This is the start of a new series called “Know Your Lures.” Each week I’m going to dive into some information on a different piece of fishing tackle. I will start with the basics and will expand to more advanced lures as we move on.
The jig is made up of a lead sinker with a hook attached to it. The lure is then typically skirted with either rubber or silicone. A weed guard is often added, which lies on the same plane as the hook. The guard helps prevent the hook from becoming tangled in weeds as it is dragged through heavy cover.
A jig is meant to sink down when it hits the water. As it sinks you will want to jerk the line to mimic baitfish. To fish these you will want a rod that can handle heavier line. Commonly, bait casters are recommended for jigs, due to their ability to run 50 lbs or more braided line, but you can fish a lighter jig successfully with a spinning setup as well. If you do use spinning gear you will want a medium-heavy rod with a 20-30 lbs test braided line. The theory behind using a heavier line with jigs is that you will be targeting fish that spend time in heavy cover and will want to be able to drag the fish out of the wood or cover when you hook one. A lighter test line can be ok for finesse jigs, but generally you will lose a lot of jigs if you are fishing them with a light line.
The shape of the jig’s head plays an important role in the lure’s action. There are round jigs, football jigs, Arkie jigs, and finesse jigs—among many others. The differences in the shape of the head help determine the way that the jig will move through open water, through vegetation, and around obstacles. For example, a round jig head travels through the water quicker with less resistance. The wide head of the football jig prevents it from tipping over while traveling along the bottom and allows it to climb over rocks easily. Generally the Arkie jig is regarded as the best “all-around” jig, though really, it’s best to use different jigs for different purposes.
If you fish bass you need to have jigs in your tackle box. The variety of techniques that can be used with different jigs and the large number of baitfish that they can imitate make them one of the quintessential lures for fishing. Variations in color, shape, and size make them adaptable to many different environments and for targeting many different species of predator fish. Find out what the bait in a body of water looks like and how it moves, and find a jig that is similar.