It’s year round effectiveness is quantitative- more tournaments have been won flipping a jig, than any other tactic. Yet there are many anglers who fail to understand a jig’s versatility or implement it as an effective tool in their arsenal. It is largely due to a jig’s lack of “presentation” on the shelf at the tackle store. To a new angler, a jig has little or no allure when placed next to a realistic looking crankbait or a multi-bladed spinnerbait. Within that arena, the jig is a drab, underappreciated back-up singer to their flashier brethren. It is for this reason, many anglers overlook the jig, and because of this, they fail, more often than not, to catch fish.
The same scenario replays itself, even after a jig purchase is made. Newbie angler, and seasoned anglers alike, will dig through their tackle box with little or no consideration for the inconspicuous jig. Instead, they reach for the lure that looks cool or has a flashy paint job. They do this, in spite of the fact that the cool looking lure has never caught them a fish, and likely never will. This is how the adage, “lures are designed to catch fishermen, not fish” came to be.
Jigs are not flashy and are unlikely to win a beauty contest in your tackle box, but they will catch fish, but it is important to choose the right rod and reel combination for the job. Choosing the proper rod and reel for a jig greatly depends upon the size of the jig and the application it is being used. I use a Duckett Micro Magic Pro Med/Heavy 7’3” rod for most jig applications. I find it provides sufficient back bone while still offering me a subtle tip to work the jig effectively. Duckett has become the industry leader in micro-guided rods, offering the first double flanged micro-guide rod tips. The main benefit of micro-guides is they lighten the working end of the rod, bringing the balance point further back into the handle of the rod, reducing fatigue, and increasing overall sensitivity though superior balance. I pair my Duckett with a Lew’s Tournament Speed Spool 7.4:1 gear ratio. This reel is incredibly smooth, and it draws 31” of line with every turn of the handle, so I can make quick retrieves and land my fish quickly and easily. I use 20lb Gamma Edge Flourocarbon. I have used a lot of different lines, and Gamma has earned a place on my reels. There are times when I prefer to use braid. In those situations, I use Gamma Torque braid for its smoothness, thin diameter and abrasion resistance. My jig of choice is the Riot Baits’ Instigator. Its head shape is perfect for most fishing applications, it has a super stout Mustad Ultra-Point hook; it’s incredibly affordable, and it is offered in a plethora of colors.
Rather than discuss different types of jigs and their specific applications though, let’s discuss presentation, because at the end of the day, presentation is the most important thing in getting bit on a jig. In order to keep things simple, we have broken presentation into four different categories. We recommend trying each one to become more familiar with it and to build confidence utilizing each presentation on the water. We are sure that by doing so you will find the jig is far more versatile and will catch more fish than the flashy crankbait you wasted your last $10 on last week.
Flipping and Pitching: This technique actually refers to the way the jig is cast into the water and not how it actually moves once it is there. The great thing about flipping and pitching is the ability to accurately place a jig in and around structure that you wouldn’t be able to fish with a crankbait. Flipping and pitching is the most commonly used cast for fishing a jig. The presentation can vary once a pitch has been made, but most people will allow the jig to fall to the bottom and then hop it or drag it through the target zone before quickly retrieving it and pitching at the next target.
Swimming a Jig: Although jigs are most often fished on or close to the bottom, there are scenarios where swimming a jig is incredibly productive. Swimming a jig is most effective from pre-spawn until fall. It is great search bait especially in weedy areas where spinnerbaits and crankbaits are ineffective, but its use should not be limited to weedy areas. Swimming a jig is arguable one of the most effective power finesse tactics out there. It allows you to comb a large area for bass, and it is incredibly effective in highly pressured lakes and clear reservoirs where rattles, blades and vibrating crankbaits can ward off easily spooked bass. The best part about swimming a jig is there is no wrong or right way to do it. Vary the speed of your retrieve and incorporating pops and twitches until you connect with a bass. Different scenarios will dictate what retrieve works best. Once you connect with a bass, repeat that same retrieve and you should catch more.
Stroking a Jig: Stroking a jig is akin to swimming a jig…. well, sort of. It is a technique often employed when fishing deep water ledges for bass suspending off the drop, but this effective technique can be used in many fishing situations. Usually, it is best to position the boat so that it is off the deeper side of a ledge or steep drop in deep water. The basic principle of the technique is to make a long cast towards the shallow part of the steep drop with a jig; allow it to sink completely to the bottom. Let the jig sit for a period of time, then using the rod tip, lift the jig (stroke it) off the bottom. Moving the rod tip as little as 6-8 inches will cause the jig to jump up and flutter several feet or more depending upon the severity of the drop off. Be ready. Depending upon the activity of the fish, the bite may occur when the jig is resting, falling or right when you stroke it off the ledge.
Crawling (dragging): Sometimes the fish will only respond to a jig that maintains bottom contact. This requires slow movement of the rod tip. Sometimes it is helpful to place the rod parallel to your waist and slowly move the rod tip back. This prevents you from accidentally lifting the jig off the bottom by elevating the tip.