There’s not often a nasty time to fish a jig. Over time, I’ve caught massive largemouths on them in all 12 months. However in the event you stay south of the Ice Belt, a jig turns into a prime choose in the course of the coldest occasions.

One purpose is that it’s lethal when fishing at a variety of depths and speeds, however at all times scores excessive when the chunk is gradual and reasonably deep, which typically describes the whereabouts of huge largemouths now. Work it with endurance, with a watch peeled for a slight bump within the line and be attentive to that mushy feeling that usually indicators a chunk.

Jigs in the present day are available in an incredible selection—swim jigs, hair jigs, bladed jigs, wobble-head jigs, and extra. However for now, we refine the dialogue to the basic skirted bass jig in its varied shapes and kinds.

Jig Origins


In-Fisherman Discipline Editor Ned Kehde of Lawrence, Kansas, remembers working with early fishing pioneers like Virgil Ward and his son Invoice of Bass Buster Lures and Bob Carnes, founding father of Arkie Jigs. “The Wards constructed and bought plenty of marabou and bucktail jigs within the late Nineteen Fifties, then they made the primary fiberguard within the mid-Sixties,” he says. “Within the Nineteen Seventies, Carnes noticed the Wards fishing a jig with a fiberguard on the ’Sportsman’s Good friend’ tv present and adopted an analogous one on his jigs, which had been nicely balanced, making a lure that was much less snag-prone than any available on the market at the moment. He’d first used bucktail, then tied them with dwelling rubber, with silicone coming alongside later. After Bo Dowden gained the 1980 Bassmaster Basic on one, Carnes bought 36,000 on the Okie Bug Present in Tulsa.

“Guido Hibdon’s father ‘Huge Gete’ was launched to bucktail jigs by Harold Ensley and Virgil Ward, and the youthful Hibdon labored to change into a jigging grasp on reservoirs of the Ozark area,” Kehde says. “His victory on the 1980 BASS Missouri Invitational on Lake of the Ozarks ignited his profession, and he adopted that with a win the next 12 months at that very same occasion. In each instances, he used a black-skirted jig with a hand-poured Guido Bug as a trailer.”

Lonnie Stanley of Stanley Jigs remembers the early days as nicely. “In 1979, I began pouring leadhead jigs of a modified Arkie design with a fiberguard, utilizing 33 strands of nylon, plus a dwelling rubber skirt and Eagle Claw hooks,” Stanley says. “I gained the 1980 Lonestar Match on Toledo Bend with one in every of our jigs and went into manufacturing. I poured them, my spouse painted them, and the children bagged them. We introduced them to native tournaments and bought them for a buck apiece. About two years later, Rick Clunn introduced me a needle-point hook from England that he’d present in Herter’s catalog. We satisfied Mustad to supply needle factors for our jigs, which grew to become the highest vendor.

“For jigs, steadiness is crucial to scale back snags and enhance hooking share,” he says. “It didn’t harm when Mark Stevenson caught the Texas report bass at Lake Fork on one in every of our jigs, the bass named “Ethel” that was considered my hundreds of thousands on the Bass Professional Outlets headquarters in Missouri.” Over time, Stanley made many jig improvements, together with metal-flake skirts, FireTip skirts, multi-color fiberguards, and hooks of .062-inch wire that wouldn’t flex, with a 2-degree outbend, a key to excessive hooking percentages.

Alongside the way in which, the Ozarks spawned a jig offshoot referred to as the “Eakins Jig,” initially crafted within the early Nineteen Nineties by information and match professional Jim Eakins and made by Jewel Bait Firm. This compact spherical ballhead has a clipped skirt that completely matches Jewel’s Eakins Craw, a flat practical rendering of a 2.5-inch crayfish, which Eakins diminished to only 2 inches to provide the package deal an attractive glide that fooled bass wherever anglers tried it—deep below docks, brushpiles, cold-front situations, finicky bass, and extra. Consultants typically favor the smallest model, 5/16-ounce, for its gradual fall, with heftier fashions for extra-deep water or windy situations. This lure ignited the pattern to finesse jigs—lighter and compact with a brief skirt with half of it clipped to provide the lure a bristly look, with a hook of lighter gauge wire, and versatile fiberguard. Dozens are available on the market in the present day, however it’s robust to beat the unique.

Soccer Jigs

Whereas soccer heads date to the late Nineteen Seventies, they rose to prominence when touted by Minnesota professional Jim Moynagh for fishing deep rockpiles. He coupled a 3/4-ounce head he referred to as a Roll’r Jig with a double-tail grub trailer. He gained many massive tournaments on that sample and lure. When the jig moved, its form compelled it to tip ahead when it encountered the slightest obstruction. Not splendid in cowl, they’re lethal on deeper fish feeding on shellbeds, hard-bottom areas, and offshore construction with little vegetation. Winter bass typically maintain deep till elevated daylight and warming temperatures summon them shallower. Whereas Moynagh most popular a jig with no guard, anglers fishing waters with deep brush and stumps choose these with fiberguards, and hookup share is analogous.

