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.
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.
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.
What Color Jig is the Best
Like with all fishing lures there are tons of colors to choose from. You could spend a fortune collecting colors and overcomplicating it but you really don’t have to. For jig fishing, there are four base colors: black, brown, green pumpkin, and watermelon. You can be successful jig fishing anywhere in the country, in any condition and all you really need is a detailed color in each of the 4 base colors. My favorites are black-blue, green pumpkin brown, brown-purple, and watermelon green pumpkin. From there you can use your trailers to modify your overall color and really fine-tune your lures.
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.