A: Bass Fishing Tips for Beginners: February 2007 Archives

Jigging for Bass

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General information: The jig, regardless of its size, color or configuration, has one thing in common, and that is the hook has a molded lead head. The size of the hook and the size of the lead head determine whether a grub or a crawdad imitation will be attached. Jigs are best used in cold water in and around heavy cover. Some jigs come with wire weedguards so they are excellent choices for pitching or flipping throughout the seasons. Typically, a jig is fished vertically by lifting it off the bottom and then allowing it to fall back to the bottom. The jig can also be cast to a target and slowly worked up and down as it progresses back to the boat. Jigs may also be embellished with pork trailers.


Jig Hook Size: (6) 3/0, 4/0, 5/0 (photo)

Jig Skirts / Cover: deer hair; marabou (photos)

Common Jig Head Styles: (photos)
The round head is best suited for vertical jigging, but it does tend to ensnare grass and frequently gets caught in cover. The banana head affords more protection from hang-ups and works well in rock cover. The stand-up jig is designed to sink on the flat weight, while the hook rides upright. The stand-up jig is an excellent choice for attaching other baits. The flat-bottom helps keep the jig from slipping deep into weed cover. The football-head jig works well for weed retrievals, and it too is a good choice for attaching pork rind and other baits.

Ideal Water Temperature for Fishing a Jig: 50-60


Presentation: Traditional jigging simply lifts the jig of the bottom in a vertical rod lift, allowing the bait to pulsate down to the bottom. This method is also used to target suspended bass along steep cliffs or drop-offs. Another technique, which is similar to fishing the worm, is to slowly crawl the jig up and over structure, lifting and twitching the jig in a pattern of your choosing. Always be mindful of what you are doing when you get a strike. Make a notation on your fishing log. (Print a log here.)

Hook Set: Quick

Jigs: Grubs, Gitzits & Jigging Spoons
Grubs: (photo) Although grubs, attached to a jig, are excellent choices for cold, deep water fishing in heavy cover or structure, they work most efficiently during the summer and fall. Strikes often come during the grub’s fall, which are oftentimes difficult to detect. Raise the grub off the bottom one to two feet with a quick jerk upwards and allow the grub to twist and turn on its way back to the bottom. Successive repetitions, to renew the jigging process, often sets the hook on a bass that unbeknownst to you had softly sucked in the grub! Light lines on spinning rods work best.

Gitzits (Tube Baits): (photo) Gitzits or tube baits are my favorite plastic bait along with Senko worms. Every beginning bass angler should have many of these baits in multiple sizes and colors. Originally developed by Bobby Garland and his brother Garry over thirty years ago, the Gitzit is a tube bait attached to a lead-head jig. I have had great success fishing smaller tube baits for smallmouth bass on slow moving California rivers, such as the Stanislaus River. Although spinning reels with 8-10 weight lines are most recommended, my favorite method for fishing these baits is with a fly rod “casting” downstream from a kick boat. (Click here to learn more about Fly Roddin’ for bass.)

Use the same jigging techniques as mentioned above as well as the slow crawl--pause technique. Flipping is a popular presentation using a drop-shot or rigging the tube Carolina style. Although most experts dissuade rigging the tube Texas style, I have found that when fishing for smallmouth in current with, my best results were with a Texas rigging. The number of missed strikes pales in comparison to hang-ups in current.
Recommended Links for tube bait fishing:

Bassresource.com provides an excellent review of tube fishing from a pro.

Recommended Videos: If you have never fished with tube baits, buy the video Gitsits with the Garland Brothers, a Bazz Clazz video. Read my review on the Gitzit tape. If I had a 5-Star rating system, this one would deserve 5 Stars!

Jigging Spoons: Jigging spoons, usually in silver and gold, are favorites for suspended bass on steep drop-offs. Be sure to use a weedless model in heavy structure. Weedless jigging spoons are also popular when fishing gunk. Cast the lure on top of the weeds or moss, pause, and then slowly crawl the spoon to a small opening and allow the spoon to sink to the bottom before you begin jigging. Be attentive as a bass may take the spoon on the fall to the bottom.

Recommended Links for Jigging Spoons:

Jig and Pig: For as long as anglers have been using lead-head jigs, they have been garnishing these fish catchers with pork rind to simulate crawfish. This combination is best utilized in colder water for larger fish. One such popular product is Uncle Josh’s pork frog and little crawdad. Keep in mind that during the spring female bass, especially smallmouth bass, gorge themselves on crawdads. So a Jig and Pig in crawdad colors or crawdad lures work especially well during this pre-spawn period when the females bulk up in preparation fo the spawn.

Jig and Pig Fishing Articles

One of the best on-line articles on jigs is written by Russ Bassdozer; this jig fishing article also includes links to other great articles on jigging.

Bassresource.com provides a short but sweet review of jig fishing.

