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Jig Fishing A to Z

Hi, it's Russ Bassdozer here. I hope you will enjoy reading this book I have written about jig fishing. In it you will learn some of the most advanced techniques to fish for bass with jigs. Please enjoy.

This book covers jig fishing with the following types of weedless fiberguard skirted bass jigs:

  1. Football jigs

  2. Flipping jigs

  3. Swimming jigs (Wisconsin style)

  4. Arkey Power jigs (and Muddler jigs)

  5. Arkey Finesse jigs

That book more or less covers the entire gamut of weedless fiberguard skirted jig styles used for bass fishing as follows...

Line Weighing
The Key to Your Jig Fishing Success

Fishing is a sport that's relaxing and based on friendship, but when it gets a little competitive, start stringing up your jig stick! Jig fishing has a tendency to separate the best anglers from the rest, and it tends to separate the big fish from the little ones. Fish instinctively understand what can or cannot fit down their gullets. A small fish that's been eating well is usually not interested to attack and digest a bulky jig. Big fish, on the other hand, prefer a bulky meal that a jig represents to them. Five fish caught on jigs will be bigger than five fish caught on any other type of lure. Still, jig fishing is a difficult skill, and it takes a lot of effort even for a jig master to drill out those five fish. It's not easy!

A jig is not a lure for open water or unobstructed bottom. Jig fishing is usually done in something - heavy weed or wood cover, flooded brush, sunken tree tops, rock rubble, cypress knees, tulle berms, etc. The snaggier, the better. Even in open areas, a jig will do best when it contacts small, isolated pieces of cover or slightly rougher bottom patches.

A jig is first and foremost, a drop bait. Jig fishing in shallow water (0 to 6 feet) gets you many fish on the drop before the jig even hits the bottom. If the jig is not accosted on the way down, just let it lay motionless for a while. Fish cannot stand this and will pick the jig off the bottom as it lays there. Still no hit? Jiggle it around without moving it forward - and let it lay motionless again. Repeat the jiggle and pause once or twice, then wind it in and drop it in another spot. It really doesn't pay to try to work it across the bottom in shallow cover. If the fish did not hit you on the way down or on the pause between jiggles, it's probably not going to hit you as you swim or drag it back across bottom. So just wind it in quick and drop it in another spot. The initial drop is the key. The jig has lots of visible and audible appeal as it drops. And yes, use liberal doses of fish attractant. Rattles are optional. With or without rattles. I am happy with my catches.

Jig fishing in deeper water is different. You can cast it out away from you, and reel it steadily across bottom until it bounces into any sort of underwater cover. Once you contact cover, stop reeling and just jiggle and bumble the jig all into the cover while hardly moving it forward at all. Still use the jiggle and pause tactic, and expect to get picked up on the pause. In deep water, you will get fish that whack you when you reel up to make another cast. So always let the jig hang suspended for a moment when you reel up all the way. When you get six feet off the bottom, jiggle it as it hangs there and see if you get bit. No takers? Just reel up and cast again.

The key to detecting bites in either shallow or deep water is to always know what your line weighs. As an alternative, you could become a line watcher which means to stare intently at the line where it enters the water. If you see the line twitch, streak off to the side or any other unusual movement in the line, it means a fish is toying with your jig. In the long run, however, you will become a better jig fisherman if you learn to line weigh rather than line watch. Let's talk about this.

You should know what your jig feels like at all times:

  • When it drops

  • When it rests on the bottom

  • When you are lifting it up off bottom

Your jig can never feel any different than it is - it will always feel the same. Sometimes wind can encumber your feel. In wind, you may need to upsize the jig weight to retain its feel.

If you ever feel anything different, it can only ever be one of two things:

  1. You are or will soon be snagged

  2. Or a fish has the jig!

Now, you often hear advice that if you feel anything different, you should heroically haul off and set the hook. But if you do that, you will have a snag more often than you have a fish. What to do? Load increasingly steady but slight tension onto the line and rod tip by drawing the tip up or reeling in ever so slowly. If it is a snag, you will feel a lack of life, and you should back off to try to work yourself out of the snag before you get snagged too deeply. If it is a fish, you will feel one of two things:

  1. Weightlessness. Absolutely nothing. Like your jig is floating in space. Reel in to get slack out of the line until you feel weight, load the rod tip, then whack away!

  2. Vibrancy. Some feeling of life. Trust me, you'll instinctively know it's a live feeling of some sort on your line even if it is indescribable to put into words. Reel in just enough to begin loading the rod tip and whack away!

If you believe you had a fish on, but it spit the bait before you can whack it, JUST LEAVE THE BAIT THERE. You can usually jiggle it a bit and they will often pick it up again. Then whack them ASAP! Largemouth may come back once. Smallies may give you numerous chances.

So that's called line weighing, and it is a better and more reliable skill to learn than line watching.

Line weighing is the key to jig fishing success.

Jig Color Considerations
You've got to pick just one

Some anglers say color doesn't matter much. They say you can get by with black blue jigs, green pumpkin soft baits and chartreuse white spinnerbaits are all they ever need. I'm not one of them.

I've seen color matter too many times. While I don't want to overplay the importance of color, I don't want to discount it either.

The biggest tip I can give you when it comes to color is to keep an open mind, meaning don't get married to any favorites and don't cotton to "go to" colors. That's the best attitude - unattached and indifferent - to have toward color. In time, it is true you will get settled down into your usual or standard colors you use. Just don't get emotionally attached to them. Keep looking for what color the fish want - not what you want.

Bottom line, you've got to pick just one color - meaning you can only tie one color jig on the end of your line. You can only present one color on a cast. The color you have tied on will influence how many fish you catch. So keep an open mind and make the color you cast count.

In paging through this article, you'll notice a number of different jig skirt colors. In assessing so many colors, almost everyone forms the same questions at first along these lines:

  • "Why are there so many different colors?"
  • "Which color do you use where or when?"
  • "Can one angler really even use - or need - so many colors?"
  • "How can one possibly cope with or manage so many colors?"
  • "When all is said and done, what are the very best jig colors?"

So that's why I'd like to first summarize for you some of the feedback I have gotten from anglers who use skirted jigs worldwide. This may help to narrow down some of the most popular and productive jig colors for you.

First, let's sidestep down nostalgia lane. Historically, black or brown jigs (with various accent colors such as a thin swatch of blue or purple) seem most popular. This may be because originally, latex rubber jigs (also called "living rubber") were really only available in black or brown rubber (with accents of red, blue, orange or purple rubber). There weren't many other color options for latex rubber jigs.

Nowadays, most jigs are silicone, not latex rubber. There are many more color options today with silicone. Nevertheless, the black, black blue, black red, brown and brown purple colors still rank among the most popular, no doubt due in part to their long legacy as limited colors of living rubber.

Various good green color skirts, never really possible in living rubber, are nowadays gaining popularity as silicone skirts.

The "Dark Green Pumpkin" and the "Green Pumpkin Blend" are popular jig colors today. They have been used in a handful of tournament wins made by anglers.

The "Green Sunfish" color always seems to get mentioned as a good producer by anglers, especially on weedy lakes.

Another that always gets good feedback is the "June Bug Bluegill" used on jigs in murky water like deltas, muddy rivers and such.

A short list of other skirt colors that anglers tend to write me about most often to say they've done quite well with these colors on jigs include:

  • Black Blue
  • Black Blue Flash
  • Black Brown Craw
  • Olive Pumpkin
  • Green Pumpkin Olive
  • Brown Purple
  • PBJ Flash
  • Peanut Butter Jelly

A number of other colors certainly produce well too. I could mention another 6 or 8 good jig colors but I don't want to water down the list here. Just note that there are some other very good skirt colors - but the ones already listed above are the most popular color jig skirts cited by anglers who have done well worldwide. So that's the short list of what seems to be the top jig colors used by anglers.

Additionally, in Europe, anglers show a lot of confidence in the rusty red craw and black neon jig colors.

Across North America, are there regional differences reported in terms of jig colors? No. Dramatic differences are not reported from anglers in different regions across North America, including the USA, Canada and Mexico.

Where differences do exist, they seem to stem from water clarity, depth and whether weedy or rocky cover.

For instance:

  1. Anglers who fish areas with overall shallower, darker water tend to report success on the various black blues, black reds, june bug bluegill and other darker-than-average colors.
  2. Anglers who fish areas with overall deeper, clearer impoundments (usually = rocky) tend more toward various browns, especially brown purples or peanut butter jelly colors.
  3. Anglers who fish areas with overall shallower, clearer water (usually = weedy) tend to rely more on various greens - green pumpkin, watermelon and olive jig colors.

Those are the major differences I hear from anglers about what jig colors seem best where.

In terms of jig styles (flipping, football, Arkey power, Arkey finesse, etc.) there does not seem to be differences in colors based on different jig styles, except where the differences are because of what is already reported above. What I mean is, more blacks, black blues, black reds get favored on flipping jigs because flipping tends to be done in shallower, often murkier areas. Conversely, more browns are used on football jigs because they are used in deeper areas. So the differences are not because of the jig styles, but where they're used (shallow vs. deep, murky vs. clear, weedy vs. rocky for example).

One jig style that does vary from the others, however, is the Wisconsin style swimming jig. It is often used in baitfish color skirt patterns such as chartreuse shad, white shad and gold shiner for example. The other jig styles (football, flipping, Arkey, etc.) are not used as much in such baitfish colors.

In terms of the two most popular freshwater bass species:

  1. Largemouth anglers tend toward black-based and darker colors.
  2. Smallmouth anglers tend toward brown-based colors.

As you may realize by now, this is most likely since largemouth tend to be caught in relatively shallower, darker water. Smallmouth are more often caught in relatively deeper, clearer water.

Lastly, are there any "undiscovered stars" among the jig skirt colors in the store that anglers aren't using - but should be?

Well, among the other jig skirt colors, the assorted watermelon varieties, watermelon candies and others, are being used by anglers with good, steady success.

There are a few, however, that I am surprised that anglers do not use more. The brown oranges such as the Brown Sunfish, Brown Sunfish #2 and Green Craw. Always a good jig color combo, brown orange has been around since the beginning since it was one of the few colors possible in living rubber. With a watermelon trailer, brown orange jigs can be incredibly productive. Yet it surprises me that anglers do not seem to use brown oranges as much as I do.

Also, the green reds - Dark Watermelon Red Pepper, Dark Watermelon Red Belly and Rusty Green Craw - are steady producers that anglers should try more. And Green Monkey Shine and Dark Green Monkey Shine are admittedly unfamiliar yet awesome jig colors. A few anglers who have tried the Monkey Shines have reported outstanding results.

Practically all the jig skirt colors have been mentioned above - either by name or by generic color category. The few that haven't been mentioned yet are Rain Frog (a weird weedy color that defies classification), Natural Frog (with its chartreuse belly that's visible even in very heavy cover) and the combined brown greens like Warmouth Sunfish, Olive Brown Craw and Olive Cinnamon that combine both brown and green in the same skirt.

That's just about all the jig skirt colors now, and they're all good. Please enjoy and use them with confidence.

True, it does seem at first like there are so many colors, and it may seem daunting how to possibly manage them all. But in time, it's really not hard to get a handle on them. All you have to do is try, and you may find the pieces of the puzzle all fall into place.

A really big step, in fact a leap, that few anglers ever make - is to realize that all these jig colors also work on spinnerbaits. After all, a spinnerbait is just a punk rock version of a jig with its nose pierced and a pair of flashy earrings dangling overhead.

An easier step is to realize all these jig colors equally apply to soft plastic lures. The only difference is the addition of smoke-based colors in soft plastics. But all the blacks, black reds, black blues, browns, brown purples, watermelons, green pumpkins and everything else about jig colors equally and fully applies to soft plastic lure colors too.

So when you master jig colors, you're also mastering soft plastic lure colors at the same time, and don't hesitate to apply the same colors to spinnerbaits also. You'll be pleased with the results.

Flat Football Jigs
You've seen football jigs before, just never like these!

This flat football style first appeared a few years back originally in a shakey jig head style with no collar and no weedguard, just a coil clip to hold a worm. The flat football head shape worked so well that the same flat football head with a triple cone cut collar and fiber weedguard is now available. This kind of flat football shape is becoming increasingly more popular with anglers, and several brands of shakey jigs and football jigs with this same flat face have become available lately.

In addition to the flat face, the triple cone cut keeper collar is something new too, at least on freshwater jigs. It has become common on saltwater jig heads, but rarely seen on freshwater jigs. Although now, several brands are now just starting to use the triple cone cut collar on freshwater jigs.

This flat football style is like the original flat shakey jig, except with a triple cone cut collar and fiber weedguard.

Left to right: 3/16, 1/4 oz Shakey jigs. 1/2, 3/4 oz Football jigs.

The flat football jig is the same design and concept as the flat shakey jig - with the addition of a medium/heavy (not extra heavy) resistance fiberguard and the addition of triple cone cut keeper collar.

The triple cone cut keeper collar is lengthened to make more room for the skirt collar to seat in between the head and the first (of 3) cone cuts. The second and third cones are to keep a soft plastic trailer firmly in place. Each cone has 360 degrees of gripping hold - or 1,080 degrees of grip total. There's nothing else that grips quite like it!

Optionally, you may just use a hula grub (or any soft bait) without a silicone skirt, and seat the soft plastic all the way over all 3 cones.

These have the ability to stand up at times, even if momentarily, when they hit the bottom.

A good idea is to put the big bulky soft baits (with or without silicone skirts) on the flat football jigs. Put the more slender worms and Senkos on the shakey jigs. No matter which you use, it's "flat" out too much fun!

The flat football jigs are best used with medium/heavy gear from 10 to 16 pound test mono or fluoro line. The hook is stout, but it is not intended for heavy flipping gear or for braided line.

Left to right: 3/16, 1/4 oz Shakey jigs. 1/2, 3/4 oz Football Jigs. Even when they tip over, however, they perch in a "three point stance" which tends to keep the hook upright. The three points are the two tips of the sideways oblong head and the back end of the hook shank. So the hook point tends to be kept from falling over, which is how most snags happen with other jig styles that roll over and lay the point in the dirt. Then all you have is a grappling hook, and a good possibility of snagging. The three point stance on the shakey and football jigs here help prevent that.

 Flat Football Jig Head  ~ 1/2 oz
Watermelon Chartreuse

 Flat Football Jig Head  ~ 3/4 oz
Watermelon Chartreuse

Watermelon Chartreuse Color Jig Heads. The jig head colors above are watermelon green with chartreuse flake. Some photos show the chartreuse better or worse, but it's there. It adds an overall chartreuse accent to the green. The chartreuse flake flickers more when it is held underwater than held in your hand.

Soft Plastic Bait Rigging Suggestions

The triple cone cut keeper collar on the footballs lets you rig a silicone skirt and a soft plastic trailer - or use a bulky soft bait alone as in the rigging suggestions below.

Flat football head with Gary Yamamoto Kreature.

Flat football head with Gary Yamamoto's 1) Skirt, and 2) Flappin' Hog.

Flat football jig with Gary Yamamoto Hula Grub.

