Learning how to use jigs is the basic technique anglers need to consider more often. There are times jigs are the best lure to use. If you think they are just for fish feeding on the bottom guess again. There are many types designed for different cover and structure with many having weed guards. As a result, this allows you to go into cover inaccessible by other lures.
Types of Jigs
The types of jigs come in a selection of weights and hook sizes to match the size and species of fish. The hooks are also specific to cover at times with heavier wire used for thick vegetation and lighter wire for swim jigs. The shapes of the heads also add to the versatility of jigs. Choosing the right jig does make a difference.
The football jig does have a head resembling a football and is used in rocky areas. The shape helps prevent the jig from falling into cracks in the rocky bottoms. They may or may not have a weed guard but the weed guard does reduce hookups. That is something to consider. A fuller skirt is desirable on these jigs along with a grub, craw, or other creature bait trailer.
Finesse jigs are lighter with a round-shaped or compact head. Common sizes are 1/16 to 1/4 ounce with light wire hooks. These are used for pressured and finicky fish since the lighter weight makes a subtle presentation. Use smaller creature baits on this style of jig. Neko rigging uses finesse jig heads sometimes also.
This is the jig bass anglers are familiar with, and it has the flat bottomed head to make it stand up. Some anglers consider these multi-purpose jigs. As the name implies they are cast out and retrieved with the popping or snapping action. Trailers are common on these jigs in the form of craws, creatures or the old fashion pork rind tail.
Similar to the casting jig a flipping jig has a heavier weed guard, protected line tie and stouter hook. Since flipping jigs are used in heavy brush piles around logs and other types of heavy cover the heavier weed guard helps prevent snagging. This jig also uses the same trailers as the casting jig.
Swim jigs are used like spinnerbaits and other reaction baits. A cone or bullet-shaped head helps the jig slip through the cover. Swim jigs have thinner wire hooks for better penetration on hooksets. Use a trailer with a lot of action. This includes paddle tails, grubs, and a few other creature baits.
The Equipment for Jigging
The Right Line
The key with fishing jigs is sensitivity in your rod and line. You have to feel what the lure is doing and detect bites, which can be light at times. Since sensitivity is important most anglers use braided line with a fluorocarbon leader. In heavy cover use 30-50 lb. braid with a 20 lb. leader or in open water use lighter lines and leaders. Since braid is seen by the fish, a leader is required.
Also in certain situations going with fluorocarbon is better. Some structure is abrasive and will damage braid so use fluorocarbon in those situations. Cover made up of rocks and brush are rough on braid but weeds are okay. You may need two rods set-up depending on where you fish.
Rod and Reel
Single point hooks require fast action rods. The rod loads quickly driving the hook into the fish’s mouth. The rod also has to be sensitive. This means you may have to buy a jigging rod. There are many on the market at different prices so choose what is best for you. There is not a single rod that does it all.
Just as important is the rod power. In open or sparse cover a medium-light to medium power is fine but in heavy cover a medium-heavy is a must-have item. You need plenty of backbone in the rod to pull fish out of thick cover. These elements need to work with your style of fishing. As I said before, jigging likely will require 2 set-ups.
Since you know what rod to have choosing a reel is next. The reel should match the rod. The simplest way to match rod and reels is the line rating, they should be the same on both pieces of gear. Gear ratios on reels should match how you fish also. Is a higher or standard range ratio better suited? You know where and how you fish and have to make that choice.
How to Properly Use Jigs
There are proper ways to work jigs and done incorrectly makes less them effective. Swim jigs are reaction lures. They used the same manner as spinnerbaits. The other jigs require a different approach but are easy after a little practice. In most instances, you need to avoid slackline but sometimes it does help. You have to gain this knowledge through experience.
After casting out or dropping the jig to the bottom allow it to sit a few seconds. Then pop or snap the rod tip a few inches to create action with the jig. Let it fall with tension on the line so you can feel a bite. Bass and walleye will often only mouth the jig feeling like additional weight.
You will slowly retrieve the jig if shore fishing and in a boat you have more options. Cast and retrieve the jig or simply drop it over the side. Having the boat anchored or drifting are additional options. Pitching and flipping methods, basically a short cast, are used in heavy cover. Try using a jig wherever other lures will not work. Since they get into cover other lures cannot be worked through.
This is why practice and experience are needed, however when mastered you will catch more fish. An inexperienced angler only needs to practice with jigs and will catch fish. Experience increases how many you will catch. There is no substitute for experience so take the time to learn to jig and become a better angler.
Jigging should be a developed part of your angling skills, but if not make the effort to learn how to jig. You will be rewarding yourself with a great skill for hard fishing situations such as cold-fronts, pressured fish, and thick cover. All the pros have jigs for the tough times on the water and you should also.
Keeping fishing simple for tight lines and bragging rights.