Best Jigs for Bass Fishing⁉️
Fishing with jigs is one of the most productive and enjoyable methods of bass fishing. There are two main reasons for the jig’s popularity. They catch larger bass than other lures, and they are extremely versatile. Jigs are big-bass baits that can be used year-round in any part of the pond, lake, or river you’re fishing.
Jig fishing is easy to learn but hard to master. Most anglers start catching fish with jigs right away, get hooked on the technique, and then begin the slow process of becoming an expert. It’s an investment that pays huge dividends, in the form of huge bass!
In this article, we’ll go over all the different types of jigs and explain how to use jigs to catch bass. If you are looking for some quick advice on the best all-around bass jig, that’s easy.
What is a Bass Jig?
A typical bass jig consists of a hook whose eye has a shaped metal head molded around it, a skirt made of rubber, silicon, or some other material, and a flexible weed guard that spans the gap in front of the hook.
Types of Bass Jigs
We mentioned the jig’s versatility. It comes from the fact that there are many types of bass jigs, and each type can be fished in a variety of ways. The combinations of jig type and technique are so numerous that some anglers get overwhelmed. When it’s time for you to select the best bass jig, your first task will be to decide what kind of jig is called for given the current conditions.
The fishing industry has provided us with highly specialized jig types, each one designed to address specific fishing scenarios. The three main variables that lure manufacturers tweak to create specialized jigs are the shape of the head, the size of the head, and the overall weight of the jig.
Most jig heads are made from lead, and some states vigorously enforce no-lead tackle laws, so be aware of what your jigs are made of. If fishing with lead tackle is illegal in your state, use jigs that are made from some other material, like tungsten. It’s not just about avoiding fines. Lead hurts wildlife, especially waterfowl—one jig contains enough lead to fatally poison an adult bird.
Let’s take a look at the five most popular types of bass jigs.
The casting jig is by far the most popular kind of jig used for bass fishing. They are sometimes called flipping jigs.
Casting jigs are like the swiss-army knife of jigs. They are suitable for almost every jig fishing scenario there is. If you’re new to jig fishing or plan on restricting yourself to one type of jig, the casting jig is the one you should choose.
The head of a casting jig is wide, and it’s shaped to allow the jig to rest securely on the bottom in the ideal position. But the head is slim enough to penetrate weeds effectively; this makes casting jigs perfect for flipping and pitching into thick, grassy cover. Casting jigs have just the right bulk and profile for standard bottom-focused techniques, but their sleek head design and flowing skirt makes them useful as swimming jigs too.
Casting jigs are the right choice if the body of water you’re fishing has a lot of different types of cover. Because they’re as effective when bounced through the limbs of downed trees as they are when probing weed lines, these jigs give you the chance to adjust your approach throughout the day. Whether you swim your jig near docks or heavy vegetation, use it to dissect thick brush, or drag it over a gravely point, a casting jig can handle the job.
Football jigs are called that because of the shape of the head. The oblong design causes the jig to wobble as it sinks. When dragged on the bottom, the head gives the jig a side-to-side movement that looks like prey foraging for food.
This wide head helps balance a football jig. The design causes the bait to remain upright throughout the fall and after it hits the bottom, resulting in the ideal presentation that’s also extremely resistant to snags.
The action of a football jig makes it the perfect type of jig for fishing the hard, rocky bottoms often found on main lake points, humps, and drop-offs. Other types can roll over onto their side during the retrieve, which can cause them to get wedged in between rocks more easily. The football jig’s upright position means it will not get hung as you bounce it through rocks.
Football jigs are especially effective when fished around large rocks. Basketball-sized rocks like those found on channel ledges and near riprap can attract big bass, and a football jig among rocks looks just like a juicy crawfish to bass. If you’re fishing around vegetation, on the other hand, the football jig is not a great choice because the head can get hung up on grass.
Swim jigs feature a head design that is more slender than other types, and the head narrows to a point near the eye of the hook. Because of this, swim jigs move more easily through vegetation than other kinds of jig. A common trailer for swim jigs is a paddle tail trailer, which gives the lure a more lifelike action.
