Bass Fishing Forums - The Bassholes banner

How Bass Bite Jigs

11393 Views 60 Replies 28 Participants Last post by  mlsims
The jig is having a come back the past 2 years and becoming a lure that the average bass fisherman wants to use. To become a good jig fisherman you should have a basic understanding of how a bass bites a jig that represents a crawdad.
First we need to remind ourselves that bass are bass; largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. All bass kill a crawdad the same way, by crunching it with the cartilage in back of the mouth before swallowing it. Smallmouth and spotted bass tend to de claw the pincher's off the crawdad using their lips to bite down and hold the crawdad, the crawdad then releases it's claw arm to escape. The smallie or spot then quickly engulfs the crawdad into the back of it's mouth and crunches it. Largemouth bass usually pass up the de clawing step and just engulf the crawdad and crunch it.
Jigs are not usually a big lure being under 5" long and a adult bass can easily engulf it, like a crawdad. The problem is a jig is not a live crawdad and the bass can reject it quickly. Bass tend to bite soft plastic worms or creatures with their lips before engulfing them. The soft plastic fills their mouth and it feels more natural than a jig, so the bass tends to keep it in their mouth longer or even swallows it. With a jig bite you get one chance to set the hook before the jig is rejected. You may get the bass to strike the jig more than ounce, but if the bass detects something wrong, it's gone.
The way a bass engulfs something is by vacuuming it into it's mouth by flushing water through the gills. What you feel as a tap is the jig hitting the inside of the basses mouth. Smallies and spot you may feel a light pecking before they engulf the jig. You do not feel the jig being back flushed out of the mouth, unless the hook point has found soft tissue and the bass tries shake it out. So keep alert, you have less than a second to react.
See less See more
1 - 20 of 61 Posts
Thanks for the info, Tom.
Great info Tom...Everyone here can learn a boatload from you...Keep up the good posts
Thank you Tom for another great piece of info!! 8)
Good topic going! I fish jigs more than any other type of lure, T-rigged worms a close second. Since crawfish are a major bass forage it only makes sense to fish something that imitates them well. I like using craw imitations as trailers, a 3" craw made 4" long by a jig head. The soft plastic helps keep a bass biting on it. That's something few large hungry bass will ignore. I think that is about as far from reaction biting as it gets. When bass are hunting big craws, they are hungry for craws, and are scouring the bottom and weedlines mixed with wood or rock. I smear fish attractant on a craw to try extending the bite yet another second.

At the risk of hijacking Tom's thread, the flip side of craw jigging is to imitate the other major forage base, little fish. It really helps to identify whether bass are feeding on bream, crappie, shad, or other. I fluffy chartreuse jig skirt with fairly matching swim grub or creature trailer can be trimmed to have a tall yet thin profile. Swim jigs are great for that. How do you know what's being eaten? Aside from the obvious, a bass in the livewell spitting it up, or examining a stomach, I watch the behavior of panfish. If I see bluegills scattered out and fairly calm, slightly darting to feed, I know any bass in the area are not feeding on those, so go elsewhere. If I find them racing in a school or have left an area they were in, I suspect a bass on the prowl. Nowadays they just head for the thickest matted shallow hydrilla where large bass can't go. I can spot crappie schools in submerged timber, so if they are calm and spread out, I know bass are not pestering them. If bunched up then maybe.

When imitating a forage fish, keep in mind no bass inhales a spiny fish from the tail end. They smash it head on or from the side. A side hit is most common, slapping it first to stun it, or clamping down to crush the fish, then they turn it, or come back around after stunning, to swallow head first. For me I get more solid bites from that since bass attack those differently than they do crawfish. Besides a hunger bite, I believe a reaction bite possibility is high. Besides, just having a tight line and a swimming jig forces a bass to bite more aggressively than inhaling a crawfish from a foot away.

