Selecting the perfect bass fishing jig seems like a monumental task these days. There’s already a wide variety of jigs with various hook sizes, styles and strengths, not to mention the hundreds of skirt color choices and wide array of jig weights. And with an ever-expanding number of companies making dozens of little tweaks to the head designs, the options keep compounding.
The seemingness endless combinations can make picking the right jig for any given situation a little intimidating. But we’re here to help you sort through the fuss, with a few simple things to keep in mind the next time you’re shopping for a jig.
To make this very simple, most jigs heads can be lumped into one of three buckets: pointed, rounded and flat. Pointed heads are great for coming through vegetation, so you’ll always see them used with swim jigs and flipping jigs designed for vegetation.
Rounder heads come through rock and wood better. So this head design shows up more in ball-head finesse jigs made for fishing hard bottoms and flipping and pitching jigs designed to be fished around shallow woody cover.
Jigheads with a flatter component are designed in such a way as to help them stand up right on the bottom and increase their sensitivity. These are baits like skirted Ned heads and football jigs. The flat surface of a Ned head helps the bait standup right. While the flattened, wide surface of a football head increases its sensitivity by maximizing the contact between the bottom and the bait.
Thinner skirts are designed more for finesse situations, whether ‘thinner’ refers to the thickness of each individual strand or the number of strands in the skirt as a whole. These skirts are paired with ball-head jigs and other jigs designed for high pressure situations when the bass aren’t as aggressive. And they’re also often trimmed very short.
Thicker, bulkier skirts are used in situations where the bass are aggressive or may have a hard time locating a bait. A swim jig fished in stained water is a good example of both of these conditions happening at the same time.
Color is likely the most important variation in jig skirts. You can use the color to blend in, like with a green pumpkin candy skirt on a finesse jig in clear water. Or you can change the color to help the bait stand out, like with a white skirt on a swim jig in muddy water for example. And it’s always a good idea to try to use your skirt selection to match the hatch as much as possible, mimicking the colors of the most predominate prey in the area.
You should air towards as light of a jig as possible when it comes to weight. The reason being the lighter the jig the more realistic the presentation. A crawfish is the most common type of prey that a football jig is used to mimic. This animal doesn’t weigh much. So, if you have a really heavy jig bouncing around on bottom, it doesn’t look very realistic to a bass.
In this case, selecting a 3/8- ounce jig (if possible) makes more sense than a 3/4- ounce one. But there are certain situations where you need a heavier jig. Expounding upon this same example, say you’re fishing a football jig in 20- feet of water with strong current. You’re not going to be able to effectively get a 3/8- ounce jig down to the bottom and keep it there. So, you’ll need to step up to a 1/2- ounce, or likely even a 3/4- ounce football jig.
Again, you want to select the lightest weight that allows you to still effectively fish the bait. For this same reason, lighter jigheads are used in swim jigs. A 3/4- ounce swim jig fished through grass would stay bogged down in the cover, so you go lighter. But a 1/8- ounce jig would be impossible to cast very far. For these reasons, most swim jigs land in the 1/4- to 3/8- once range, as these are heavy enough to effectively cast but light enough to slip through and ride over cover.
Paying attention to these three basic jig characteristics, you can really start to narrow down your selection. If you want your bait to come through grass and other vegetation, look for pointier heads. If you’re fishing through rock and wood, opt for the more rounded jigheads. Use the skirt to help your jig match the hatch as much as possible and appeal to the mood of the fish. And then choose the lightest weight you can, that will still allow you to create an effective presentation.
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