Paddle tail trailers provide a wobbling movement, with the tail creating a thumping vibration under water. Almost all the other jig types are meant to imitate crawfish, but the swim jig is designed to look like a feeling baitfish.
When you fish with a swim jig, you will typically not let it hit the bottom. Keep reeling with a steady retrieve, like you would with a spinnerbait. And like with a spinnerbait, you can slow down or speed up to hit the right part of the water column.
If a straight retrieve fails to produce results, adding an abrupt pause or jerk to the retrieve can help induce a strike. Sometimes, heavily pressured fish need that extra enticement before they’ll bite.
If you need to cover a lot of water quickly, fishing a swim jig is a great tactic. They can penetrate cover easily, but their weedless design means hang-ups won’t slow you down as you power your way along a weed line.
Finesse jigs look like casting jigs, but they’re scaled down and intended to be used with light tackle. Most have a skirt that’s trimmed back near the head so it stands up like a collar.
Finesses jigs are for finesse techniques, tactics fisherman employ to catch fish that would otherwise refuse to bite. The presentation in finesse fishing is slower than most other techniques and always involves small baits with light tackle.
A finesse jig is the perfect type of jig to flip into and around light cover like grass and small brush, and they work best in clear water where the bottom is hard. All that makes this the ideal lures for catching smallmouth bass. Finesse lures like these shrunk-down jigs can be the key to success when pressured fish get a case of lock jaw.
Punch jigs are part of a category of lures known as punching rigs. They have a tapered, bullet-shaped head that’s designed to penetrate heavy cover easily. Punch jigs are exclusively used for the punching technique, which requires a heavy rod that can deal with the increased weight of these jigs and has the backbone to haul giant bass out of the slop.
This type of jig is typically quite a bit heavier than other kinds of bass jigs. They usually weigh between 3/4 oz and 2 oz. They have to be heavier to break through thick vegetation and reach the bottom.
Best Weight for a Jig
You can find bass jigs in a wide range of weights. The available options differ by a fraction of an ounce, but that sort of fine-tuning is sometimes required when jig fishing. To pick the right weight for the conditions, you’ll need to focus on two important factors.
One factor is the depth and the other is wind speed. They can both have a major impact on the jig’s sink rate and affect how easy it is to keep the jig in the strike zone.
A jig weight that works at many depths is a 3/8 oz model, which is one reason that weight is so commonly used. It’s ideal for shallow water scenarios, especially if there’s not too much wind. If the depth is ten feet or more, you’ll notice that a 3/8 oz jig will take a little too long to reach the bottom. That’s your queue to size up to a 1/2 oz jig!
Increasing your jig weight by 1/8 oz may not seem like it would make that much difference, but you’ll be able to fish faster due to the increased sink rate. That small change can allow you to cover a lot more water, and that usually means more fish in the boat!
The other main factor impacting your jig weight selection is wind speed. In general, the stronger the wind, the heavier your jig will need to be. You may notice wind putting a bow in your line as the lure falls—that’s not good! It makes the jig fall on a slant instead of perfectly vertical, and it reduces your ability to detect strikes. Once again, this is your signal to tie on a heavier jig.
Your jig needs to have sufficient weight to stand up to whatever wind speed you’re dealing with, but don’t overdo it. A heavier jig will seem less natural to a bass after the strike and may cause it to eject the bait. A lighter jig will feel more like what the bass thinks it’s eating—a crawfish.
When choosing the right weight for your jig, as long as you follow the rule of using the lightest jig that the conditions will allow, you’ll be OK.
Selecting Jig Trailers
Rarely will you see someone fish a jig without some sort of trailer attached. Jig trailers are soft plastic baits that you can thread onto the hook of a jig. They improve the jig’s action and help create an appealing profile.
There are so many types of jig trailers, in such a wide array of sizes and colors, you can fine-tune your presentation to exactly represent the forage you’re trying to imitate. A few of the most popular types of trailers are craws, paddle tails, and ribbon tails. Different types of jig trailers produce different actions during the retrieve, with some adding a ton of movement and others simply adding the desired bulk.
