For years I never caught a bass on a jig. I gave them a fair shot to produce fish and they failed. I thought they were obsolete. I thought I had a presentation for every situation that worked better than using a jig. But now I know, I was wrong.
My conversion happened one day in late March a year and half ago. My good buddies Sean, John, and I were fishing our favorite farm pond when Sean yanked a good 5 1/2 pounder from a brush pile. He was using a jig. John had caught one about 5 pounds the April before that, also on a jig. I thought that first fish was a fluke, but after Sean caught his, I knew there had to be something to it.
The next weekend I went out to the same lake with a jig. I was fishing for half an hour before I felt a good thump on the line. After a good fight I landed a largemouth exactly one ounce bigger than Sean's trophy. I was ecstatic. The jig had now earned my respect, and on top of that, I beat Sean. I went to the store and stocked up on different colors and sizes of jig and pork trailers. Weekly trips continued through the month of April, and 5 and 6 pounders were caught with alarming consistency.
But something happened after the water started to warm up. Only small bass, if any, were interested in my jigs. I switched to things like worms, crankbaits, and topwaters and forgot about the jigs altogether. One day last fall, while fishing with my dad, he decided to tie on the jig 'n pig. Right away he had a six pounder on. I, of course, put down whatever lure I was using and tied on my favorite jig. By the end of the day I boated two bass over 4 pounds and one over 5. Not a bad day.
Spring came and I again started using my now favorite lure. I took John out, and he fished his own jig 'n plastic lure right alongside mine. But I was the one who ended up catching the lunker. I hooked a 9 pounder that particular trip, while John failed to catch a fish of any significant size with his jig.
This summer gave the three of us a chance to do some more fishing together. The jig was a standard in our reptoire of lures. I remember one day in particular. It was this August, the weather was pretty hot and four of us hit the lake for two days of fishing. Sean and I paired up in one boat, while John and another friend went in the other. Sean and I both fished a 1/2 oz blue/black jig, mine tipped with a blue pork trailer, Sean's tipped with a plastic craw.
Within a couple hours Sean boated two bass over 21 inches, while I hadn't caught anything. Later that evening I went out with John. The sun was setting and there was barely enough light to see. I was set on catching a lunker with my jig/pig combo, and John was using his trusty jig/plastic lure.
While we drifted over one of our hotspots, I saw the silhouette of John rear back and set the hook into a fish well over 5 pounds. I went back to camp skunked again. It was then I thought there had to be a pattern. A pattern so simple anyone can remember how to do it.
That pattern is: Spring-use pork trailers Summer-use plastic Fall-use pork
I don't know why it is, but bass seem to have a preference for pork in the cold months and plastic in the warmer months.
This is a great rule of thumb for beginners and veterans alike. Which brings me to my next point...beginners.
Jig fishing is not a numbers game. It's easy to get discouraged when you don't catch anything. I know I did. So I put away the jigs and forgot about them until my buddies gave me a wake-up call.
If you want to learn how to catch fish with a jig, try buying smaller ones like the Bitsy Bug. They attract bass of all sizes (I've caught them up to 6 pounds). 1/16-1/8 oz is great with a matching pork or plastic trailer. When you want to pursue bigger bass, 3/8-1/2 oz are the right size. My favorite brand for a big jig is the Denny Brauer Pro Model Rattlin' Jig, either in a blue/black or pumpkinseed.
Pork trailers can be next to impossible to put on or remove from a hook, but at the right time they are well worth the hassle. In my opinion, Uncle Josh is the one and only brand of pork trailer you need to buy.
For my half-ounce jigs I use the biggest size they make, either in blue or brown. Conversely, I use the smallest size they make for my Bitsy Bugs, also in blue and brown.
There's a multitude of plastics that can be used as trailers. Zoom makes trailers that look just like pork, but crawdads can also be put on the back of a jig. For these big jigs I use nothing less than 20 lb. Stren High Impact, regardless of cover, on a heavy duty combo. For the smaller jigs I use 12 lb High Impact.
Most of our big bass have been caught out of farm ponds, lakes that receive little or no fishing pressure. I'd hesitate to use a big jig on heavily pressured water, but John has caught many pigs this season out of Omaha's Lake Zorinsky, which gets hammered year-round.
That's my knowledge of jigging, learn how to use them effectively and it will pay off. So if you do happen to catch the fish of a lifetime on a jig, remember to let her go.
re: Jig-n-Pig Made Simple
Awesome article. Just read it and about to head to the store to pick up some pig n' jig supplies. I have 2 questions thou: 1. Are you a bank fisher when you fish ponds or do you tube or use a small boat? 2. Do you prefer a baitcast rod or a spinning rod? I prefer spinning just because I don't like dealing with birds nest all day. Thanks.
re: Jig-n-Pig Made Simple
Thanks guys, I just about lost it lokiong for this.