Which One When? It's hard to say exactly when or why to pick which one of the three rigs shown above: 1) the Kreature, 2) the skirt and Flappin' Hog combo, and 3) the hula grub. Honestly, they're all somewhat similar. You may get a day, a week, a season when you seem to do better with one versus the others, and it may flip-flop back and forth which seems to outproduce the other, but there's really no way to say for sure. Just try 'em. Whatever seems to work best, that is the right thing to throw at that moment.

These flat football jigs come in 3 sizes as shown: 3/8 oz (5/0), 1/2 oz (5/0) and 3/4 oz (6/0) sizes.

3/8 oz Flat Football Head
Black Gold ~ 5/0

1/2 oz Flat Football Head
Black Gold ~ 6/0
3/4 oz Flat Football Head
Black Gold ~ 6/0

Football jigs are the "off-road vehicles" or "ATV's" of jig heads, meaning the wide head lets them rumble and crawl across rough bottom, gravel, rocks that would snag more streamlined jig styles. The broad-shouldered football shape is too wide to drop into small cracks or crevices. With football jigs, the hammer head shape helps keep the jig from falling into cracks or gaps between rocks that eat other jigs alive.

If a football jig does drop into a larger crevice, the head will be too wide across to fully wedge all the way deep down. The crosswise football shape does not let it get too deeply snagged, so you can usually shake or jiggle a loosely-stuck football jig out of snags.

The "T" formation (that the head and the collar make) helps the jig resist rolling over, and the "T" shape causes the jig to perch on top of rugged bottom rubble rather than wedge its nose into debris. The football jig is at its very best on hard bottoms, gravel, sand, shell, in any and all rocks (especially round "river-washed" rocks as opposed to square chunk rock). Speaking of rivers, the football shape is incredible to bounce bottom in a flowing current or tide.

Where a football jig is not best to use, a football is usually not as easy to fish as an Arkey jig in brush, standing timber, stumps, laydowns (or whatever wood), and the football jig fouls miserably in most vegetation.

The shape of this flat football jig in photos may look different depending on the camera angles at which photos are taken, but these are football shape jig heads with a flattened face plate. Available in three sizes: 3/8 oz with a stout 5/0 Mustad Ultra Point hook; 1/2 oz and 3/4 oz sizes both have a heavy 6/0 Mustad Ultra Point hook.

  • Triple Cone Cut Keeper Collar. Each of three cones on the keeper collar have 360 degrees of gripping power. When a skirt is used, the first cone keeps the skirt securely in place. The second and third cones provide an additional 720 degrees of grip that will keep a soft plastic trailer bait in place better than any other collar style.
  • Trimless In-Line Fiberguard. The fiberguard is precisely sized so you never need to trim it, and it is angled low, what I call an "in-line" fiberguard, so it is in line for a perfect hookset. The fish really doesn't even need to depress it. Just fan it out a bit before first using it - and you're good to go!
  • Stand-Up Action. Obviously it can stand up, but the overall action due to the flat face plate is a lot more versatile than just standing. The jig only stands at rest. When the line is pulled, the "pull point" of the line tie eye lifts the head up so it crawls or glides across the bottom with a tight line. When you stop pulling the line, it noses down and stands up again.  Most people refer to this tail-up standing posture as a craw in a defensive stance. Every time you stop pulling the line, it noses down on bottom and stands up again. However, this is also exactly how fish feed, by nosing down over a meal on the bottom. Even bass feed this way, by putting their noses down, their tails high up, in order to pluck a meal off the bottom. So the tight-line, sliding, gliding and then sudden stand-up action and nosing down when the line is relaxed, that's exactly how fish feed on the bottom - and if there's one thing that infuriates bass, it is to see a smaller critter brazenly feeding in front of them. It causes a pecking order instinct reaction from the bass to peck or strike the jig that's "feeding" out of turn.
  • Plowing Action. Another action, found only on this football jig due to the flat face plate, is plowing the bottom. When you drag standard football jigs across the bottom, they can really only bounce. There's no other action. Think of standard football jigs as four wheel drive trucks that can drive across rugged terrain. When you drag this flat football jig across the bottom, it plows and pushes. Think of that off-road truck again, but this time envision a snow plow on it. That's the difference between this and all other football jigs.
  • Lifting Action. The angled face plate also causes lift, and that's a very good thing. Constant rising off bottom and settling back to bottom are what small fish, crawdads and other bottom creatures do constantly. It's their major mode of movement. Most do not just drag their carcasses across the bottom. The lifting and falling glide of this flat football jig mimics the most common rise-and-fall movements of all bottom creatures.
  • Slamming Action. As this flat football jig lifts off bottom, it does not lift too far. So it will slam the flat face plate head-on into any hard objects that are raised slightly higher than the bottom. This sudden full frontal impact shock - or "slamming" action is an incredible strike trigger.

Between the triple cone cut keeper collar, the in-line fiberguard, the heavy Mustad hook, the stand-up action, nosing down on bottom in a feeding posture, the plowing action, lift-and-fall glide, and strike-triggering slamming action, it's clear that this is no ordinary football jig. That's why I say,

"You've seen football jigs before, just never like these!"

More Rigging Suggestions:

3/8 oz Football Head ~ Black

3/8 oz Football Head ~ Brown

3/8 oz Football Head ~ Green Pumpkin

1/2 oz Football Head ~ Black

1/2 oz Football Head ~ Brown

1/2 oz Football Head ~ Green Pumpkin

3/4 oz Football Head ~ Black

3/4 oz Football Head ~ Brown

3/4 oz Football Head ~ Green Pumpkin

Flat Football Jigs for Bass Fishing ~ Skirt Color Suggestions

Black Blues, Black Reds

Black Blue Skirt. Anglers tend to use football jigs in deeper clear to stained water, and often opt for brownish or greenish skirts and trailers. Occasionally, a savvy angler will throw a shad-colored football jig, but that's rare. Rarer still is to throw a black blue football jig, except at night. It also excels at dawn, dusk, on dark mornings, overcast days or when the wind smurs the surface so much it reduces light penetration below, or when the wind creates a mudline - throw the black blue football and score a touchdown!

3/8 oz Football Jig ~ Black Blue

1/2 oz Football Jig ~ Black Blue

1/2 oz Football Jig ~ Black Blue

3/4 oz Football Jig ~ Black Blue

1/2 oz Football Jig ~ Black Neon

Browns & Purples

1/2 oz Football Jig ~ June Bug Bluegill

3/8 oz Football Jig ~ June Bug Bluegill

3/4 oz Football Jig ~ June Bug Bluegill

3/4 oz Football Jig ~ Brown Purple

3/8 oz Football Jig ~ Brown Purple

1/2 oz Football Jig ~ Brown Purple

Brown Purple Skirt. Has 30 strands of purplish brown on the back and 20 strands of brownish purple on the belly. If you're not getting solid strikes that way, rotate the skirt so the purples on the back, the brown on the belly, and see if that turns the trick. One trailer color to try with this skirt is Yamamoto's #150 (smoke pepper). It makes a super subtle clear water combination.

3/4 oz Football Jig ~ PBJ Flash

3/8 oz Football Jig ~ PBJ Flash

1/2 oz Football Jig ~ PBJ Flash

PBJ Flash Skirt. Every strand (44 of them) are heavily metal-foiled on both sides with a lustrous purple metal foil. The photos do not reflect (pun intended) just how heavily-foiled and shimmery these skirts are. The foil does not make the skirts stiff in any way. They are super soft and supple. The gold grains you see in the photo are a left-over residue of the foiling process, and will wash off when used. One soft plastic trailer color to try is Yamamoto's #221 (cinnamon with purple).

3/4 oz Flat Football Jig ~ Black Brown Craw

3/8 oz Football Jig ~ Brown Sunfish

1/2 oz Football Jig ~ Brown Sunfish

Brown Sunfish Skirt. Brown orange skirts always remind me that most jig colors imitate sunfish as well as crawfish. The frosting you see on this skirt is actually highly-reflective gold glitter, but does not come across that way in my photos. The gold glitter is on every strand, including the orange. Under water, the gold frosting glistens and shimmers, and the mottled black bars heighten the sunfish illusion. A couple of soft plastic trailer colors that go with this skirt are Yamamoto's #194 (watermelon pepper) or #323 (watermelon pepper w/gold).

3/4 oz Flat Football Jig ~ Brown Sunfish #2

3/8 oz Football Jig ~ Brown Sunfish #2

3/8 oz Football Jig ~ Warmouth Sunfish

1/2 oz Football Jig ~ Warmouth Sunfish

3/4 oz Football Jig ~ Warmouth Sunfish

Warmouth Sunfish Skirt. Another sunfish pattern skirt inspired by the voracious Warmouth member of the clan. This skirt features a light greenish, almost yellowish belly, and every strand has orange copper glitter in each strand, plus an orange tail tip. Some soft plastic trailer colors to try with this skirt are Yamamoto's #236 (smoke rootbeer w/copper and green) or #330 (green pumpkin with copper and purple).

1/2 oz Football Jig ~ Olive Brown Craw

3/8 oz Football Jig ~ Olive Brown Craw


These are wide flat-bottomed football heads in 3/8, 1/2, 3/4 ounce sizes. They may not always look like footballs due to the photo angles, but they are all wide flat football heads.

3/8 oz Football Jig ~ Green Pumpkin Olive

1/2 oz Football Jig ~ Green Pumpkin Olive

3/4 oz Football Jig ~ Green Pumpkin Olive

Green Pumpkin, Watermelon and Watermelon Red  Some soft bait manufacturers claim green pumpkin, watermelon and watermelon red are their three top-selling colors worldwide, and anglers who use twin-tail hula or spider grubs on football jigs, they favor green pumpkin, watermelon or watermelon red soft plastic hula or spider grubs on football jigs too. Yet when it comes to skirted jigs like those shown below, jig anglers use far less green than black or brown jigs. That's a big mistake. Use more green jigs - and catch more. Relatively few other jig anglers do.

1/2 oz Football Jig ~ Green Pumpkin

3/8 oz Football Jig ~ Green Pumpkin

3/4 oz Football Jig ~ Green Pumpkin

3/4 oz Football Jig ~ Watermelon

3/8 oz Football Jig ~ Watermelon

1/2 oz Football Jig ~ Watermelon

3/4 oz Football Jig ~ Watermelon Red Pepper

3/4 oz Football Jig ~ Pale Watermelon Red

3/4 oz Football Jig ~ Dark Watermelon Red

Pro Football Jig Heads

This jig head is known by the name of the "pro football" head. It is very popular - probably the most common football head on the market. It appears in a lot of places. The same one appears under several brand names, and in in different vendors' packaging with or without skirts, and also at mail order component catalogs like Jann's, Barlow's and Stamina.

The manufacturer who molds and paints them has some flexibility to use different hook styles or sizes in the same mold. Almost always, when you see this football head on the shelf or in a catalog, it almost always has an oddly-angled jig hook. This odd-angled hook is sometimes called a "Big Bite" bend I think.  This angled-in hook shape is very good for Texas-rigging soft plastics where you tex-skin the hook under the worm's (or whatever soft bait's) skin. On a jig however, where you are not burying the jig hook in a soft bait, I never really liked these odd-angled hooks on jigs myself. Still, many highly-successful anglers use these same football jigs with the oddly-angled jig hooks - and they score very well. So that brings up an important point - a lot of good anglers favor a lot of different football jigs. I guess it's the same with everything, different brands and styles appeal to different people who feel they all work swell for them.

My preference, I highly prefer the standard round bend jig hook - not the oddly-angled jig hook on these pro football heads. I like to have the consistent hooking experience I am used to when a jig has the standard round bend hook in it. That works swell for me.

So that's one difference that I really like between the pro football jigs shown here - and others that have that oddly-angled hook.

On the top ESPN/BASS and FLW pro tours the past two years (2006-2007), a paradigm shift has started in the baits used and spots fished by top pros in prestigious televised tournaments.

Top pros are increasingly learning to probe deeper offshore spots for untapped bass. The pros are discovering new lures to them (like football jigs) will win deep tournaments. Consequently, the football jig has grown in popularity among local tournament and recreational anglers who pick up new techniques and tactics from the pros on TV and in magazine articles.

The specific football head shown here is one of the most popular football jigs on the market. This same football jig has been on the market for years. If it looks like your favorite brand of football jig, it may have come out of the same series of molds. This same jig (and slight brand variations of it) sells under a variety of different brand names which are made in the same factory. As the molds that make the football jig become worn out by normal usage, new molds are made to replace the worn molds. When a new mold is made, it is also an opportunity to make changes to the football jig shape, upgrades to the jig collar and trailer keeper collar are made, and the fiberguard has changed dimensions over the years as better (thinner) fiberguard options became available. No trimming is required. So many aspects of this football jig shape have been refined over a number of years, making it one of the best and most popular football jigs today.

For 2007, the round bend wide gap Mustad Ultra Point hook you see here is new.  In prior years, the hook used in this football had a sharply angled bend (like a Sproat or O'Shaughnessy bend). For 2007, the new wide gap, round bend forged hook you see here consistently hooks and holds fish better. This new round bend hook is a step up from the hook formerly used in this jig in prior years.

Available weight and hook sizes: (1/4 oz 3/0);  (3/8 oz 4/0);  (1/2 oz 5/0);  (3/4 oz 5/0);  (1 oz 5/0).

Differences between the Football Jig and Other Jig Shapes

More streamlined jig heads (most all other jig head shapes) will snag more on rocky bottom types than will the football jig. Even if a football jig does get lodged in a snag, it will not lodge as deeply, and can be unsnagged more easily than other jigs, especially if you are able to backpedal to get right over the snagged jig in order to get it out the same way or same angle that it went in.

Many other jig heads will roll on their sides, putting the hook right on the bottom. Due to its oblong sideways head however, a football jig really cannot roll over. A football jig tends to keep the hook straight up most of the time, and it is hard to envision the hook snagging when it's upright. A hook tends to snag when it's rolled into the bottom or when the hook's rolled into a limb - but the football head tends not to roll over as much as other jigs.

Standard Weight Sizes

The 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 ounce sizes are great to use in rock bottom areas because the oblong head shape helps keep the jig head perched atop bottom rubble without slipping and sliding down deep into small cracks and openings amidst the debris.

Heavy Football Jigs Really Come Into Their Own

Where football heads really come into their own, however, is with the heavy 3/4 and 1 ounce sizes. The heavy heads really define what football jig fishing is. The heavyweight heads separate football jigging from all other types of jig tactics. The 3/4 and 1 ounce jigs have a big presence, they displace a lot of water and create a disturbance that doesn't go unnoticed by deep bass. They sink fast. They hit the bottom and hit any underwater obstacles hard, causing a fast-snapping reaction bite at times. Think of an apple tree. If a light leaf fell off the top of the apple tree and fluttered silently to the ground, you would hardly pay attention. You might not even notice at all. If a ponderous apple fell off the tree top and smashed the ground hard, you are very likely to turn your head to see what just happened there. That's why a heavy football jig works so well. It gets attention plummeting down and thudding the bottom hard, and when fish turn their heads to see what's happening, your football jig is on the scene, appearing edible or alive.

Is the Football Jig a Crawdad Imitation?