Soccer jigs rating when the time is correct.

The soccer jig stays a staple within the arsenal of anglers who ply reservoir ledges—off-channel areas that provide feeding flats with present—together with deep-diving crankbaits, giant “Preacher-style” bucktail jigs, Carolina rigs, big flutterspoons, and closely weighted swimbaits. Bass feed in such places from shortly after they depart spawning areas till early within the Prespawn Interval the next spring.

Jig Techniques At this time

Over the a long time, jigs have continued to be a key lure. For a lot of, jig-fishing stays mysterious, however whenever you’ve mastered the refined nuances of lure placement and honed a eager sense of really feel for canopy and light-weight bites, you possibly can conquer the bassin’ world. That’s simply what Denny Brauer did all through his unparalleled profession as a professional fisherman. Initially from Nebraska, he moved to the Ozark area, jig-central since Virgil’s Ward’s time, and now lives close to the shores of Lake Amistad on the Texas-Mexico border, having retired from nationwide competitors. Within the fickle area of fishing, he gained nicely over $2.5 million in top-level occasions alone, most due to a jig. 

“I first realized the facility of jigs after I began to flip,” Brauer says. “In tournaments again within the Nineteen Seventies, it was lethal for probing cowl and catching the largest bass.” He parleyed his flippin’ abilities to a Bassmaster Basic victory and greater than a dozen different wins on the Bassmaster and FLW excursions. “Early on, I used to be lucky to get sponsored by Strike King and I labored with them to design jigs,” he says. “We got here up with the Premier Professional Mannequin Jig, which I think about the perfect lure for flipping brush and wooden. I fish it on fluorocarbon in most conditions in wooden.


“You get higher hook penetration with horizontal jig eye,” he says, “and that placement additionally helps maintain the jig from snagging in wooden. One of many keys to hooking bass solidly is to set the hook as quickly as you see the jig transfer, so that you stick them within the prime of the mouth, not the nook, the place the hook can tear out. Tooth marks on a slipsinker or jig present your hook didn’t penetrate whenever you set. That’s one purpose you need a exhausting end on a jighead.” Brauer, like Tommy Biffle and different jig specialists, has a lightning-quick set, a product of fine instincts and fixed monitoring of the road and lure motion. Bass typically idiot us with mushy bites or drops that we may have set on if we had been dialed in to the chunk.

Precision casting can also be essential. Follow, follow, follow. Attempt to hit a cup constantly at 30 ft, transfer it out to 40, and maintain working. Like a serious league pitcher, inches are what make all of the distinction.

For fishing vegetation, one other type of jig is so as—a extra slender design that may slip amongst plant stalks or punch by means of a mat on the floor. For such purposes, Brauer switches to Strike King’s Hack Assault Jig, with a heavy-gauge Gamakatsu hook and what he calls a “grass eye,” one parallel to the hook shank as a substitute of turned. This helps it move by means of vegetation. Most specialists choose heavy braided line for the densest vegetation, as a consequence of its capability to slice by means of stalks and maintain massive bass below management.

Information Andrew Grills is among the hottest younger guides on famed Lake Fork. “If it wasn’t for a jig, I wouldn’t be guiding,” he says. Starting in 2007, he fished there from January by means of March, when his development tasks had been shut down in Kentucky. “I fished the lake from a 10-foot jonboat for a number of years whereas I realized to fish a jig for winter bass.” In 2010, he left his job to maneuver there, purchased a giant Skeeter, and started guiding.

“Many consumers lack confidence with jigs, so I assist them catch a giant bass or two,” he says. “Then they don’t need to put it down. To get them on fish, I maintain the boat over deeper water and solid shallower. I consider bass are likely to face deeper water so I work the jig so it comes over their shoulder, transferring alongside steadily and slowly; no hopping or banging. They instantly spot the lure and suck it in. Prepare whenever you really feel the jig come over an object and drop. In winter, there’s no magic depth right here, I fish from 3 to 30 ft deep.

“My favourite jig for winter fishing right here is Santone’s M Collection, a balanced Arkie-style jig, and I additionally use their Rattling Jig. We fish a 5/8-ounce mannequin more often than not, however swap to three/4-ounce in some conditions. You get extra bites on a lighter jig, however massive fish will be extra drawn to the heavier jig because it kicks up backside and has a bigger presence. The heavy jig hangs extra, so that you need to discover ways to snap them unfastened by plucking the road. Most frequently, the top wedges in limbs, so the hook isn’t embedded until you set exhausting into wooden. Santone Jigs aircraft upward whenever you set, so that you stick bass higher. The hook factors upward and gained’t roll over.”


Grills favors inexperienced hues in winter, notably Bullfrog and Mexican Heaven in Santone’s choice. He isn’t choosy about trailers, however cautions, “Much less is extra in winter,” he says. “You don’t need flapping trailers now. I often use a small Zoom Chunk. Save your motion trailers, like Strike King’s Rage Craw or Berkley’s Chigger Craw, for later in spring and summer season.

