With thousands of bass fishing jigs on the market, it’s can be very overwhelming to decide what style, shape, and color of jig you might need. If you read all the magazine articles, it seems like each month there is yet another jig or two that are the new must have. In the Fall, you will read about the necessity of having flipping jigs, then in the Winter it’s structure jigs, in the Spring you better not be caught on the water without a swim-jig. In the Summer, well, you better have all of them tied to a bass rod.
I get asked all the time, which jig should I use, what color is best, how come I still get hung up with these supposed weedless baits. Jigs are so confusing because there are so many options. In this article, I am going to try and simplify the jig. Keep in mind that some jig fanatics will tell you that you need every possible combination of style and color in order to be successful with a jig. These same anglers will say that you need to carry tools with you to build jig skirts on the water to match the hatch perfectly. I don’t want to take anything away from this type of anglers, each bait has the fanatics. Soft plastic guys are the same way; spinnerbait guys will change blades and colors and insert chartreuse strands in a heartbeat. If it were not for these fanatics, we wouldn’t know that a black and blue jig can catch just as many fish as a black, blue and purple jig, with exactly three strands of orange and two strands of red!
Before we get going too far into this, I would like to clear up what is a vertical hook eye (sometimes referred to as standard) and what is a horizontal hook eye (sometimes referred to as a flat eye or cross eye). A vertical hook eye is just that, the hook eye is in line with the hook bend. A horizontal hook eye (flat eye or cross eye) is twisted so that the hook eye lays at a 90 degree angle to the hook bend. I personally like a horizontal hook eye on my jigs; I get a higher hook up ratio with them. With a vertical hook eye, there is a tendency for the jig to roll on its side and this hampers hook ups. With a horizontal hook eye, when you set the hook, it pulls the jig straight and puts the hook point in the roof of the bass’s mouth the majority of the time.
Football heads are named after the shape of the head of the jig. It’s shaped like a football. These jigs are great for stirring up the bottom. As you drag them along, they have a large profile that can really get the dust and debris going. This attracts bass; they want to see what’s going on. Typically football jigs are heavier, 1/2 to 1 ounce, again this aids in making noise and kicking up dust on the bottom. A great thing about football jigs is they are relatively rock proof. Meaning, they are great for fishing rip rap or rocky shorelines. Yes, they can and will hang up some, but with a slight pop of the line or some shaking, they usually work their selves free. Football jigs are best suited for open water fishing. Deep structure such as points, drop offs, or ledges can be great places to drag a football jig. A football jig will wedge or hang up in timber, brush piles, or vegetation and may not be the best choice.
Arkie style heads are probably the most common and versatile of all the jigs. Many manufacturers use this basic style with some slight adjustments to call it their own. Some have a wider head, some a more narrow head, others will move some of the weight to the hook shaft to transfer the leverage point. A popular modification is to shave or flatten the bottom surface of the jig’s head. Doing this ensures the bait’s hook is pointing towards the surface of the lake, and not laying sideways flat on the bottom, when it hits the bottom after a cast. This gives a trailer bait the appearance of a defensive posture, to help antagonize a bass to strike. This style head is multipurpose. You can bounce it along the bottom or drag it through timber and brush piles; you can even swim it. It’s not going to be the best jig for working vegetation but, with some patience, you can make it work. The Arkie style head can be fairly snag-proof when it comes to rocks. If the rocks have large crevices, like you would find in basket ball sized rip rap, you can expect some hang ups as it wedges in the crevices. That said not many jigs can survive this situation perfectly.
Round heads are really basic and have been around since the first jigs. There is nothing fancy about them, just a round ball. I have become a big fan of this type of jig. Most manufacturers will call these finesse jigs. The fascination for me is that they are very difficult to pull through cover. I like to cast them to the middle of a brush pile and try and pull them through it. As the ball head hits a limb, it will rotate forward and aft, as it tries and come over the limb. If you pay attention, you can pin a ball head jig against a limb and make all kinds of noise and commotion. Ball head jigs are more suited for fishing in rocks, along ledges and drop offs, or bluff walls. However, I have had a lot of success with them around pole timber and docks. While I like to work them through brush piles, it takes a lot of practice and patience. You need a sensitive rod and the ability to visualize what the jig is doing in the brush, or you’ll spend more time hung up than fishing.
