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The Right Jig For More Fish

By Bob Jensen - June 1, 2002
In the cold waters of late winter and early spring, it's really hard to beat a jig for most types of fish found in the Midwest. In fact, jigs are great year 'round. This time of year though, they are the first type of lure many anglers will reach for. There are a lot of different types of jigs available to anglers, and those different jigs have some different characteristics. Here's how to select the jig that will do the best job in the situations frequently encountered in the Midwest.

A round-head jig will do a great job much of the time. If you want to swim or hop a plastic tail, a round head jig is tough to beat.

If you will be hooking a minnow, leech, or crawler to the round head jig, consider using a jig with a short-shank hook. The short shank hook allows you to get the head of the minnow or crawler right up next to the jig head. This makes the jig/bait appear to be a smaller presentation, which can be an advantage in winter and spring. A Fire-Ball is perhaps the best example of a jig of this sort.

At times you will want to drag the jig on the bottom. If the fish are inactive, a jig dragged across the bottom with frequent stops will entice the reluctant biters. In this case a jig with a stand-up head will be better. When the jig is at rest on the bottom, the bait will stand-up in plain view of the fish. The bait on a round head jig would lie flat on the bottom at rest. A good example of a stand-up jig would be a Lip-Stick or stand-up Fire-Ball.

Be sure to experiment with jig color. At times, color can be the difference between catching a few fish and a bunch of fish. Multi-colored jigs can be very productive. If you're using plastic on the jig, be sure the jig head is a different color than the tail.

The weight of the jig is very important also. Many, many successful walleye anglers use sixteenth and eighth ounce jigs for most of their lake fishing, while some river anglers use half ounce and larger jigs almost exclusively. Don't hesitate to go light in the shallows, but put the heavy stuff on in river currents to keep the bait close to the bottom.

Most accomplished jiggers prefer to tie their jigs directly to the line, no snaps or snap/swivels. There are two reasons for this. First, this is a cleaner presentation. Too much hardware picks up debris and could, some anglers feel, spook the fish.

Secondly, tying directly to the line forces us to cut the line and re-tie every time we want to change jigs. By doing so, the line next to the jig should usually be fresh. Jigs that are fished right on the bottom get bumped into lots of rocks, logs, and anything else that might be on the bottom. This bumping can damage the line. By re-tying frequently, the chances for damaged line are reduced.

Jigs are a great bait to be using right now. By selecting the jig that matches the situation, you are increasing your odds for success.

Author Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen is the host of the Fishing the Midwest television series, a series of television fishing shows that highlight fishing locations and techniques throughout the Midwest. He also writes a syndicated fishing column and does fishing seminars throughout the Midwest. He is a former fishing guide and tournament angler. Visit Bob's web site at
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