If you asked 10 bass fishermen which lure they would use to specifically target bigger fish, more than half would likely say a “Jig” aka jig and pig. This lure with its bulky skirt and ability to penetrate heavy cover is known for catching bigger fish. All jigs are not created equal, so I thought I would run through what I think are the key points in the construction of a flipping/pitching jig(there are different types of jigs but this article is about the features of a close quarters, pitching/flipping jig).
Given the likelihood that you will encounter a better than average quality fish with a jig, you want a bigger than average size hook to accommodate that fish. I want at least a 5/0 but prefer the 6/0 in my jigs. The greater length and wider hook gap is important for getting a better hook up with the fish. The features of the hook may not seem like that big a deal but overall they make a HUGE difference in the performance of the jig. The eye of the jig being “in-line” with the shaft of the hook as opposed to being perpendicular makes a big difference in the ability of the jig to come through cover without getting stuck. I think the key feature of the hook in a flipping/pitching jig is the barb and its relation to the hook point. You can see the hook point here has a slight upward angle that opposes the large barb on the hook; this reduces the likelihood of the jig coming out of the fish before the fisherman removes it!
The design and shape of the jig head itself can really help the jig come through and over certain types of cover better. For instance, a jig with a pointed head will come through grass wonderfully but hangs in rocks a lot more often than a wide/broad jig head. There are reasons and times for specific types of jig heads but all around a “Narrow Arkie” style jig head seems to be a great compromise for this area of the country. A good coat of durable paint on the jig head is a wonderful thing, especially when you consider this lure will be beat on and around docks and all sorts of other cover.
The Skirt, which gives the jig its size, bulk, shape and silhouette, can be made from several different materials; the two most common in the Carolinas is silicone and living rubber. Each material has its benefits and times when one is better than the other; the bulk of the living rubber is nice in the colder months when the fish seem to like larger, slower falling bait. How the skirt is attached to the jig head is very important to me; “HAND TIED” is, in my opinion, the only way to go. The biggest advantage to hand tied skirts is that they don’t slide down or move around while fishing. Unlike mass produced jigs which utilize rubber bands which have a tendency to stretch out over time and cause slippage, the wire, thread and string used in hand tied skirts avoid this problem altogether.
The weed guard is an often over looked or not a considered part of the jig, however, it plays a major role in the jig’s ability to get through cover and hook fish. Too stiff a weed gaurd will make it harder to stick the hook into a fish but make it easier to come through cover… too soft a weed gaurd and you’re hung up all the time. There is a happy medium that can be reached.
I explain all of this to educate and inform, so when you’re looking at jigs or purchasing jigs you can evaluate the product with some perspective. All of these key components and factors have been taken into account and put into my “RW Series” of jigs from True South Custom Lures.
There is no substitute for time on the water!
Rusty White of Rock Hill is a professional fisherman and full-time guide on the Catawba chain of lakes, offering full- and half-day services. For more information, visit fishingwithRusty.com.