Known to be one of the most versatile presentations in fishing, the jig can do it all. Jigs can come in all shapes and sizes and can imitate bluegill, shad, and crawfish. Not only can it imitate all kinds of forage, it can be presented in any and every type of cover bass hide. Whether you’re fishing grass, timber, pads, docks, or rocks there is a jig for every situation. The three main styles of jigs are flipping jigs, swim jigs, and football jigs.
Although every jig is versatile, the flipping jig would probably get the nod for being the most versatile. Just as the name suggests, a flipping jig is made to be flipped around docks, pads, timber, or grass. This is often done with a vertical approach. Flipping is normally short casts that are made to high percentage locations, commonly called “picking an area apart”. Flipping jigs have a pointed, or cone shaped head. This allows the jig to vertically drop through cover and get into those tight places. Another component, often overlooked, is the weed guard. Some jigs have a softer weed guard than others, and a flipping jig is not when you want a soft weed guard. Having a stout, weed guard keeps the hook protected from possible snags. The reason you need good protection is that a flipping jig features a big hook. The large hook can be intimidating, but is necessary to pull fish from heavy cover. A great flipping jig is the Stealth Feider from Outkast Tackle.
What was once a secret technique, the swim jig has become a staple for anglers all over the country. This presentation gives fishermen the profile that jigs are known for, in a subtle presentation. Contrary to a flipping jig, a swim jig like the Heavy Cover Swim Jig from Outkast Tackle is retrieved with a constant retrieve, giving it the “swim jig” name. To help with this retrieve, these jigs feature a narrow, pointed head that slides through cover. Something that the flipping jig and swim jig share is the need for a heavy weed guard and hook. This jig is retrieved horizontally and the heavy weed guard keeps the jig moving and prevents it getting snagged. Finally, having a more robust hook is needed when fishing around thick cover. A perfect jig for this is the Heavy Cover Swim Jig from Outkast Tackle.
When anglers are talking about a football jig, “big bite” is almost always used in the same sentence. A jig like the Tour Level Football Jig from Dirty Jigs is designed to be fished in deeper water, normally around rocks or areas where snags are prevalent. The reason this jig excels in rocky cover is the shape of the head. The oval, “football” shaped head keeps these jigs from wedging into the rocks, instead these jigs roll over the cover. Not only does the head shape make this jig unique, so does the weed guard and hook. Both should be lighter and thinner. This is because fishing in deeper water areas will likely have less cover and a lighter weed guard will help increase hookup percentage on each hookset. Another unique feature is that this jig has a lighter hook. The lighter hook will penetrate easier and will put a small hole in the mouth.
Something that is crucial to fishing a jig is having a trailer. This trailer comes in the form of a plastic threaded onto the hook to give the jig more action. Once you select a jig, matching the trailer becomes easier.
Jig Trailers for Flipping and Football Jigs
When fishing a flipping jig or football jig, a trailer that has claws such as the Strike King Rage Craw is desired. With a flipping jig, this craw will put out a lot of action and will get a fish's attention. This style trailer gives the profile of a crawfish which is perfect for a football jig or flipping jig.
Jig Trailers for Swim Jigs
Swim jigs are the simplest, yet most complex jig to choose a trailer for. This is due to the fact that almost anything that provides action can be successful. The Strike King Rage Craw, Keitech Swing Impact Fat, or a 4" Berkley Powerbait Grub can all be great swim jig trailers. When fishing open water or imitating a shad, choosing a Keitech or Powerbait Grub is best. For shallow water or imitating bluegills, the Rage Craw is best because the flapping claws will keep the bait higher in the water column.
Rod and Reel
When fishing a jig, having the right rod and reel is important. Most anglers will choose to throw a jig on a medium-heavy or heavy power rod. Regardless of the power, having a soft or fast action tip is the most important feature. This allows you to cast with more accuracy and place the jig in a pin-point location. When choosing a reel, a high speed gear ratio is key. When you feel a bite, you have to pick up line quickly and setting the hook.
When selecting line, there are two options. Fluorocarbon or braided line. The first option being a braided line such as 30 pound PowerPro, then fluorocarbon if the water is extremely clear. Braided line is the most sensitive and will give you, the angler, the biggest advantage. Keep in mind, beggars can't be choosers. Sometimes you are fishing a body of water that has very clear water and because braided line is very visible and fluorocarbon line is clear, you will likely get more bites throughout the day on Fluorocarbon. A great fluorocarbon choice is 15 pound Seaguar InvizX.
How to Fish A Flipping Jig
As previously stated, the flipping jig is designed to be fished with short, accurate casts. These casts should be put in the highest percentage spot in a given area. Often times these areas are holes in the grass, separation in pads, shaded docks, or laydowns on the shoreline. When you make a flip into one of these locations, instead of fishing the jig all the way back to the boat, once it leaves the immediate strike zone just reel it in and put another flip in. Being efficient with your placement is critical to be a good flipper.
How to Fish a Swim Jig
Fishing a swim jig is simple, chunk and wind. The reason a swim jig is so effective is that it’s a subtle bait that the fish can really key in on. Often times when anglers are fishing a swim jig, it is somewhere around grass. Because of its ability to get through cover, a swim jig is often fished in replacement of a crankbait when there is an abundance of vegetation. One thing that can get a few more bites throughout the day is to pop or shake the tip of your rod a couple times each cast. This can cause fish who are following the bait to commit and bite your jig when they see the skirt flare out with these rod pops.
How to Fish a Football Jig
Fishing a football jig can be very productive with two approaches that are polar opposites of each other. The first and most common, slowly dragging the bait. This is done by moving the bait with sweeping motions of the rod and reeling in the slack. This slow sweeping motion can be very boring, but can put some giant fish in the boat. This is retrieve is best in cold water or when fish are not aggressive. The alternative retrieve is called “stroking a jig” and is done by hopping the jig off the bottom and letting it fall back down to the bottom. This can create a reaction bite and can be a great way to fire up a school of bass. The sudden jump off the bottom and slow fall back down is great in warm water or when fish are aggressively feeding.