HookedinFishing » Jigs

Complete Guide to Jig Bass Fishing

Jig fishing is one of the most versatile and effective ways to fish for bass. Bass jigs work all over the country in just about every lake, pond, or river and can catch fish throughout the entire year. They are simple to throw and hard to master. That is why jigs can be found in just about every fisherman’s tackle box. Once you pull in your first monster bass it’s hard to not have a jig lure tied on a rod at all times. Jigs tend to bring in bigger bites.

In this article, we will cover the different types of jigs, my favorites of each type, the best colors, and what trailers you should pair them with.

Types of Bass Jigs

When discussing jigs we should start with what makes a jig a jig. A typical bass jig consists of a hook with a weighted head, a weed guard, and a skirt. There are 5 common types of jigs.

1. Flipping jigs

Flipping jigs, sometimes referred to as pitching jigs have an arkie style head that is flat on the bottom and not quite as wide as a football head. This helps the jig skip and stay up right when fishing it. Keeping the hook pointed up helps the bait move over cover and not get hung up ad often. The head is also curved in towards eyelet to help it move through vegetation. It’s not the best option in grass or rock but it does everything well, making it the most universal jig in the tackle box. In the half-ounce size you truly could throw this one jig all year round. If you’re on a budget and can only have one jig, it should be a flipping jig.

Flipping jigs work great in the spring, summer, and fall. My preferred flipping jig is the Dirty Jigs Pitchin’ Jig paired with the Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver.

2. Casting Jigs

Casting jigs are similar to flipping jigs but often have a smaller head design and a lighter hook. These jigs are great for not only largemouth but also smallmouth bass. When fishing a casting jig you should target steep banks and points. Imitate a crawfish by giving your rod 3 short pops then letting the jig sink back to the bottom. This jig style if great in the spring and summer. For a casting jig I once again turn to Dirty Jigs for their Luke Clausen Casting Jig.

3. Swim Jigs

Swim jigs are fished much faster than all the other types of jigs. You fish them just like you would a spinnerbait, cast and reel. If I could only have one swim jig it would be the California Swim Jig with a River2Sea D Walker trailer. The D Walker produces a ton of movement. Not only does it have an aggressive tail kick but the head also goes up and down and side-to-side. When used as a swim jig trailer it gets the swim jig rocking and the skirt to pulse on its own. It’s an incredible action that really brings in the bass.

During the springtime when the lake is flooded and the water is muddy throw it right up against the shore. Pre-spawn bass will cruise that new shoreline as the water rises to search for food. After spawn It works great when you throw it over grass or in brush.

4. Football Jigs

Football jigs unsurprisingly feature a head that looks like a sideways football. This design helps the jig roll and bounce off rock instead of wedging into crevices like a pointer style head would. I like to use them in two situations, the first one is on a bare mud bottom. While most of the time we hop jigs along the bottom, in muddy conditions I like to drag them. Because they have a wider head when you drag them they will dig into the mud and kick up the mud making a trail on the bottom. It makes it easy for bass to follow. The other thing I like about football heads are that since they are so wide they get temperately hung up on everything. This gives them an erratic movement every time it gets hung up and pops loose. Football jigs are great in the winter after the grass and vegetation die back leaving only hardcover.

I like the Dirty Jigs Finesse Football 1/2 ounce but will go to their larger football jig if I’m fishing deeper water.

5. Finesse Jigs

Finesse jigs are smaller, more compact jigs that should be fished on lighter line. Finesse jigs have a round ball head and a skirt that flares up around the head. These jigs are designed for finesse fishing when the bass are being picky and you need to slow down to get bites. They should be paired with smaller trailers to keep the profile compact.

Finesse Jigs are good transition baits for when a worm bait is working well but you want to catch bigger fish. Worms, especially finesse worms are great at catching fish but they tend to be smaller fish. Finesse jigs are a good compromise, you still get a lot of bites because of their smaller profile but since it’s a jig you still get all the movement from the skirt. The skirt puffs out and moves in the water mimicking appendages of a crawfish or the flash of fish scales around your trailer. Finesse jigs shine throughout spring and early summer. Throw it around cover, docks, and rocks.

My go-to finesse jig is the Dirty Jigs Luke Clausen Finesse in Brown Craw, Go To, and Supermatt Brown.

For more specific jig recommendations check out our jig buyers guide.

Choosing the Best Jig Weight

Bass jigs come in a variety of sizes ranging anywhere from 3/16 oz up to 2 oz. Generally, the most versatile jig would be 3/8 oz or 1/2 oz. When choosing a weight you generally want to keep the jig as lightweight as conditions will allow.  There are a couple of factors that can influence your jig size choice. They are the depth you are targeting and how thick the cover is.


