July 13, 2011
By Doug Stange
Jigs For Muskies
The main reason for the popularity of jigheads dressed with softbait is that the combination is among the most productive ever for muskie jigging. Jigs fish precisely in water from just a few feet deep down to 40 or 50 feet. They allow for giant casts to cover lots of water to find and trigger fish. Rigged right, they work well through open water or through cover. They also hook fish well — and the single hook makes fish easy to handle and release.
Many companies offer jigheads of various designs, so I'm going to highlight some favorites, leaving you to explore options from other companies.
The Modified BallHead
Jigheads in this category offer a bit different look, but fish fundamentally like the ballheads. The Northland Slurp Jig Head is offered in 1/8, 1/4, and 3/8 ounce, with 3/0 hooks in the two lighter sizes, while the 3/8 has a 4/0 hook which couples well with swimbaits in the 4-inch range, or 5-inch swimbaits with smaller profiles.
The Basic BallHead
This design couples with just about any smaller softbait, from grubs to flukes and tubes. In larger sizes, it also works in combination with larger softbaits, but there are better designs overall for larger combinations. A favorite in this category is the Gamakatsu Round #26 head, which is offered with a 3/0 hook in 3/16 and 1/4-ounce sizes. You need a long hook shank to match most plastics of 4 and 5 inches, which is standard toothy-critter fare. It's also important that the hook be strong enough not to bend out under pressure from superline.
The Swimbait Wedge Head
Many of the hand-poured swimbait bodies, like the Berkley Flatback Shad and all the Big Hammer Swimbait bodies, couple perfectly with jigheads like the Hammer Head from Sunrize Tackle and Kalin's Ultimate Swim Bait Jig, offered in a range of sizes. I prefer to fish these heads in open water or through sparse weedgrowth. It's the 6- or 6.5-inch Big Hammer Swimbait body or the 6-inch Yum Money Minnow that I usually fish for muskies during early season in difficult fishing conditions, typically coupled with a 1-ounce head.
The Swimbait Bullet Head
I think thumper-style swimbait bodies coupled with a jighead are one of the most remarkable presentation options ever, for all the big-time predatory fish, including pike and muskies. My all-time favorite is Owner's Ultrahead Saltwater Bullet, available in 1/2, 3/4, 1, and 1.5 ounces. Coupled with a 5-inch Berkley Flatback Shad, Big Hammer Swimbait body in 5 or 6 inches, or a Yum Money Minnow in the same sizes, I fish the 1/2-ounce head in water from about 4 to 10 feet deep, the 3/4-ounce head from about 7 down to 15 feet. Use the 1-ounce head on a thin line like Berkley 10-pound FireLine to get down to 25 feet or more. The biggest head is reserved for large soft bodies like the 10-inch Lunker City Slug-Go, trimmed back to about 8 inches. This jighead has the strongest hook on the market and it's super sharp and tends to stay that way.
The Bladerunner €¨Spin Trix & Swim Spin
One of the first spinnerhead designs that works well coupled with a swimbait body of some size, like the 6.5-inch Big Hammer. It's available in sizes from 1/4 to 3/4 ounce (Spin Trix), and 1 and 2 ounces (Swim Spin). They both have a sturdy, sharp hook.
Still my all-time favorite for fishing through the heaviest weed cover, coupled with a 6-inch Lunker City Shaker swimbait body, rigged flat as a trailer. This one also fishes perfectly over most heavy matted cover in shallow water, where pike often hold in Canadian lakes during early season.
The Title Shot
A unique design from Fin-tech allows rigging various softbodies texposed for fishing through heavy cover, including weeds and timber. Many sizes are available from 1/8 to 2 ounces, with a sturdy sharp hook.