BoatUS ANGLER: Do It Yourself Department
by Rob Brewer
While there are flashier, more appealing lures to fisherman, few, if any lures have greater appeal to big bass. The venerable jig n pig has been duping bass consistently for more than half a century.
Yes, plastic worms may account for more numbers of fish, but a jig will net more pounds per bite. Why? I honestly don’t know. But I do know from experience that it is fact. There’s something magical about jigs and big bass.
Of course you can use a jig right out of its package and still catch fish. But there are also numerous little enhancements that will increase its success ratio.
Here’s how I “doctor” a jig:
Leadhead - Don’t use those commercially manufactured “eye-busters” to remove the paint in the line tie. These put burrs inside the line tie. Use an ice pick or old hook. Now tie on a foot or so of 30 or 40 pound test. Draw it down tight and work it back and forth to clean all the paint from the eye.
Weedguard- Trace every bristle from the leadhead to the end of the fiber. Often these get fused together in the manufacturing process. Make certain each fiber stands alone. Don’t hesitate to remove a few using nail clippers or side cutters. Keep in mind if you shorten the weedguards, they become stiffer.
Hook- Using pliers, bend the hook open about 2 degrees more than it was manufactured. Now bend it to the right or left 2 degrees as well. Just be certain not to exceed the protection of the weedguard. Some jigs (such as Arkie brand) have an insufficient barb on the hook. Take a triangular file and “deepen” the barb some. Now hone the hook to a razor’s edge if it isn’t already. Save all your old Berkley Power Worms and other powerbaits. Take 1 1/4” to 1 1/2” pieces and slip these on the shank of your hooks. These will give the jig some body when the skirt strands are flared out in the water. Furthermore, the scent will permeate the skirt and the worm itself will make the bass hold the jig longer. Add a trailer and the jig is ready to fish. I prefer pork to plastic, but each to his own.
As for fishing with jigs, the proper outfit is essential for success. The jig should be manipulated with the rod tip. All the reel does is store line, take up slack, and assist in fighting fish. Having said that, spend your money on a quality, sensitive, heavy action graphite rod. I use a 6’ Berkley Bionix matched with a run of the mill Shimano 5.1:1 reel. Some say use a low geared reel to assist in winching bass out of heavy cover. I disagree. I never met a bass I couldn’t reel in. If I had a faster reel, I’d use it.
Don’t skimp in the line department. Use at least 15 lb test and don’t shy from something heavier. I’ve had some nice size bass break me off with 15 lb test in heavy cover. It’s not the norm, but it happens. If you’re fishing a jig where it was meant to be fished, you’ll have some bass break you off. It’s part of the game. I don’t like superbraids. They’re too darn sensitive. I find myself setting the hook into everything. If your just starting out with jigs, you may want to consider braided line as you develop your sense of feel.
I have fished jigs for too many years with mono and I’m not willing to put forth the effort required to “reeducate” my senses. Jigs are not for everyone. They demand absolute concentration for them to be effective. It’s a lure that you must stay in touch with. A bass can inhale and exhale a jig so fast it’s imperceptible. Jigs must be fished on a “controlled slack” line. By that I mean you must follow the lure down with the rod tip at the same rate of descent as the jig. The lure will pendulum out of the strike zone if you move your rod too slow, too fast, and you lose touch with the jig. Jig bites vary from a “tap-tap” to a “wet towel” feeling to a feeling of weightlessness. Never pause on a jig bite. Always set the hook HARD Right away! Whenever in doubt, set the hook. You may catch the occasional “stickfish” but better safe than sorry.
Keep in mind when penetrating cover such as trees, often the line will be lying over a branch, reducing your sense of feel. Be sure to pay extra attention at such times. With practice and experience, you’ll be able to identify what your jig is doing and what type of cover its in all by feel alone.
If you’re not already a jig magician, go fishing once with nothing but jigs. You’ll have no option but to fish them but by day’s end, you’ll be glad you did.
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