Vibrating jigs for bass come in all shapes and sizes, and since their beginning vibrating jigs have been catching bass in all water conditions across the country. The biggest attribute anglers miss when fishing a vibrating jig is their versatility. While the vibrating jig is extremely versatile in presentations, today I want to talk about appearance. A vibrating jig can be dressed up or stripped naked to fit a variety of water, weather, and seasonal conditions. Hoping for the best, buying a chartreuse and white vibrating jig will catch bass. However, this will only be effective at certain times of year and under certain conditions. While anglers do not need more reasons to buy tackle, the vibrating jig is one of those baits requiring an available selection to be productive all year long.
Using some very basic information anglers can quickly put together a vibrating jig to catch bass in any set of conditions. It all starts with the color of the water, mix in the time of year and add a dash of weather conditions and anglers will have a bass catching recipe. I’ll break down what I do with various conditions. Anglers who follow these basic concepts will find an all year long tool to add to their bass catching arsenal.
Vibrating Jigs for Bass – Water Color
The first thing I look at in determining how I dress my vibrating jig is the water color. Water color drives the size of my vibrating jig. The muddier the water, the bigger and bulkier my vibrating jig needs to be. Making a vibrating jig skirt bulky slows the sink rate. Keep this in mind when building as skirt. As the skirt gets larger, the jig weight needs to be heavier to keep the jig from popping out of the water. Larger and heavier vibrating jigs have more thump and help bass find the lure in muddy water. In clearer waters, a smaller, less bulky bait with less vibration will draw more strikes.
In muddy water I use larger or thicker skirts on my vibrating jig. At times I’ll add a second skirt to increase overall thickness. I also like to add a big trailer to create large amounts of water displacement. A swimbait with a paddle tail usually does best. However, there are times when a big curly tail grub is better. Adding bulk and vibration requires experimenting to figure out what works best in particular waters.
Conversely, in clear water, I will thin out my vibrating jig skirt or remove it all together. When I slim down my skirt, I also opt for low displacement trailers. I like trailers which have a waving action versus thumping vibration. In clear water, bass feed more by sight and don’t need the extra vibrations to find their prey. I’ve experienced heavy vibrations turning bass off in clear water conditions. My thoughts are when the water is clear, heavy vibrations are not natural. Shad, minnows, and other prey know they can be seen quickly and try to be silent when moving. An aggressive vibration will stand out and seem unnatural. For this reason, I select trailers which do not displace as much water. At times, in really clear water, I will remove the skirt and attach a small straight tail swimbait or fluke. These baits provide a baitfish profile, yet very little water displacement behind the vibrating jig.
Vibrating Jigs for Bass – Weather Conditions
I use the wind to help me deterring the weight of the vibrating jig I will use. A half to three-quarter ounce vibrating jig will cast very well on wind days. Keep in mind, by nature of the design, a vibrating jig rises to the surface on retrieve. Because of this, don’t be afraid of heavier baits when needed. High winds create waves, generates a lot of light refraction in the water. Light refraction can be blinding to bass in both sight and hearing. In heavy wave action, I upsize my vibrating jig; both in weight and skirt/trailer size. Bigger baits are easier for bass to find in large waves and easier to cast in the wind generating the waves.
Clouds and low light conditions will also cause me to upsize my vibrating jig. Anytime a bass’s vision is hampered, no matter what bait I’m using, I will upsize to improve noise or water displacement.
Vibrating Jigs for Bass – Time of Year
Time of year is critical when selecting a vibrating jig for bass. Using seasonal patterns, I will match the hatch to the seasonal prey. With various skirt colors and trailer options, the vibrating jig can imitate any food source bass may be targeting. From shad to bluegill to crawdads, the vibrating jig can mimic it all with some minor adjustments.
When fishing late winter and early spring, I’ll select a skirt and trailer color to mimic crawdads. My color choices will be browns, blacks, and reds. Soft plastic jig trailer chunks and crawdads are my first trailers this time of year. I will experiment with various colors and retrieves until I dial up the vibrating jig pattern. This time of year, there is always a vibrating jig pattern to be had, anglers just have to find it. Most anglers will be covering water with lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and pitching soft plastics or jigs to cover. Going behind these same anglers with a vibrating jig will present something new to the bass and draw massive strikes.
In the spring, I switch to shad imitations. Basic white or white and chartreuse skirts with matching trailers. My trailers this time of year will be small swimbaits, curly tail grubs or straight tail spinnerbait trailers depending on the weather and water conditions. There isn’t a lot to dial in this time of year, and unfortunately, many anglers will also fish with a vibrating jig. Try something different in a presentation. Cast or pitch to places other anglers will avoid because of hang-ups, super-fast or super-slow retrieves, deeper or shallower than the other anglers. I like to target hard to reach places, using casting ability and faith in the weedless capabilities of the vibrating jig, I can target bass which haven’t seen a bait of any kind. The vibrating jig, once the retrieve is started, is much more weedless than most anglers understand. Like a squarebill crankbait, the vibrating jig will bounce off of most any cover.
In the heat of the summer, I do much better with bream or bluegill colored skirts and trailers. Blues, greens, pumpkins catch a lot of bass for me during the summer. I try to use a contrasting trailer color for two reasons. First, bream spawn in the summer and the males become very vibrant in color. Second, a dying bream has blotchy colors. Warm summer temperatures, significant wave action from pleasure boaters, and a shallow water fish like a bream, means plenty of opportunity for wounded or dying prey along the shorelines for bass to prey on.
In the fall it’s back to shad colors and trailers. Fall is a no-brainer, bass chase shad in the fall. It’s the easiest to catch and most plentiful. If the waters don’t have shad, stick with bream, bluegill, or crawdad colors and shapes. However, like the spring, vibrating jig for bass is no secret. Anglers can use a variety of things to be different. This time of year I really like swimbaits as trailers; however, this is also starting to catch on. So it’s back to casting abilities and trying to present the lure to bass which haven’t been bombarded with lures. Another great option in the fall is the lift and drop. Using a fluke as a trailer and a lift and drop presentation, work points, flats, and ledges where baitfish are migrating through. Most anglers believe a vibrating jig is a steady retrieve presentation, the lift and drop mimics dying shad very well.
Tying on a favorite color simply because buddies have said the vibrating jig bite is “on” will more than likely leave one believing their buddies lied to them. Use water conditions, weather, and seasonal situations to help determine a vibrating jigs weight, skirt size and color, and trailer style. A vibrating jig for bass is much more productive if time is spent to dial in specific characteristics. Besides, it’s more fun to analyze, build, and catch bass than to chunk and wind hoping for the best!
Be sure to also read How to Fish a Vibrating Jig by Season.