See less See more
Jim brings out a good point, as usual, that bass react to jig presentations in different ways depending on how they perceive the jig as prey. We have several jig presentations, Jig & pig to represent crawdads, swimming jig to represent prey fish, spider jig to represent a variety of prey opportunities, jig with plastic creature or craw worm, similar to the spider jig without the "spider" skirt and the jig & worm combo.
I first think of jigs as jig & pig because I'm oldschool! This is the combination that was popular back in the dark ages and still is the best for big bass. However few bass fisherman today fish pork trailers and fewer fish hair jigs. Pork rind trailers are messy and inconvenient to carry and store. I will do a separate post on pork trailers, how to trim them, for the few who use pork today. The jig & pig is also the most difficult to learn to use, so lets consider jigs with soft plastic trailers and apply what Jim has added. Bass hit harder and hold onto soft plastic jigs a little longer, these are the types to learn to fish first.
The spider jig has become any soft plastic jig with a skirt, however to me spider jigs are Bobby Garlands spider tube skirt with a curl tail grub trailer. The spider is by far the most versatile of all jigs. The dart head jig with worm trailer is the original swimming jig. You fish darts with spinning tackle, 6 to 10 lb line, 1/16 to 3/16 oz dart heads and 4 1/2 to 6" curl tail worms. Cast the dart, let it sink to whatever depth the bass are suspended and slowly swim back. If you want to learn how to fish a jig, start with the spider jig. The chompers style stand up head is inexpensive and the twin tail Hula grub ( I like Yamamoto) combination makes a easy jig the make up. Use a 3/8 to 1/2 oz head to start with and you can use your favorite worm rod, with 10 to 14 lb line. You fish the spider like a Texas rigged worm or swim it using the horizontal presentation along the bottom. You can change the hula grub to a craw worm or creature and use the same prestations as the spider and add more hopping in place retrieve action. Jig and worm uses a lighter jig 1/8 to 1/4 oz round head jig and use you spinning tackle with 6 to 10 lb line and doodle or shake the jig in place or retrieve & hop. All these are casting jig presentations, that the bass react to as bait fish or crawdads. To flip or pitch jigs, go to heavier weight jigs 1/2 to 3/4 oz, add creatures and use heavy casting rods for heavy cover.
See less See more
Give me an Uncle Josh #11 black pig and a black and blue living rubber 3/8oz jig and i am a happy camper all day and night ;)

Rarely have I used other colors. I have used a black and yellow jig n pig once and tore up smalles on Lili in Connecticut and a couple other ponds up that way but black and blue has worked for me most often whether fishing the tidle creeks off the Hudson River in NY or pitchin cypress in Santee.

I keep telling myself to play with other color combos and trailer options but I cant bring myself to do it long enough before I find myself retieing to my old and trusted stand-by... the real jig n pig ;)
I use black/blue if the water is slightly stained to muddy. If the water is crystal clear, I use green pumpkin. As for trailers, I like bulky plastics better for largemouth, because they hold on to it longer. I'll use a baby brush hog for a trailer as often as anything else. If I ain't using that, I'll use pork or a pork-style trailer.
I am a black and blue guy myself but I have started using a natrual colored brown with some success.
Another point, which Tom actually taught me, is that spots are more likely to play with their food than largemouth. Sometimes a spot will mouth a bait, and feel alot like a bluegill pecking at the trailer. The best way to catch these fish that I have found is to wait until they stop pecking, and then reel 3-4 quick handle turns. Many times, though not all, they will chase it down and swallow it instinctively when you stop it.
I've used a white skirt & zoom swimin chunk on 1/8-1/4 oz. round head jigs. I've swum them around docks & other cover & have nailed some good fish that way. This year I hope to become a better jig & pig user. I always go back to 4-5 inch tubes & stick baits just because I'm more confident with them, but I see to many other guys
catching bigger fish. It's time to learn.
some good stuff. Thanks for posting this info.I will be putting some jigs on this fall and Learn....
So set the hook...when you feel a little bite..

Thanks for the great read guys.. I continue to learn every day here
If you get a definite bite, yes, set the hook instantly. I set it again after a few seconds to drive the thick hook deeper. That tough cartilage resists a hook, so be sure the barb is sunk in.