You should select a jig trailer based on the presentation that’s right for the current conditions. A guideline you can use is, if the water is warm or stained or both, use a trailer with a lot of action. In clear or cold water, choose a jig trailer with a subtler action.
Most trailers with work with any type of jig, but there are some common pairings. Swim jigs or bladed jigs often call for a paddle tail trailer—it adds a wobbling movement as the tail kicks during the retrieve. Most other jig trailer types create more of a wavy, up and down motion.
For more information, visit the Jig Trailers page.
Jig Fishing for Bass
The bass jig’s year-round effectiveness is the main reason the bait is so incredibly popular. In the blazing heat of summer all the way through to the frigid days of winter, jigs consistently produce great results.
Although they are perennial favorites, fishing with jigs all year does require some adjustments as the seasons change. Factor like jig style, where you throw them, and how you should refine your technique should all be considered as you move through the seasons.
Regardless of the time of year, using jigs to catch bass has a lot to do with bottom contact. You need to control how (and how fast) the bait falls on the way to the bottom and then pay attention to what your jig is doing on the bottom once it gets there.
Your main goal should be to make the jig sink in a perfectly vertical fall. This is the most natural looking presentation. Putting too much pressure on your line while the bait is dropping can create an angled fall, which turns fish off.
Detecting a Bite
The most common way to fish jigs is slowly. It takes patience, and you have to be really keyed in on what your bait is doing and where it is in the water column. Many times, when the fish strikes, you’ll be able to feel it through the handle of your rod, but that’s not always the case. You sometimes need to see the strike, so keeping a close eye on your line is of the utmost importance.
Fishing with bass jigs requires staying in contact with the jig, feeling the structure or cover you’re fishing, and differentiating that feeling from a strike. All that calls for a high-quality jig rod, one that is sensitive enough to give you that kind of feedback. Selecting a suitable rod that’s up to the task is one of the most important elements of successful jig fishing.
Bass often hit a jig by inhaling it off the bottom of the lake, but just as often, they’ll hammer it while it’s falling. During the initial fall, you have to minimize line slack and stay hyper-aware of your line in order to detect strikes.
Even with a high-quality jigging rod, if you allow too much slack in the line or look away while the jig is falling, you’ll miss strikes. Realistically, you’ll miss some strikes even when you’re doing everything right, so it pays to be extra vigilant while fishing with jigs.
In most cases, a strike will feel like a tick or thump on the line that is transmitted through your rod’s blank and handle. The other signals that you have a bite are either a little resistance, or the complete lack of resistance when you raise your rod tip. As they say, hook sets are free, so if you think there’s a fish on, let him have it.
Achieving a good, solid hook set is critical when using jigs. You don’t have all day to react, and if you wait too long, the fish will have spit out the bait already.
As soon as you think a bass has taken your jig, don’t wait. Make a swift, sharp, upward movement with your rod tip. Speed and power are both important to ensure that the point of the hook can move past the rigid weed guard and penetrate the fish’s jaw.
You may be a little trigger-happy when you’re first getting started with jig fishing. Jigs provide a lot of feedback through the rod, and for a while, everything will feel like a strike. That’s not a bad thing, because it will help train you to be sensitive to what a strike really feels like. In no time, you’ll stop setting the hook when you fell a rock!
The sensitivity you get with jigs makes them ideal for probing every contour of the bottom. They help you distinguish between different bottom materials and know whether grass or wood is present. For example, you can learn to tell when your jig transitions from soft mud to a hard, gravely surface. It’s those sorts of changes in bottom makeup that attract bass, and being able to use a jig to find them is one reason the baits are so effective.
Their weedless nature makes jigs perfect for throwing into the thickest cover. You can put a jig practically anywhere and it will probably not get hung. That means you can present a jig in places that would otherwise be inaccessible, and those are exactly the kinds of places big bass like to hunker down in.
A bass jig has a stiff but flexible weed guard located in front of the hook. That’s the feature that makes jigs so remarkably weedless. The bundled bristles of the weed guard deflect off weeds, brush, and other underwater snags, ensuring that your jig doesn’t get hung up.
