During the second week in July, we posted a report on the Finesse News Network that caught the attention of Stacey King of Reeds Spring, Missouri.
The gist of the report was that an angler from St. Louis was using a jika rig, as well as one of the standard Midwest finesse rigs, to inveigle an impressive array of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass from the confines of Table Rock Lake, which is King’s home waterway.
This St. Louis angler noted that he had fished from July 4 to July 8, and his most fruitful jika rig was dressed with Zoom Bait Company’s Brush Hog. In his report, he marveled at the way the jika rig and Brush Hog could be retrieved through the labyrinth of boulders, brush, trees and other obstacles that stipple the floor of Table Rock without becoming snagged. He found it to be more effective and efficient than the traditional Texas-rigged soft-plastic bait and slip-sinker rig. What’s more, he was impressed with how easily he could cast it and its “free floating type action” during the retrieve.
For the past several years, King has become a Midwest finesse devotee, but he hadn’t crossed paths with the jika rig until he read the St. Louis angler’s report on the Finesse News Network. But soon after he read that report, he began doing some research about the origins of jika rig. He quickly found that its origins are Japanese.
Thus, he consulted Shin and Miyu Fukae of Osaka, Japan and Palestine,Texas. Fukae and King are colleagues on the FLW tournament circuit.
The Fukaes provided King with some highlights about the jika rig. They taught him how to pronounce it in Japanese, telling him that ji in Japanese is pronounced like Z and ka is pronounced like kah.
They also told him that jika means direct in Japanese. The Fukaes suspected that its name was derived from the fact that the sinker is attached with split rings directly to hook, which is different from the way a sinker is attached to a leader below the hook on a drop-shot rig.
Even though Fukae says that the jika rig is different than a drop-shot rig, because the sinker of the jika rig is next to the hook, it is necessary to note that there are times when Aaron Martens of Leeds, Alabama, who is often touted as being one of the finest drop-shot angler in the tournament world, occasionally affixes the sinker on his drop-shot rig next to or near the eye of the hook, and this is especially true when Martens is fishing during the pre-spawn and spawning seasons.
The Fukaes also noted that Japanese anglers began using it in 2009, but, as yet, it has not become as popular with Japanese anglers as the wacky-head jig is.
As King began accumulating more and more information about the jika rig, he also started making them and catching significant numbers of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass on them at Table Rock Lake. It didn’t take many days of wielding it before he became addicted to the jika rig’s manifold merits. To this day, he is learning and more and more about them, and he continues to make subtle refinements in the ways that he assembles, dresses and fishes his jika rigs.
He has constructed a few jika rigs with small offset-shank hooks and lightweight sinkers that can be dressed with various soft-plastic finesse baits that should strike the fancy of many Midwest finesse anglers. But the bulk of King’s jika creations and endeavors revolve around power-fishing tactics.
The infrastructure of King’s jika rigs is composed of two split rigs, a sinker, and an offset-shank hook. For King’s power applications, his jika rigs consist of two Bass Pro Shops’ Offshore Split Rings, which are made of 1-X heavy-duty stainless steel. He attaches a No.3 split ring to the eye of the hook. To the No. 3 split ring, he attaches a No. 1 split ring. To the No. l split ring, King attaches a sinker.
His hooks are Gamakatsu extra-wide-gap worm hooks. They range in size from 2/0 to 4/0. His sinker is often a half-ounce bell sinker. But he also customizes skinny drop-shot weights, diamond-shaped drop-shot weights and bullet-style slip sinkers, and he occasionally uses them. In addition to using a half-ounce sinker, Kings says there are be spells or angling conditions when he will opt for a 1/8-, 3/16-, 1/4- or 3/8-ounce sinker.
His line is tied to the No. 3 split ring with a Trilene knot, and when the line is attached to the split ring, the split segment of the ring is situated at the eye of the hook. This prevents the line from becoming fouled in that split.
He has dressed the hooks with a variety of soft-plastic baits, such as worms, five- and six-inch Senko-style baits, six-inch lizards, six-inch creature baits and four-inch beaver-style baits. One of his day in and day out favorites is a 4 ¼-inch Bass Pro Shops’ River Bug, which is a beaver-style bait. Kings says that the jika rig’s dressing options are virtually limitless.
In King’s eyes, the jika rig makes all of his soft-plastic baits appear livelier than they are when he affixes them on conventional bass rigs. The configuration and assembly of the jika rig allows the hook and soft-plastic bait to move alluringly in a variety of directions. On slack line, the sinker allows the rig to plummet straight to the bottom. And the way the sinker is attached also helps the entire rig to easily penetrate aquatic vegetation, such as coontail, various cabbage plants, milfoil, cabomba, curly-leaf pondweed and bushy pondweed.