Jigs that fall into the “Swim Jig” category, typically have a flat or pointed lead head. The flat part is to allow the jig to glide better, and the pointed head will allow a jig to come through light brush and grass easily. Many companies have opted for the very flat wedge to accomplish both of these attributes. Swim jigs usually have a medium to light wire hook for ease of penetration. Weed guards are typically on the lighter side as well, to help with hook ups. Swim jigs, usually come in basic colors, white, chartreuse, or a combination of the two. However, the swim jig can still mimic a crawdad skipping along the bottom, or a bluegill swimming along a grass line. For these reasons, don’t limit yourself with color options when using a swim-jig. Just like any bait choice, find out what the fish are eating and then mimic it. Swim jigs will have a vertical hook eye to prevent it from snagging vegetation. Fish a swim-jig in the same places you do a spinnerbait. The subtle presentation can be really effective during a cold front situation or if the fishing pressure has turned bass off of the spinnerbait bite. Next time you’re on a body of water that is supposed to have a hot spinnerbait bit going, try a swim-jig, and I’ll bet you catch better quality fish right behind the guys throwing blades. S.W.A.G. Custom Jigs has come out with a fantastic swim jig that is a great combination of mild weed guard and strong Mustad hook that penetrates very well. They are balanced very well and won’t roll even on faster retrieves. I’ll be honest and say that these jigs are probably the most weedless swim jigs I’ve used, yet I get the best hook up ratio with them.
Flipping jigs are the complete opposite of a swim-jig. They are heavy with heavy wire hooks and stiff weed guards. When flipping heavy cover anglers use much stronger lines, so heavy gauge wire hooks are necessary to keep them from straightening out on hook sets or when pulling a bass from heavy cover. The heavy weed guard helps prevent hang ups when flipping your jigs into the nastiest of cover. Flipping jigs are usually heavy, common weights start at one half ounce and go to two ounces. This helps when trying to get your bait to fall through the heavy cover associated with flipping. The head shape on a flipping jig really varies between manufacturers. However, most will have some form of weedless attributes, usually a pointed shape, so it can penetrate and then come through cover easily. Manufacturers will have a vertical hook eye to prevent vegetation from hanging on the eye. This also prevents some hang ups from the eye wedging in water logged wood cover. With many anglers enjoying the benefits of a hook eye that is horizontal to the hook, manufacturers like S.W.A.G. Jigs, have developed a jig that the hook eye is encased in the lead that forms the head. This gives you the weedless benefits of a vertical hook eye but with the hook up ratio of a horizontal eye.
Structure Jigs are really hard to define. Every manufacture makes a version, and it can be quite confusing. To simplify it, just about any jig that doesn’t fit into the Flipping or Swimming category could be considered a structure jig. Structure jigs come in all shapes and sizes and the term “Structure Jig” is used very loosely in the bass fishing community. For me, a good structure jig, will be medium across the aboard. Medium weed guard to help prevent cover hang ups. When fishing structure, the cover usually is not that thick. Maybe a stump or planted brush pile and a heavy weed guard isn’t mandatory. If you do hang a structure jig on a point or ledge you can usually get over the top of it and shake it free, it’s not like flipping to the back side of a 10 foot log jam. Medium gauge wire hook will be plenty strong enough for most applications when fishing ledges, points, or any other structure. A light wire hook would be the optimum for fishing open water; however, I opt for the medium hook so that I don’t have to retie should I hang it in a brush pile off the end of a point. The thinner the hook you can use, the faster and further your hook penetration will be in the mouth of a bass. However, too thin and it will straighten out when fighting a larger fish. Too thick, and you could lose fish because of poor hook penetration. This is something you will have to experiment with and see where you feel your hook set falls and what gauge hook suites you best. Structure jigs come in all sizes, from something we in the south would use for crappie fishing to 1.5 ounces. I use the depth I’m fishing and wind to determine what size structure jig I’m going to use. My goal when fishing a structure jig is to make it to the bottom and be able to feel everything that my jig bumps into or crawls over. So, If I can’t feel my bait I go to a heavier size.
S.W.A.G Jigs has a new jig on the market that has combined many styles into one. It’s called the Wood Walker Flipping jig. Looking at the photo you can see it has a unique shape to it. This jig will be effective in wood cover as well as stir up some dust on structure. With the hook eye horizontal it fits my preference perfectly. That hook eye is partially incased in the head of the jig, so it also makes for a good swim jig that won’t snag on vegetation. My point here is that this is a great all around jig. A jig that a beginner could use in most any situation. This way you only have to have a few colors and weights to get you started. Instead of a few colors and weights in a variety of shapes. I highly recommend you check out this new jig if you’re looking to improve your jig fishing.
S.W.A.G. Custom Jigs website is still in development, however they have many products listed. If you would like to try some of their products you can purchase through the website or call Chris and he’ll be glad to get what you need. S.W.A.G. Custom Jigs
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