Many anglers pigeonhole the football jig as a crawdad imitation. Yet the football jig isn't exactly a true copy of a crawdad - or anything else. A bass may not know what a football jig represents, except that as the football bangs the bottom and crashes head-on into bottom debris - even when it just lays there immobile - it appears like something that is not a perfect, healthy specimen, therefore an easier meal to catch than a perfectly healthy craw or minnow.

So the football jig imitates nothing in particular and everything in general. Depending on the color of the jig head, the color and kind of dressing you apply (you may dress it with a silicone skirt plus any kind of soft plastic or pork trailer - or just use soft baits like hula grubs, creatures, beavers or craws alone without skirts) and depending on the action that an angler uses, a football can give fish the impression of a craw, a panfish, a shad, a young-of-year walleye, trout, etc. So when you know that bass are feeding heavily on one particular kind of food source, it can help to try to match the hatch. For example, when bass are feeding heavily on shad, it can help to use a silver jig head, with a silvery white dressing (skirt and/or soft bait). Yet above all, a football jig is just something non-descript and moving - an easy target that bass strike.

Hold Down the Head-Shaking or Else!

In deep water, bass are notorious for racing to the top to leap out of the water as soon as they are hooked, often dislodging a heavy football jig when they jump. This is often unavoidable. It is almost impossible to reel in slack line as quickly as a fish can rocket straight to the top. Even if you do reel fast enough to keep the line tight as the fish races to the surface, it is never truly a tight line. Instead, there's a bowed "U" shape due to water drag tension. It may feel tight to you perhaps, but there's always enough slack in the U-bowed line for a fish can to rattle its gills and dislodge a heavy football jig by streaking up and leaping out instantly upon hookset.

It's all part of the fun and excitement of fishing football jigs. Please enjoy!

Customer Tag Watson and Team Partner Win First Place!

Congratulations to Tag Watson and his team partner who took first place in a "Fall Open" over the weekend.

Tag hails from Washington state where he often fishes (and wins) tournaments.

Tag and his team partner certainly whacked some wonderful smallies using heavy one ounce football jigs over the weekend.

"We took first place and big fish this weekend with a winning weight of 22.85 pounds (5 fish). Your dark green pumpkin skirt fished on a 1 oz. Pro Football head jig tore them up! The next five fish we caught and released would have weighed a 19 pound limit as well."

"A 5 inch 97-series Yamamoto double tail skirted hula grub in color 301 was the hot trailer of the day. We used a slow steady retrieve for most of our bites but brief pauses followed by short bursts were effective at times.  We had several fish come unbuttoned that would have let us weigh a 25+ pound bag but we lost a few giants. Quite a few times, the jig would jump off a boulder and the smallmouth would hit the jig so hard it would knock a ton of slack in the line. A few times we just couldn't get our hooks set because of the excessive slack and ended up losing three 5 pound plus fish.  Man, they just crush that jig. I love it!" - Tag Watson, a customer from Washington state.

And Another Win! First place and Big Fish Prize

One ounce football head jigs with brown purple, dark green pumpkin and black brown craw skirts. Several different trailers were used. Five smallies totaled 23.65 lbs. ~ customer Tag Watson, Washington state

Swimming Football Jigs

There's a renaissance of renewed interest in jig fishing the past few seasons. It's in large part due to top BASS and FLW pros who have been throwing more and different jigs than ever before. I'm not really talking about your father's flipping jigs either.

There's a funny scene in the movie titled Forest Gump where the character Bubba is reciting to Gump all the different ways that shrimp may be served. The list seems to never end is the funny part. Likewise with jigs, there are endless ways to present jigs to fish - flipping jigs, Arkey jigs, finesse jigs, tube jigs, shakey jigs, wacky jigs, stand up jigs, darter jigs, jig'n worms, jig n' grubs, jig heads for swimbaits, jigs with spinners under their chins, Slider jigs, float'n fly jigs, hair jigs, bulky softball jigs and on and on.

Two jig styles that pros have been using more often in recent years are: 1) swimming jigs and 2) football jigs. Many (not all) of the pros have really only started using these jig styles recently, but are doing swell with them, and their successes have not gone unnoticed by the ranks of avid bass anglers worldwide.

Swimming Jigs. One pro angler in particular, Tom Monsoor from Wisconsin has dominated the north central regional tournaments whenever he fished them with his swimming jigs over the past decade. Some sources cite Monsoor tallied 100 wins with swimming jigs in regional events. When Monsoor stepped up to the national pro tour in 2004, he took his Wisconsin swimming jigs with him. Monsoor stuck several top finishes in quick order with his swimming jigs. That caused a panic and herd reaction among other top BASS and FLW pros who rushed to add swimming jigs to their bag of tricks. Indeed, pros that tried swimming jigs (which were fairly new to many of them) did quite well in top events at that time.

Today, nation-wide swimming jig fever has cooled down. As Monsoor's win streak tailed off, swimming jig popularity ebbed also. It probably peaked about two years back (in 2004-2005). Nevertheless, swimming jigs for bass are here to stay, and it is fair to say it really wasn't done much before Monsoor.

Football Jigs. Another region, the far West is the cradle of football jig fishing. I don't know who or how it first started, but the deep clear canyon lakes of Arizona, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico and Southern California are considered the domain where heavy football jigging flourished for bass fishing.

For instance, back in 1995, top pro Gary Yamamoto won the West's biggest event - the US Open in Las Vegas - with a one ounce football jig, a technique largely unknown to pros outside the far West until recently.

In just the last couple seasons on the top BASS and FLW tours, the football jig has become an "overnight success" as one of the winning-est tactics today. Part of the reason is, tour schedule timing has shifted the past couple seasons to include more post-spawn dates when fish drift deeper after the spring. Another part of the reason is pros overall are turning more and more to deepwater methods throughout the season (not just during post-spawn events) and they're discovering the heavy football jig is one of the best deepwater lures.

Will the current popularity of the football jig only last a season or two like so many other hot tactics that spurt then wither? Will intense interest in the football jig wane like with the swimming jig? It's too early to say. Right now the football jig is hot, at least until the next hot thing supersedes it.

But one thing's for sure, neither the Western style football jig nor the Wisconsin style swimming jig will ever slip back into being a regional tactic anymore. Both swimming jigs and football jigs work too well and anglers everywhere know about them now. So they're here to stay.

Swimming Football Jigs. One thing you hardly ever hear about (and I've even read articles that say it won't work) is swimming football jigs. Football jigs are supposed to be bottom-bounced or dragged across bottom in deep water. Swimming jigs are supposed to be kept moving up near the surface in thick, shallow vegetation.

Honestly, swimming football jigs is fairly simple and effective. It combines 1/2, 3/4 or 1 ounce football jigs with baitfish-colored skirts and grub tail trailers used with a swimming  (as opposed to bottom-bouncing) retrieve. Another "melding" of these techniques you may say are that these football jigs don't have a heavy wire flipping caliber hook. They have a medium (yet still strong) hook that helps set the hook with a swimming retrieve. For whatever reason, a swimming jig retrieve works best with a long cast. Some say in shallow grassy areas, the long cast with a swimming jig is needed not to alert fish to the angler's presence. But there's more to it than that because the long cast also gets more strikes in deep water swimming football jigs. Who knows why but it's true that a long cast is best when swimming jigs.

Another helpful feature for swimming jigs is these footballs don't have the thick, super-stiff brushguards often found on football jigs. Again, the brushguard used here helps fish hook themselves when they hit these football jigs on the end of a long distance cast.

No, these are not finesse jigs - nor are they flipping jigs. For instance, the gear I favor for them is either a Falcon Expert EC-7-MH rod (for the 1/2 oz size) and a Falcon Expert EC-7-H for the 3/4 and 1 ounce swimming football jigs. Both rods I use 16 pound test Yamamoto Sugoi gray fluorocarbon line with Shimano Chronarch 200 reels. So that's certainly not finesse fishing, but the medium/heavy hook wire and fiberguard are excellent in swimming jig situations with medium/heavy (as opposed to flipping) strength gear.

Swim'n Football pile-up!
4 each of 1/2, 3/4 and 1 ounce sizes. Same 5/0 hook in all.

1 oz Swim'n Football Jigs.
2 each Threadfin Flash. 2 each Smallie Special.

3/4 oz Swim'n Football Jigs. 2 each Autumn Green. 2 each Chartreuse Shad.

1/2 oz Swim'n Football Jigs. 2 each Spot Special. 2 each Pearl Blue Chartreuse.

Swim'n Football Grubs. Just like a coin has a head and a tail, so too must a jig head always have a tail or trailer. Shown above are Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits 2-series 6" grub tails in color 031 (top); 2-series grub in color 177 (second); 18T-series grub in color 031 (third); and 19T-series grub in color 150.

1/2 oz Football Jig ~ Chartreuse Shad ~ 18T-031 Yamamoto Grub Tail

3/4 oz Football Jig ~ Autumn Green ~ 2-031 Yamamoto Grub Tail

1 oz Football Jig ~ Threadfin Flash ~ 19T-150 Yamamoto Grub Tail

There are a lot of fancy fishing lures available for bass anglers today. If the truth be known, all the fancy stuff probably does not do any better at bagging bass than these humble baitfish pattern jigs.

Swimming a baitfish pattern jig is a different presentation and gets a different reaction from fish compared to slowly bouncing the bottom with a black blue or brown purple or dark color jig. The swimming football jig is a faster, flashier style of jig fishing. Why not give these swimming football jigs a try today? You'll be glad you did.

Tips for the Swimming Football Technique. It is a misconception that football jigs need to be used RIGHT ON THE VERY BOTTOM. I've even come across articles claiming you can't swim football jigs, but that's not true. Yes, these football jigs can be swam in very close proximity to the bottom, but the best approach is so the jigs rarely touch bottom except when YOU momentarily pause of purposely mend slack line to the jig that allows the jig to sink to seek the bottom in order so you may adjust the depth ABOVE BOTTOM at which you are making your swimming presentation. Otherwise, you really don't need to hit bottom at all, except to stop and let the jig touch down every so often to make sure you are near but not on the bottom. This is the case when you are retrieving down a downhill bottom contour. You will occasionally need to pause to let the jig sink to hunker close to the bottom. But once it touches down, start swimming it again.

On an uphill bottom contour, you'll need to do the opposite. Quicken the retrieve until the football jig can no longer be felt bouncing the bottom. One way to help visualize this is to consider the football jig is like a jet plane taking off on a runway. You want the jig to get airborne (start swimming) and you need to accelerate the retrieve enough so that the jig takes off from bottom. Unlike the jet plane however, you want the jig to ideally hover close to bottom - with minimal subsequent touch-offs just to make sure the jig hasn't risen too high. You want to be off bottom but tracking close to it.

What happens when you are swimming along and there's a sudden rise or obstacle such as a bush, a boulder, a ridge shelf jutting up higher than the rest of the terrain is that the swimming football jig will begin to clutch, bounce off and stutter over and through the object. As the football jig bulldozes its way through and past the object, it will start to get that "floating feeling" as it starts to swim smoothly again. That instant when it clears the obstruction as the grabby, snaggy feel turns into a floating swim feel is a high percentage strike point. As the jig bumbles through and pulls clear of whatever's down there, expect it to get belted hard.

One other tip, if the water you fish has current or flow, the football jig excels when cast cross current and allowed to dead drift down current. Actually, cast slightly upcurrent, starting at a 45 degree angle upcurrent (depending on current speed and depth). The current sweeps the jig back down at you. The jig will sink down and start rolling and dragging along bottom if you don't do anything. If you start reeling in just a little line, the jig will perk up and start methodically bouncing bottom instead of rolling or dragging. If you increase the pace to wind in just a little more line, the jig will reluctantly start to "take off" from the "runway" and become temporarily "airborne." Like a plane that may be overloaded too much and cannot make it off the runway - gravity will return the jig to bottom occasionally until it is perpendicular to you (directly in front of you) in the current when water flow pressure neutralizes and overrides gravity's force, your jig should float away from bottom! That is often the moment when the connection is made between fisherman and fish, when the jig is no longer bouncing bottom, but floating freely above it buffeted by the swirling of the current. The jig is fairly neutral for an instant there, like an astronaut in a weightless environment! What happens next instant is the jig switches to being downcurrent from you. Immediately the jig does an about-face 180 turn and starts rising in the current. This sudden rise is a strike trigger. You can't really do it with the rod tip or with reel and line manipulation. It is only the current and the dead drifting tactic that makes these strike trigger moments possible. If there is any fish-holding boulder, hump, wood jam or whatever may hold fish, you really want to orchestrate the instant of the 180 turn-around and rise to happen right there.

So, if you are going to be fishing current a bottom-bouncing approach like this is a good choice for these football jigs for clean (weed-free) sand, shellfish and rock bottoms, channels or whatever (except weedy bottoms). You will need some current flow from mild to strong, which can be matched with the 1/2, 3/4 and 1 oz weights depending on current flow. But keep in mind, you will rarely catch any fish on the bottom-bouncing part when the jig is coming down current. That's only the part used to set up and prepare for the free float when it gets directly in front of you, the turn-around and rise. Nor will you get many strikes once the jig drifts past that point and falls down current from you.

Flipping Jigs Rule!

People often ask, "What is flipping?"

The definition of flipping includes:

  • an eight foot rod you could yank a beached boat off a sand bar with,
  • plus a winch to match (I mean reel),
  • about 15 feet of rope off the spool (and 5 more on the reel for backing),
  • a strong back and biceps.

Oh, yes, you'll also need a flipping jig that won't crumble under that kind of pressure.

Season after season, an analysis of winning techniques shows that flipping jigs remain one of the most winningest baits on top level pro tours like BASS and FLW. It's always been a winner and always will. Who knows why, but big bass favor flipping jigs. It's not just top tour pros either. Right on down the line of any and all regional and local tournament trails, no matter where, the flipping jig is indubitably a winner. If you look at any regional or local tournament dominator, chances are more than good that the flipping jig is the tool used to win time after time.

For many anglers, however, it's a hard lure to use, and you will not catch as many fish. If you do catch five bass (a limit), or if you just need to hang one good kicker to win, the flipping jig catches bigger bass on average than most any other lure. Who knows why, but it does. The flipping jig always has and will be a tournament-winning bait.

This heavy duty Style T flipping jig head works best on heavy tackle. It's shaped especially for getting through grass, weeds and wiry brush. It comes in one size only - 1/2 ounce with a heavy Mustad Ultra Point 5/0 flipping hook.

Around thick grass beds, reed berms, flooded brush banks, lily pads and the like, a streamlined bullet-nosed flipping jig has traditionally been high on an expert angler's options. I say a flipping jig is for an expert angler, because as deceptively simple as a flipping jig appears to be, it is difficult for a neophyte to use one.

One problem is, many anglers underestimate the heaviness of the gear that's required to flip jigs. A good flipping rod, reel and line is one of the heaviest of all outfits required for effective bass fishing. The casual angler doesn't have the gear horsepower required to flip, to get a jig in and out of dense cover and to set the heavy hook despite the stiff deflective fiberguard.

