Jigs, the rubber or hair-skirted, not-too-spectacular-looking lures, have been around almost since bass fishing began. Until recent years when anglers started winning big tournaments, they flew mostly under the radar. Only a handful of serious anglers understood just how versatile they were. Being a bass tournament angler and jig manufacturer—my company is Bert’s Jigs & Things—I am privileged to design jigs for both professional anglers and weekend warriors from around the country. Three jig patterns stand out for fall bass fishing.
Patrick Pierce, B.A.S.S. professional angler from Jacksonville, Florida, relies heavily on football-head jigs to catch big largemouths. He drags the heavy offerings over points, humps, and ledges to catch some huge sacks of bass. Finding the right offshore cover/structure combination is the key to this presentation. During practice, he cruises along ledges and points staring at his Lowrance LCX-28C HD unit to find the sweet spots and then marks them with his GPS so he can get back to the exact spot. Such honey-holes usually consist of a piece of cover on prime structure, such as standing timber or a brushpile on the end of a submerged point or a rock pile on top of a ledge.
Patrick casts his jig right into the heart of the cover and methodically works it through the prime area before reeling in and saturating the cover with additional casts.
Color makes a difference. Black/blue is his first choice in stained water, while shades of green pumpkin, watermelon, or brown get the nod in clear water situations. Jig design is also important to Patrick. He typically uses 1/2-ounce and 3/4-ounce football-head jigs built with a wide gap, flat eye hook.
“I believe that flat eye comes through cover better than a traditional vertical eye,” Patrick shared.
Quality gear is crucial when pulling big bass from heavy cover and feeling the sometimes subtle bite. He believes a good balance of sensitivity and strength are found in a 7-foot heavy action St. Croix Legend Tournament rod. He uses a high-speed reel, such as a Pflueger Patriarch, spooled with 50-pound test Vicious braided line for his jigging duties. He has been very impressed with this prototype braid that will be available to consumers in the upcoming year.
Anglers tried to keep the effectiveness of swimming jigs a secret, but as with most techniques, the details leaked out over time. There are many different styles that work for swimming, but most sport a pointed head with the hook eye straight out the nose. It is amazing how well a swimming jig works its way through heavy cover and vegetation without snagging and even more amazing the size of bass that are triggered to eat the lure out of reflex.
Bernie Schultz, B.A.S.S. Elite Series Angler from Gainesville, Florida, loves swimming jigs and rates the technique as one of his favorites. He goes to a swimming jig whenever bass are relatively shallow and holding in cover, such as brush, docks, laydowns, or sparse shoreline grass.
He also swims a jig over submerged vegetation. Some of his favorite jig-trailer color combinations include white-white, brown-green pumpkin, and black-black. Two trailers he uses are ZOOM Swimming Chunks and Yamamoto Twin Tail Grubs. Bernie usually employs 7-foot Shimano pitching rods paired with Shimano Calais or Calcutta reels. He typically spools up with 20-pound test monofilament or in ultra-clear water, fluorocarbon.
Most largemouth anglers look at you with a “deer in the headlights” look when hair jigs are mentioned. But, savvy smallmouth anglers start drooling when they see a well-tied hair jig. Whether fishing rivers or lakes, when smallmouths are feeding on crayfish and are not hammering fast moving baits, very few offerings match the effectiveness of a hair jig.
Many different types of hair can be turned into a jig, but two of my most frequently requested are deer and fox. The way I explain it to anglers is that deer hair flares and compresses, producing a great silhouette, while fox hair undulates the entire length of the hair. As a rule of thumb, deer hair works well in dirtier water, and fox hair shines in clearer water. Olive is by far my most popular color in both styles of hair. Black with secondary colors (blue, chartreuse, and red being tops) produces a good contrast in dirty water, while olive and browns are my most popular colors for stained to clear water. Some anglers still rely on the traditional No. 101 Uncle Josh pork rind trailers, but small plastic crawfish trailers are now the standard.
I believe the perfect combinations for fishing hair jigs include 6-foot long medium or medium-heavy Pflueger Trion rods paired with a Pflueger Supreme spinning reel. For most situations, 8- or 10-pound test Vicious monofilament or fluorocarbon will get the job done. Monofilament is still my usual choice, but fluorocarbon is the way to go in clear water.
Reach for some of these lesser-known jig styles this fall to give the bass a different look.