Jig fishing can be one of the most rewarding forms of bass fishing there is. This is because jigs get big bass to bite, more so than most other bass lures. However, the jig is by far the most difficult bass lure to master, so if you want to catch the trophy bass these lures can produce, you’re going to need to practice. You won’t master fishing bass jigs overnight, but once you do it will become hard to stop throwing them.
Simply put, a bass jig is a hook with a weighted head that is dressed with a skirt. The weight of the jig gets the bait to the bottom and keeps it there with the point of the hook facing upright. Typically they come equipped with a weedguard that makes them weedless.
There are so many jig styles, colors, and weights that knowing where to begin can be harder than actually fishing them. But unless your fishing deep water, a good 3/8 oz jig with a trailer is more than enough to cover most bass fishing conditions. If that’s what you’re looking for then here are the top three:
Top 3 Jigs
But if your just here to learn about jigs, then continue reading to get a wealth of information everything there is to know about landing pigs with jigs!
Types of Bass Jigs
When you’re fishing a jig 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 letting the jig naturally sink 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 looking sink rate that will make the jig give off good action.
There are jigs designed to be better at targeting certain areas than others, that’s why selecting the right style jig for the conditions and cover your fishing gives you an advantage. The biggest difference between jigs is in the head, the shape of it and the weight of it. But before weight, you first choose the style that best fits the areas you’re looking to target.
Before you select a jig, you should consider choosing a lead-free jig. Most bass jigs are made of lead, and believe it or not illegal in most states. Lead causes harm to aquatic life, especially birds when digested. One lead jighead is enough to kill an adult loon.
There are different style jig heads specifically designed for fishing certain techniques and certain areas. Basically, what makes one jig head different from another is the shape, the weight, and the location of the eyelet. These three details make all the difference in how the jig sinks, how it moves on the bottom and through the water, and how easily it gets through cover.
Thousands of jig heads have been designed over the years, but there are a handful of categories that they fall under. Here are the four most popular jig head styles:
1. Arkie Jig Head
This is the most commonly used jig head style, and the one you’re probably most familiar with. It’s your “middle of the road” jig, and is flexible enough for most jig fishing scenarios. If you’re just starting out or only going to own one jig, then this is the style you want.
Arkie heads are the ideal jigs for skipping under docks and low hanging trees. They are the perfect choice if you’re going to be jigging in a bunch of different areas with different cover. But if you’re fishing a specific type of cover or area all day, you’ll want to choose a head that is specifically designed for those conditions.
2. Football Jig Head
These heads are, you guessed it, shaped like a football. They make the jig wobble as they fall, as well as while they are being dragged across the bottom. The eyelet is up higher on the head so when you pull the line the tail end of the jig kicks up.
They have better balance and give a better presentation on the bottom than other heads. Football heads are the best jig head for fishing rocky bottoms, but their wide head makes them not great for getting through most other cover like thickly weeded areas.
3. Swim Jig Head
This is the ideal head for swimming a jig horizontally through the water column. The head has a sharp pointy head that will cut through the grass much easier than other rounded heads. You’ll also notice that the eyelet is directly at the tip of the head so that there is no surface area to get hung up on weeds.
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, but while you’re reeling you give a your rod a light jigging action to make the bait go up and down as it swims.
4. Punching Jig Head
Punching a jig is a very effective jig fishing technique, which we expand on further down this page. These punching jigs make this style of fishing much easier. They are made up of a bullet shaped head that is designed for plunging through thick matted weeds.
They’re typically on the heavy side so they can plunge and cut through anything in their way. You can get away with punching an arkie head jig but these heads just do the job better. If your punching through thick cover all day then this is the best jig head.
Jig Head Weight
Bass jigs come in a wide range of different weights measured in ounces, most commonly used jigs are designed to weigh a fraction of an ounce. When selecting the best weight for a bass jig, your goal is to use the lightest jig head you can use to get it to sink to the bottom. There are two factors you need to consider that effect how fast or if the jig will reach the bottom: wind speed and how thick the cover is.
Strong winds can be tough on jig fishing. Generally speaking, heavier winds call for heavier jigs. If the wind is blowing your line and not allowing the jig to make 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 pull the line against the wind and get to the bottom in a straight shot.
Thick weeds are great for jig fishing, but if you’re not getting through them you’re going to have a tough time getting the bait within striking distance of a bass. If the jig isn’t heavy enough to plunge through the cover and reach the bottom then you need to increase the weight. If you’re using a pointed jig head, it will cut through the weeds much easier and won’t need to be as heavy. That’s why you choose the head style first, then adjust the weight.
You’ll hardly ever see a bass fishermen use a jig without a trailer attached. A jig trailer is a soft plastic bait that gets rigged to 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 meet the conditions of the day.
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 attached to the hook. Nowadays, most bass fisherman use rubber trailers to get the same general effect, but with many more shapes and colors to choose from.
Most jigs have a keeper on the hook shank, just below the head, which helps to hold the trailer in place. Some popular types of jig trailers are twin ribbon tails, crayfish claws, or flapping paddle tails. If you’re looking to add more action in murky water, then ribbon tails are great. For a more realistic appearance in clear water, you might go with the crayfish claws.
A jig trailer also gives you the opportunity to add additional color to your jig. By simlpy 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.
Most bass fishing jigs come equipped with a weed guard that allows you to fish them almost anywhere. You can plunge them into thick cover or around heavy timber where bass are hiding with little risk of getting hung up. The only downside is that the weedguard can also make it harder for a jig to get stuck in a bass’s mouth.
You need to set the hook hard with jigs because the weedguard can present an obstacle for driving the hook into the fish’s mouth. Depending on how heavily weeded the area is, you should fine tune the weed guard to increase your hook-up chances. You can do this by cutting or spreading out the bristles, and/or trimming them down a little shorter.
How To Fish A Bass Jig
The greatest thing about fishing jigs is that they are highly effective all year long. From freezing cold waters 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, choices in style, and tweaks in presentation.
A jig is a slow-moving bait that requires an angler to have patience, while paying close attention to the rod and line during the retrieve. Jig fishing is all about feel and sensitivity, so you need to keep a tight line to detect vibrations traveling from the jig to the rod.
Half the time, a bass takes a jig by picking it up off the bottom. The other half of the time, a jig will get attacked while sinking to the bottom, so stay alert during the fall as well. Even with a tight line, when a bass hits a jig it can be tough to sense. It will feel like a light thump that travels up the line.
The moment you feel the bite, you need to set the hook. If you’re just starting out, you may be set the hook on just about every little bump you feel. As you catch more bass on a jig, you will 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.
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. This is when working a stand-up style jig like a BICO Jig with a craw trailer is deadly.
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. Basically, you’re using the lure to punch through the thick stuff. It’s a very popular technique used with bass jigs and weighted creature baits.
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, you are imitating this action.
You can certainly punch with a standard arkie style jig, but if you’re going to be doing a lot of it in very thick weeds, then you you’ll want to switch to a punching jighead. They have almost zero resistance getting through weeds.