How to Use the Standard Bass Jig

Standard Bass JigThe jig is one of the very best lures to use when you are targeting large bass. You won’t usually catch a lot of fish with this lure, but the ones that you do catch will tend to be larger fish.

Some anglers may feel slightly intimidated by this lure, or lack confidence in it, but after using it for a while most can no longer remember what was so intimidating about it. A jig feels a little bit mushy at the end of the line compared to a plastic worm. It's a bulkier lure and that's what gives it that feeling. Other than that, it fishes just like a plastic worm.

Have you ever wondered why they call it a jig? All these years I never knew why they called it that. I looked up the word today for the very first time and discovered that a jig is a lively springy dance. OK, I always knew that a jig was a dance, but I didn’t realize that they named the fishing lure after the way you are supposed  to work the lure, in a springy up and down motion.

You can fish the standard bass jig very close to or right in heavy cover like brush, weeds, logs, large rocks, and man-made structures like docks.Green Bass Jig with a watermellon color grub for thetrailer

I just cast, pitch, or flip it out to some type of cover and let the lure go straight to the bottom, watching the spot where the fishing line enters the water, that is where the line will jump or twitch if you get a strike as the lure falls to the bottom. Lots of your strikes will come on the fall. When the lure hits the bottom, the line above the surface will go completely slack. After that I usually just lift and drop the lure up and down a few times before I move it to the next spot. You literally make the lure do a little dance in one spot for as long as needed to get a fish to bite. Sometimes it takes a while to convince a bass to strike your lure, but other times they will hit it on the first drop. The fish will tell you how long you need to fish it in one spot by how quickly they are hitting it.

Seeing the line jump or twitch is one way of detecting strikes. The other is by feel. Sometimes bass will really jerk on your line. Most of the time a bite is subtler than that. Sometimes you will feel and see the line swimming or moving off to the side. The subtlest of all strikes are those where you lift your line and the lure just feels kind of mushy. Whenever you are in doubt, just hold slight tension on the line and see if the lure will wiggle. If it wiggles, it’s a fish so set the hook. If it doesn’t wiggle, it’s probably just snagged on a piece of the cover you were fishing it in. Just jiggle it free and continue fishing. For most of the year a bass will hold onto the lure for quite a while giving you plenty of time to set the hook, but in the colder months they won't and you'll have to set the hook the instant you think you might have a bite. Applying scents to the jig may get them to hold onto it a little bit longer.

Most of the time you will be dropping this lure right on the spot where the bass will be living. You could hit him right on the head with your jig, so try to make the jig slip into the water with as little commotion as possible so that you don’t scare the bass right out of his hiding spot. Use gentle casts or pitches that make the lure sound like some type of prey that is just sliding into the water not knowing that there is a giant bass waiting there for dinner to drop in.

Blue flake Bass Jig with black and blue plastic crawfish trailerI pair a jig with a bulky and buoyant trailer. You can use any type of soft plastic bait as a trailer, but my favorite has always been a plastic crayfish. You can use pork chunks as well if you can find them. They work well in the colder months. I also use plastic grubs and the back half of paddle tail worms as trailers when I'm “swimming” a jig in the open water along weed lines.

Jigs come with brushy weed guards. Some anglers like to trim those a little bit shorter. They say that it helps them hook the fish easier. I don’t like to do that. I prefer to “fan” or spread out the weed guard. This makes the hook stand up better while at the same time making it easier for the hook to come through the weed guard and hook the fish.

In Minnesota, I’m fishing in vegetation a lot of the time, so I like to use jigs with bullet shaped heads that will come through the weeds easier. If weeds aren’t a problem I like to use jigs with rounder shaped heads for rocky places.

Standard jigs come in many different sizes from 1/8 oz to over 1 ounce. Generally, you should use the lightest jig that you can, if it will cast or pitch well, and penetrate the type of cover that you are fishing. Typically, in Minnesota I’m using 3/8 oz to 1/2 oz. It may take an ounce or more to penetrate the thick Hydrilla weed found in some southern reservoirs.

I use a 7-foot medium heavy rod with 15 to 20lb test line and a high-speed retrieve reel, and I will use even heavier line wherever the cover demands that I do so. The high-speed reel allows you to reel in lots of slack line in just a turn or two of the handle.

Feel free to experiment with colors. I like to use natural and dark colors like browns and greens or black and blue, but I have caught a lot of bass on solid white jigs as well.

Now that you've read about the bass jig, watch me use it in these videos: Peltier Lake, Cedar Lake, Ceadr Lake - Scott County, Sarah Lake II, and Ann Lake.

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