The depth you are targeting is generally the biggest factor you should consider when choosing a jig weight. The reason depth is so important is because of the sink rate of the bait. The deeper the water is the longer it will take your bait to reach the bottom, where you typically fish a jig. You can speed up the sink rate by sizing up and adding weight. Like I stated above 3/8 oz and 1/2 oz are the most versatile. For under 15 feet either is a great choice. Beyond 15 feet you really need to start sizing up or you will be waiting a long time to reach the bottom each cast. This extra time adds up and over a day could end up resulting in a lot fewer casts.


Once you have you depth figures out the next factor you should think about is the type of cover you are targeting. In super thick vegetation you may need to size up to get through them. A 3/8 oz jig for example may just sit on top of thick lily pads never making it to the bottom. Bump that up to a 3/4 oz or even a 1 oz jig and all of a sudden you can get through that think cover to reach bass that you couldn’t reach before. If your lake doesn’t have much vegetation then this won’t be as big of a factor as the depth.

Jig Modification Tips to Increase Your Hookup Ratio

A mistake I see a lot of anglers make when fishing a jig is they don’t modify their jig. The stock weed guard and skirt that come standard on jigs tend to be too big for most applications. Their large size makes the jig far less natural and can hurt your ability to get a good hookset.

Jig manufacturers use a large stock weed guard and skirt in order to appeal to as many consumers as possible. Using longer stock options allows anglers to make modifications to meet their individual needs while appealing to the masses. Because of this, I always make modifications to my jigs.

I typically modify both the weed guard and the skirt of my jigs.

Benefits of Trimming a Jig’s Weed Guard

When modifying a jig’s weed guard you are looking for the perfect mix between getting through cover without getting hung up, while also not getting in the way of a good hookset.

There are two types of modifications you can make to a jig’s weed guard. The first is shortening the guard by cutting off the end with scissors. I try and leave the guard about 1/8 of an inch longer than the hook. I also try and make my cut parallel to the hook point.

After I have my weed guard at the proper length I adjust the number of bristles on the guard based on the cover I am fishing. In super thick bushes or grass, you may need to keep most of the bristles to remain weedless. On the other extreme if you are fishing open water you may be able to remove the weed guard completely without risking getting hung up.

The majority of your jig fishing will fall somewhere in between these two extremes. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer for these in-between situations but a good starting point removing 10-30% of the bristles and testing it on the water. If you aren’t getting hung up very often then you can thin the weed guard further. If you are constantly getting hung up you need a beefier weed guard.

Once you find that perfect balance you will see a big difference in the number of fish you land.

How to Trim a Jig’s Weed Guard

  1. Cut the weed guard parallel to the hook about 1/8 of an inch above the hook point.
  2. Next, thin the weed guard by cutting off some of the bristles on the underside of the jig at the base. A good starting point is 10-30% of the total bristles depending on the cover you will be fishing.

Avoid pulling bristles out of the weed guard in order to thin. Pulling out bristles will cause a gap that will eventually cause the entire weed guard to fall out.

Benefits of Trimming a Jig’s Skirt

Just like its weed guard, a jig’s skirt tends to come longer and thicker than you want in most situations. The longer and thicker stock skirt will reduce the action of your trailer and clump up which can look unnatural.

I do three quick modifications to all my jig skirts. The first thing is to cut the length of the skirt so it doesn’t reach any appendages on my trailer to allow full movement.

After cutting to the length I messy up the cut by cutting strains to varying lengths trying to get an erratic look. Once I get a non-uniformed look I thin the underside.

These three adjustments remove a lot of bulk from a jig making it look and act much more natural.

How to Trim a Jig’s Skirt

  1. Start by trimming the skirt about 1/2 of an inch past the hook. You want the skirt to be short enough that it doesn’t interfere with your trailer’s appendages action.
  2. Next, messy up the skirt by cutting strains at different lengths. You want a tapered look that isn’t uniform.
  3. Finally cut out some of the inner strains that are below the jig collar. You want a thin underlayer to allow for maximum movement.

Thinning a jig skirt will make it sink faster.

A jig will work straight out of the pack but if you spend some time and modify them you can increase make them more realistic, have better action, and easier to get a good hookset. These three things can greatly increase the number of fish you catch a day.

Jig Trailers

Jigs should always be paired with a trailer. A jig trailer is a soft plastic bait that gets rigged on the hook. It gives the jig extra action in the tail end of the bait and compliments the overall profile of the jig.

Trailers come in a variety of different styles, some of the most popular being: craw imitators, creature baits, grubs, and swim baits. Each style has its own unique action ranging from a ton of movement to very subtle or no movement at all.

As a general rule during warmer months when bass are more aggressive you want more action and during colder months when bass are more lethargic more subtle trailers work best.

I keep a variety of trailers in multiple colors so I can fine-tune my presentations. Some trailers I keep on hand are the Yamamoto Double Tail Grub, Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver, Strike King Rage Tail Craw, and the River2Sea D Walker.