To Rattle or Not to Rattle. Most fishermen consider rattles on a jig a must. And for that simple fact I say there are situations that a jig with out a rattle will work better. Starting in the fall threw the winter and into spring, there will be hundreds of fisherman pitching, casting, and flipping jigs at bass. Over time they will get conditioned to that rattling creature and shy away from it. If you are fishing highly pressured waters that are fairly clear (visibility to 2 ft or better) I would recommend that you stay away from rattles unless your partner in the back of the boat is stomping you with one. For all other situations a rattle can only help. It will help a bass hone in on your bait when fishing stained to muddy water and the rattling sound helps the bait mimic a crawfish moving across the bottom.
Colors. Just like with size, try not to get caught up in the enormous variety of colors on the market today. There are a couple basic colors I make sure I have with me every time I hit the water. For clear water situations I like watermelon, smoke and amber skirts or combinations of those colors. When fishing stained water I will go with brown or purple skirts and depending on light penetration I might try a skirts that has a couple strands of chartreuse or orange in it. In Muddy water situations I like Black. If I could only carry one color of jig it would be black with a black and blue crawdad trailer. This color has worked for me in every water condition at every time of year.
Trailers are a must. Always use a trailer when fishing a jig. A trailer is anything that you add to the hook under the skirt to increase action and give extra color to your jig. There are a variety of jig trailers on the market and to recommend just one would really be limiting your fish catching abilities. I have three that I would recommend.
Plastic chunks These pieces of plastic come in a wide variety of tails that supply a lot of action when you move your bait. Anytime your fish are actively feeding this type of trailer will give you some extra strike triggering action.
Craw worms Craw worms are probably my favorite but they are limited in the amount of action the bait will produce. I prefer them when I want / need baits that look extremely natural, such as when fishing clearer waters. Also if I am confident that the bass are feeding on crawdads I will use a craw worm almost exclusively. This is mainly in late winter to early spring.
Curly tail grubs If the fish seem to be more focused on baitfish, use a curly tail or twin curly tail grub to create a swimming action. This is very effective if you notice the bass busting shad or chasing brim.
When it comes to jig fishing it is no different then anything else you must practice, practice, practice. Next time you are on the water dig out that bait that you always here that guy on the stage, holding the check, talking about and give it a shot. With some determined patients you too can and will catch fish on a jig and I know you wont be disappointed.