, eight..." Well, you better set the hook there, bubba, because that fish is taking off on you, okay? So, you know, that's a good way of paying attention and detecting a bite, even on a slack line. You gotta be a line watcher and pay attention to how long it takes before that jig hits the bottom.
Now, once it hits the bottom, it's a couple different retrieves. I like to throw it out here, let it hit the bottom. And after it does, even though I've been watching the line, sitting on the bottom right now, even though I've been watching it very closely to make sure I have a bite, I still reel down, I give it a little feel just to see. Because sometimes, a fish will follow it and it hits the bottom and he'll suck it up and you'll never see it or feel it. So I always check to make sure there's not a fish there on the other end. I can tell there isn't, so what I'll do is I'll just give what I just told you, a little lift, not much. Here I'm just gonna lift the rod tip up a couple of inches and then let it go right back down. And I'm falling on slack line, I am reeling up the slack line. But I'm letting it fall straight down on slack line. Let it sit for a second, lift it back up again, and let it drop.
It's very subtle, it's not big, sweeping movements. You're just trying to get it to hop along the bottom. And a lot of times, the fish will track it and they'll hit as it's falling. So every time you lift up, expect that there's gonna be a fish on the other end in the line.
So another way of fishing it, here it's on the bottom, is I'll just get my rod tip down and I'll just drag it on the bottom. Use the rod and just kinda drag it along the bottom. And then reel up the slack, let it sit there for a couple of seconds, and then drag it on the bottom a little bit again and reel up the slack. And sometimes, you may have to wait and wait and wait between pauses there before you reel it up.
If the bite is really slow, you gotta slow it way down, which brings me to my next method of fishing it. And that is crawling it. It's very similar but you really wanna just go over every little teeny pebble, every little rock, every little piece of wood, whatever's on the bottom. Let it sit on the bottom. And all's I do is a keep my rod tip up a little bit so I can feel it and I can lift it up and over the bottom. But I just use the reel and I slowly just pop it up over things. That's all I'm doing, just barely moving along. And this could take a long time to retrieve it. I'm not gonna bore you with doing the full retrieve, but it can take you several minutes, three, four, five minutes for one retrieve. But you're just crawling it on the bottom. When you feel a little rock or pebble, you just kinda lift up on the rod tip like I just did and hop it up over it. You're making it look like a little crawfish making its way along the bottom and being as natural as possible.
And a lot of times, the fish will just suck it up and you'll feel the spongy weight on the other end. You're throwing a 3/8-ounce bait, suddenly it feels a quarter ounce and little spongy? Well, it's probably a fish. It can be weeds. If you're not familiar with that bite, you might end up picking up a lot of weeds until you get used to it. But swings are free, there's nothing wrong with swinging every now and then.
So let me show you another way to bring it back. This is more of kind of a swim style. You throw it out, you let it hit the bottom. And now you're gonna reel it but you wanna keep it just off the bottom as you're reeling it. So lift it up and now I'm just slowly reeling it. And every once in a while, you hit bottom, you lift up a little bit, keep your rod tip up so you can keep it up off the bottom. As it gets closer to the boat, you can start to bring your rod tip down to keep it down next to the bottom. But you're just letting it kinda swim along. And it's a subtle way...this works really well, say for example, you've been throwing crank baits and the crank bait dies off, that bite dies off, switch to this method. And the bite usually picks right back up again. It's a great way to keep catching fish.
One more is kind of a deviation of that, that you throw it out. And here, you don't let it hit the bottom but we lift up, let it drop, lift up, let it drop. And you're just kinda yo-yo-ing it back to the boat, that's all you're doing. Never let it hit the bottom but you're just kinda swimming it in a yo-yo kinda fashion. Again, a lot of times the fish will hit it as it's falling, so pay real close attention to that line and be ready to set the hook at any time. I've had fish come right up to the boat and right as I'm lifting it out of the water will smack it right there. I don't know why they'll wait till that last minute but it about gives me a heart attack every time they do that. But great way to fish it.
So those are a couple different ways to fish a finesse jig in the traditional finesse style. I'm going through it kinda quick for you but the speed, you'll have to figure out what the fish want. And a lot of times when you're fishing this, you gotta slow it way down. Like I said, it takes several minutes to do a full retrieve. So practice with that speed and how long it's gonna take you to get that lure back before the fish tell you exactly how they want it.
