Deep Water JiggingDeep Water Jigging
Using a Jig As A Search Tool in Deep Water
Many anglers associate jig-n-pig fishing with flipping and pitching the baits to shallow visible cover. In truth, I'd estimate that the vast majority of anglers use the bait this way. I will tell you that the jig-n-pig can be a fantastic deeper water lure if employed in this manner.
Just as in any other form of deep water fishing, the most important traits to look for are bottom structure and the presence of cover. Bait becomes secondary at this point. The jig is one of the best baits you can use to not only catch deep bass but to figure out where they are located. By this I mean a jig in deep water becomes a fish finder. You can bang it into things to get a feel for what exactly is down there at the same time that you attempt to catch fish on it.
I use the jig to explore and search for good structure along weed lines in my local lakes, much of this jig fishing is done in water that is about 12 to 15ft deep. This may not seem extremely deep but consider that more times than not, jig fisherman concentrate their jig throwing in water that is shallower than 4ft deep.
I generally use grass jigs in either 3/8oz or 1/2oz. The grass jig has an angular rocking head that allows it to come through the weeds without hanging up and once it touches down on the bottom, it rotates the hook upward in the fighting crawfish position. The larger size is a little heavy for light tackle fishing but the extra weight is a plus in getting the bait down quickly. Color choice depends on both water clarity and forage. Generally I like four colors: black, brown, black/blue/purple and roadkill. In fact, I don't think I've used any other color in the last couple of years sans black and blue. I use some type of hand poured trailer, generally a Muscle Craw or Al's worms Crazy Trailer. I feel that the scented and salted chunks give me a little more time to recognize a strike in deeper water and to set the hook. Only a small amount of the time do I employ a rattle, and that is only in extremely stained water. By this I mean minimal, maybe 1 to 2 percent of my total jig fishing in a year.
Rod and Reel
I use a 7-foot medium casting rod with a light tip made by Kistler. I prefer the He70MC Helium LTA. It has enough length for good leverage and has enough tip sensitivity to let me know exactly what is going on below the surface. I also opt for a He70MHC which is the medium-heavy Helium. I match this up with a Shimano Scorpion 1001 reel that features a quick retrieve and is rather small in my hands. It is a perfect balance.
I started using fluorocarbon line on my jigging outfits this year for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to eliminate line stretch. Next, I wanted to utilize a clear line that I felt would not betray me as far as look unnatural and finally, I wanted a line with excellent abrasion resistance. After all, I would be using this bait around cover that certainly could have its way with lesser abrasion resistant lines. My choice this season is Berkley Vanish. I used 14-pound Vanish almost all year for my deeper water jigging.
Once I locate a piece of structure I feel is worthy enough to work, I get the bait down on top of it and impart very little action. Often I just let the boat rock and that is what makes the bait pulse. If I move it on my own, I gently pulse the rod tip by moving it only a few inches at a time. I am more or less slowly swimming the bait through the bottom structure. I think the most important thing about this retrieve is not to overwork the jig. Slow and steady is the name of the game here, even in the heat of summer. Don't give the bait too much action as I recognize that my bites decrease as I attempt to fish faster. This may be that I am actually picking the jig up off of the bottom and out of the strike zone.
As with most jig fishing, some guys just have a terrible time recognizing when a bass has mouthed their jig. I can tell you that while deep water jig fishing you might experience more pressure bites rather than easily detectable flat out thumps. I use a method that I call "weighing the line" to detect strikes. It is important to know what your bait feels like on the end of your line without a fish on it. A 1/2oz jig feels like a 1/2oz jig. If I'm working it and I lose contact with it or it suddenly feels heavy, I most likely should set the hook because a bass has the jig. I've come to recognize that many of the strikes I get while deep water jigging simply feel like added weight or pressure. Sometimes you will get thumped hard as some fish with whack the jig even in deep water but this isn't the norm. Jig fishing is one of those techniques that you should keep a taut line without slack to be most effective.
Where to employ it
I have several deep ponds in my area. One such pond it literally banded with lily pads its entire perimeter. The interesting thing about it is that those pads form edges right over deep water. I can literally drop a jig to the edge of the pads and it will sink into 12 to 15 feet of water. This to me is interesting because the pad stems form a unique wall of cover that bass seem to simply hold on. I've had spectacular results at this place catching several hundred bass in only a few trips' time.
Why it is so effective
I'm a firm believer that most anglers simply set out and beat the banks because at many times in the season, bass are concentrated in the shallows. This includes anglers who know what they are doing and those who don't. It's just easier to target those areas that contain visible cover. I know that some bass regularly reside in deeper areas although you can't just go into the middle of the lake and expect to find bass. Instead there has to be something to attract and hold those fish in the deeper areas. The cover that the deep weed lines afford to fish has that power. Consider that most all anglers concentrate on shallow fish and you can see that these deeper fish may be less seasoned to pressure and ultimately more willing to strike.
Give deeper water jigging a serious shot . I've experimented with it in the past and have done well. This past year I did it a lot and it really paid off for me in numbers of fish that I almost didn't realize existed in these areas.
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