But all too often the bite doesn't feel at all like a bite. A mushy feeling is all I need to react. Or many just he line moving oddly. Any change from what you expect, what you've been feeling, ought to be met with a hookset, with some caution in certain cases. Over time you learn the exact feeling of a jig bumping a branch or rock, or crawling over or through a weed. Besides a Zara Spook as my one and only hard topwater lure for several years as a teenager, home-made jigs were our staple bait. I had a bucket of those at any time, knowing I'd leave many a day in the lake.

It took what seemed forever to learn to catch bass instead of "limb, stump or rock" bass. A partner could watch and make the call, declaring "stump bass", based on how the line and rod tip moved. If the line tightens quickly the object is solid, like a rock. If the object is limber the rod tip bows at a rate equaling the reeling, signaling tree branch. Sometimes, if the water is calm and there is no noise a partner can hear a jig hit a rock, but not a stump. If hung on a rock pass the boat back over it and jiggle the rod tip up & down to release it. If on a stump I figure on using a paddle or knocker to release it, but start with the rock release first. Take care not to drive the hook deeper.

With information like that I began watching the rod tip and line instead of the water so much. It does no good at all to be watching birds, clouds, waves, and stuff. If you watch the water keep an eye on where the line enters it. Keep another eye out for swirls in shallow water close to where the jig should be. That could be a bass making a dive for it. You need several senses going. Feel, sight, and experience. A solid bite snaps the rod tip slightly as the line gets tighter. Sometimes the rod tip dances the slightest. Sometimes the line just takes off towards you. Maybe you are reeling and the line seems to stay put, the little line entry dimple in the water staying put instead of coming closer. Bass is likely bringing the bait up. That's a bad time to set the hook, whether coming up or towards the boat.

Another very common feeling is a jig entering a weed bed. If the leaves are coarse the line sometimes "sings" through the rod (no sound), and the rod tip bows and releases at a high frequency. With a high modulus graphite rod of high quality you learn to identify the line sawing over rough leaves and stems. The jig drags heavier and produces the mushy feeling, loading up a little, unloading , loading. But a big bass often makes that mushy feel. If the jig stops after doing that, set the hook. Lots of times a bass will inhale the jig and stay put crunching, so the line doesn't want to move. But sometimes the bass will yank and swim, a no-brainer time to set the hook, unless coming to you. Let the bass turn first. There's different opinions about that. Many good anglers prefer not to lose the slim chance of setting the hook anyway. Waiting for the fish to turn risks that big bass deciding something is wrong, spitting it out. Another popular technique is to set the hook anytime you feel anything at all. Some believe their catch rate is higher, but they also often have a jig sponsor, make their own in large numbers, or have a lot of jig money :baitmonkey:

Jigs are well known to appeal to larger bass than little ones. Any big bass around smaller ones will likely be the one right over the jig, eyeballing it, claiming first dip in the bowl. There's a definite "pecking order" among bass, the larger getting the first bite. The feel of the large bass is quite different from that of small bass. They are less likely to take off violently, while small bass are likely to make a run with it to get away from competing bass. They don't have the vacuum power like a big bass, so attack more directly, while the big bass can suck the jig up from farther away, using fewer calories. The big one can easily swallow the jig on first strike, crushing it, while a small bass might only get the jig in the lips until it can take another solid bite deeper in its mouth, so seeks a safe place to finish the job. While taking the jig elsewhere is the time to set the hook before it spits it. The risk of tearing out of the lips is higher, but that might be your only chance. Pay attention to where the hook pierces to refine your approach. If you get any action from a bass your partner needs to drop another jig in the same spot, as the other bass are alerted to the possibility of another chance of eating, and are more excited than they had been. Two anglers can often catch a large number of bass from one spot before the fish move away. As each bites urine is released with pheromones that alert the others to a hazard. Catch all you can as fast as possible and don't release them to the same spot immediately. Put them all in a livewell until your limit is reached, then release 100 feet away if done with the spot. If the spot is a real favorite among those bass they will frequently return to it for another round of catching an hour or two later.

