Fundamentals: Fishing Jigs and Jigging

Fundamentals: Fishing Jigs and Jigging

There is some discussion as to whether a jig is a rig, but there is no doubt that jigs can catch aggressive, neutral, and even tentative fish of almost any species. Jigs can be cast and retrieved slowly by hopping or dragging across the bottom or retrieved at a fairly rapid rate when dressed with a plastic lure meant to imitate a minnow. Jigs can be fished vertically under a float, from shore, from a boat, or through the ice. They can be held stationary on the bottom or allowed to drift with the current. Versatile is a jig.

The bait you choose to put on your jig determines how you work it. A jig with livebait calls for a finesse approach, fished slowly or held stationary, most often keeping the bait on or near the bottom. Using a 5½- to 7-foot moderate- to fast-action, light to medium-light spinning rod with a soft tip, its reel spooled with 6- to 10-pound monofilament, sweep the rod tip a few inches to dance the jig off the bottom. This is the attracting maneuver. Then, reeling in the slack to maintain a taut line, pause your retrieve as the jig settles back to the bottom. This is usually the time when the fish investigates and strike. Experiment with varying lengths of hops and time you allow the jig to rest.

In comparison to jigs tipped with livebait, jig-and-plastic combos can be worked more aggressively to impart action to the lure. Hop, dance, and sweep your jig forward, setting the hook immediately if you think that a fish may have hold of the jig. A soft plastic lure be vertically jigged, dancing it in the water column, or bouncing it off the bottom. Most often, however, it's cast and retrieved, with the angler letting it settle to the bottom and then retrieving it back to the shore or boat, always watching the line to see if the jig has hit bottom (line goes slack) or if a fish has the bait in its mouth. The exception is when you're fishing a plastic lure meant to have a swimming motion, in which case the lure is retrieved at a speed that keeps it active, with an occasional pause to let it drop before resuming the retrieve, just as you would with a crankbait.

Jigs with weedguards (stiff wire or plastic bristle that extends from the head of the jig over the point) are a favorite for heavy cover, often cast using a 7½-foot heavy power, moderately fast action casting rod, with a reel spooled with 14- to 17-pound monofilament or braid. For other situations, a 6- to 7-foot medium power, fast-action spinning rod with 4- to 10-pound monofilament or braid works well.

Recommended for You


Spring is Prime Time for River Walleyes

Dan Johnson - February 22, 2018

Across the Walleye Belt, early spring is prime time to tap some of the year's best bites.


Navionics adds SonarChart Shading to its Platinum+ and HotMaps Platinum cartography

In-Fisherman - April 29, 2019

Navionics adds SonarChart Shading and HotMaps Platinum.


Deep Cranking Confessions from the Pro's

John Neporadny Jr - December 18, 2017

Here's some important crankbait lessons from the big leagues.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Giant Walleyes According To Calendar Periods

The search for big walleyes begins with an understanding of their nature, keying on prime locations during specific times of the year.

13 Fishing Inception SZ

Florida angling pro Jessie Mizell knows that the saltwater found in Sunshine State coastal fisheries can wreak havoc on even the best fishing gear. But with 13 Fishing's new feature laden Inception SZ saltwater baitcasting reel, tackling inshore and light tackle saltwater game fish just got a whole lot easier!

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

With the company's heavy involvement in initiatives like Kick the Plastic and Captains for Clean Water campaigns, Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead all about the sunglass maker's unwavering commitment to help the freshwater and saltwater environment.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Other Fish

Must-Have Striped Bass Tackle

Rick Bach - May 04, 2017

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you...


Catfish Pole Rigs

Richard Peterson with In-Fisherman - April 28, 2016

Pole lines illustrate the paradox of catfishing. At a time when excellent rods, reels, and...

Boats & Motors

2- Vs. 4-Cycle Outboard Motors

Dan Johnson - April 16, 2018

Now more than ever, understanding each category's strong suits is critical to choosing a...

See More Stories

More How-To


Best Pike Lakes

Steve Ryan - June 15, 2017

Northern Pike are ferocious predators. From an early age they're fearless. With a mouth full...


4-Wheel-Drive Basics: 6 Ways To Conquer Any Trail

Drew Hardin - November 16, 2017

Use these six off-road driving quick-tips to tackle mud, rocks, snow, sand and water...


Long Range Casting Lures

Cory Schmidt - April 21, 2016

Longball hitters in both major league baseball and professional golf might be surprised to...

See More How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.