But the right outfit alone doesn't do much itself. You can acquire the very best flipping outfit in the world, however there's still the skill required to cast or flip a jig into barely open spots in the almost impenetrable tangles of thick cover. More often than not, the flip cast had to hit an area no larger than a tea cup - or you're out of luck. Most flipping casts need to be that precise, and many anglers aren't. The best flippers are not born that way but practice in their garage, pool or backyard, some for an hour daily, just flipping a jig into a teacup or coffee can.

An expert flipper must also develop a knack of "preventing snags before they happen" and this skill can be practiced on dry land too. Just cast across an obstacle course that simulates the fishing situations you face. Oh yes, cut the fiberguard off first and run the jig through the obstacle course with the hook point exposed. You'll be a better flipper for it.  This knack of "preventing snags before they happen" has very little to do with jig construction. Although a properly-designed jig helps, the knack's 80% operator skill. For anglers that have not mastered the knack of preventing snags before they happen, flipping jigs can be a frustratingly snaggy experience.

Inevitably, even the best flipper will get snagged - in fact, often. This requires another skill. Not only must a flipper be a "master caster" to get into tight spots in the cover that few other anglers can fish, but must be a "master uncaster" also, meaning the knack to unsnag stuck jigs is truly a necessary ability that all flippers must master. If you aren't a "master uncaster" that means you must move the boat to the snag more often than not, to get it out, and you're just not going to catch many fish doing that all day. Being a master uncaster means getting a snag out without compromising your boat's fishing position and without blowing every bass out of the cover.

I hope I haven't discouraged anyone who wants to try flipping jigs. As deceptively simple as jigs look, it is up to the flipper to make them work - or not. It may take years, even a lifetime, to master flipping jigs, but it is the ultimate accomplishment in bass fishing. No other bass lure takes as much skill or practice.

John Clinton of Minnesota is a master at flipping fields of lily pads. "Most anglers just won't get into the thick of the pad fields where lunker bass lurk," says John. "I caught this bucketmouth on the Style T flipping jig with the olive pumpkin skirt and a green pumpkin Zoom Super Speed Craw trailer. The Style T jig has been awesome for fishing shallow vegetation, especially lily pads." - John Clinton, Apple Valley, Minnesota

Flip, Pitch or Swim? You Decide. Up until a couple of years back, fishing jigs around shallow, thick vegetation meant flipping jigs into tiny spots where bass would be holed up deep in cover, and expecting to get hit even before the jig reaches bottom most times. If no hit, shake or hop the jig a couple of times and then extract it from the cover for another cast. If you're so close to the cover you can literally hit the bass on the head without even casting, that's called "flipping" in a nutshell. If you have to pitch an underhanded or semi-sidearm cast a short distance to hit the target, that's called "pitching" a jig.

In the last few years, "swimming" a jig and specific versions of "swimming jigs" have become popular for fishing around thick grass beds also. In this case, the jig is kept swimming along, and the specific swimming jig designs are optimized to do that.

The jig here flips and pitches into holes in grass and gets in and out of tight cover very well. It is also designed it to swim as good as any swimming jig.

This heavy duty flipping jig is designed so it swims as good as it flips. Not one or the other, but both.

So that's what this jig does best of all - both flipping and swimming. Especially in grass, thick weeds, tall reeds, wiry brush banks and fields of lily pads.

Unconventional Jig Eye Bend. Unlike conventional jigs, the 30 degree bend jig hook is what helps make these jigs swim better than a jig with a traditional 60 degree or 90 degree jig hook. The 30 degree hook placement and the curve of the chin underneath it help bring the jig though grass better than other jigs, plus the collar (where the skirt goes) is much lower below the jig's center of gravity, which helps steer the eye over and through grass, helps the point stick on a strike and helps counterbalance the jig to stay upright when swimming. I've seen many ill-balanced flipping jigs that roll over on their sides when you try to swim them, and I've seen many swimming jigs just too light to flip - but the Style T jig swims and flips in grass better than most other flipping jigs out there, and it swims better than most other swimming jigs out there today.

Premium Mustad Opti-Angle Ultra Point jig hook. This is one of Mustad's newest - and best - jig hook models. New hook models like this have a habit of leapfrogging over old hook models. Let's face it, you can't upgrade an old hook model since they are many existing molds and lure manufacturers worldwide depending on hook models to remain consistent. But you can learn what makes a jig hook better, and incorporate those ideas into a new hook model, which is what Mustad did with this hook. Every dimension is better than most any flipping jig hook built before it. The total length from the eye to the bend is longer than any flipping jig hook I know. Just like long shank hooks have become preferred on spinnerbaits, this new longer jig hook also puts the hook point back further into the mouth when engulfed - and also puts the hook point further back to hook more short-striking fish. The top of the hook eye is much lower than the point, thus less impediment caused by protruding hook eye blockage on the hookset. The "front length" (distance from the tip of the point to back of the bend) is longer, for more cant and leverage on the hookset. >From the tip of the point to the barb is longer, for more tentative hold upon initial penetration. The bend is wider, the gape is wider and the bite or throat is deeper. As I say, every dimension is designed better than most any flipping jig hook built before it. New hooks designs tend to be like that. It has a heavy flipping strength hook wire for landing big bass with medium/heavy to very heavy tackle. It is a 5/0 hook with a black nickel finish and an Opti-Angle Ultra Point designed to resist the point bending and rolling over when it meets gristly mouth material.

Triple Cone Cut Keeper Collar. This is something you do not see much yet on bass lures. The Style T jig here is just about the first to implement it (on bass jigs). It is designed to hold a skirt (over the first cone) and the remaining two cones can hold a soft trailer securely. To get a skirt or soft bait onto the cones, it's best to wet the collar a little first. Lake water or any water will do. At home, I like to use a Q-Tip dipped in water and dishwashing liquid. Just dab the cones to wet them, then wriggle the skirt or soft bait gently side to side to get it seated properly on the cones. If you try it dry or apply too much direct force straight ahead, it's not as easy and results will be less than perfect. Wet the cones, and wriggle side to side gently, and your skirt and/or soft bait will enjoy the benefit of 360 degree all-around grip from each of the three cones. All together, that's 1,080 degrees of gripping power. Much better than a puny barb or bent wire keeper!

The triple cone cut keeper collar is a significant advantage. First, there is one keeper cone for the skirt, and it is quite difficult for a fish to ever pull the skirt down. Second, there are two more cone keepers with a full 360 degrees of gripping power each (a total of 720 degrees of grip strength) that helps hold a soft plastic trailer far more securely than any spike or barb type keeper. Do the math. A spike or barb type keeper has at most 15 degrees of grip whereas the Style T jig has 720 degrees of grip. It's obvious the Style T will hold soft baits much more securely. Worst of all, most other flipping or swimming jigs on the market have absolutely no way to hold soft plastic trailers - just a bare hook shank behind the skirt! The Style T has not one but two full 360 degree trailer keeper cones!

Closely Calibrated Fiberguard. The fiberguard is painstakingly calibrated to need no trimming. It wasn't so many years ago, there was practically only one size fiberguard, and it came the maximum length, very thick and very stiff, sort of a "one size fits all" which often meant that savvy anglers would need to trim, shorten and thin out some fibers to tailor the fiberguard to be just right for the snags they faced. Worst of all, less experienced anglers would use the fiberguard as is, and have problems hooking fish. No wonder novices would say jig fishing is hard to master. Remember, a fiberguard is only there to let the jig traverse terrain that an exposed hook can not. Nowadays, a manufacturer can practically custom order the length, stiffness, fiber diameter and number of fibers in a bundle that they desire. So we perfectly configured the fiberguard on the Style T jig so it does not need trimming. It's good to go right out of the box, and hooks a high percentage of fish while avoiding snags. Even inexperienced anglers will hook a lot of fish - and remarkably avoid snags like they're experts! You do want to fan the fibers out, just a little bit on both sides, to serve as side deflectors to usher the hook away from grass and snags from the sides. But you do not need to trim it. It is set up for grass and weeds and brush, and that's why the fiberguard is a little longer which helps the jig get through grass. However, if you fish relatively snag-free areas, you may want to clip 1/4" off the tip of the fiberguard. This is just to lower the protruding tip of the fiberguard, so it reduces any chance it's an impediment when a fish engulfs it.

Power Fishing's Perfect Pair

This the matching jig built to be used with the Style T spinnerbait. The Style T spinnerbait comes in two sizes only 1/2 oz and 3/4 ounce with a 5/0.

Both this jig and the Style T spinnerbait were built together in order to be fished together. These two are like peas and carrots - the perfect pair for heavy tackle.

How it works is when you power fish down a bank, you can use this jig to flip, pitch and swim this jig right in the thick grass, the heavy cover and tight spots.

With a second rod on the deck, you can throw the Style T spinnerbait to the outside edges and ends of grass lines and the open water stretches in between thick cover patches. As you come across points or bowls you don't necessarily want to bring the boat into, you can still fish them with long casts with the heavy spinnerbait. You can get up close and in tight with the jig, and also cast across more open water, get a little more distance with the spinnerbait.

These two are the same h-ea-v-y d-u-t-y power fishing lure design built as a jig and as the matching Style T spinnerbait.

Same heavy duty bait designed to probe tight cover (jig) and to prospect open structure (spinnerbait).

The hook used is one of the latest flipping jig hook styles to be introduced to the market (last year). As a rule, all new hooks tend to leapfrog past earlier hook models. New hooks incorporate new understanding by the hookmaker of how anglers use them, more modern production methods and materials.

This is a modern hook made to withstand the force of superlines (braid), but works equally swell with monofilament or fluorocarbon. That doesn't mean it will never bend under tremendous pressure of heavier braided lines, but it is designed to bend less than most other flipping hooks do. No matter how strong a heavy duty flipping hook looks and feels, most all can and will bend under intense pressure with heavy braid.

The Mustad "Ultra Point" is also revolutionary for flipping jigs. Mustad came out with it a few years back. It is super-sharp right out of the box, but where it excels most is after a few fish are caught or after you've been flipping a few hours or all day. The tip of the point rarely bends. The Mustad Ultra Point holds its point better under hard flipping conditions and doesn't roll the point after a few fish or flipping tough stuff all day.

Best of all, the huge hook gap can accommodate big trailers and still have enough hook gap left to hook and land fish well. The huge hook gap assures your hookset will take, even if at the end of a long flip or pitch. And it was designed for long distance casting-and-swimming as well as it flips and pitches.

This jig comes through grass weedless and snagless, better than any flipping jig I know. Try it and see for yourself. At the same time, it is designed to momentarily clutch grass. I love the way it grabs but let's go of grass. There's something fish find perfect about that at times. We often hear how fishing lipless rattling crankbaits (or any lure) in grass, how it's good to rip it off grass to get a strike. Well, this jig does that - briefly - so fast it is hardly noticeable. It acts more like an aquatic terrestrial creature, an amphibian, waterbug, larvae or crawdad that moves from stalk to stalk, briefly clutching on and pushing off to the next stalk. Once you know about this unique grab-and-go action, you'll find yourself intentionally fishing this jig to bring that action out of it.

Watermelon Red


Green Pumpkin

Watermelon Candy


Black Brown Craw

Brown Purple

Brown Sunfish

Brown Pumpkin

Black Blue

June Bug Bluegill


Flipping Jig Skirt Color Suggestions

People often think of flipping jigs one way - as imitating crawdads, which jigs do. But they equally imitate sunfish and other panfish like perch or crappie, baby bass and other young-of-year of many fish species, frogs, or anything else that hides in grass and thick cover where you'd flip a jig. Bass eat them all, and these natural skirt colors represent a lot of what bass eat. So it's not just crawdads that a jig looks like.

1/2 oz Flipping Jig ~
Olive Brown Craw Skirt. One half olive pumpkin. One half brown crawdad color. Both halves heavily black peppered with mottled black bars and spots. A truly great natural color skirt.

With two tone skirts, there's no strict rule or requirement to have one or the other half as the back or belly color. True, it seems more natural to present a dark top, light belly. Yet there are days when turning the skirt around 180 degrees may cause fish to hit harder. Who knows why, but if you are getting weak hits or half-hearted bumps on a multi-colored skirted lure, try to turn the skirt colors upside down and see if it doesn't make a difference. It may not look "right" to you, but there are days when this simple trick convinces fish to strike more solidly.

1/2 oz Flipping Jig ~ Green Sunfish Skirt.
This is about as good as a skirt gets. Heavily barred, mottled and spotted like sunfish often are, this stunning skirt has a dark green pumpkin pepper back, watermelon pepper sides and orange pumpkin pepper belly. It's doubtful you will find a better green sunfish skirt than this.

This skirt overlays two irregular print patterns - both bars and spots - onto one skirt. It really gives a broken-up and non-descript looking pattern that's more irregular and life-like than the square-looking fish scale patterns. It gives a great mottled crawfish, baitfish or panfish look that breaths fresh new life into popular skirt patterns.

Watermelon Candy Sunfish Skirt. This skirt color homogenizes the four primary colors of most all jigs: 1) black, 2) brown, 3) purple and 4) green in a single skirt. In this way, no matter what jig color a fish may have a hankering for, it's here. It's not one or the other jig color, but all four of them at once! Best of all, the four colors are commingled so closely that they appear as "one cohesive color" instead of four separate ones. This is achieved by very close matching of the green, brown and purple tones in order to infuse into each other like the colors of a watercolor painting bleed into one another. The pervasive black barred and spotted mottling is the "icing on the cake" that binds and meshes the pattern into a cohesive singular theme. So it's not black, brown, green and purple any more. It's the power of all four in one.

/2 oz Flipping Jig ~
Natural Frog Skirt. Hollow rubber frogs and soft plastic toads have become a recent trend for fishing thick grass the last few years. Hollow frogs are often nudged or bounced along with the rod tip in order to impart some semblance of natural movement. Soft plastic toads are often kept moving, reeled or "buzzed" slowly across the surface of a congested grassy area. Many of these lures are colored to resemble natural frogs and toads - and so is this new frog /toad colored skirt that's perfect for jigs fished around lily pads, grass and frog filled areas. It's Natural Frog. Please enjoy!

1/2 oz Flipping Jig ~
June Bug Bluegill Skirt. This color resembles a bluegill sunfish. It has a black and purple appearance with superfine red neon and plenty of shiny blue foil and purple foil for flash. Goes great in muddy water environments - or anywhere that bluegill exhibit that dark purplish appearance.

Many anglers mistakenly feel flash doesn't matter in dark water, low light or at night. Nothing could be further from the truth. Flash is often attractive in the right proportion, even in the darkest conditions.  That's why this skirt is so heavily sparkled with blue and purple glitter.

Black Blue Flash Skirt. New skirt foiling technique for 2007! Each and every one of the 44 strands are heavily foiled in a non-descript, irregular pattern on both sides with metallic blue foil flash.

1/2 oz Flipping Jig ~ Black Blue Flash

A happy customer says: "This beauty was caught on the 1/2 oz black blue flipping jig with a sapphire blue Zoom Super Speed Craw trailer." - John Clinton, Apple Valley, Minnesota

Rain Frog Skirt. This color looks like warm summer rain drops rolling off a green frog's back. That's why it is called "rain frog" and there's really nothing else quite like it. The strands are a nice weedy green color, heavily infused with pearlescent micro-particles that give a ruddy reddish, pinkish, orangey or lustrous coppery sheen to the skirt, depending on the amount and angle of ambient light.  The sheen tends to bend the green into a brownish. The sheen tends to come and go, and each strand emits a bit different sheen from the others, causing a constantly changing or shimmering effect. Please enjoy!

