How to Fish a Football Jig for Bass
The NFL season may have ended a couple weeks ago, but football is always in season for bass fishing. The football head is a mainstay of jig fishing. It is a must have in your fishing arsenal. I tend to use it a lot and with tremendous results. So since we're a small company, and we're focusing on products that we actually use it is a core product. But let’s talk about why the football head jig is essential to have in your tackle box and the best places to fish them.
So first, let's start with the basics. This jig gets its name because it resembles the shape of a football. Obviously, and hopefully I didn’t insult anyone's intelligence by mentioning this fact. The advantage of the design, though, is the lack of hard, straight edges and sides. The curved nature of the jig head prevents it from falling over in the water, thus ensuring the jig’s hook is always in the perfect position for a hook set when a bass strikes. Furthermore, it is able to roll and craw over various forms of rock decreasing the likelihood of it becoming hung up in the crevasses. This is why whenever I am fishing a jig near rock, I pick up the football head.
Designed for hard bottoms and fishing rock structure, I would advise against throwing this particular jig into grass or thick vegetation, for example Hydrilla or Milfoil. Please, learn from my experience. It is not a whole lot of fun cleaning lake salad off your jig every cast you make. If fishing the thick stuff, opt for another option. But here are four locations the football jig should be your first choice of lure.
Fishing Locations for the Football Head
1. Vertical Drop-Offs and Ledges
A ledge located along a submerged road bed at Kentucky Lake
One of the places I always pick up a football jig are vertical drop-offs and ledges. When the lake depth changes several feet in a short distance, its very unlikely it did so because of an underwater cliff with a 90 degree face. Although, I have seen this in fishing old rock quarries.
However, typically, such drop-offs more or less resemble staircases. The lake’s bottom comes to an end and drops vertically a few inches or feet then extends horizontally for a few inches or feet before dropping again. This is a prime location for baitfish, whether its sunfish or crawfish. That bait loves to use a ledge’s crevices to hide and feed. Of course, where there are baitfish you can bet there are bass.
These bass will typically set up on one of the stair steps looking up waiting to ambush any prey that swims by. You must take advantage of this. Cast your jig to the top stair then drag it along until it falls. Let it sit a for few seconds once it lands then drag it along until it falls again. Just keep repeating until you feel you are out of the strike zone. If there are bass on that ledge you will get bit. In my experience most of the bites come as the jig is falling off one of the ledge’s steps, a reaction strike from the bass sitting below. However, if not, again let it sit a few seconds.
That big bass may be investigating and waiting for your jig to move again.
Long main lake point with a sharp drop-off at Bull Shoals Lake
Not to insult anyone’s intelligence again, because I assume most of us are aware lake points are a great location to start any bass fishing trip. In the summer, or winter, main lake points are the places I start my search, but in spring and fall I will begin searching the secondary points in the creeks and tributaries. Bass stage on these points since they are a natural chokepoint that funnel bait fish into an ambush zone. If the point has rocks, gravel, or a hard bottom, the football jig should be one of the lures you have tied on.
To increase your chances of getting bit on the point, start fishing the side that has the steepest slope. It could be a drop-off like we discussed above, or it may have a much gentler slope, but start by fishing the location on the point with the sharpest drop-off and closest access to deeper water. In summer, and winter, the bass will often be on this part of the point. If they aren’t there, and you can identify baitfish on your graph, keep searching until you find them.
3. Sloped Banks
45 degree sloped chunk rock bank
In the spring, and to a lesser extent in the fall, I love fishing my football jig on bank lines with slopes of roughly 45 degrees. Especially if the bank is rocky. I became a fan of this on Bull Shoals Lake in Missouri a couple years ago. It was early March and the bass were beginning their pre-spawn phase. I didn’t find any fish out deep on the main lake points and began working my way back into the creeks. The east side of the creek consisted of a bluff wall, but the opposite bank was perfectly sloped at 45 degrees and chalked full of chunk rock. About halfway back this creek I began getting slammed by the fish. The bass were sitting on this rocky slope staging to move to the spawning flats about 500 meters away. The next day I went back to the same spot. My dad was meeting me later to go fishing, but between the time he called and the forty-five minutes it took him to drive to the boat ramp, I had a limit of over 3 pound bass. So if you have similar structure on your body of water, fish it. Especially in Spring because these slopes make great pre-spawn- and post-spawn fishing locations as the fish use the same areas before and after they do their thing.
4. Transitions and Edges
Transitions, or what some people call edges, are a clear line of differentiation between various forms of structure and bottom composition. These edges can include a sharp change from gravel to chunk rock, rock to clay, grass to rock, etc. These changes are another key location you can use the football jig as the bass will often locate along these structure changes. I know I told you earlier not to fish this jig in grass if you can avoid it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fish around grass. When there is a defined grass line and rock or a hard bottom located in front of the grass, I often throw a football head. Although I won’t throw into the grass. Instead, cast the jig parallel to a grass line and work it back towards you. Very often the bass are just outside the weed line swimming along or are camouflaged in the grass right where it begins. The bass are looking to ambush the prey on the edge of this structure and cover transition.
Techniques for the Football Head
There are really only three ways I fish my football jigs:
The first is dragging. This is really simple. Lift up on your rod pulling the line, take up the slack with your reel, and let the jig sit until you do it again.
The second option is to hop the jig. I will jerk my rod tip up with more force than if I was dragging. This will cause the jig to jump up off the bottom a few inches or feet, depending on how hard you do it, and then fall to the bottom. I often hop the jig three or four times in succession before I let it rest on the bottom. I prefer this technique when the bass are more active, or the water is stained to dirty. The extra commotion and action can create more reaction strikes or draw fish in.
Finally, I will slow roll my jig. Once the lure settles on the bottom, I begin slowly turning the handle on my reel. Now don’t go to fast, as that will create lift and cause the jig to swim up in the water column. The intent is to reel just fast enough but maintain bottom contact the entire time. The jig is just constantly crawling. Some days this is what the bass really want.
The football head jig is king when fishing any hard bottom or rock structure. I encourage you to fish this jig whenever you encounter a hard bottom and rock structure. Of course, I recommend using one of ours. Yes, I know, a shameless plug, but these are the only ones I use and they defiently work.
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