You can find jigs whose weed guard is very stiff and hard to bend, while other jigs will have a more pliable guard. Choose a jig with a weed guard that’s stiff enough for the type of cover you’ll be fishing. With a jig in hand, you can feel how much pressure it takes to push the weed guard to one side. That will give you a feel for how much residence it will have when your jig bumps into weeds and wood. A very limber weed guard would not be suitable if you’re fishing heavy cover.
Working your bait through a laydown, that is, a tree that has fallen into the water, is one of the best ways to fish with bass jigs. Cast directly into the thickest part of the tree and you can be sure the jig will hit every branch on the way in, and on the way out, while never getting hung up. Deep inside wood cover is where big bass like to ambush prey, and seeing the jig deflect off the limbs will drive them insane.
If a bass doesn’t hit your jig on the initial fall, retrieve it by slowly working it through the tree and banging it into each limb as you go. It may feel like you’re just asking to lose your jig, but remember the weed guard—it will give you the confidence to present your jig in that sort of heavy wood cover.
One thing that differentiates jigs from other types of lures is that you can get them into nooks and crannies that other bass lures simply cannot reach. One way to probe such spots is by skipping a jig off the water so it travels further under a piece of cover like low-hanging trees and docks.
A bass that is holding under a dock is not in a chasing mood, but when your jig sinks inches from his nose, he’ll eat it. The same jig hopping just outside the borders of the dock is likely to get ignored.
It’s not the easiest cast to master, but after a few tries you’ll get a handle on the side-arm movement needed to skip a jig. Once you get a feel for it, you’ll be able to make your jigs skip long distances, particularly in calm water. A super-flat lake surface on a windless day is great for working on your skipping technique, and you’re bound to pick up a few bass while you’re practicing!
Flipping and Pitching
One very popular way to fish bass jigs is with a flipping or pitching technique. The method has you making highly accurate under-hand casts where the jig travels close to the surface and slips into the water with hardly a splash. We’re talking short casts of ten or twenty feet, and the stealthy way the jig enters the water helps avoid spooking fish.
Flipping and pitching are great when you’re fishing visible cover like exposed brush, boat docks, weed edges, or a field of lily pads. The game is to move into the area, quickly drop your bait into each likely spot, and move on. You’ll need to pause to unhook a few fish of course, but that’s the basic idea!
It’s sort of a ‘do nothing’ presentation—you just flip or pitch the bait to the intended spot and allow it to fully sink. The strike will typically be on the initial fall or right after the bait gets to the bottom. When you can feel that the bait has reached the bottom, raise your rod tip to pop the bait up a couple times, as this will often induce a bite. It’s a fast-moving technique; if you don’t get a strike, reel in and pitch to the next spot.
The bite so often comes on the first fall, and those are typically reaction bites. To make a bass react, your cast needs to be accurate. Placing the jig one or two feet away from a bass is less likely to trigger a strike than if you drop it right in front of his face.
For anyone new to flipping and pitching, it’s a good idea to practice so your casting is very accurate. A great way to do that is in your backyard where the distractions of catching a fish won’t get in the way. Set up containers like coffee cans at various distances and keep working at it until you can drop the jig into each one every time.
Some seasoned bass anglers employ an advanced technique called punching mats. A “mat” in this context is a thick field of surface vegetation. The “punching” involves using a lure that’s capable of penetrating that cover and sinking all the way to the bottom. One common rig used for punching mats is the punch jig.
In the heat of summer, bass move way back into the middle of heavy weed mats where it’s darker and cooler. The upside is that it’s predicable behavior that let’s anglers know exactly where the fish are. The downside is that it can be hard to haul a bass out of such heavy cover. You’ll need a good punching rig that consists of a stout rod and a powerful casting reel spooled with strong line.
Cool dark water is not the only draw for bass in weed mats. Heavy weeds are home to all the tasty critters that bass eat. Crawfish work their way through the weeds all day long looking for food, and hungry bass are there too. A properly presented punch jig can look exactly like a foraging crawfish, and lunker bass will take notice.
For more information about this highly effective technique, visit the Punch Rigs page.