Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hitting the jigs and jig combos.

These gear articles are not really my forte’. There are so many experts, pros and more experienced anglers that cover the gear so much better than myself. It is only on the rare occasion that I feel compelled to write a “gear piece” in order to fill the gaps that may have been missed. Honestly, I am here just to fish and post some pictures once in a while.

Jigs are something I fish with a lot. Jigs are loosely defined as creature baits as they look like a critter as opposed to a fish. Creature baits are perfect for a wide range of Colorado fishing conditions and species. There are several aspects that make the jig work. The first and foremost of these aspects would be its versatility. You can get various weights, shapes and styles that suit anything you are trying to do. Before I write a novel and try to cover everything about jigs, let me cover some of the basics and a few of my favorites…beyond that you are on your own.

Essence of jig: A jig really is nothing more than a hook with the weight attached just below the eye depending on the style. The weight and shape are critical to the type of structure you are trying to fish. Too heavy and too rocky of terrain and you are just going to lose a small fortune in jigs. Too light and too open of water and you won’t be able to cover the water effectively enough to find cruising fish. To match the common types of forage I pretty much confine myself to the smaller weights and then compliment it with some sort of plastic trailer. See my combo section for detail on this.

Gear setup basics: Heavier line in the 10lb range, braided for heavier cover and a medium to heavy action rod is preferred for jig fishing. Pulling the jig from rocks and heavy structure as well as being able to drive in a good hookset, the heavier action rod is key. If you don’t have

Where the jig works best: Fish love the jig where it most resembles the forage base at the lake or spot you are fishing. Crayfish are probably the most common and can thrive in almost any situation. However crawdads prefer muddy bottoms or gravel type structure. Riprap is good too for crawdads but the spectrum for good jig fishing starts to fade the closer you get to areas that snag easily. I find tremendous success fishing the jig at the edge where heavy structure meets the flat. Large rocks or “patches” of structure is another great place to work to the jig.

Mud/clay/sand: Fish as slow as possible with a jerk/stop motion. I will often pull the rod tip back with a quick snap motion that gives the jig a “pop” action. This literally calls the fish to it.

Gravel/rock/riprap: Bumping the cover with your lure makes most bass go crazy and hit the lure hard. Speeding up the retrieve will also help keep avoid the snag ups. In the next paragraph we get a little more in depth.

Jigs are not to be considered a snag free or weedless lure. The jig works best in areas where the bait won’t constantly snag up on heavy weed cover. Other structure types such as submerged tree cover and rocks are more complicated. The quandary is the difficulty to fish the jig in heavy structure but there are fish there. The key is fishing heavy structure with caution and confidence. You have to face the fact that losing a few jigs in heavy cover is going to happen but the fish are worth it. A few tips that will help you lose less jigs in heavy cover are listed below.

1. Speed up the retrieve. The jig will bounce off of the structure as opposed to getting stuck in the crevices or cracks.

2. Skirts and plastic trailers allow more buoyancy and bounce. There is that mentioning of trailer combos again.

3. Fish lighter weight or “finesse” style jigs as they are not as snaggy as say a ¾ oz big-craw like they throw in Texas. Finesse jigs take longer to fall and typically don’t provide rattles. This rule has some give and take.

Action element-Add the trailer: The versatility of the jig is very much reliant upon the trailer or skirt that you add to the weighted hook. Most styles of plastic trailers look very lifelike and active with even a little bit of movement placed on the lure. A steady “pop-pop-pop” motion is often all it takes to get a strike. The fact you can select and change the color and size nearly every cast is supreme for dialing in just the right pattern for that day or even hour.

Grubs and crawdads are probably the most common jig trailers used for all sorts of species. I didn’t run a bonafide survey or anything to find this out either. The grub is so popular as a jig combo that they sell a number of colors and sizes all boxed up together ready to tie on and throw. Crawdad plastics are my number two combo trailer for the jig. End of survey. Crawdads are like little lobsters and fish (bass, trout and more) will be hard pressed to pass them up.

More plastic combos (Tubes, minnows, worms and bait-so many options):

Tube jigs are another great minnow or creature pattern. Anytime I think the water has a good crawdad base, tube jigs are going to get some game time. The jig-n-tube can even tackle heavy rock structure without substantial torment. Sure you are going to lose a few. Don’t let that hold you back. Fish are holding in those rocks. Maybe the best fish is holding in those rocks. You don’t know til you throw so losing a few jigs is worth it. Colors for the tube jig should match the forage you are trying to copy. I use a brown and black pepper 3” tube and try to keep the lure bouncing off the rocks and as close as I can get without snagging. And I still snag up…part of the terrain.

Plastic minnows make a good trailer as well. My preference with plastics is usually weightless but when I need a fast drop or raise-drop motion, the jig-n-minnow works great. I also pick up fish with a “dying minnow” presentation on the jig-n-minnow. I use the same 1/4oz or even 3/16oz jig with your favorite minnow plastic. Cast out and let the bait drop. After two or three minutes I twitch the bait and make it look as if it is convulsing off and on. After a while I lift the rod tip and raise the bait a few feet and then drop it back down again to repeat the convulsing. You will lose a few jigs here as well but I love this for a fall and winter bass pattern. Patience is another primary tool for this bait.

Plastic worms are rarely worked on the jig simply because a Carolina or Texas rig setup is going to give you the best action for this lure type. But when I am fishing a hot spot for a while and the action on the tube or grub dies, I will change the bait to a worm style presentation on the same jig. This will offer a different pattern to suspecting fish without having to re-tie. One or two casts and you know if that was a good move. It’s 50/50 but that 50 is better than nada.

Skirted jigs are my favorite and hopefully everyone has stopped reading this article by now. The multi-colored strands that make up the skirting provide action, buoyancy and even help prevent snagging up. Instead of the usual lead-head why not dress it up a little?

(Above: This is my go-to jig-n-grub combo that does really well in certain areas. This rig doesn’t resemble a lot of forage types but the color and action gets bites in quantity.)

As mentioned before I am not the best source for gear information. Hopefully my feeble attempts at explaining gear, lures and tactics is somewhat useful to the one or two readers of my bloginess.

(Above: This is my go-to jig-n-grub combo that does really well in certain areas. This rig doesn’t resemble a lot of forage types but the color and action gets bites in quantity.)

As mentioned before I am not the best source for gear information. Hopefully my feeble attempts at explaining gear, lures and tactics is somewhat useful to the one or two readers of my bloginess.

Good luck and Good Fishing.

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