1/2 oz Flipping Jig Style T ~ Rain Frog

1/2 oz Flipping Jig ~ Green Pumpkin Olive

1/2 oz Flipping Jig ~ Brown Purple ~ Rattles

Brown Purple Skirt. Winning Western pros have thrown brown purple jig 'n pigs forever. Always have. Always will. Now this is a great nondescript, natural-appearing skirt that Western jig wizards will love. There's no finer brown purple skirt on the market. Super drab. Half purplish brown. Half brownish purple. This dark, nondescript skirt can be dressed with a black, brown, purple or watermelon trailer. The two trailer colors I like with this skirt are a dark smoke pepper soft plastic trailer (in clear to stained water) or a dark green pumpkin pepper trailer (under dark conditions). No flash, no fancy, no dinks, just kickers.

1/2 oz Flipping Jig ~ Peanut Butter Jelly ~ Rattles

Peanut Butter Jelly Skirt. PBJ first became popular as a soft plastic lure color in Southern California many years (decades) ago. Practically forgotten since then, PBJ has only recently been rediscovered as a jig color. PBJ jigs have spread smoothly across the Southeast and Northeast USA in the past few seasons, but PBJ still hasn't really caught on in the West again. That's unwise since it's just a variation of the traditional darker brown purple jig that is such a winning bait out West.. This peanut butter and jelly skirt sandwich sticks to the roof of bass mouths. It's just a color that bass love.

1/2 oz Custom Flipping Jig ~ PBJ Flash

PBJ Flash Skirt. A medium brown skirt heavily foiled with lustrous purple metal foil imprinted on both sides. The photo here hardly does this color justice. The purple foil is laminated in an irregular swirling pattern. The purple foil constantly glistens in a fluid manner as the skirt strands ripple whenever moved. The purple flash flutters and practically drips off each strand in a liquid-like shimmering illusion. The photo hardly shows this, but underwater the purple foil shimmers and shines causing the illusion of rippling movement.

1/2 oz Custom Flipping Jig ~ Green Craw

Green Craw Skirt. An oldie but a goodie, for me. I've caught a lot of fish on this skirt scheme over many years. It's basically two different swatches of brownish-greenish strands with heavy green flake throughout. Underwater, the green flake stands out. It has an orange belly swatch, with black fish scale, and that synchs the belly to the back which also has black fish scales. The crosshatch back and belly lends a spiny, leggy, carapace shell-like crawdad look to the skirt. And although the color is named "green craw" it certainly looks like a sunfish too.

1/2 oz Flipping Jig ~ Pale Watermelon Red ~ Rattles

1/2 oz Flipping Jig ~ Watermelon Red Pepper ~ Rattles

1/2 oz Flipping Jig ~ Dark Green Pumpkin ~ Rattles

Dark Green Pumpkin Skirt. Extra dark green for duty in low light, at daybreak, in the evening (ideal for those weekday after work tournaments), and at night. Great for dirty water - or clear. Heavily black peppered. It combines two irregular patterns - black bars and spots - to give this skirt a mottled, broken-up, non-descript appearance. A few soft plastic trailer options to go with this skirt are: black, junebug, green pumpkin and more.

1/2 oz Flipping Jig ~ Rusty Green Craw

1/2 oz Flipping Jig ~ Rusty Red Craw ~ Rattles

Rusty Red Craw Skirt. A blend of mottled red and black craw pattern with hints of rusty red brown in it. Goes great with a black trailer in dirty water, but do not be afraid to try it anywhere anytime. Rusty red craw works more often than not.

1/2 oz Flipping Jig ~ Warmouth Sunfish ~ Rattles

Warmouth Sunfish Skirt. Whether you call them warmouth, goggle-eye or red-eyed bream, this small member of the sunfish family is an aggressive feeder. It likes to lurk around brush, rubble and weedy areas in which it can hide, waiting to ambush any prey that comes past. In turn, the warmouth is hunted and preyed upon itself by bass. Bass eat many more sunfish than most anglers realize. It's markings are generally blotched and mottled, with a brassy brownish green back, yellowish olive sides and belly, just like this imitative skirt. Warmouth are widely-found across the country, and this skirt imitates not just warmouth but any and all sunfish species, crayfish and plenty of other critters bass eagerly eat. So don't be afraid to toss this warmouth skirt at any bass anywhere. It's a winner!

1/2 oz Flipping Jig ~ Watermelon Candy

Sink or Swim?

The experts keep telling us there's no such thing as a magic lure. Still, we are always looking. Few of us will ever find it. But at least one top pro angler, Tom Monsoor from Wisconsin feels he may have discovered such a magic lure - the swimming jig dressed with a Gary Yamamoto grub trailer.

Forever we've been sinking jigs and bouncing them up and down on the bottom, feeling it imitates a crawdad. It took Tom Monsoor to teach us all to swim jigs to imitate shad, bluegill and assorted shore minnows. As fundamental as swimming a jig sounds, it really wasn't done by anyone before Monsoor.

Monsoor's first inkling that he may be on to something big began in the mid-1980's when he first began to intentionally swim a jig. Steadily, Tom and his swimming jigs grew to dominate tournaments within the northern states region of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. By the late 1990's, Monsoor had perfected the swimming jig with devastating tournament results. With a heavy onslaught of wins and top-tens, Monsoor wore the BFL Great Lakes Division AOY crown from 1999 through 2001, and Monsoor netted the EverStart Series Northern Division title in 2001. Some accounts credit Monsoor with over one hundred local and regional tournament wins, all on his swimming jig.

Not only did Monsoor believe he had a magic lure, but the many competitors he crushed began to believe it too. They desperately began to try to copy Monsoor's swimming jig the best they could. Many co-anglers had been in the back of Tom's boat as draw tournament partners. That's one way the word spread about what Tom was doing. Yet Monsoor had played his money-making jig close to his life vest. As a result, few knew the necessary details of how or why Tom made or used them. Nevertheless, a number of look-alikes - sparsely-skirted, bullet-nosed jigs with low-angled hook eyes - began to appear everywhere in the North Central states wherever Tom had whipped them.

By 2002, Monsoor stepped up to the national pro level, and he has not seriously fished northern states regional events since 2002. The pressure was off them, but the schooling he gave his Northern brethren is still not forgotten. To this day, the swimming jig is used heavily in the northern region where Monsoor reigned. There isn't anyone fishing a tournament in the area of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois who doesn't have one, or more like a couple dozen swimming jigs in his bag.

Monsoor brought the swimming jig to national attention in early 2004 when Tom had two top finishes swimming jigs on the prestigious FLW Pro Tour. He backed up a second place finish on Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana with a third place finish on Beaver Lake, Arkansas. It's puzzling that something so fundamental and effective as swimming a jig had not been done before. But truly, no one really did it before Monsoor.

A swimming jig is a different animal than other jigs.

Since 2004, thanks to Tom's example, many of the USA's top pros have learned how to swim jigs. Top pros have consistently scored high by swimming jigs in most top national events since 2004. As a consequence, there are numerous brands of swimming jigs on the market now. Most (not all) aim to be about as close as possible to emulate Tom's swimming jig in a general way. Most (not all) tend to have a bullet head, a low angle hook eye, a slightly lighter wire hook and lighter fiberguard than found on a flipping jig, for instance. Most tend to have a sparser skirt with less strands in it. A sparse skirt is required because a full skirt tends to upset the delicate balance caused by the low angle eye of most swimming jigs. They'd veer off and swim sideways instead of upright due to the water drag with a full skirt. That's an inherent problem in most all bullet-nosed swimming jigs, even those hand-made by the master Monsoor himself. It's critical to balance the skirt material just right, and less skirt material is necessary so the jig head doesn't roll over or swim crooked. You wouldn't think it would matter to fish, but truth is, fish don't want anything to do with swimming jigs that roll over and don't stay upright.

With a good swimming jig design, it's not uncommon to go through a dozen and discard the ones that don't swim true. That's the price you pay for the privilege to fish with the remaining jigs that do pass muster. When you get one that is balanced perfectly, it will buzz across the surface like a soft plastic frog or toad, and remain true and upright even on high speed retrieves. But others, even out of the same mold, will roll over and play dead. This is not something that applies only to swimming jigs. Even the best crankbaits, topwaters or whatever you care to name have below-average, average and above-average performers in every dozen. If you don't weed them out, you will waste your time fishing with them.

Swimming jigs excel for fishing in vegetation, grass, reeds, brush or wood. Yes, they will work other ways, but swimming jigs are at their best as shallow water weed and wood lures. These are the choicest types of spots that fish favor on any body of water, and practically every anglers knows that. These shallow fish in prime spots know all about anglers, boats and baits. They get peppered with lures, and have gone through catch and release. They've learned to bypass the bad presentations, turn down the less-than-perfect jigs and reject all the other lures chucked at them by every passing boat. But a well-made swimming jig, although the experts tell us there's no such thing, has a magic charm in shallow weeds and wood that other jigs and lures do not.

Couple clear to stained water with shallow, weedy, woody, brushy areas, and you have the best situation for swimming jigs. Keep in mind, "clear" water is a relative term, and many lakes have relatively "clearer" water in certain areas, especially areas of thick weed growth may tend to be relatively clearer. Even in stained water, swimming jig experts feel resident bass eyesight can become accustomed to the water stain (unless its quickly darkening) as if to see right through it.

A shad imitation swimming jig.

There's not a lot of noise or vibration that you are accustomed to with other types of baits (crankbaits, topwaters, spinnerbaits, etc). Rattles are rarely used on swimming jigs. Since it's relatively "quiet," a swimming jig doesn't seem to "announce" itself or alert fish within an area (as would say, a Rat-L-Trap), and you can catch multiple fish out of an area.

So much of the strike appeal is visual with swimming jigs, and color is an important aspect of the appeal. It's not just the primary color (black, brown, green, etc.), but second and third accent colors plus metallic flash colors are considered critical on swimming jig heads, in the skirts and via soft plastic trailers. Therefore, color, changing colors and trying new colors throughout the day are key to swimming jig success. Whitish/silvery patterns keying on shad, shiners or shore minnows, plus dark patterns (black/brown/greenish/purplish, etc.) keying on bluegill are most popular. However, imitating any currently plentiful baitfish or aquatic critter - matching the hatch - is basic and reliable. Other times, it's not matching anything in nature that provokes strikes. It's the visibility, visual affect and attraction of color and flash in the swimming jig head, skirt and trailer.

Another important point is that long casts are best. This is not a pitching or flipping approach. Long casts are an essential part of the application, as far away from the boat as possible. Plan for the furthest part of the retrieve to come through isolated clumps of grass and cover, usually within a foot of the surface. You'll get to see lots of your strikes, and it's especially exciting to see the bulging wakes of fish that are zeroing in on the swimming jig from 5-10 feet away in the grass. Hits tend to come at the end of the cast, when coming across the top of or skimming the outskirts of fish-holding cover. You don't necessarily need to jig or pop or pause a swimming jig. Just swim it steadily. Of course, as it comes into open pockets in the weeds, let it drop in, or let it sink to bottom on the shady side of any rock or log it swims over. But most of the time, just swim it steadily, and get ready whenever it trips over or stutters through stuff in its path.

As the lightweight jig recoils off anything it encounters, the deflection moment is a great strike trigger. The jig gets stunned by the impact, the upright balance becomes unsettled, and when it comes free it arights itself. Ker-pow! As a swimming jig deflects off weeds or wood or whatever, bass go bonkers for it. Since it's a lightweight lure, the supple fiberguard is more like a bumper or pusher that moves or flexes the swimming jig off obstructions, while attempting to stay upright and not bow the hook point over toward the snag. The fiberguard is not so much there for protection such as with a heavy duty power jig flipped into the heart of dense cover. Instead of muscling their way through obstructions, the swimming jig is designed to shunt aside from them and stay upright without rolling over, swimming steadily all the while without stopping. That steady swimming momentum keeps its nose from digging into snags too as opposed to being hopped, bounced or paused right on bottom debris.

In open water (sandy flats for instance), swimming jigs work well too, even though there may not be that much to deflect off. Yet strikes still tend to come on the end of a long cast on a steady retrieve. Because of the long distance at which many strikes happen, the softer than usual fiberguard and slightly finer than usual needle point hook are important. Due to the softness of the fiberguard and the needle-like nature of the hook used, fish come up and grab it, swim off to the side and sometimes they are already hooked - no hookset per se.

On the other hand, at other times you can suspect a fish is there but not be sure for several seconds whether it is a fish or not? While you are reeling in, you'll find fish often just grab on and swim with the jig. Sometimes the fish may almost imperceptibly hold on, and as long as you don't pull hard, neither will the fish. If you just keep reeling, it will happily keep swimming at you. Since these fish are just grabbing on and swimming at you at the end of a long cast, you'll find it necessary to hit them hard. So you must whack them and reel as fast as possible to try to get a tight connection. Sometimes you cannot get the hook sunk as they swim at you from a distance, and they shake the jig out of their mouth before it sticks. That is one of your weakest moments when you can lose them - within the first few seconds of the hookset (or lack thereof). Also, a forgiving drag setting is important for when you get them up to the boat. If the drag is too tight when they make a final surge at boatside, they often tend to pull themselves off the hook after the long-distance fight. That is your second weak moment when you can lose them - or anytime they leap.

Swimming jig with heavy duty flipping hook to handle the biggest bass on the heaviest tackle.

Bottom line, the most productive tactic is to swim a 1/4 oz jig just under the surface over the tops of submerged or emergent weeds and wood. It is the 1/4 oz size that's best around heavy weeds and matted grass beds growing to the surface and laying over on top. Where there is dense grass, throw on top of the mats and the 1/4 oz jig will not get hung up or bogged down on top. Just stop the revolving spool with your thumb and start reeling before the jig even hits the slop. In this way, it won't sink into the soft, mushy canopy of greenery, and you may swim the light jig across the surface of the mats, pausing it to drop down into sparse open pockets. The 3/8 oz size will bog down in thick surface grass more than the 1/4 oz size.

Overall, the 1/4 oz size is the mainstay most of the time. The 3/8 oz size is better when a breeze makes it too difficult to cast or feel the 1/4 oz size. Plus you may find the 3/8 oz size better suited to the irregular outside edges of a deeper weed line or to swim over the tops of weeds that are still submerged deeper under the water. Where the outside weedlines drop off to open water, the 3/8 oz size excels for swimming barely above the sloping open bottom in slightly deeper water, say down to 12 feet.

However, most of the time, the jig is kept up, swimming high in the water column from just below to within a few feet of the surface, and fish will barrel up off the bottom, out from under logs or arise suddenly out of dense weed clumps in order to swat down the swimming jig up near the top - especially when the jig bumps and pushes off something. In grass, you can watch it swimming through grass and see the grass part, fish swim out and bust it. That's something you'll never grow tired of seeing.