In addition, King has found that it is a more versatile rig than a drop-shot rig, Biffle Bug and Hard Head jig, and standard Texas-worm rig. It is also more snagfree than those three rigs. Its hook-up ratio and landing ratio is better than those ratios are on the Biffle rig.
When King wields a jika rig in its power motif, he works with a seven-foot, heavy-power, extra-fast-action Bass Pro Shops’ CarbonLite Micro Guide Rod that is fitted with a Bass Pro Shops’ Johnny Morris Signature Series Baitcast Reel with a 6:4.1 gear ratio. The reel is spooled with XPS fluorocarbon line. In crystal clear and relatively snag free environs, King works with 14-pound-test line, but most of the time, he uses 17-pound-test line.
When he is plying a half-ounce jika rig around flooded cedar and hardwood trees on flat gravel points at Table Rock, he executes relatively short casts. King says short casts are essentially when he is presenting the jika rig around and in flooded trees. When he is casting to and around trees that lie in 12 to 14 feet of water, he pulls three four-foot sections of line off the spool of his reel as soon as the rig hits the lake’s surface. This allows the rig to plummet straight to the bottom on a slack line. If he is probing deeper lairs, he will pull as many as five four-foot sections of line from the spool of his reel.
He notes that most of the largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass that he allures with the jika rig are on or near the bottom, but the rig will occasionally elicit a strike as it falls towards the bottom. Once the jika rig reaches the bottom, he commences the retrieve by slowly lifting his rod from about the three o’clock position to the two o’clock position. And at times, he will lift the rod to the one o’clock position. During the lift, he will subtly shake his rod, and on some lifts, he will shake the rod incessantly. Once his rod reaches the apex of the lift, he slowly drops rod back to the three o’clock position and begins the lift and shake routine, which he does time after time until the rig is out of the area that he is focusing upon. Besides retrieving the jika rig across the gravel bottom, he also retrieves it up and through some of the flooded timber that the rig encounters. As he retrieves the rig in a tree, he continues to use the three-to-two o’clock routine. Even though he elicits most of his strikes along the bottom, there have been scores of times when he has extracted goodly numbers of Table Rock’s largemouth, smallmouth and spotted from inside these flooded trees.
When King focuses on underwater terrains that are embellished with a ledge or two and devoid of flooded timber, he makes long casts, ranging from 60 to 100 feet in length He retrieves the jika rig by either dragging and shaking it or executing a hop-and-bounce motif that is punctuated with shakes. He also slowly swims and shakes it, allowing it to travel a few inches off the bottom along these ledge-laden terrains.
At times, Table Rock’s spotted bass, as well as some its largemouth and smallmouth bass, are suspended in deep water. Many anglers employ a spoon or drop-shot rig with a vertical presentation to allure these deep-water suspended bass. King discovered in July and August that a vertical presentation of the jika rig can allure goodly number of the deep-water suspended bass too. Therefore, when one of King’s sonar devices pinpoints the whereabouts of a deep-water suspended bass, he merely drops his jika rig vertically to the appropriate depth, and then he attempts to coax that bass into inhaling the jika rigs.
In late August, King and a cameraman with “The Bass Pros” television show traveled to a 1,000-acre flatland reservoir in northern Missouri to create a TV show segment about how to use a jika rig and catch largemouth bass that are suspended in relatively shallow water around flooded timber, buried inside patches of coontail and abiding along riprap shorelines. To King and the cameraman’s delight, the jika rig quickly and consistently bewitched scores of largemouth bass, and several of the specimens were lunkers.
King introduced Larry Seger of Kimberling City, Missouri, to the jika rig in August. Seger is a veteran and talented guide and tournament angler. At first glance, however, Seger was not impressed with the looks of King’s jika rigs. In fact, King remembers that Seger initially thought that King’s fascination with the jika rig was a touch strange. But within a few hours of watching King wield the jika rig and waylay an impressive number of Table Rock’s largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass, Seger changed his mind. Nowadays, Seger is as much of a jika-rig aficionado as King is.
In August, King introduced Larry Seger of Kimberling City, Missouri, to the jika rig. Seger is a veteran and talented guide and tournament angler. At first glance, however, Seger was not impressed with the looks of King’s jika rigs. In fact, King remembers that Seger initially thought that King’s fascination with the jika rig was a touch strange. But within a few hours of watching King wield the jika rig and waylay an impressive number of Table Rock’s largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass, Seger changed his mind. Nowadays, Seger is as much of a jika-rig aficionado as King is, and Seger is using it in tournaments and faring well with it.
