Jig fishing can be one of the most rewarding forms of bass fishing there is. This is because jigs entice big bass to bite more so than most other lures. They are also highly effective all year long and can be fished almost anywhere. The downside however, is that bass jigs are by far the most difficult lure to master.
So if you want to land the trophy bass these baits are capable of, you’re going to need to put the time in. There are so many different styles of jigs and ways to fish them, that knowing where to begin can be confusing. You won’t master jig fishing overnight, but once you do it will be hard to stop throwing them.
When it comes to selecting the best bass jig, it really depends on what kind of fishing you’re planning to do. If you want an excellent “all purpose” jig that can be used for flipping or as a swim jig, then check out the Original BiCO Jig, made by BiCO Performance Jigs.
If you’re willing to sacrifice quality for a lower price there are cheaper jigs out there, like a Booyah Jig made by Booyah. But the quality is night and day, one is made by an assembly line somewhere overseas and the other by a real bass fishermen in Massachusetts. Like with all lures, you get what you pay for.
But before you tie a jig on, continue reading to get a wealth of information on everything jig fishing.
Types of Bass Jigs
Simply put, a bass jig is a hook with a metal head and dressed with a skirt. The metal head of the jig will vary in size to give it more or less weight. They are also equipped with a flexible weedguard positioned in front of the hook that makes them weedless. But there are different styles of bass jigs that are specifically designed for targeting certain areas and using certain jig fishing techniques.
Before you select a jig, make sure there are no lead laws enforced where you are fishing. Most bass jigs are made of lead, and believe it or not are illegal in some states. Lead causes harm to aquatic life, especially to waterfowl when digested. One lead jig is enough to kill an adult loon.
Now lets look at the five most popular styles of bass jigs.
1. Arkie Jigs
Sometimes simply referred to as a casting jig, the arkie jig is the most commonly used style of bass jig. It’s your “every day” jig that is well-suited to cover most jig fishing techniques. If you’re just starting out or only going to own one style of jig, then this is the one you want.
Arkie jig heads are wide enough to give them good balance when on the bottom but slim enough to come through weeds well. This makes them ideal for flipping and pitching at docks, trees, and vegetation, but versatile enough that you could use them as a swim jig too. They are the right choice if you’re going to be jigging in a bunch of different cover and want to mix up your presentation along the way.
2. Football Jigs
These heads are, you guessed it, shaped like a football. The shape of the head makes the jig wobble as it falls, as well as while it is being dragged across the bottom. But what the wide profile of the head really does well is give the jig tremendous balance. This keeps it standing up on the bottom for a better presentation.
Football jigs have the best head style for fishing hard bottoms. The upright-stability makes them less likely to get wedged between rocks more than a jig laying on its side would. The wide head however, makes them less than ideal for fishing in vegetation.
3. Swim Jigs
The head on a swim jig has a sharper point and thinner profile that allows it to cut through water and vegetation better than other style jigs. This is the ideal jig style for swimming horizontally through the water column, typically paired with some kind of paddle tail trailer.
Unlike other jigs which are mostly designed to mimic a crayfish, these jigs are made to look like a swimming baitfish. You never stop reeling these to keep them swimming and from sinking to the bottom, much like you would work a spinnerbait. Sometimes a straight retrieve works best but other times mixing in a random jerk from time to time can trigger a bite.
4. Finesse Jigs
Although similar in appearance, finesse jigs are smaller in size and designed for much lighter tackle. A lot of time the skirt is trimmed around the head so the strands flair up around it. They are designed for a different style of fishing called finesse fishing, a slowdown technique where you use small baits with like tackle.
Finesse jigs are ideal for flipping around light cover, and in clear water with rocky bottoms where there isn’t much vegetation. This makes them one of the best smallmouth lures. Like with all finesse lures, they are great for fishing when conditions get tough and bass don’t seem to be biting anything.
5. Punch Jigs
A punch jig is a type of punching rig, designed with a heavy bullet-shaped head for plunging through thick matted weeds on the surface. These jigs are designed for this style of fishing only and require a heavy duty punching rod. Not only to handle the heavier weight of these jigs, but also to horse bass out of the thick cover these jigs get in to.
These jigs usually weigh in the range of around one to two ounces. They need to be this heavy so they can plunge through anything in their way and get to the bottom. But the key is to fish the lightest head possible while still being able to get through the weeds effectively.
Determining The Best Weight For A Jig
Bass jigs come in a wide range of weights that are measured in ounces or fractions of ounces. When selecting the best weight for a bass jig, there are two factors you need to consider: depth and wind speed. Those two factors will effect the sink rate of the jig and how long it takes to reach the bottom.
In general, the most popular weight for a jig is 3/8 oz, it’s a perfect weight for fishing in shallow water. Once you start getting in to water ten feet or deeper, it takes a long time for that size jig to get to the bottom, and increasing you’re weight to 1/2 oz can make a huge difference. I know it doesn’t seem like a huge difference, but if you start adding up the extra sink time wasted on a full day of fishing, it’s surprising how much more water you can cover with the appropriate jig weight.