It's not the crawling, hopping, bottom-bumping approach taken with other jigs. Quite the opposite. The swimming jig is kept moving in the top of the water column. Although, if you did want to pitch, flip or fish bottom with it, a swimming jig will certainly do that too, as good as any other jig (keeping in mind it's a medium/heavy hook, not a heavy wire flipping hook).

There are some brands of swimming jigs now that do have the heavy duty flipping strength hook to land the biggest bass with the heaviest tackle. Yet it was only a few years ago that there weren't any low-angle hook eyes necessary to strike the delicate swimming balance. If you wanted a swimming jig hook two years ago, you had to heat and hand-bend the hooks yourself.

But since 2004 when swimming jigs rose to national attention, low-angle hook eyes in a range of light, medium and heavy strength wire have been made widely available to accommodate the many new swimming jig designs out there.

Keep in mind, the "Wisconsin style" swimming jig is most popular, especially in northern states, and the hook wire is medium/heavy, but not as heavy as a flipping jig hook. It has a medium/heavy strength wire for landing big bass with medium/heavy tackle, say anything from 12 to 16 pound test line, and a baitcasting rod that's designed for jigs, just more forgiving than a flipping stick.

Four grub sizes and 2 jig sizes (1/4 & 3/8) enable 8 different speed/depth/profile variations. However the 1/4 oz dressed with the 5" (18-series) grub is preferred over all.

A soft plastic trailer is always necessary. A swimming jig will not work without a soft plastic trailer, which is often a single tail grub. The single tail of a grub should always face downward, perfectly centered and straight in line with the hook without rigging a kink or bend in the grub. The world's top swimming jig experts tend to recommend Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits. GYCB offers four sizes of single tail grubs from 4 to 6 inches that go great on all swimming jigs. The four sizes of Yamamoto grubs are the 40, 18, 19 and 2 series.

Bottom line, a swimming jig always requires a Yamamoto single tail grub or other trailer - or else a swimming jig simply isn't effective.

The single tail 18-series five-inch grub works so superbly that many experts don't use any other grub size or any other style trailer. However, the range of Yamamoto single tails from 4" to 6" will work. By varying the four Yamamoto single tail grub trailers with the two standard jig sizes (1/4 and 3/8 oz), eight different swimming speed/depth and profile variations are possible - and well worth experimenting with.

Another important component to swimming jig presentation is Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits liquid scent attractant. First of all, the oily liquid scent is like a lubricant which keeps the tail from sticking, helps the grub swim, flow and flex better. Then when a fish gets near it, behind it, it smells it. The liquid leaves a scent trail, and when the fish gets close enough to smell the scent, they devour the jig more.

Even if a bass strikes short and tears the grub tail off, it will come back a second time to get the rest of the swimming jig because of the taste of the torn-off tail. It smells good enough to nip, the tail tastes good, and then they strike again in order to eat the entire jig.

You'll learn to favor the days they tear the tail off. Learn to let the first tentative bite pass by without setting the hook. You'll lose the tail, but it's like letting them have an appetizer or delicious hors d'oeuvre first. It gives you a heads-up, a warning that you should ready yourself. They've taste-tested the sacrificial tail, are convinced it's food, and will return for the main course, hitting solidly this time.

Another reason to use Yamamoto's liquid attractant is to give a glistening life-like sheen to the grub. This is especially true on translucent colors, and the sheen coat heightens light hitting the bait and it helps heighten the reflective sparkle flakes if any.

Simply drip a few drops of Yamamoto's liquid attractant into the plastic bag the single tail grubs are packaged in. In this way, the grubs all get a sparkly sheen coating, get a life-like luster to them, and, if there are ten to twenty baits in the bag, you do not need to stop fishing to re-apply fish attractant ten or twenty times during the day. Only once.

Equally important, the lubricated baits tend to relax and unwind any kinks or bends they may have gotten during storage. You would not think it matters to a bass, but grubs do catch more fish when they are straight. Grubs catch less fish when kinked, bent or twisted badly. Anointing the baits in the bag with Yamamoto's liquid attractant will tend to return the grub's back to the perfect shape they were originally molded in, thanks to the restorative effect that Yamamoto's attractant can have on Yamamoto's grubs. And when bass smell and taste it, they're hooked. Plus, applying a coating of attractant in the bag instead of on the jig, helps keep the individual skirt strands from getting congealed and stuck together like poorly cooked spaghetti. The grubs in the bag are well-coated, but the skirt strands don't get as greasy or matted down.

Thanks for reading along. I hope you've realized a swimming jig is a different animal. It's something top pros have scored highly with in most every major tournament the past few years. Prior to that, we'd only sink jigs like rocks. But now we know, jigs work swimmingly too.

Wisconsin Style Swimming Jig Heads

You've seen Wisconsin style swimming jigs before... just never like these!

These are "Wisconsin Style" swimming jigs with a 5/0 Mustad Ultra Point jig hook.

These swimming jig heads can be used with skirts plus single or double tail grub trailers - or simply dress with grubs without silicone skirts - or with small soft plastic shad bodies such as Gary Yamamoto's 3-1/2" Swimbait.

Swimming Jig Heads.
Top View.

Swimming Jig Heads.
Bottom View.

Mustad Ultra Point 5/0 Hook. Both 1/4 and 3/8 oz sizes feature the same 5/0 size medium wire diameter Mustad Ultra Point hook.

Both the 1/4 and 3/8 oz size swimming jig heads have the same 5/0 Mustad Ultra Point medium wire diameter hook. This is a strong hook for use with light to medium spinning or baitcasting gear, say anything from 8 up to a max of 16 pound test line. The fiberguard is firm enough to deflect the swimming jig away from weeds and snags, yet fish will practically hook themselves with little interference from this perfect size brush guard.

1/4 oz Swimming Jig ~ Gold Shiner

3/8 oz Swimming Jig ~ Gold Shiner

1/4 oz Swimming Jig ~ Green Pumpkin

3/8 oz Swimming Jig ~ Green Pumpkin

1/4 oz Swimming Jig ~ White Shad

3/8 oz Swimming Jig ~ White Shad

1/4 oz Swimming Jig Head ~ Brown Mist

3/8 oz Swimming Jig Head ~ Brown Mist

1/4 oz Swimming Jig Head ~ Black Mist

3/8 oz Swimming Jig Head ~ Brown Mist

Black Mist Color. Both the black mist and the brown mist colors are beautifully finished with a fine mist of purple pearl sprayed from the tip of the nose to in between the eyes. A fine mist of pearl green is sprayed on the lower cheeks of both gill flaps. The photos hardly show the real beauty of the purple and green mist sprays.

Green Pumpkin Color.

Gold Shiner Color. 3/8th swimming jig head on left. 1/4 oz on right.

White Shad Color. 1/4 oz swimming jig head on left. 3/8th on right.

Black. 3/8th swimming jig head on left. 1/4 oz on right.

Wisconsin Style Swimming Jigs ~ Skirt Color Suggestions

1/4 oz Swimming Jig ~ White Shad

3/8 oz Swimming Jig ~ White Shad

1/4 oz Swimming Jig ~ Ghost Minnow

3/8 oz Swimming Jig ~ Ghost Minnow

1/4 oz Swimming Jig ~ Threadfin Flash

3/8 oz Swimming Jig ~ Threadfin Flash

Over the summer of 2004, I worked on developing a specific threadfin shad color concept for a Senko, which ultimately went into production as color #927 (smoke with large purple and small hologram back / white pearl with large silver belly). My, how time flies! That was a full two years ago, and the last laminate Senko put into production since that time.

Now threadfin shad are hard buggers to mimic since their colors change constantly, from season to season, and even at different times of day or depths, their skin cells or pigment cells (or whatever) flush differently. Seasonally, I've seen shad schools appear green as a watermelon Senko, blue as the sky, black as night and every other hue.

However, the smoky fuchsia (pinkish purplish), silvery and white pattern of Senko color #927 is a fairly common color expression of shad, especially in colder or deeper water - or when they're not expressing any seasonal or specific environmental color coordination.

Recently, I've tried to express that same desirable threadfin color concept - smoky fuchsia, silver and white - in a jig skirt. Here is the new skirt color I call "Threadfin Flash.

The flash material only looks silver in the photo. The camera (or me, the photographer) just was not able to capture the holographic effect of the flash material. The flash material constantly reflects pale aqua blue, chartreuse, pale pink, pale purple, pale green, gold glints and other reflective hues. I put the flash material on the back (not the belly), where it would get hit by the most light.

Swimming Jig ~ 1/4 oz ~ Gold Shiner

Swimming Jig ~ 3/8 oz ~ Gold Shiner

Swimming Jig ~ 1/4 oz ~ Pearl Blue White

Swimming Jig ~ 3/8 oz ~ Pearl Blue White

Pale Blue White Skirt. I've always fished with a pale blue white color of one kind or another. I rely on pale blue white as an alternative to plain white. Over the years, I feel those are two of the best shad colors - white and pale blue white. I've experimented with several different pale blue white patterns, but the recipe always involves adding glints of pale icy blue to a white skirt.

For some reason it seems smallmouth especially favor pale blue white shad baits. And here's a little tip to tuck away for those vexing times when striped bass become problematic by hitting pure white jigs way too often. Switch to a pale blue jig like, and you'll find many of the striper hits drop off, without affecting the largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass bite.

1/4 oz Swimming Jig ~ Pale Blue Shad

As good as these skirts look, skirts alone don't work well on a jig without a soft plastic grub trailer. Rigging a grub trailer, it is important to hit the mold seam line where you poke the hook out, and the sickle-shaped grub tail should always point down on a jig. When rigged, the grub should lie perfectly straight on the hook. I like three models of Gary Yamamoto's five-inch single tail grub trailers for pale blue white jigs: Pearl Blue w/ Silver (#18-10-031); Daiquiri w/ Black & Hologram (#18-10-237); and Blue Pearl w/Black & Hologram (#18-10-239).

3/8 oz Swimming Jig ~ Pale Blue Shad

3/8 oz Swimming Jig ~ Summer Shad

1/4 oz Swimming Jig ~ Baby Bass

3/8 oz  Swimming Jig ~ Baby Bass

Black Blue Flash Skirt. New skirt foiling technique for 2007! Each and every one of the 44 strands are heavily foiled in a non-descript, irregular pattern on both sides with metallic blue foil flash.

Rattles are often used on flipping jigs, yet rarely used on the swimming jigs shown below.

1/4 oz Swimming Jig ~ Black Blue Flash

3/8 oz Swimming Jig ~ Black Blue Flash

Nine Pounds Plus! This nice nine plus was caught by Dr. Larry Rose in South Texas on the black blue swimming jig shown, rigged with a black blue (color #021) Yamamoto craw trailer on 10 pound test line.

PBJ Flash Skirts. The next jigs all have the Peanut Butter Jelly ("PBJ") Flash skirts. This is a brand new foil-imprinted skirt pattern for 2007. Every strand is heavily embossed with reflective purple foil on both sides. Unfortunately the photos don't reflect well (pun intended) on the shimmering purple foil. The photos don't really show the true shine these skirts emit. In some photos, the golden grains you may see are a residue of the foiling process. Those gold grains wash off during use.

1/4 oz Swimming Jig ~ PBJ Flash

3/8 oz Swimming Jig ~ PBJ Flash

3/8 oz Swimming Jig ~ Natural Frog

1/4 oz Swimming Jig ~ Natural Frog

Natural Frog Skirts. This natural frog skirt is a great creation! You should do exceptionally well with these natural frog swimming jigs around dense weeds or in stained water. Fish like to key off that flash of yellow belly in thick weeds. Anywhere that their visibility is partially blocked by dense weeds, that flash of chartreuse belly is a killer for fish to get a partially blocked glimpse of it. Ditto in stained water.

1/4 oz  Swimming Jig ~ Brown Sunfish

3/8 oz  Swimming Jig ~ Brown Sunfish

1/4 oz Swimming Jig ~ Brown Sunfish #2

3/8 oz Swimming Jig ~ Brown Sunfish #2

Mottled Brown Skirt. Sometimes subtle is best, and plebian brown is arguably best especially for smallmouth (coincidentally called "brown bass"). Just like smallies themselves are brown to blend into their environments, this smoky charcoal brown skirt is medium dark and non-descript with a natural looking appearance. Think of the places smallmouth favor, points, ledges, gravel, other open water structure, often away from weeds, and those are the types of places to toss this jig color. Heavily black peppered. It combines two irregular patterns - black bars and spots - to give this skirt a mottled, broken-up, non-descript appearance.

A good idea (often necessary) with any skirted jig is to add a soft plastic trailer bait (not included) to maximize effectiveness. One example of a good trailer for this jig is Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits single tail grub. The 5 inch size is ideal.

For this jig, an example of a good trailer is Yamamoto's #18-10-194 (Watermelon Pepper) or #18-10-150 (Smoke Pepper) single tail grub. However, soft plastic trailer options to go with this skirt really are anything black, brown, watermelon, green pumpkin, purple, chartreuse or even white.

1/4 oz Swimming Jig ~ Mottled Brown

3/8 oz Swimming Jig ~ Mottled Brown

Green pumpkin and watermelon pepper are the two top soft plastic lure color in the world, and both make great jig skirts. A rule of thumb is to try dark green pumpkin given darker conditions. Try watermelon under bright skies and in clear water. However, a lot of anglers simply try both these colors no matter what in order to see if one seems better than the other at any given moment.

Dark Green Pumpkin Skirt. Extra dark green for duty in low light, at daybreak, in the evening (ideal for those weekday after work tournaments), and at night. Great for dirty water - or clear. Heavily black peppered. It combines two irregular patterns - black bars and spots - to give this skirt a mottled, broken-up, non-descript appearance. A few soft plastic trailer options to go with this skirt are: black, junebug, green pumpkin and more.

1/4 oz Swimming Jig ~ Dark Green Pumpkin

3/8 oz Swimming Jig ~ Dark Green Pumpkin

3/8 oz Swimming Jig ~ Green Pumpkin Blend

Watermelon Two-Tone Skirt. Half dark green watermelon pepper on top. Half pale watermelon pepper on bottom. Heavily black peppered. It combines two irregular patterns - black bars and spots - to give this skirt a mottled, broken-up, non-descript appearance. A few soft plastic trailer options to go with this skirt are: watermelon pepper, green pumpkin, brown pumpkin and more.

1/4 oz Swimming Jig ~ Watermelon Two-Tone

3/8 oz Swimming Jig ~ Watermelon Two-Tone

3/8 oz Swimming Jig ~ Green Pumpkin Olive

1/4 oz Swimming Jig ~ Green Pumpkin Olive

Swimming Jig ~ 1/4 oz ~ Green Pumpkin Olive

Swimming Jig ~ 3/8 oz ~ Green Pumpkin Olive

Olive Pumpkin Skirt. Heavily black peppered. It combines two irregular patterns - black bars and spots - to give this skirt a mottled, broken-up, non-descript appearance. Almost any soft plastic trailer options go swell with this skirt: black, white, assorted purples, browns, greens and more.

