Jig fishing has been fooling bass for a very long time. Its probably one of the oldest lures out there. Most of us probably know what the jig is, or maybe not. So, what exactly is the jig? A hunk of lead molded around a sharp hook. Thats is! Sure, the jig has been accessorized with all sorts of things: skirts, weed guards, paint schemes, and rattles. However, its still a pretty simple concept. A weighted hook that your bait can be rigged onto.
Its still around after all these years because it catches fish. Plain and simple! Look at many of the major anglers on the various tours: BASS, FLW, MLF; I am sure most of those pros have a jig tied on every time their boat ventures away from the ramp. But for some reason, for many of us bass anglers, jigs are intimidating. We refuse to throw it, or only cast it a few times, giving up when no bites materialize and resorting back to our tried and trues. I too had suffered from jig paralysis.
Jig Fishing Struggles
My first couple of years fishing, as I was learning more and more about our great sport, I would tie each of my rods up with a different lure. Some sort of jig head was always rigged, ready, and willing to be cast into the water. All to often though, that line never got wet. I realized this, and began telling myself, today is the day I will use this lure and today is the day I am going to catch fish on it. Well, during those times I would force myself to cast the jig a few more times than I had on previous fishing trips, but I still ended up returning to what I knew best. I just wasn’t getting the number of bites I wanted. The same place I would throw a jig, if I picked up a texas-rigged worm I would get bit and land a bass in the boat. In fact, during my first two years of fishing I only caught two jig fish. Both by flipping into brush piles and both times the fish weighed more than 5 pounds. I realized the fish were bigger on the jig, but I considered catching them a fluke at the time. All I did was throw the lure into some shoreline laydown. Any lure would have caught them. What I couldn’t do was catch them out deep, on structure, or really anywhere else but those two places. I was frustrated. My relationship with jig fishing just wasn’t working out. But if I am to be honest, it was my fault. As many of us probably have learned by now, relationships take work, and I wasn’t working on mine. A few half hearted attempts didn’t count. It took time, but I learned.
If you’re struggling with your jig game, or haven’t really put the work in, the rest of this blog is for you. I am going to lay down the reasons why you need to work on your jig fishing skills and then tell you how exactly to do that.
Advantages of the Jig
I firmly believe the old adage is true. It goes something like this: “When using a jig, you get fewer bites, but the bites of quality.” Although, I have not conducted any scientific tests to prove this, anecdotally I can most definitely confirm. Big bass love their jigs. Its candy to them. As I mentioned before, I noticed this with the only two jig fish that I caught, but after gaining greater confidence and pulling many really nice sized fish off structure, docks, and grass I know its true. Before I would have opted for the Texas rig or drop shot in many locations, and I still do if I want numbers, but those lunkers often come on the jig bite.
The beauty of using a jig not only lies in big fish that it yields, but the versatility the lure offers. Jigs have come a long way since they were first introduced. Today, there are probably hundreds of jig manufactures and makers. After all, I am one of them. To compound the options there are just as many jig head styles to choose from. Each one of these were developed, or really refined, from that simple concept we discussed in the beginning. Basically, people were catching bass on jigs all over the place. They realized this lure could be used in all sorts of ways and they just refined the shape of the jig to create a more efficient lure for a specific circumstance. However, just because you don’t have a swim jig, doesn’t mean you can’t swim an arky head. If you are trolling along and come across some trees in the water don’t be afraid to throw that football jig in there just because you don’t have flipping jig tied on. I’ll admit it may not be the most efficient jig to use, but no matter what stye of jig you have tied on, you can fish a variety of circumstances.
The jig may be dragged or hopped along the bottom for those fish actively feeding on baitfish or crawdads. It can be yo-yoed up and down or stroked vertically if you locate fish below your boat either on the bottom or suspended. You can cast that lure way out in front of you, count down a few seconds as it falls in the water column, and swim that thing back to you presenting a perfect target for any suspended bass. Of course the jig can be pitched, flipped, or punched into heavy cover, and after a little practice you can even skip it way up under a dock or brush that most other anglers won’t be able to reach. It's a wonderful thing that I have learned. I can tie a jig on and fish up and down water column and that is why it is a must have for any fishing arsenal.
Fishing Tips: Building Confidence in the Jig
If you want to learn how to catch bass with the jig, or want to refine your skills, the first piece of advice is go out and fish it. Actually dedicate the time and don’t give up when you don’t get bit immediately, or even after an hour or two. I made that mistake for two years and it retarded my bass fishing growth. A lot of folks will tell you to only bring a jig when you go fishing. That will force you to use it, but frankly, I think that is really stupid advice. We all experience those days where the fish just aren’t cooperating with us. If you try to only use a jig on a day like that, well what do you think that is going to do to your confidence. Absolutely kill it! You won’t want to ever pick up the jig again. I have a better suggestion.
When gaining confidence in jig fishing, only fish it in areas you know are holding bass. This could because the fish hang out there year after year, or maybe you caught fish there a couple days prior. Sure, the fish could have moved locations. Some bodies of water are more susceptible to this, especially ones that hold blue back herring. If thats the case, then none of your lures are going to work. However, generally speaking, if you fish the jig in areas you are confident are holding fish, then you’re going to be more likely to keep fishing until you get bit.
I did just that to gain confidence in jig fishing. I also took it a bit further. I remember the first day I really got on the fish using a jig. It was summer and I pulled up to a deep point that I was sure the fish were setting up on. During the hot summer months thats where the bass should located on Jordan Lake, North Carolina. I had caught fish there a couple weekends prior using a variety of other lures. So when I pulled up there that day, I started off by throwing a crankbait and then dropshot. I ended up catching a couple of smaller fish on each one. This confirmed the fish were there. Thats when I picked up the jig, a 1/2 ounce football jig to be exact. I casted the lure as far as I could and began dragging the jig back towards to boat. Sure enough, after dragging the lure halfway across a hump on the point I felt the tap. I reeled down and set the hook. Then it was on! When I got her to the boat and pulled out the scale she weighed 3.5 pounds. She wasn’t a monster, but I was onto something. That fish was twice the size of previous fish. Five casts later I landed a 5 pounder. Thats the day I became fully convinced in the power of the jig. I repeated those events for the rest of the summer on various locations on that same lake and on other bodies of water. After a couple months the jig became my favorite go to lure.
So, if you don’t use the jig already...You need to. Go practice. Find fish. Catch them on a Jig. After doing this a few times, you too will love chasing bass with the Jig.