Moving Up from the Bottom


General information: The Crankbait is a diving lure designed to represent forage fish. The diving depth is determined by the size and angle of the lip. Crankbaits can run in one foot of water to 20-feet of water in many conditions, which makes it as versatile as fishing with a worm. Crankbait manufactures note the diving range on the package of their containers. Characterized by a darting and wobbling motion, most crankbaits float to the surface at rest. In addition to their life-like animations, a secondary advantage of the crankbait is that they are extremely snag resistant, as the lip and bulbous body serve as a deflecting shield for the attached treble hooks. Hard body Jerkbaits are generally more streamline to represent shad baits. They have the same characteristic diving bill and perform very similar to the crankbaits. The primary difference between a crankbait and a jerkbait is found in the two names. Crankbaits are designed to be cranked at a consistent retrieval speed; whereas as Jerkbaits are generally fished on the surface or in shallow water conditions with the retrieval incorporating quick jerks to the lure. (Yes, there are soft plastic jerkbaits as well.) Before you randomly select crankbaits or hard-bodied jerkbaits for largemouth bass, research the type and size of the predominant baitfish in your local waters. Long casts provide a longer retrieve for the targeted depth of the lure. Rattlebaits, as the name suggests, are hollow bodied diving lures with shot added to the body cavity. They do not float, and they are lipless. Aside from their appealing gyrations, Rattletraps add sound to their fish catching appeal, and their slanted nose protects them from snags and debris. Because of their weight, they may also be used to jig the bottom.

Line size: 15 to 17 pound monofilament line is most common.
Colors: The colors and patterns are endless. Research your waters for the most predominant forage fish to help in pattern selection.

Presentation: Make long casts in order to achieve the diving depth the lure is designed to reach.
Tip: In addition to keeping hooks sharp after run-ins with snags, a crankbait can be tuned to run left or right, which is an advantage when fishing the shady side of a dock or pilings.

Spinnerbaits / Buzzbaits
General information: Popularized in the 1960’s, Spinnerbaits have been referenced in catalogs and literature since the late 1800’s. As the name implies, the jig-type bait is attached to a v-shaped wire. At the base of one side of the “V” is the jig body with hook and an attached skirt usually made of rubber or plastic. The other side of the “V” is reserved for the spinner blades (one or two). The spinnerbait is most effective in the warmer months when bass are active, and it is an excellent searcher pattern in shallow water. The most popular spinnerbait is the ¼ oz. in black or white with a number 4 or 5 French or Colorado blade. Tournament angler and television host John Fox states in his video, How, When & Where to Catch Bass that thirty tournament professionals were asked the following question: If you had to select one lure to fish an unfamiliar lake, what lure would you select. Twenty-nine responded that they would choose the spinnerbait. Read Dave's review of John Fox's excellent national bestselling video on bass fishing.

Blades and blade finishes: (4)(5)(6) larger, rounder blades such as the Colorado blade keep the lure lifting upwards; use #2 and #3 blades to pull the lure deeper. The smaller willow leaf blades work best in grass or weeds with minimal vibration. (4) The Indiana blade is the intermediate choice. Blade finishes should be selected based on the clarity of the water. Silver or nickel reflects the most light, but one must be careful not to spook fish with too much flash. Hammered copper or brass is the most common choice for warm, slightly turbid water conditions. Select a dark or black blade for muddy or murky water where sound and silhouette is most important.

Skirts: chartreuse, white, black are the favorites.

Trailer hook (stinger): The trailer hook should be the same size as the spinner hook and placed so it is positioned upwards with a rubber keeper.

Added Dressings: Some anglers add a pork frog or pork eel.
Presentation: One advantage of a spinnerbait is that it can be retrieved slowly or quickly through a variety of conditions. It is an excellent lure for reflex strikes. Cast to the shady sides of cover, and don’t overlook bouncing the spinnerbait off a rock or branch and allowing the bait to flutter underwater before starting the retrieve. Smaller spinnerbaits are best used in cooler water in the spring or fall. Scale down in size and speed retrieval for cold water.

For a thorough presentation on fishing spinnerbaits, read Largemouth Bass an In-Fisherman Handbook of Strategies. (ISBN: 0-929384-11-3) or John Weiss’ book, The Bass Angler’s Almanac (ISBN: 1-58574-314-7. Read Dave’s review on his pick for best bass fishing books.

Buzzbaits: Similar to a spinnerbait, Buzzbaits have attitude. They’re great for shallow water fishing over flats with weeds barely reaching the surface. They are noisy, surface lures, and they are very effective when fished over active fish in off-colored water with temperatures of 60-degrees and up.

Topwater Plugs and Lures

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The Dry Fly Equivalent


General information: Credited with the first commercially produced topwater plug, James Heddon, founder of the Heddon Tackle Company, began a fishing revolution with his wood-carved frog plug. Heart stopping surface attacks are the hallmark of topwater plugs and lures ever since Heddon introduced his solid, wood-bodied lures. The topwater category is broad and covers traditional plugs, buzz baits, prop baits, surface running crankbaits, chuggers, poppers and hollow bodied frogs. During the spawn bass will hit a topwater lure to protect their spawning bed. Cast beyond the bed and slowly reel it into the zone and stop. Roland Martin recommends waiting for ten or more seconds and then slightly twitching the lure. Repeat this procedure and then pull the lure under the water to the center of the bed and then allow the lure to float to the top. Repeat the procedure. The male bass is likely to strike at any time during the sequence. Cast a plug to any feeding bass early in the morning or at dusk. Fish a plug during the heat of the day into downed trees.