1/4 oz Swimming Jig ~ Olive Pumpkin

3/8 oz Swimming Jig ~ Olive Pumpkin

1/4 oz Swimming Jig ~ Dark Watermelon Red

3/8 oz Swimming Jig ~ Dark Watermelon Red

Swimming Jig ~ 1/4 oz ~ Dark Watermelon Red

Trailers a Must. It's necessary to use a trailer such as these Gary Yamamoto single tail grubs with a swimming jig. Several sizes of Yamamoto grubs are shown, but the one in the center is most often used. It's the 5-inch 18-series model grub. The smoke silver (color #177) and pearl blue silver (color #031) work with white, shad or baitfish pattern skirts. The smoke pepper (color #150) works with a range of darker black, brown and green skirts. Don't hesitate to match a watermelon red pepper grub (#208) with the dark watermelon red skirt. A green pumpkin (color #297) grub goes great with the green pumpkin olive skirt. Try a clear with gold and silver trailer (color #168) with the gold shiner skirt. Have fun experimenting with matching trailer colors to skirt colors. Chances are fish will bite a wide variety of skirt and trailer color combos. Bottom line, you will catch many more fish with a trailer (any color) than without a trailer.

Fishing with Arkey Power Jigs

You ideally need to throw the Arkey Power Jig on heavy line and a stout rod. Whether flipping it in shallow water, or banging it on deep ledges, humps and points, this is a power fishing jig requiring a stout rod, strong line and it has heavy wire hook. If you use a rod, reel and line that's too light, you'll find it hard to set this heavy hook every time.

\Arkey Style Jig Head. An Arkey jig has proven time and again to catch bigger bass on average than most other bass lures. Who knows why, but it is true. The Arkey jig is one of the most productive bass lures ever made.

What makes it so successful is its versatility. The wide face and broad belly of an Arkey jig lets it climb up and over bulky bottom debris like it's a 4x4 SUV. Where a more streamlined jig head would get wedged in a crack or crevice, the Arkey jig goes right over it like an offroad ATV. That's why the bulbous Arkey jig head is an ideal choice around laydown logs, stumps, trees and rocks, deep or shallow.

It has a round, widened belly so it stands up, keeps the hook pointed up. The broad face and wide shoulders let it bounce and deflect off many underwater objects, and that kind of noisy, bumbling type contact is a strike trigger designed into the Arkey jig shape. At the same time, the face and shoulder shape helps turn the hook away from any obstacle it contacts, and the stand-up stability of the Arkey shape prevents the hook from rolling on its side so it doesn't snag.

Wood is Good. Arkey style jigs were originally designed, as the name implies, in Arkansas over 45 years back by Bob Carnes when many of the bass fishing impoundments there were newly-made. With so much freshly-flooded standing timber, the Arkey jig was devised to fish through the trees without snagging. Still to this day, the Arkey jig style is about the best head shape for fishing wood, be it stumps, laydowns, knees, limbs and trunks of standing timber or whatever wood type cover, shallow or deep.

Hitting Rock Bottom. Although originally designed for wood, Bob Carnes quickly discovered the Arkey also excels at climbing uphill on deep water ledges. Indeed, the Arkey's equally as good as a football jig on any hard or rocky bottom too. Whether gravel bars, stair-step ledges, round river rock, glacial boulder beds, the Arkey excels wherever rocky cover abounds. With some hard cases such as square chunk rock or sharp-edged broken rock slides, the Arkey performs even better (snags less) than a football jig on sharp-edged square rock.

  • Flat Eye Jig Hook. Unlike traditional jigs, the jig hook eye is turned crosswise for perfect alignment with the flat Arkey head shape. This planar match of the head shape and hook eye results in superior hooksetting ability. The flat eye Arkey consistently hooks fish in the roof of the mouth.
  • Premium Mustad Ultra Point Hook. Many anglers haven't yet realized the quality improvements of Mustad hooks within the last few years. In the last few years, Mustad has really outdone themselves to produce some of the very highest quality, industry-leading hooks. The Mustad Ultra Point is needle sharp point with incredible strength and durability. The Ultra Point is designed not to bend or roll over. The Ultra Point lasts longer under tough power fishing conditions. This is a heavy gauge wire diameter hook for landing big bass with heavy line, plus a black nickel finish. 3/0 in the 1/4 oz, 4/0 in 3/8 oz, 5/0 in 1/2 oz and 5/0 in the 3/4 oz size.
  • Heavy Duty Fiberguard. Just like the hook on this jig, the fiberguard is heavy also, but can be trimmed to various degrees of snag-resistance. Some say the fiberguard is an unnatural-looking part of a jig, but I don't think so. Most anything a bass eats has some sort of fins or spiny rays or spindly legs or antennae or whatever, and a properly trimmed and fanned fiberguard fits right in with all that. You can even use your finger to divide the fiberguard down the center into two halves, and that's not unlike the appearance of two waving craw claws when you do that. The fiberguard fits right in and does not detract from the natural look of a jig.
  • Double Keeper Collar. This is a significant advantage. First, it is quite difficult for a fish to ever pull the skirt down. Second, the spiked keeper helps hold soft plastic trailers without easily slipping down the hook. For some odd reason, many other brands of jigs have no trailer keeper barb at all, but this one does.

David in Spain lands hefty bass on rusty red craw color Arkey power jig.

Rattles are often used on Arkey jigs, and these skirt bands have two sockets to accept two industry standard rattle pods. Better yet, try the easy on/easy off rattle strap nunchukus. The nunchakus have more action, more noise and they move out of the way when a fish hits. Thank you.

Today, it's safe to say any good bass angler anywhere in the world has one or more Arkey style jigs in their tackle collection.

About forty years ago, Bob Carnes prototyped the first one. He named it after his home state, Arkansas.

Famous Arkansas fisheries like Table Rock, Beaver and Bull Shoals were relatively untapped impoundments when Carnes fished them forty years ago. They had a lot of standing flooded timber for which Carnes created his pioneering jig.

There weren't any preconceived notions, no blueprints nor other ideas to follow. The fledgling fiberguard concept was incorporated to help protect the hook point from snagging in the forests of flooded trees. Even with the innovative fiberguard, the evolution of the head shape (and position of the hook eye) constantly centered around how to protect the hook (and the head itself) from snagging under shredded wet bark, in notches of tree limbs, on trunks or stumps. After years of working on it, it simply came down to what head shape Carnes could make that would result in the highest survival of a jig in that kind of jungle. There are lots of sunken cedars still in the lakes around Arkansas and development of this jig style simply came down to whatever could best go through that kind of heavy cover - and survive to be cast again.

Back in Carnes' day, jigs were cast through the crowns of sunken trees, and anglers fished drop-offs. Instead of fishing down drop-offs like most anglers today do (keeping the boat over deep water and casting at the shoreline), anglers back in the day tended to put the boat on the shallowest part (closest to the shoreline), cast out and fish uphill. This is still often the better choice when fish pull back from and hold out off the shoreline.

Unlike today, no one flipped jigs at shoreline cover back then. Flipping was unheard of. Today however, the Arkey style jig is so popular for flipping heavily-wooded shorelines, that anglers in some regions simply call them "flipping jigs."

A Lesson in Impact. Once the jig's snagless design was taken as far as it could, Carnes' final efforts were to refine the jig's face to make as much sudden vibration as possible whenever it bashed into anything on the way uphill or hit a limb on a tree. You can think of that as a lure action that Carnes designed into the jig face. That sudden shock of impact of banging it into trees and banging it into ledges or rocks on an uphill retrieve, Carnes realized, has a great strike triggering effect. So he strived to perfect that strike trigger in this jig style. More often than not, the jig style created by Bob Carnes forty years ago will still get nipped the instant it bounces off and work its way through snaggy spots in wood or ledges without getting stuck.

And there you have it, my friend. The story of a jig style that was an innovation in its day. It worked well then and still works. Virtually unchanged, this jig style remains one of the best bass lures ever made.

A Lesson in Presence. Most anglers may never use a jig as heavy as 3/4 oz. There are plenty of 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 oz jigs on the market, but it is hard to find good 3/4 oz jigs for sale. They're worth finding because bigger, heavier jigs like this 3/4 oz size have a larger presence in the water that appeals to better-than-average size bass. It seems that bigger bass go for more bulk, more bump, more mass... that's really what they want. They tend to not be as interested in lighter or smaller jigs. Conversely, small fish tend not to be as interested in heavier or bigger jigs. Some anglers equate heavy jigs with deep water, and they are right, but not entirely. You will tend to appeal to a better grade of bass on this 3/4 oz jig even in only inches of water. Bigger bass may not make the effort to whack every little minnow that saunters by, but they will do what it takes when they detect the presence and mass of this bigger (bigger = heavier) jig. Make no mistake, this is all about the head weight. You may use the same size skirt and same size trailer on a light and a heavy jig head, but you will catch a better grade of bass on the heavy jig head.

3/4 oz Arkey Jig Head ~ Black

3/4 oz Arkey Jig Head ~ Green Pumpkin

3/4 oz Arkey Jig Head ~ Brown Pumpkin

A Jig's Three Key Parts. The jig head and jig skirt matter much, yet it is the trailer that's the most attractive part of a jig's three key parts:

  1. Head. The head has the least attraction. When painted, it can add a basic color blob - often no more than basic black, brown or green. It can add color contrast such as a chartreuse head with a black skirt or a red head with a white skirt. Those are examples of basic color blobs. Taken to the extreme, when highly-detailed, the head can add flashy eyes, gills, a baitfish-shaped head. It can add a flash of red, pink or orange gills flapping or other color accent flashes, say a gold or chartreuse flash... but jig heads are basically blobs. Jig heads need to perform a lot of functions, but looking charming is not a high priority.
  2. Skirt. The skirt is attractive, but not attractive enough to evoke strikes on its own. A jig with just a skirt (no trailer) is a poor fish attractor. Think of the skirt as a picnic blanket. Think of the trailer as the succulent smoked ham centerpiece placed on the picnic blanket. If you just tossed the country ham into a grassy meadow like it was a bowling ball, you would completely overlook it. When you spread the picnic blanket out on the grass first, and place the ham proudly in the center, the ham now becomes almost impossible for you to overlook! The picnic blanket (jig skirt) may be very good-looking but not good enough to eat. The mouth-watering ham (jig trailer) is what the skirt presents.
  3. Trailer. The most attractive part. Make it the centerpiece of your presentation.

Tips on Color Selection

One key question I ask myself: Is the water darker or lighter than medium dark water? Depending on the answer, I will start to fish with:

  • Black Jigs. In water that's darker than medium dark water or under low light conditions, I tend toward black trailers on black jigs (including black/blue, black/red, black/junebug and other dark jigs like that).
  • Brown Jigs. In water that's lighter than medium dark water, I tend toward brown trailers on brown jigs (including brown/orange, brown/green, brown/purple, peanut butter jelly and other brownish jigs). I also favor green trailers on brown jigs at times.
  • Black/Brown Jigs. In water that's right down the middle of medium dark, I'll use a brown jig with black trailer... or black jig with brown trailer. It doesn't matter which.

If you don't like to mess with pork (it's messy), then bulky black or brown Yamamoto double tail skirted hula grubs (97 series) or Yamamoto Kreatures (5 series) work swell instead of pork. I rig both types of these trailers with the "skirt to front" such that the soft plastic skirts on the trailers tuck up under the silicone skirts on the jigs. Rigged this way, these are pretty bulky big jigs for big bass. Most anglers think of these big jigs as shallow water flipping tools, and they are right. But they work equally well for better-than-average size bass in deep water too, as deep as you care to try. You will get better-than-average size largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass on these big jigs no matter what depth water.

At times I use the Yamamoto Craws (several sizes) or single tail grubs (18 series) as trailers too. But since the 97-series double tail skirted hula grubs and the Kreatures are bulkier, I prefer them whenever possible. The newest trailer from Yamamoto is the Flappin' Hog. I rig all types of these soft baits all the way up onto the jig keeper collar so the soft plastic baits tuck up right under the jig's silicone skirt.

For its softness, suppleness and fluid movement in the water, I like Superpork as a jig trailer. I favor the bulkiest sizes they make, like the Senior and Bubba sizes. I rely mainly on the black and the brown pork. The black really keeps its color. The brown color whitens quickly in use, but bass do not seem to mind the whitened brown color.

I do not use green pork as much as brown or black. Green Superpork seems a little off-colored to me (it's not really like watermelon or green pumpkin soft bait colors), and it fades quickly to a blue gray kind of green. Yes it works, but on green jigs (including green pumpkin, watermelon and watermelon/red jigs), I don't use pork as much as soft plastic trailers. However, a black pork works swell at times on green jigs.

On green jigs, I mostly use matching green soft bait trailers such as Yamamoto's double tail skirted hula grubs (97 series) or Yamamoto's Kreature (5 series) in assorted green pumpkin, watermelon and watermelon/red colors.

With pork, I tend to use a full, untrimmed skirt. Pork seats on the bend of the hook and tends to showcase itself as separate and apart from the skirt. So I tend to leave the skirt full with pork. The bigger sizes of pork make for a pretty big trailer, plus the fact pork is seated far back, almost at the end of the skirt, makes for a big presentation.

With soft bait trailers, I may trim, shape or "layer" the skirt strands in a number of different ways. This is because soft baits I thread all the way up onto the hook shank and tuck them up right under the jig skirt. So rather than always obscuring a large part of a soft bait trailer under a full skirt, I may at times trim the skirt in order to help present more of the soft bait trailer's features and actions. It's not hard to do. Two of the easiest ways to trim a skirt are to make it half full. Just cut half the skirt off. Either cut off the forward-facing half of the skirt or cut off the backward-facing half of the skirt (see next section). Either way, you achieve a sparse peek-a-boo skirt effect that shows more of the underlying trailer.

Tips for Trimming the Skirt

There are several easy options to trim skirts. You don't need to, but it often adds fun and confidence to score with different approaches. Think of the skirt as a tablecloth or picnic blanket you use to best present the succulent jig trailer to a bass. The trailer can be pork, a soft bait shaped like a pork chunk, crawdad, a beaver style, single tail grub, creature, double tail grub to name a few of the more popular jig trailer options. In the Southern USA, it seems more anglers tend to favor the soft plastic chunks. Across the northern states, anglers seem to like craws and across the midsection, anglers seem to favor double tail grubs as jig trailers. Most any soft bait will work at times (or pork), and that's really what the fish has its eye on, the trailer. So you may modify the skirt in different ways to best present the trailer:

  1. This is the full skirt. It's the standard way most all jigs come, with the long end forward. When the long strands billow backward, all the strand ends fall equal in length. This is just about the bulkiest and most common presentation, but some trailers can get covered up or lost in the skirt.
  2. This is a full skirt reversed that I sometimes favor for real pork chunks or soft plastic chunks. Pork or plastic chunks are seated on the round bend of the hook. This lets chunks ride higher, separate from and not buried under the skirt. By reversing the full length skirt, it shows off a chunk even better. The long strands lay low away from a chunk, and the short strands do not reach far back enough to cover the chunk.
  3. This half skirt helps show off a trailer like a soft plastic craw, for example, and it enables you to downsize the trailer size too. The beauty of this is it lets you downsize your presentation, but you do not have to downsize your rod, reel, line or hook strength. It's still power fishing - but with a finesse presentation.
  4. The half skirt reversed goes great with a beaver type trailer, for example. The longer strands umbrella all around and accentuate but do not cover up the trailer. This is a good skirt style to bring out contrasting colors such as a green monkey shine half skirt reversed over a black beaver type trailer, for example.

