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

Catfish is meaty, juicy and holds up well in this soul-satisfying fried fish recipe with homemade chips and tartar sauce. Fish Recipes

Catfish Dinner with Homemade Chips and Tartar Sauce Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Catfish is meaty, juicy and holds up well in this soul-satisfying fried fish recipe with...

Navionics adds SonarChart Shading and HotMaps Platinum. News

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

In-Fisherman - April 29, 2019

Navionics adds SonarChart Shading and HotMaps Platinum.

Crankin' is almost a necessity for finding bass on the Great Lakes from summer through fall. Bass

Using Crankbaits For Smallmouth Bass

Matt Straw - January 31, 2016

Crankin' is almost a necessity for finding bass on the Great Lakes from summer through fall.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

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.

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

Fresh off catching the biggest bass in ICAST Cup history, 13 Fishing pro Jessie Mizell shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Big Squirm soft plastic worm and the company's unique Pathfinder topwater walking bait that is totally weedless in design.

Berkley

Berkley's Frittside Crankbaits

World Fishing Network show host Chad LaChance had a chance to visit with legendary crankbait master David Fritts about his new Frittside crankbaits from Berkley. LaChance, host of the Fishful Thinker on WFN, also got a few cranking tips from Fritts, the former Classic and Forrest Wood Cup champion.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

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

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...

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as girth Biology

Walleye Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 03, 2017

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as...

To guide your carp quest, we've lined up the best carp baits that are easy-to-fish natural baits and commercial options. Other Fish

Best Carp Baits Today

Dan Johnson - June 29, 2018

To guide your carp quest, we've lined up the best carp baits that are easy-to-fish natural...

See More Stories

More How-To

From walleyes to white bass and lake trout to largemouths, knowing how to play the wind can mean How-To

Wind Factors

Dan Johnson - April 30, 2015

From walleyes to white bass and lake trout to largemouths, knowing how to play the wind can...


I find the annual spawn-time window all too short and largely weather-dependent. As a professional How-To

Vertical Jigging Strategies for White Bass

Bob Maindelle - August 17, 2015

I find the annual spawn-time window all too short and largely weather-dependent. As a...

Here are some efficiencies to put more walleyes in the boat. How-To

Efficient Walleye Fishing

Jim Edlund - February 28, 2018

Here are some efficiencies to put more walleyes in the boat.

See More How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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