How to Fish a Jig

Choosing the Right Jig Trailer

By: Shaye Baker

Jigs come in all shapes and sizes. And it seems like every year, a slightly different mold comes out to create a slightly different head for a jig and thus this already vast genre grows and grows. To name just a few different styles, there’s the football jig, swim jig, flipping jig, skipping jig, finesse, ball head, Arkie and the list goes on.

To even further widen the number of choices, you have different options now for the material the head is made from. By and large in the past, lead was the primary option. For decades, lead head baits ruled the bass fishing world when it came to jigs, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, and others. Then tungsten was found to be a denser and thus smaller material to work with to create the same weight head. So for instance a 1/2- ounce tungsten jig head is significantly smaller than a 1/2- ounce lead head.

So, yeah—it can be a bit overwhelming just to pick out a jig. But don’t get bogged down with all this. Because perhaps the most important component to jig selection is to make sure you have the right trailer behind it. This is the easiest way to adjust the profile and action of your jig. So, let’s look at jig composition from that angle.

Swim Jig

Pick a Jig You Have Confidence in and Stick with It

I like to throw a lot of baits and try out new things—it’s a large part of what I do for a living: reviewing new products for articles. But when it comes to my personal fishing, I have a few baits that I’m committed to. And in my opinion, picking a jig that you have confidence in and then adjusting the action and size of the jig by adjusting the trailer is a better approach trying to keep handy two dozen different brand jigs.

Of course, you’ll still need a few different style jigs—a football jig can’t do what a swim jig or skipping jig can. So, you’ll need to find yourself a good jig for each category. Get about a dozen of each to throw in your tackle box and leave it at that.

Make sure you have a few basic color options and pick jigs with strong sharp hooks and you’re good to go. Black and blue, green pumpkin and brown work great for all types of jigs. Mix in something light for the swim jig to mimic shad when needed. Now you’re ready to pick out trailers. This is where you really dial in a jig and establish how the jig performs.

Swim Jig - Two Choices

Two Basic Choices

Almost all jig trailer choices can be separated out into one of two categories: craw or swimbait. Part of the selection process here is determining what you’re trying to imitate with the jig. If you want to mimic a crawfish with a football jig, then grab a craw-style trailer. But if you’re wanting to mimic bluegill with a swim jig, well, both trailers will work so you’ll have to go deeper and break down the options based on their functions.

Craw Trailers

Craw Trailers

Like jigs, all craws aren’t created equally. Some craw-style trailers are bigger and wider, like the Strike King Rage Craw. While others have a smaller, tighter action like the Strike King Menace Grub. Though both are in the same subset, their functions are different. You can take the same 3/8-ounce swim jig and swap between these two trailers and greatly alter its presentation.

The wider, larger Rage Craw has more lift to it than the smaller Menace Grub. Because of the lift of the wider claws, the bait rises in the water column so you can fish it slower. There’s more resistance too, which also contributes to its tendency to rise in the water column. Make sure to go slow on the retrieve to keep the bait from breaking the surface. This works best when swimming a jig in the colder, pre-spawn months. On the flip side, if you’re wanting to fish that same swim jig a little faster (like in the summer months), swap over to the tighter, smaller Menace Grub.

It’s also important to consider the density of the cover. The wider craws are going to hang on cover more than the tighter ones. So, when fishing thick grass, go with something like the Menace Grub. But if the grass is less dense, choose the Rage Craw.

Swimbait Trailers

Swimbait Trailers

For the most, you’ll only use these types of trailers on a swim jig. But, you can fish a swim jig in and around various different covers, at various depths, and even in open water. So, knowing how to choose the right trailer for a swim jig is still very important.

One of the first and most obvious criteria is profile. If you’re fishing around shad, a swimbait-style trailer simply does a better job matching the hatch.
But once you move beyond that, you’re back in the realm of resistance. A single small paddle tail on the back of a swimbait like the MISSILE Baits Shockwave, has less resistance than the two big claws on a Strike King Rage Craw. That same swim jig with a swimbait will fall faster and can be fished deeper without wanting to rise up as one would be trailed by a craw. This is important when trying to get a swim jig down deep, under docks or in open water.

But, if you’re wanting to fish a swim jig over submerged grass in two feet of water, you want the swim jig to rise higher in the water column so you’d typically choose a craw. If you’re fishing the edge of a grass mat where the grass is 6 feet underwater and sparse, you’d be better off with a swimbait style trailer to let the lure get down in the grass.
How to Fish a Jig
The jig you choose is important, but the jig trailer is what brings it to life. By changing trailers, you can really open up the versatility of a jig. If you’re fishing a football jig in 10 feet of water, a wider claw craw is great. But if you’re fishing in 20 feet of water, a tighter claw craw will fall faster. You have to take every situation and apply these basic principles to determine the right trailer. Going from wide claws to tight, or even from craw-style trailers to swimbaits, you give yourself a much better chance to fish cover efficiently and target the bass you’re chasing more effectively.

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