Wind speed can also have a major effect on jig fishing. Generally speaking, heavier winds call for heavier jigs. If the wind is blowing your line and not allowing the jig to maintain contact with the bottom or sink at a good rate, then the jig is too light. You need the jig to be heavy enough to overpower the wind and be able to pull the line against it and get to the bottom. Like we said in the example above, a 3/8 oz jig is perfect for shallow water, but if the wind is blowing it all over the place you need to increase the weight.
Selecting Jig Trailers
You’ll hardly ever see a bass fishermen use a jig that is not paired with a jig trailer. A jig trailer is a soft plastic bait that gets rigged on the hook and adds action to the tail end of the jig. It also completes the overall profile of the bait. The endless variety of jig-and-trailer combinations allows you to customize the bait to cater to the conditions you’re fishing.
You may have heard older anglers refer to a “jig-n-pig” combo, which was a term used to refer to a jig with a pork rind trailer attached to the hook. Nowadays, most bass fisherman use soft plastic trailers to get the same general effect, but with many more shapes and colors to choose from. Some jigs even have a keeper on the hook shank, just below the head, which helps keep the trailer from sliding down the shank.
Some popular types of jig trailers are twin ribbon tails, craw trailers, or paddle tails. The biggest difference from one trailer to the next is the action. Some trailers have more action than others. As a general rule of thumb, the murkier the water the more action you want.
A jig trailer also gives you the opportunity to add additional colors to your jig. By simply switching out the trailer, you can change the color combination without even having to re-tie. And by switching trailer styles, you can change the bait’s profile as well, making it quicker and easier to adapt and narrow down what the bass are looking for.
Jig Fishing For Bass
The best thing about bass jigs is they are highly effective all year long. From freezing cold water temps to hot summer fishing conditions, these lures produce. Of course, adjustments need to be made from season to season, things like where you fish them, style selection, and tweaks in presentation.
When you’re jig fishing for bass it’s all about the bottom: how you get there, how fast you get there, and how you interact with it. The objective is getting to the bottom by allowing the jig to sink naturally without getting hung up, all while maintaining an appealing presentation to bass. You want the jig to be heavy enough to get through the cover but light enough to have a natural sink-rate that will cause the jig to give off good action.
A jig is a slow-moving bait that requires the angler to have patience, while paying close attention to the rod and line during the retrieve. Jig fishing for bass is all about feel and sensitivity, so you need to keep a tight line to detect vibrations traveling all the way from the jig to the rod handle.
Half the time, bass eat a jig by picking it up off the bottom. The other half of the time, a jig will get attacked while it’s sinking, so make sure there isn’t a ton of slack in your line and stay alert during the fall. Even with a tight line, a bass hitting a jig it can be a tough bite to detect. It will usually feel like a light thump that travels up the line.
The moment you feel a bite, you need to set the hook. If you’re just starting out, you may be setting the hook on just about every little bump you feel. But as you catch more bass on a jig, you will eventually be able to tell the difference between a bass bite and contact with objects on the bottom. Jigs are great for exploring the bottom. Over time you’ll be able to tell the difference between different types of underwater objects and cover as well.
Casting Jigs & Basic Jigging
Jigs are ideal for targeting all types of cover because you can cast them just about anywhere, from small openings within thick cover to skipping under docks. When you’re fishing a jig, one of your best opportunities for a bite occurs during the initial fall, so making accurate casts is crucial.
If the jig doesn’t get taken by a bass before it sinks to the bottom, you begin your retrieve by slowly dragging and hopping the bait along the bottom. Jigs worked this way are mimicking a crayfish, and fishing them around rocks where these kinds of prey live can be very effective.
You can fish a jig like this in open water, but bass aren’t likely to be found in open water. The whole advantage of jigs is that they allow you to get into those tough-to-reach areas that other baits can’t reach.
Flipping and Pitching
Flipping and pitching is a technique commonly used with bass jigs. It’s all about making accurate, underhand casts that make the jig enter the water quietly. This is close-quarters fishing— you’re only flipping the jig out ten or twenty feet in front of you, so a silent entry is key.
This method is ideal when you’re targeting cover like weed edges, boat docks, timber, or big rocks. You can enter an area loaded with cover and flip a jig to multiple spots quickly and efficiently. All you want to do is let the jig sink in the spot you target. If you get a strike, it will usually happen during the fall or soon after it hits the bottom.
That’s why accuracy is so important. Where the jig lands and sinks is where you’re going to get a bite, so you want your first cast to be perfect. If you’ve never tried flipping and pitching, then you should practice your accuracy in your backyard by tossing the jig at targets over various distances.
You may have heard advanced bass anglers talk about punching mats. In fishing, the term “punching” means to crash through the surface of thick weed mats in order to plunge the jig to the bottom. It’s a very popular technique used with punch jigs and other styles of punch rigs.
During the hot summer months, bass bury themselves under thick weed mats to keep out of the sun and stay cool. Not only do the heavy weeds provide cooler water— they are also home to a lot of forage. For example, crayfish will dart down from the weeds to get to the bottom and bass will pluck them off all day. When you punch a jig thought the weeds you are imitating this action.