|By Rob Belloni||February 17, 2005|
Fishing with a jig has been a great way to catch bass for a long long time. Countless tournaments have been won on the jig and countless fish caught. Yet jig fishing can be a little frustrating at times, and a little mysterious when you first get in to it. I don't think it's because the jig is all that hard to fish with. I think it's because to catch fish consistently on the jig, you need to have the right setup (jig included) and you need to understand the conditions in which certain types of jigs are effective. Rather than providing a jig fishing overview, lets try to get into some of the nitty gritty and understand the subtle things that contribute to being successful with the jig.
I start every article these days with a description of the proper setup. Why? Because I am learning more and more that if you are going to try to learn a new technique your learning curve (and the number of fish you catch) can be greatly increased just by having the right setup. Just having a certain hot jig doesn't do you any good tied on the end of the wrong setup.
That said, I use two rods for jig fishing. My primary rod is a Castaway FR76 flipping stick. This is a 7' 6" telescoping handle rod. I use this for flipping cover, docks, wood, and anything shallow and murky. The second rod I use is a Castaway JWMH610 Jig/Worm rod. This is a telescoping 6' 10" setup. I use this rod for open water applications and clear water fishing with lighter lines. The important thing here is not the brand of the rod but WHY I am using these rods. There are a number of factors that I would consider in a jig rod. One is stoutness; a jig rod needs to be able to set the hook hard! Equally important is fish fighting ability. This means that your rod is stout but not so stiff that it tears hooks out during the fight. The FR76 rod is great because it has an almost parabolic action with a fish on. It's a big time shock absorber. Another thing to consider is strength. Not to bash Loomis too much here but I have heard of at least 8 IMX flipping sticks shattered on fish or snags. That's crazy, and there is no reason for that. A flipping stick is not a rod you need to spend 300+ bucks on. There are lots of good rods in the $100 to $200 range. Last consideration would be weight. Most flipping sticks these days are pretty light but don't accidentally buy one that is too heavy. Pick up a few quality rods and you'll get a feel for how light a rod should be. To summarize you want something that is stout, strong, light, with good fish fighting shock absorbing qualities.
Next consideration is the reel. I fish Curados but that's just me. I use a high speed retrieve because all my reels are high speed retrieves. Most of the time with jigs you're going to be hooking and playing the fish with 15 to 30 feet of line out and I haven't seen an advantage or disadvantage in gear ratios at such close distance. Use a solid reel; it's not the defining factor in jig fishing
Line is a much more interesting topic. I've tried several lines for jig fishing and although I don't have one line that I feel is "the greatest" I am finding that I like a little stiffer line than I normally fish. The one that I have been fishing lately is the Triple Fish Silicone line. It's stiff but not stiff like braid or fluorocarbon. You tend to feel subtle bites better with a stiffer line and, most importantly, you get a stronger hookset. As far as what pound test to use, my advice is to go heavy. If I'm flipping cover I'm using 20 or 25lb test. For open water applications I use mostly 16 but sometimes go down to 14. Anything below that sacrifices the strength you need to make a good hookset. You simply can't set the hook hard enough on 10lb test. I mean if you are at Casitas or Perris and the visibility is 40 feet, then maybe you need to scale down to 10lb test, but it certainly isn't the norm.