Monday, December 20, 2010

Jig Fishing Part I

Fishing with Jigs

The leadhead jig is probably the most universal of artificial lures. Originally used for saltwater species, the jigging method became a freshwater angling “revolution” in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. Anglers soon discovered that jigs take all inland sport fish, especially walleyes, crappies, and bass. Even with today’s assortment of baits and lures, most fishing pros acknowledge that if they were limited to one fishing lure, their choice would be a jig!

Jig fishing is a genuine sport. Jigs are light tackle baits and produce best when teamed with spinning or spincast equipment and light monofilament line. Jigging requires a special personal touch because a jig’s action depends largely on the angler’s style of working it. YOU provide a jig’s action by moving your rod tip to bounce, hop or swim a jig. Your retrieve can be fast or slow, smooth or erratic, near the surface or along the bottom.

For most fishing, you will work the jig along the bottom. When casting for walleyes, bass, or other fish near bottom, employ your own variations of the “lift and drop” retrieve. Begin by allowing the jig to settle to the bottom. Then lift your rod tip to pull the jig off bottom. As you wind in, alternately pull the jig off bottom and drop it back. Sometimes long sweeping strokes of the rod produce best. But more often, shorter jerks and small twitches entice the most fish. When this jigging action fails, try a straight retrieve.

Jigging lends itself well to slow drifting and trolling. Let out enough line so that the jig regularly hits bottom. To check for bottom, watch for slack line to develop when you quickly drop your rod tip toward the jig. The amount of line you pay out is determined by depth of the water, weight of the jig, and the speed of your boat. Work the jig as you would when casting, but without winding in.

Aside from the action you give it, a jig’s effectiveness depends on its design and appearance. Shape, weight, tail texture, color, eye placement, and even hook size and style make a difference in how the jig rides through the water and how it appeals to the fish.

More Jig Fishing Tips:

–> Size is an important consideration in selecting the right jig. The 1/4oz. jig size is a good all-around weight for walleyes and bass. Be flexible, however, and choose a jig size according to conditions. Brisk winds, deep water and long-distance casting require heavier jig sizes. Use the lighter jigs, 1/8oz. and lighter, when fish are shallow, and when they exhibit a “touchy” mood.

–> Jigs often work best on walleyes in spring and fall when these fish concentrate in water less than 12 feet deep. But, persistent jig fishermen catch walleyes all year, sometimes anchoring or slowly backtrolling over the deeper structure, and working the jigs in combination with minnows and nightcrawlers.

–> Fish consistently hit jigs on the drop. The alert angler can detect these hard-to-notice strikes by closely watching the line for the slightest change in behavior. You might detect a telltale twitch or “knock” on the line. Or, the line may move off to one side, or even stop, before the jig hits bottom. If you suspect that your jig has dropped into a fish’s mouth, set the hook immediately!

–> Heavy or stiff line retards a jig’s action. Use light and limp monofilament line tied directly to your jig, avoiding all “hardware” like swivels, snaps, and leaders. When more weight is needed, opt for a heavier jig instead of ruining your presentation with sinkers. A good practice is to vary line test with jig weights–the lighter the jig, the lighter the line. Here’s a line guide that’s pretty reliable:

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