See less See more
Thanks for this reply Jim, I was doing some last minute reading before getting ready to leave for my tx. You, Tom and all the others on this site offer a world of experience.

Thank you!
Great subject for discussion.

This thread reminds me of how I taught my son to fish a jig n pig. He was and still is an avid fisherman, but when he was about 12 he wanted to fish like dad. He had been with me enough to know that when all else fails, I would pull out a flipping stick with a jig. We were at Cooper Lake in Texas one Thanksgiving and it was prime flipping water. I told him were going to school today and leave all rods at home except a flipping stick for him and one for me. We took two jars of #11's and a handful of black and blue jigs. As we were idling back into a heavily timbered creek, I explained (not as eloquently as oldschool and Ouachita) that the bass would hit the jig in one of three distinct manners. Number one, if we were lucky, would be the "thunk" of the bass crushing the jig, two would be the bass sucking the jig in and moving off and three would the worse case for school, the bass sucking the jig in and not moving.

Fortunately, it was a perfect day for jig school as the bass were wanting the jig and pig. Unfortunately for the son they were hitting the jig in case three as described above. I had caught a dozen or so nice tournament fish before he finally set the hook on a fish. We discussed how to watch the line and look for any movement and the "mushy" feeling. At first he was frustrated at not feeling the fish and wanted to know what I was feeling. I just kept telling him that God told me to set the hook and he must have faith in God.

He finally was getting the hang of it and catching a few stumps along the way. I had fished the back end of this creek a couple weeks before and found these jig fish. We decided to explore the newly flooded lake and found a road bed coming off the river channel. The lake was so new this was the only place we saw to get out of the 25' Sulfur River channel and find shallower water.

On this narrow road bead I asked him which side he wanted to fish and I would take the other. Long story made short,after a few more fish and a few hundred yards down the narrow road bed, I saw something on "his side" that looked different. I instinctively pitched my jig to it and felt a light tick a few feet on the way to a 10' bottom. It was a 10# 5 ounce bass. He was more excited than me after lipping the fish and weighing it on the scales. It took him about 20 minutes to realize that fish was on his side of the boat. He wanted know why I flipped that one time on his side of the boat and I replied "God told me to". We both laugh at this story today twelve years later.

Point of the story is to learn to catch jig fish, force yourself learn and leave no other options to fish anything but a jig.
See less See more
That read some like how I got into jigs, but my learning came hard. It really wasn't by choice for me. I was already very good at crappie with a float and minnow, helped mightily harvest catfish off trot lines and grappling them from holes in the clay banks, and could work that Spook come dark waiting for the folks to return from boat fishing. But the men in my family were pretty hard on anyone less than a master angler, no mention of God ever except as expletives. What a shame! There was room in the two family boats only for catchers, not just fishermen. If you couldn't do your share you walked the shoreline regardless of age. Our rule was you could drink water all day, but nobody opened a soda or beer or ate until boating an edible fish. One fish=one cold drink. Well, my mother insisted on having her way about that, but nobody else. :cool2: So for me it was a matter of dire desperation to learn to catch bass on a jig on a regular basis and not let one get off. Top priority was to be counted worthy of taking a precious spot in a boat. The other was to someday beat those folks at their own game and have my own boat. If you let one get off someone else with at least one bass in the bucket got your drink. "Here, you can have my water, kid." I had been helping to make jigs a few years, at first just collecting wheel weights at service stations, and tearing auto batteries up, so had plenty to work with. Back then nobody recycled batteries. Jig trailers were unheard of. It was lead, hook and deer hair. The catching was all in the way the jig got worked. It is possible to master a jig quickly. Doing it Rich's way is a nice one that was effective. I like that.

Anyone remember what I said it takes a while back? Watch a pot of water heat to a boil without looking away. Most folks can't do it. One of those "Grasshopper" things maybe, but a kid that learns that will pay attention to everything else the rest of his life. It takes self discipline, direct focus of all applicable senses and maybe then one more, and sometimes yanking when God says to.
Does He care which side of the boat? Sure does. John 21:1-6 :thumbup01:

See less See more
1 - 20 of 61 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.