For example, Seger’s jika rig garnered 25 strikes at the Anglers in Action tourney at Truman Lake, Missouri, on Sept. 16. He landed 24 of those strikes, and nine of them were 15 inches or longer. His five biggest bass weighed 12.97 pounds, and by the end of the weigh in, his name was third from the top on the leaderboard. In Truman’s clear-water areas, he dressed his jika rig with a 4 ¼-inch Bass Pro Shops’ River Bug in the watermelon-bluegill hue, and in its stained waters, his jika rig sported a Reaction Innovations’ 4.20-inch Sweet Beaver in a hue called Magic Craw Swirl. During this tournament, Truman’s surface temperature was 74 degrees, and all the bass that Seger caught were extracted from six to 12 inches of water around flooded trees on flats. (It needs to be noted that Truman is a difficult reservoir for largemouth and spotted bass anglers, and 25 strikes is a gargantuan number of strikes at this trying reservoir.) After the Truman event, Seger competed in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series Missouri Division 16 tournament at the Lake of the Ozarks on Sept. 29-30. This was a very trying event for most of the competitors — even for Seger with his jika rig. Consequently, he eked out only seven largemouth bass, of which five were caught on his jika rig. His seven bass weighed 15 pounds, which put him in seventh place and garnered him angler-of-the-year honors.
Since the jika rig has become one King and Seger’s go-to baits, they are surprised that scores of anglers haven’t discovered its effectiveness. But both King and Seger note that a lot of anglers are reluctant to use the jika rig because they are repulsed by its looks, and consequently, these anglers doubt that it can allure their quarries. Then if they do use it and are too skeptical about its looks, King and Seger say that skepticism can adversely affect the way these anglers use it, which can prevent them from enticing largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass.
Beside King’s success with it at Table Rock and the 1,000-acre impoundment in northern Missouri, he has used the jika rig to extract largemouth bass from man-made brush piles at the Lake of the Ozarks, to inveigle largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass from a variety of lairs at Bull Shoals Lake in Missouri and Arkansas, and to allure the largemouth off ledges at Lake Wheeler, Alabama.
From King’s perspective, the effectiveness of the jika rig seems to be unlimited, and he is eager to wield it at other waterways across the country during the 2013 FLW tournament season.
Since 2011, Owner American Corporation has been manufacturing a jika rig, which they call the Jig Rig, and now Bass Pro Shops, who King works for, is in the throes of creating one.
As members of the Finesse News Network got wind that King’s jika rig methods would appear on this blog sometime in late September or early October, several of them posted their dealings with the jika rig.
Brian Waldman of Coatesville, Indiana, said that he hadn’t worked wit it,, but he was eager to read about King’s methods.
Bill Reichert of Lincolnshire, Illinois, Nathan Parker of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Gord Pyzer of Kenora, Ontario, and Mike Poe of Siler City, North Carolina, reported that they had worked the jika rig and were disappointed with it. Here’s what those four Finesse News Network colleagues said:
I found this latest post about the jika rig interesting. Will and I fished it on seven occasions and failed to harness the magic of the presentation. We actually caught more pike than bass on it. I look forward to the September post on how to fish it.
“Ned, I experimented with the jika rig pretty extensively this last summer, and was not particularly impressed. While I like the feel of it (you can really tell what’s on the bottom) and it does catch fish, even in brush, I caught a lot more fish with traditional drop-shot, Texas, and jig rigged plastics than I did with the jika. Furthermore I found it to be snaggier than a Texas rig. My most productive presentations in our brushy eastern Oklahoma reservoirs this summer were a 3″ Dinger Texas rigged with a No.1 wide gap and a 1/32 or 1/16 oz. lead bullet weight, a 3″ slider grub on a 3/32- or 1/8-ounce Gopher head, and a Texas-rigged drop shot with either a tiny brush hog or a 4.5″ finesse worm 10-12″ above a 3/16-ounce weight. The jika did work best with either a finesse worm or a creature. But from my experience, I will not likely be using them extensively next season unless someone can convince me to ply my limited fishing trips with them again. Best, Nathan” Parker.
On Oct. 3, Parker sent this observation: “I would … add to my comment that I experimented with 1/8-, 1/4- and 3/8-ounce versions of the rig, and had similar results with all three. I will probably revisit the rig again this fall after reading about King’s tactics, just for good measure. I am keen to throw a tiny brush hog on it on 6-pound-test line. It does cast like it was shot out of a gun, which is nice.”
“Hi Ned – I’ve been playing with the Jika Rig a lot this year and it has been a huge disappointment based on what I expected it to do. I am still not sure why! Gord” Pyzer.
”Hello Ned, We used this rig in our newly flooded extremely brushy lake and were not impressed. But our presentations were more horizontal versus the vertical one that I suspect make it more effective. It did come through brush ok. Looking forward to reading how Mr. King uses it. Mike” Poe.