Shakey Head Fishing

If I had to choose one and only one lure to fish with year round, I would choose the jighead and worm, AKA the shakeyhead. Do not get me wrong. I love power fishing as much as anyone but the shakeyhead technique has many variations that will catch good numbers and quality bass year round.

If I had to choose one and only one lure to fish with year round, I would choose the jighead and worm, AKA the shakeyhead. Do not get me wrong. I love power fishing as much as anyone but the shakeyhead technique has many variations that will catch good numbers and quality bass year round. The jighead can be utilized to produce quality catches in depths that range from 1 foot to 40+ feet of water. It is the bait of all seasons for me. When I am asked what is the best way to fish the jighead, I always say, “whichever way the fish want it on that particular day.” There are 3 main factors that cannot be overlooked if you want to catch fish on the jighead and worm. These factors are presentation, location, and detection of bites.

Presentation and Setup

You must present any bait in the manner that entices the fish to strike. This is what is referred to as “presentation of the bait”. This is basically what you hear fishermen referring to when they say you have to figure the fish out. I have experienced times on the water when bass want the jighead and worm swam slowly on the bottom for 2-3 feet with a short pause in between. Other days, the fish would not eat it unless I bounced it in place for 30-40 seconds before moving it 3 -4 inches. On some occasions, I have to constantly swim the bait to get a strike. It all depends on the mood of the fish for that particular day, and believe me, bass can be some of the moodiest of God’s creatures.

To present the jighead effectively, I choose a setup that consists of a 6 ft medium action spinning rod and reel spooled with 6-10 lb fluorocarbon line. It is important to have a spinning reel with a smooth drag system especially when using the 6 lb line. I determine my line weight by the type of structure I am fishing in and the presentation that the fish want to see. If the fish want the bait moved very slowly, such as bouncing it in place near heavy cover, I will opt for a heavier line like the 10 lb. If the fish want the bait presented in a more lively manner, I will go with the lighter 6-8 lb line because I believe a smaller diameter line gives the bait a more lively and “natural” appearance. Some anglers believe that larger diameter lines will scare the fish away from your bait due to visibility. I suppose that this could be the case if fish become conditioned to a certain type of line on highly pressured clear water lakes. But, I am convinced that line diameter choice should be based mainly on the mood of the fish and how it affects the action of the bait. I use a Palomar knot to connect the jighead to my line.


As I shared before, the shakeyhead is a great year round lure but you must choose the right locations on the water throughout the year so that there are concentrations of fish near your bait. To do this, any angler must become familiar with the seasonal patterns of the species of bass targeted. The bottom line is that you must be on fish to catch fish. They simply will not swim across the lake to get your bait. I am also a firm believer that 90% of the fish are in 10% of the water. My goal is to be in that 10% of the water as quickly and as long as possible.

Sometimes locating fish is simply eliminating unproductive waters until you find “patterns” of structure types and lake locations that produce quality strikes. Good electronics are a great help in locating fish and structure. In the end, there is no substitute for time on the water. Locating concentrations of fish can be very time consuming. By familiarizing yourself with seasonal patterns, the amount of time searching for fish can be greatly reduced. Once you locate the fish that you are after, the shakeyhead will produce during any time of the year.

Detecting Bites on the Shakeyhead Setup

It is important to keep your line as tight as possible in order to feel the bite after casting. This will help you detect even those most subtle strikes. It is near impossible to keep a perfectly tight line at all times so keep a close eye on your line when there is any slack between the tip and the water. I always pinch my line between my thumb and index finger, of the hand that holds the rod, just above the bail on the reel. This increases my sensitivity to unfamiliar movements and vibrations that travel from my bait through the line.

From my experience, there are some different ways that you will know when a bass has inhaled your jighead. As your bait makes its initial descent in the water column, watch your line closely and pay attention to the depth water that your bait lands in. If the water is 20 feet deep and your bait stops 2-3 seconds after the initial fall, set the hook! A general rule of thumb is that a 3/16 oz jighead with a worm will fall about 1-1 ½ foot per second in the water column.

Sometimes your line will start moving off in an unusual direction. If this happens, most likely a fish has it so reel up the slack and set the hook. After the initial fall to the bottom of the lake, I will gently close the bail of my reel and lift my rod tip ever so softly to get the slack line out. If I feel any abnormal weight on the tip, I always set the hook. Hooksets are free and I would rather not miss that possible 5 lb spotted bass on the other end! Woo Daves once told me that I must become familiar with what my bait feels like without it being in the fish’s mouth because most of the time it will not be. Become familiar with that feeling on your particular setup and when you detect anything slightly different, swing for the fences. NEVER hesitate to set the hook if something does not seem right!

The most obvious type of bite is the tap-tap feeling. Simply reel down the slack in your line after the tap and cross the fishes eyes with your hookset. My rule of thumb for setting the hook when using worm hook type baits is to set the hook as hard as possible without breaking your line and falling out of the boat. This requires familiarity with your setup especially when using light lines.

Boat control is key to detecting bites on the shakeyhead setup, especially on windy days. It is important to keep your boat as still as possible. To do this, you must become proficient at working your foot control trolling motor. Drifting can cause unnecessary movement in your line and will cause you to miss many strikes.

The Omega Savior Jighead

My favorite jighead is the Omega Savior jighead! I use the Omega Savior jighead for my shakeyhead setup. It is THE most versatile jighead on the market today and I have caught many quality fish on this bait. It is an all-purpose head with an ultra sharp, sturdy hook. It has a unique cone-shaped head that allows it to come through cover very easily. The shape of the head allows for excellent swimming action on those days when fish want fast moving baits. The underside of the head is flat which makes skipping your baits under docks and limbs a breeze. You can use it as a shakeyhead, creepy crawler head, swim a zoom U-vibe speed worm through heavy grass in the summer for largemouth with the 1/8 oz size, rig a fluke on it or even a tube. My favorite plastic to attach is the Zoom finesse worm in the dark green colors. I also love to swim a Zoom Fat-Albert grub on this head in the springtime haunts for spotted bass. These jigheads have the screw on style keeper which is good if you ever use the Strike King 3X Elaz-tech plastics which will not attach well on the studded style keepers.

I hope that these tips will help you become a better angler and increase your productivity on the water. Be sure to match the type of plastic to the forage of your waters, attach it to the Omega Savior jighead, and hang on!

Brian Capes

Omega Custom Tackle

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