Years ago, when I used to wade the outside weed edges of a local watershed, I used a technique that I don’t hear much about anymore…worm jigging.
I believe the technique was probably pioneered by fishermen from the Midwest, I remember reading up on it in locally known publications and other magazines that primarily catered to the fishermen of the Midwest. This technique is by no means limited to the Midwest though, it can be a very effective way to fish where ever you go.
Basically, you’ll be using smaller worms and/or variations of worms for this technique. Boaters will probably use a little heavier jig than will the waders and shore fishermen, but the desired result will be the same. There’s three types of jigs that I prefer for this type of rigging: the round head jig; the stand-up jig; and, the slider head jig. Each has its own use – the round head jig is a good all-around choice for fishing the outside edges of weed lines, along sandbar edges, and is exceptionally good for swimming the bait; the stand-up jig is great when working moving water, in the rocks, or when you want a really slow, yet erratic presentation; and the slider head jig is great for fishing heavy cover where you’ll rig the worm weedless, like T-rigging a worm, but on a jig instead.
Although for the majority of my fishing I prefer the baitcasting reel setups, this system of fishing is better done with a six or seven foot spinning rod and reel loaded with line in the six to ten pound test. I prefer to use Berkley XL, a supple six pound test line and a fast taper Fenwick fiberglass rod for this type of fishing.
When rigging a worm on a jig, make sure that the shank of the hook is straight in the worm, this will improve the way the worm falls, the way it slices through the water, and will assist you in feeling even the lightest pickups.
Some people prefer to cast their baits up into the weeds and work the bait through the weeds letting it fall to the bottom once it’s cleared the weeds and then fish it in slow hops back to their location…my preference is to cast the bait parallel to the weeds – keeping the bait as close to the edge of the weeds as possible, letting it sink all the way to the bottom, letting it rest for a spell (at least ten or fifteen seconds) and then giving it one short hop and wait a bit…if there’s no immediate pick up, then I’ll short hop it slowly all the way back. If for some reason I haven’t got a hit after a few casts, I’ll begin swimming the bait trying to keep it a little higher in the water column. Keep a close eye on your line during the bait’s fall, because a lot of times the fish grab it as it’s falling. Everyone’s got their own set of retrieves that they can impart on this type of bait and should not simply do it my way, but should definitely experiment with it to determine which way works for them best. Although there’s no piers where I fish, I’m sure this will be a deadly tactic to employ along piers, and marina structures too.
Several types of worms and creature baits can be good choices for this technique, among some of my favorites are: slider grubs, twin tail grubs, Strike King 3X worms, FLW finesse worms, the tail end of a Mann’s augertail worm, Mr. Twister grubs, the tail section of Culprit worms, various plastics like fin-s, small assassins, tube baits, craw-type baits, bird dawgs, and Strike Works now has a variety of baits that will work great too. Any short worm or plastic can prove effective, I usually choose a bait that’s four inches or shorter…but, under extreme circumstances have used six inch worms while fishing timber in river systems.
If you haven’t tried jigging a worm lately, I’d certainly give it a try.
Interested in other articles by Mark Toth on fishing? Read Finding Hidden Fishing Treasures, Basic Ditch Fishing, Strategies for Ditch Fishing, My Approach to Slop Fishing, and Packing for Mobility which may be found under Bass Fishing Articles in the General Tips category, also, Milfoil, Friend or Foe which can be found under the General Bass Fishing category.
Mark Toth, The Ditch Fishing Chronicles
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