How to Use a Jig Bass Fishing: Choosing the right Jig Trailer to catch more Bass
Ben - OneCast Fishing
Premium custom wire-tied jigs.
Walk into any tackle shop and stroll on over to the plastics section. There you will be confronted with an endless array of choices of baits for rigging onto your favorite fishing jig. Hundreds of manufacturers create a magnitude of colors and designs resembling crawfish or some other prey of the bass. You could probably just spend a lifetime fishing all the combinations that are produced on a given year. However, if you are like me, I don’t get to spend my entire life on the water. We have limited time for trial and error. So let me share some of the knowledge I have acquired over the years bass fishing with the jig. My goal is to help shorten your learning curve and to help you catch more bass.
Jig Trailer: Action Matters
This may be pretty simple concept to most of you reading this, but bear with me for a minute. When you cast any lure into the water, not only the jig, you want a presentation that resembles a living prey of the bass. A jig fished with only a skirt and sans trailer may catch a fish here and there from time for time, but I would say those are more attributed to luck. A jig without a trailer rarely looks like something living under the surface. The trailer gives the jig the life like appearance it needs. After all, they are designed to resemble specific creatures. Additionally, the tail of a trailer is what really kicks and moves in the water. This makes sense since it’s the furthest point from the jig head. It’s this action that makes the jig so deadly.
Now none of us have actually spoken to a bass. Well, I should clarify and say spoken and received an answer. I talk to the fish all the time and they usually don’t listen. For some reason they don’t respond like cats…here fishy fishy…here fishy fishy. Anyways, I digress. However, this is my gander as to what is happening and why the jig trailer is so important.
When you cast your jig and let it fall to the bottom (lets assume at this point the bass doesn’t grab it on the fall which is common), the jig sits still, but that trailer is still ever so slightly twitching and moving about. The bass either sees this, or senses this movement through her lateral lines. Curious, or hungrily, she swims over to investigate. As she approaches, she either sucks it in while the jig is sitting with that perfectly chosen trailer, or she waits until you pick up the jig to move it. Thats when the skirt flairs and her instincts kick in to swallow the bait. Thats a pure reaction strike. The skirt has some play in that scenario, and sure the skirt is extremely important in building out that bait profile and matching color to the baitfish, but I think the trailer plays the most important role in getting a bass to strike.
Choosing the right jig trailer is all about the action. How does and how much a trailer moves or kicks are what the bass are going to key upon. However, it's not as easy as saying this trailer design is used under these conditions. Thats because similar designs from the same or different companies may impart different actions and be suited to different circumstances. Its best to select the trailer on the mood of the bass and the action it imparts.
Non-Active or Dead-Stick Baits
When we think of dead sticking a bait, we often think of a senko or using some lure that doesn’t do a whole lot. We cast it out there and let it sit moving it very little. The bass are finicky and don’t want to actively chase a bait. The same concept applies to the jig and especially when winter jig fishing.
There are a whole assortment of trailers that barely move in the water. I am thinking of examples like a zoom chunk, pork rind, or even many of your standard beaver style baits. These are perfect for winter bass fishing because these trailer barely move in the water. There is very little action, or kicking, and much of that is because the appendages on these trailers are thicker or shorter than others designed for more action. Basically, the water can’t move them around on its own as easily. So I definitely using these in the winter or really early spring depending on how fast the water has warmed up. In cold water, the bass are barely moving and their prey aren’t moving around a lot either. They are cold blooded animals and the cold water really affects them. Using anything that kicks or moves erratically in the water is going to send flashing red warning signs to the bass to stay far far away. You want to deceive the bass into thinking its worth eating a barely alive crawfish not presenting a lure thats out of place in that environment.
The next category of jig trailer styles are the opposite of the dead stick trailers. They are active lures. These trailers really produce commotion in the water by kicking. Their appendages, in general, are thinner and longer than that of the non-active variety even if they are offered in similar designs. You are looking for a trailer that moves a lot in the water. They are obviously an excellent choice as the water begins to warm up and unless the bass are in a really finesse mood, I have active trailers tied onto my jig rod from spring, through the summer, and into early fall. This is when the bass are most active and of course their prey as well. These active baits also shine well in dirty water as they send more vibration for the bass to sense. I will admit there are no hard rules and even in summer, especially in clear water, another style like the non-active may work better. But when speaking of active baits, I am particularly fond of the Rage Bug or Rage Tail Space Monkey. I find the added movement of these plastics can attract bass into eating my jig. Furthermore, these trailers work well when pitching into cover over deep water. I am thinking water seven feet or deeper. The appendages on these active trailers slows the fall of the jig and makes it appear to a bass thats looking up that a prey is struggling to swim. As the bait comes through the cover the bass will either swim up to strike or inhale as soon as it hits the bottom.
The last category of trailer action is the swimming action. Trailers with a swimming action are just what they sound like. These baits appear as if they are actually swimming. Of course swimbaits or paddle tail plastics mimic this and are good choices for swim jigs, vibrating jigs, or spinnerbaits. However, swimbaits aren’t the focus of this article. When thinking about casting jigs, the grub, either single or double tailed fall into this category. As these trailers fall or are swum back to the angler they mimic a swimming bait fish. Typically, I use this style when the bass are keyed in on shad and to a lesser extent bluegill. I just change the color scheme and if thats what they want to eat then thats what I am going to give them. Although swimming trailers can be used anyplace you cast a jig, I almost exclusively use them around docks. The best time I have found to do this is around the shad spawn. Over time though, I have noticed after the shad spawn or the shad bite dies off, I have less success using grubs on my jigs. Thats when I switch back to the active baits until the bass go into wintering mode.
The next time you go out fishing for bass. Make sure you pick up a jig. Then make sure you choose the right trailer. Choosing the right trailer for the time of year will greatly enhance your chances of catching that Lunker. Let me hear your comments below.
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