All right, so that was finesse fishing, traditional style. Spinning gear, open-water. Now I wanna show what I do with finesse jigs, a little bit different than maybe some people think. And that's basically what I would normally do flipping and pitching with jigs but I lighten up a little bit and I fish a little bit different cover.
A little bit better. That's all right. Here we go. Come here. There we go, look at that. You think he wanted it? Look at that, he wanted it. That's a finesse jig for you, guys.
So first of all, what we're doing here is I'm using, instead of...you know, a traditional flipping outfit would be, you know, a flipping rod that's heavy action, long, with stout 50-pound, 65-pound braid, something like that. We're gonna lighten up a little bit in the true sense of the finesse. This is a medium-heavy, 7-foot, medium-heavy action rod. It's a little bit lighter action. Here I'm using Seaguar 20-pound flipping line. Actually, it's 25-pound flipping line. It's fluorocarbon. And the big reason for that...and I'll get to that in just a second but that's what I'm using.
And then the reel, I'm not so much interested in the speed on the reel as I am the drag. This has about 16, 15 pounds of drag on it. Real strong reel, that's what you need for flipping and pitching. And I'm just using, you know, a 1/2 ounce finesse jig in this case, you know. It's very similar to the one I just had but a little bit bigger, right?
So that's the setup. We're not doing spinning gear anymore, we're heavying up a bit. But it's not the full flipping and pitching rig like you would think in the traditional sense. The reason being is, you know, this is a nice, small, compact bait. And the traditional flipping jigs, they're big, they're bulky. And they have, you know, big trailers on them. Great when the fish are buried up in the cover and you need to dig 'em out and you need a lot of bulk to do that and get their attention and the fish are actively feeding.
Finesse jigging comes in style or comes into play when the fish, the bite is off. They're not really chasing baits, they're not actively smacking your lure as it's falling down, you know, down in cover. The other thing is when you're flipping and pitching, you bring your boat right up on top of the cover and you're just in pitching distance, maybe 6, 7 feet away, right? Or pitching a little bit further away, you know, so flipping, pitching, you're only, at the most, maybe 20 feet away. That's a really long pitch. Most people are a lot closer than that, 10 to 15 feet away. In this case, what we're doing is I'm taking the boat and I'm positioning it off away from the cover and I'm pitching it to the edge of the cover. You wanna pull off away. You don't wanna get a 20-foot boat right on top of the fish when they're real finicky. That can scare 'em off. So in this case, we'll pull away from the cover.
Again, we're using the fluorocarbon line because braid...you know, if the fish are real finicky, it's a real slow fall, you're moving it slightly on the bottom, slow movements. You're giving the fish time to examine your bait and then the whole setup. And braid, you can't hide it. Braid just looks unnatural. Fluorocarbon has less visibility, it's a low-vis line, it's less apt to look unnatural to the fish. Twenty-five pound because we're still throwing it real close to cover or just on the inside of it, right on the edge, you know, cover like you may see in the background here, bushes, flooded timber, things like that. You are just not throwing it into the heavy cover and right in the midst of it, like you would with 50, 65-pound braid. I hope that makes sense.
So we're positioning that boat out there, pitching it out there, letting it fall. I set my slack line, watch your line very carefully. Occasionally they do hit it on the fall. But usually, it happens after you've got it on the bottom. You let it sit for a while and you lift up and then, bap, they'll hit it. It's like they come up and look at it but they're not willing to commit. And then you give it a little movement and they'll hit it, that happens a lot. Sometimes it happens when you're pulling it away from cover. As you're reeling back up, for whatever reason it triggers them to come up and hit it before it gets out of the water. You would think they're not chasing bait but they do that on the smaller jigs. And I don't have an explanation for it but just be ready for that because sometimes they'll surprise you right at the boat.
There we go!
Keri: Woa! Hello. Doorbell
Keri: Good Fish.
Glenn: Ho ooh. Come here you. Come here. Come here baby.
Keri: That’s a nice fish.
Glenn: There we go!
Keri: Big fatty!
Glenn: Has grass in his face. I’m tell ya, if you don’t think finesse jigs catch good fish, there you go. Ate that thing. Look at that. Nice. Look at the gut on that fish. Let him go on this side.
Anyway, that is the different ways to fish a finesse jig. I hope those tips help. For more tips and tricks and for the answers to all your questions about bass fishing, visit BassResource.com.