In competitive fishing few baits have a better reputation for catching big fish than a jig, which is also known to catch fish when the bite is tough. I thought I would take some time to share my perspective on fishing a jig, selecting the jig and the equipment to fish it.
Let’s start with the presentation, generally speaking this is a POWER technique, although you can finesse fish a jig, that’s not what I am discussing here. By POWER fishing I am referring to moving fast, covering lots of water, heavy equipment and if everything is going right, big aggressive fish. You should be putting your jig into the heaviest cover you can find, flipping/pitching into the heart of that laid down tree or brushpile or pitching/skipping as far under that dock as you can get it. You can’t worry about getting that fish out of those places until after you stick it. The bait is falling to the bottom, if it makes it that far, it’s hopped once or twice and you’re off to the next shot.
The bite, when power fishing a jig you’re looking for the aggressive fish, most will take it on the fall or on the first hop. The bite can present as a “line jump,” the line may start to move in one direction or another; you may feel a slight tick or a thump that rattles the guides on your rod. Probably the toughest bite to catch is the one where your jig just stops falling, you may think it’s on the bottom but the fish has it and is just sitting there chewing on it. This is why it is important to be aware of how deep the water is where you are putting your jig. If while your jig is falling you think “man, its deep in there” odds are its not that deep and you should JERK!
The hook set, the gentleman (Robin Peek) that taught me to fish a jig demonstrated to me just how little energy is transmitted to the hook point. He held a jig between two fingers, I stood about a boat length away, and with a standard flipping stick and 20lb test I could NOT jerk the jig away from his grip. Now, I’ve been criticized for my exaggerated hook set but I want to make sure of two things; first I want to drive the hook through that big fish’s skull and I want to get that fish turned and moving toward me. I have broken my line more times than I care to remember by setting the hook so hard but adjustments in line and rod can overcome this.
The equipment: the rod, a 7’6” spiral wrapped, micro guided flipping stick from Kam’s Custom Rod’s, the reel, one you’re comfortable with I like a 6.4:1 gear ratio as I find the higher ratios tend to bind up when I hook a good fish, the line twenty pound test or higher, strong and abrasion resistant. The combination of heavier line and or softer rod will help to prevent line breakage on the hook set.
The jig has basic components that make a big difference when it comes to jigs. The head design, a broad shouldered jig will do well around rocks but hang more in brush, a narrow shouldered jig will do better in brush and grass. The finish on the head has to be durable, chipped paint doesn’t work for me (it’s a confidence thing). The weed guard stiffness is a factor in the ability of the jig to come through cover, too soft and you’re hung all the time, too stiff and you may have a hard time getting a good hook into the fish. I like a rattle on my jig when fishing dirty water and the bite is coming while the jig is on the bottom. The hook, I want a BIG (5/0 or 6/0) heavy gauge hook with a big barb. Needle point hooks and little barbs are for long line finesse fishing. The RW Series jig from True South Custom Lures combines all these feature to give you the best hand tied, custom made jig.
Jig colors and trailers are a matter of confidence! I would feel comfortable going anywhere in the country with two colors of jigs, some shade of green and a black and blue will work in 95% of fishing situations. Trailers, I would want some; green pumpkin, sapphire blue and junebug Kull Craws from JAK’s Custom Baits. With these colors I could comfortably fish just about anywhere.
I’ve spewed out a lot of information and tried to keep it as simple as it really is. I left out the conditions, this, that and the other thing because for the most part they don’t matter. Power fish a jig for eight hours; put it in as many of the nastiest places you can find in a day and it will usually work out okay.
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.