The Incredible, Edible Jig for Bass
By Legendary Angler, Babe Winkelman
There’s a common item found in military survival kits from many countries. It’s the common fishing jig, along with a length of strong monofilament line. Why a jig? Because it’s the most universal fish-catching lure in existence. It’s also the most versatile. You can throw a jig out and just let it lay on the bottom. You can suspend it beneath a float. You can swim it, hop it, drag it, or do whatever you want with it to catch fish in streams, rivers, lakes and oceans. Basically, wherever you find fish, a jig can catch them.
I wonder how many GIs have saved their own skin over the years by taking that jig and line out of their survival kit to catch some life-saving protein. Now, when we jig fish it’s to have some fun and perhaps put a meal of fish on the table for our families. A far cry from “needing” to catch a fish to survive. But the lesson we can learn from soldiers is that the jig is a proven way to catch fish. So you can always tie one on with total confidence.
I for one love to bass fish with jigs, and I think I’m pretty good at it. One of the reasons I’m a successful jig fishermen is that I keep my approach simple. It begins with locating fish. Obviously, you can’t catch fish if they aren’t there. This article won’t go into the exercise of finding fish. You can write entire books on the subject. Rather, I’d just like to share some of my jig fishing recommendations to help you catch more fish.
Jig SelectionGood grief there are a lot of jigs out there! If you don’t already have a collection of favorites (based on past successes), the task of selecting bass jigs can be daunting. But, like I said before, keeping things simple is the way to go. So I recommend that every jig box, at a MINIMUM, should contain three different sizes (1/8, 1/4 and 3/8-ounce) in at least three different head colors (white, black and chartreuse). I strongly suggest that some of these jigs be mushroom-head “jigworm” or “shaky-worm” style jigs with long hook shanks. Ask the guy at the tackle store for them and he’ll point you in the right direction.
The array of plastic jig bodies available is as overwhelming as buying jigs when you go shopping. In the spirit of simplicity, must-haves are three sizes of curly-tailed grubs/worms (2, 4 and 6-inch models); with my three favorite colors being purple, pumkin and black. You’ll also boost your bass-catching percentages by keeping a selection of tubes on-hand. I don’t know why, but sometimes a bass will ignore the skinny profile of a worm but attack a fat tube jig with a vengeance.
Allow me to reiterate something at this point. I’m keeping it simple with these recommendations. There are literally dozens of other jig/body combinations that I won’t hit a weedline without. Like me, once you get hooked on jig fishing for bass, you’ll quickly amass more jigs, grubs, worms, tubes, creatures, etc. than you know what to do with.
Jigging HotspotsThere are basically three top locations where jigging is dynamite: weedlines (inside and outside), weedless structure (rocks, reefs, sand breaks), and docks. Jig selection and technique will vary depending upon which location you’re fishing and what the conditions are (season, water depth, clarity and temperature, etc.).
Again, you could write a book on these locations alone. But we’re keeping it simple, right? So, for inside and outside weedlines, I’ll go immediately to a ¼-ounce mushroom-head jig with a long hook shank and a 6-inch purple worm. With that bait, you can systematically pick apart a weedline. Be patient with the bait. Let it fall and be ready for a bite on the drop. Don’t be afraid to fish it slow when it finds bottom, and even let it sit motionless for 5-10 seconds before twitching or dragging it. A lot of bass will strike a “dead-stick” worm but leave it alone if it’s moving.
On weedless structure like rocks and sand breaks, particularly if it’s in deeper water, you can’t go wrong with a 3/8-ounce jig with a 2-inch grub body. It falls fast, so it becomes a good search bait that allows you to cover a lot of water. Plus, its rapid rise-drop makes this jig resemble the erratic action of a darting crayfish or minnow. Concentrate hard when jig fishing this way. The bites can be light. Depending on your preferences, you may opt for the sensitivity of braided line for deep-water jigging. Whatever line you do use, watch it with an eagle’s eye. Often, you’ll see the bite when your line “jumps” before you actually feel the fish.
When fishing docks, I’ll go to a ¼-ounce jig with a tube. The wide profile of the tube makes it great for skipping the jig back to the dark confines of the dock. And the lighter jig weight gives the bait a nice slow fall, so it stays in the strike zone longer.
Two other things:
First, there’s some great largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing opportunities in our nation’s rivers. And the simple jig is tailor-made for fishing current. I have to say, one of my favorite techniques is to cast jigs and let them tumble with the current. Detecting the bite is more challenging than it is in static water. But when you develop the “feel” for it, holy cow can you catch a ton of fish!
And finally, a lot of you are wondering, ‘Babe, what about weedless jig-and-pig style baits in the slop?” You’re right. That’s jigging too. But I classify that more as a flipping or pitching presentation with a whole different batch of factors involved. I’ll write about that in an upcoming column.
Hey, I know I barely scratched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to jig fishing for bass. But that’s OK. My goal is simply to get you thinking more about jigging as a sure-fire technique for better bass fishing. After all, the fact that the military puts a jig in every survival kit must mean something.
For more tips and tactics from Babe visit his web site at winkelman.com