“My favourite rod is the G. Loomis 854, 7-foot 1-inch with #4 energy,” he says. “One other good one is Dobyns’ 736 mannequin. A 7-footer or 7-foot 1-inch rod is good. Don’t go too lengthy. Sensitivity is vital, together with energy to get massive fish out of canopy. We use 20-pound Seaguar InvisX—you gained’t break off with it. Round woodcover, keep away from braid. I consider the sound of braid in opposition to wooden alerts bass and makes them much less prone to chunk.”

The Winter Evening Chew

Some anglers retailer the boat and stash their sort out as soon as when water temperatures fall into the 40°F vary. However in the event you’re studying this, you’re in all probability not in that camp. However even most die-hards wish to let the solar heat issues up a bit earlier than hitting the lake. Not Randy Claybourne of Tulsa, Oklahoma. He’s advanced right into a persistent and extremely expert winter jigman, studying from expertise that winter presents the very best alternative for an enormous. His perception was validated on the evening of January 12, 2014, when he landed a 13.86-pound Texas ShareLunker at Lake Fork. As fortune would have it, In-Fisherman Editor In Chief Doug Stange, himself an early riser, had walked right down to seize a cup of espresso at Lake Fork Marina and met Claybourne as he babysat his treasured catch within the marina’s giant bait tank, awaiting the crew from Texas’ Athens Hatchery. It seems Claybourne had been getting ready for that evening for nearly 20 years, as he honed his jigging abilities for winter bass and looked for places they like.

Randy Claybourne of Tulsa, Oklahoma, hefts the 13.86-pound lunker he caught at Lake Fork, Texas, on January 12, 2014 on a black/blue 1/2‑ounce Lockhart Jig with a 5-inch Gene Larew Salt Craw.

“I needed to train myself to fish slowly,” he says. “I had by no means been a quick fisherman and don’t do tournaments, however the tempo took some getting used to. Fishing a jig helps you do this, as you’re feeling it transfer alongside, bumping backside and dealing over and thru sunken bushes. Keep in mind that winter water temperatures could also be within the low- or mid-40°F vary, even in Texas. Slower is best.

“I realized that massive bass might transfer up shortly to feed, then transfer again into deeper water. You need to be there when that occurs.” He follows solunar durations on the In-Fisherman internet web page (, and favors the total moon.

He additionally pays consideration to the wind. “When fishing deep factors, I like some wind coming throughout the tip of the purpose, and we fish alongside the tight inside activate the lee facet of it,” he says. “Wind creates slight currents that baitfish and bass relate to, although they typically maintain on the protected facet right now of 12 months.” Throughout January and February, he finds lunkers deep in these areas, usually from 14 to 24 ft down. He focuses on creek channels that sweep by factors, offering that deep-to-shallow state of affairs that’s so essential right now of 12 months.

Trailer Speak

A jig is barely full with a trailer of some type. Again within the Nineteen Fifties, earlier than the arrival of rubber or silicone skirts, bucktail dominated, typically completed with a pork-rind trailer, both an eel or a bit for bulk, underwater motion and vibration, and a beautiful taste. Although pork rind manufacturing has ceased, reportedly because of the leaner situations of pigs as of late, I’ve dozens of jars of Uncle Josh and Strike King baits squirreled away, and I take advantage of them commonly. For the winter chunk, the buoyancy and refined undulations of pork chunks appear to draw torpid bass, and its meaty and salty nature appears to encourage fish to carry on. The issues of pork drying out within the sizzling solar are also minimized right now of 12 months. Furthermore, I typically wield a single rod for hours at a time and pork’s sturdiness is unmatched.

However generally an lively trailer is warranted. Winter bass appear to fluctuate of their exercise stage and aggressiveness. Craw baits with flapping pincers, such because the Paca Craw, Berkley PowerBait Chigger Craw, Zoom Velocity Craw, and Strike King Rage Craw gradual a jig’s fall and create vibrations in the course of the retrieve. In murkier water or vegetation, this will carry additional bites. And for shallow work round brush and sparse vegetation, a small swimbait provides thump and a little bit of flash, lethal when labored on a gradual regular retrieve or a methodical lift-fall cadence. In case your jig tends to show and twist line, modify the trailer to lie flat. Double-tail grubs, just like the Yamamoto DT Grub, supply additional motion and in addition steadiness a jig and restrict rolling. It typically pays to experiment with trailers to outline bass desire on a given day.

Winter bass will be vertically cell, typically preferring spots that permit them quick access to each shallower flats and deeper sanctuaries with thick cowl, relying on water temperature, climate, and different situations. On sunny days, they have an inclination to maneuver shallower, deeper in chilly, cloudy situations. However whenever you outline a sample, it’s often stable, and will produce an outstanding catch. However have endurance this time of 12 months. I’ve had days with just one chunk, however it was my greatest fish of the 12 months.

*Steve Quinn, decades-long author and editor for In-Fisherman publications, is among the world’s foremost specialists on bass and bass fishing.

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