It's not hard to trim your jig skirt, it's fun, and there's nothing critical about how long or short to cut it. Just enjoy!

Tips for Trimming the Fiberguard

Jig manufacturers don't know where or how you will be using their jigs, so they usually make the fiberguards extra long and extra thick. The manufacturer expects you to thin out and trim short the fiberguard to match your fishing conditions. Think of it this way, you wouldn't wear a pair of unhemmed slacks right off a rack, would you? So why would you fish with an untrimmed fiberguard?

Right off the shelf, the fiberguards are extra long and extra thick for extra heavy cover. Most of the time, however. you will not always be fishing extra heavy cover. So you may want to thin out and trim short the fiberguard to match your fishing conditions.

Truly, the Arkey jig style excels in very heavy cover, sparse cover or even relatively open water. It's great in rocks, brush, trees, stumps, and laydowns. All you have to do is trim the fiberguard to match the fishing spot you're in. Here's how:

  1. Thinning. First, you may want to remove some of the fibers entirely. How many to remove? That depends on how thick the cover you intend to fish. You will rarely need the full 30-40 fibers the jig comes with. Rather, most cover can be fished using 12-20 fibers. How many fibers to remove also depends on the jig head weight. A 1/4 oz jig can get through worse snags with less fibers than a 3/4 oz jig. So it is all relative and depends on a knack and know-how only gained with experience.
    To remove fibers, cut them at the very base of the stem, where they are glued into the jighead cavity. Do not pluck them out of the jighead with pliers. That leaves a gaping hole in the jighead, causing the remaining fibers to also loosen and fall out. You don't want that. So cut the fibers you do not want flush off with the jighead, but do not pluck the "roots" out.
  2. Shortening. Next, you can shorten the remaining fibers. Some anglers skip the shortening step. Up to you. If you do shorten them, never cut them shorter than above the hook point. Better to leave them a little longer instead of too short.
  3. Fanning. Now fan the fibers out to both sides of the hook point. Make a fan effect with the fibers to protect the hook point from snags not just in front, but from the sides as well. In fact, this side protection is more important than from the front. It's hard to imagine most jigs getting snagged from directly in front. Most get snagged when they cam (roll) onto their sides. So fan the fiberguard to gain this side deflection/protection for your hook.

Some say the fiberguard is an unnatural-looking part of a jig, but I don't think so. Most anything a bass eats has some sort of fins or spiny rays or spindly legs or antennae or whatever, and a properly trimmed and fanned fiberguard fits right in with all that. You can even use your finger to divide the fiberguard down the center into two halves, and that's not unlike the appearance of two waving craw claws when you do that.

Arkey Jig Skirt Color Suggestions

3/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ Black Neon ~ Rattles

Black red jigs like this tend to be favored by anglers who fish delta, bayou, swampy or brackish estuaries/rivers along the Atlantic, Gulf or California coastline. European bass anglers also heavily use black red jigs and baits. Otherwise, the average angler hardly uses black red jigs today - but it wasn't always so. As little as fifteen years ago, it was even money whether an angler would claim a black blue jig or a black red jig worked best. There were many anglers who favored one versus the other. Then somehow the black red jig all but disappeared. Who knows why? Black blue has become the most popular jig color worldwide. This is compounded by the irony that, in the late 1990s, jig flipping legend Denny Brauer rose to the top of the bass fishing world and dominated top pro tournaments by adding a black neon (black with red glitter) flipping tube to his flipping jig regimen. Still to this day, black neon is the number one flipping tube color. Yet a black neon flipping jig skirt has never become popular, and the black red-tipped jig skirts of old are long gone. If you think that flipping a black neon tube works swell, wait until you try this new black neon skirt for jigs. You'll rediscover why many old timers favored the black red skirt over black blue. Maybe you will too!

3/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ Rusty Red Craw ~ Rattles

Some years ago, whether it was seven, eight, ten years back, ripping red lipless rattling crankbaits through grass in springtime was "discovered" in Texas. It was big news. The average angler was unfamiliar with the whole concept of red crankbaits. Even to this day, many anglers in other states still have not tried it. They still consider red baits to be a Texas phenomenon. Truth is, any angler anywhere in the world who has the gumption to try it, he or she will see that red crankbaits work at any latitude or longitude, especially from late winter through late spring, but also year-round. Now the red craw phenomena applies to jigs too, thanks to this custom-crafted blend of mottled red and black craw pattern with hints of rusty brown in it. You can't go wrong using a black pork or black with red flake soft plastic trailer with this skirt. It's not just for dirty water either. From pre- to post-spawn, even in the clearest water, bass can't stand to see red jigs. They can't help but smash them!

3/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ June Bug Bluegill ~ Rattles

This color resembles a bluegill sunfish. It has a multi-color black and purple appearance with superfine red neon and plenty of shiny blue foil and purple foil for flash. Try anything black or try Gary Yamamoto's cinnamon w/purple (color #221) soft plastic baits as trailers with this skirt.

3/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ Peanut Butter Jelly ~ Rattles

PBJ first became popular as a laminate color in soft plastic lures in Southern California many years ago - and practically became forgotten since then. In just the last few years, PBJ has been rediscovered as a jig color. PBJ jigs have spread smoothly across the Southeast and Northeast USA. But PBJ never looked anywhere near this good until now! This peanut butter and jelly sandwich sticks to the roof of bass mouths.

Try Gary Yamamoto's cinnamon w/purple (color #221) or smoke pepper (#150) soft plastic baits as trailers with this skirt.

Brown Purple Skirts. Shown on the next two jigs, brown purple is simply the favorite jig color of many clear water anglers. If you fish clear water, and you're not using brown purple jigs - you should.

3/8 oz Arkey Jig ~ Brown Purple

3/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ Brown Purple

PBJ Flash Skirts. The next jigs all have the Peanut Butter Jelly ("PBJ") Flash skirts. This is a brand new foil-imprinted skirt pattern for 2007. Every strand is heavily embossed with reflective purple foil on both sides. Unfortunately the photos don't reflect well (pun intended) on the shimmering purple foil. The photos don't really show the true shine these skirts emit. In some photos, the golden grains you may see are a residue of the foiling process. Those gold grains wash off during use.

1/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ PBJ Flash

3/8 oz Arkey Jig ~ PBJ Flash

1/2 oz Arkey Jig ~ PBJ Flash

3/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ PBJ Flash

1/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ Green Pumpkin Olive

3/8 oz Arkey Jig ~ Green Pumpkin Olive

1/2 oz Arkey Jig ~ Green Pumpkin Olive

Muddler Jigs. These are the same Arkey jigs (same sizes, hooks, etc.) except with a half-length skirt cropped so it puffs out around the jig head like a male lion's mane. It provides half the skirt mass, but has the same heavy duty flat eye flipping hook. So you can use a half-size lure on heavy line. It has become popular with local tournament anglers in some regions in the southeast and south central USA especially. In 2006 when FLW and BASS pros tours made stops in this region, the pros used the local style half-skirt jigs, winning prestigious events on them, and you may have seen these half-skirt jigs shown on televised pro tour events. A half skirt presents a smaller profile jig, and lets one match a smaller soft bait trailer too, like a smallish soft craw, creature or beaver style trailer. With a full skirt, such trailers would tend to get lost in the skirt mass.

3/8 oz Muddler Jig ~ Green Pumpkin Olive

Sunfish Arkey Jigs. Most bass lures are designed to imitate shad, shiners, minnows and crayfish, but make no mistake, sunfish are present everywhere bass are, and they are a staple food in bass diets. You read and hear a whole lot more about shad, shiners, minnows and crayfish, but don't let that fool you. Bass relish sunfish all the time everywhere.

oz Arkey Jig ~ Green Sunfish

oz Arkey Jig ~ Green Sunfish

oz Arkey Jig ~ Green Sunfish

1/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ Warmouth Sunfish

oz Arkey Jig ~ Warmouth Sunfish

oz Arkey Jig ~ Warmouth Sunfish

3/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ Warmouth ~ Rattles

Whether you call them warmouth, goggle-eye or red-eyed bream, this small member of the sunfish family is an aggressive feeder. It likes to lurk around brush, rubble and weedy areas in which it can hide, waiting to ambush any prey that comes past. In turn, the warmouth is hunted and preyed upon itself by bass. Bass eat many more sunfish than most anglers realize. It's markings are generally blotched and mottled, with a brassy brownish green back, yellowish olive sides and belly, just like this imitative skirt. Warmouth are widely-found across the country, and this skirt imitates not just warmouth but any and all sunfish species, crayfish and plenty of other critters bass eagerly eat. So don't be afraid to toss a warmouth skirt at any bass anywhere. It's a winner!

Try Gary Yamamoto's smoke root beer w/green & copper (color #236) soft plastic baits as trailers with this skirt.

1/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ Brown Sunfish

3/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ Brown Sunfish ~ Rattles

oz Arkey Power Jig ~ Brown Sunfish #2

1/2 oz Arkey Power Jig ~ Brown Sunfish #2

3/8 oz Arkey Power Jig ~ Brown Sunfish #2

Brown Sunfish #2 Skirt. Half brown pumpkin with green metal flake. Half dark orange pumpkin with green metal flake. Wholly good! Sunfish are present everywhere bass are, and they are a staple food in bass diets. You read and hear a whole lot more about shad, shiners, minnows and such, but don't let that fool you. Bass eat sunfish all the time everywhere. Top this skirt off with a watermelon pepper soft plastic trailer to complete the sunfish illusion.

Green Monkey Shine Skirt. Most people who see this color will never try it. It's their mistake. The green color is kind of a cross between watermelon pepper and chartreuse pepper - and it catches a ton of fish. It has a golden black fish scale accent that you can position on either on the back - or the belly - by turning the skirt. Some people favor the golden black swatch on bottom as opposed to top. Fish will hit the skirt either way. A favorite soft plastic trailer color is clear with silver and gold flakes (Yamamoto's color #168) and also merthiolate (Yamamoto's color #320). There's something about combinations of green and pink that bass like. It is why lures in rainbow trout colors work so well. It has nothing to do with rainbow trout. It's due to the contrast between green and pink combined in a bait. Another great trailer color contrast against the green monkey shine as a backdrop, especially in stained water, is black.

1/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ Green Monkey Shine

3/8 oz Arkey Jig ~ Green Monkey Shine

1/2 oz Arkey Jig ~ Green Monkey Shine

3/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ Black Brown Craw ~ Rattles

3/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ Pale Watermelon Red ~ Rattles

This is a hot, hot color in soft plastic baits. It ranks among the top-selling soft plastic colors worldwide. Watermelon red works equally swell as a jig skirt. Although not too many anglers throw watermelon red jigs, they are becoming increasingly popular in recent years because bass just relish them.

Often goes great with a black trailer, or match with Yamamoto's color #208 (watermelon with black and red flake) as a trailer.

3/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ Dark Watermelon Red ~ Rattles

3/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ Watermelon Pepper ~ Rattles

One of the top-selling soft plastic lure color in the world is now a great color for jig skirts.  This two-tone skirt combines half dark green watermelon pepper plus half pale green watermelon pepper. So now you can use two tones of one of the world's best soft plastic colors at the same time in a jig skirt

1/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ Dark Green Pumpkin ~ Rattles

3/8 oz Arkey Jig ~ Dark Green Pumpkin ~ Rattles

1/2 oz Arkey Jig ~ Dark Green Pumpkin ~ Rattles

3/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ Dark Green Pumpkin ~ Rattles

We don't need to say too much about dark green pumpkin. It's probably already your favorite soft bait color. Now it's a "must-have" in a jig skirt!

1/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ Olive Pumpkin ~ Rattles

3/8 oz Arkey Jig ~ Olive Pumpkin ~ Rattles

1/2 oz Arkey Jig ~ Olive Pumpkin ~ Rattles

3/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ Olive Pumpkin ~ Rattles

1/2 oz Arkey Power Jig ~ Olive Brown Craw

3/8 oz Arkey Power Jig ~ Olive Brown Craw

1/4 oz Arkey Power Jig ~ Olive Brown Craw

Olive Brown Craw Skirt. Brown and green are two great bait colors, especially when sandwiched together like you see here. One half olive pumpkin. One half brown crawdad color. Both halves heavily black peppered with mottled black bars and spots. A truly great natural color skirt.

1/2 oz Arkey Power Jig ~ Black Blue

3/8 oz Arkey Power Jig ~ Black Blue

1/4 oz Arkey Power Jig ~ Black Blue

3/4 oz Arkey Jig ~ Black Blue ~ Rattles

The number one color in flipping jigs. Some manufacturers say black blue is their top-selling soft plastic color too. Black blue can catch as many bass by day as by night, and in clear, stained or dark water. This is not any ordinary black blue skirt. This custom blend of black blue beauty is truly great. The perfect portion of reflective blue foil adds a lifelike shine and shimmering flash. Royal blue tips add the perfect contrasting kick of blue tip color.

Try Yamamoto's various black with blue (color #'s 021, 520, 523, 904) soft plastic baits as trailers with this skirt. There are some times I desire to throw black blue jigs in clear water (such as pre-spawn through post-spawn) and I tend to use Yamamoto's color #214 (smoke with black, blue and gold flake) as a black blue jig trailer color under clearer water conditions.

Muddling Along with Power

What makes these power fishing jigs instead of some other kind of jig? Because these sturdy jigs are built to excel in all power fishing situations - flipping, pitching, casting, swimming, skipping, vertical jigging deep water drop-offs, and banging through flooded trees. They have a heavy duty Mustad hook, a stout fiberguard, and one of the best bass jig shapes ever, the Arkey shape head. These jigs are best used on heavy tackle and at least 16-20 lb test line (or heavier).

But just because these are power jigs used with heavy line, that does not mean they cannot be used in clear water or finesse situations. They sure can. They even work for downsized "power finesse" presentations for spooky bass in gin clear water. Just downsize the jig appearance - not the rod or line.

Simply let the forward-facing skirt strands hang down around the jig head. Using a sharp scissors, very carefully trim the forward-facing half of the skirt short around the jig head. Carefully create a fairly thick, stubby collar. Allow the tips of the fronds to extend say to the nose of the jig but no more. This results in a bunch of short stubby tips to big up the head section of the bait. Trimmed this way, you will have cut off 50% of the skirt mass, making a half-skirt exactly.

Historically, a lure trimmed this way goes back to 1937 when legendary Minnesota angler Don Gapen innovated a closely-cropped, bushy deer hair collar on a bucktail streamer fly pattern in order to mimic the bulbous head shape of a bottom-skulking sculpin. At the time, Gapen had opened a fishing lodge in Ontario, Canada on the world famous brook trout-filled Nipigon River. Sculpin are a favorite trout food, and are sometimes called muddler minnows, the name Gapen gave his frizzy-headed bucktail streamer fly pattern.

So the Muddler Minnow is a fly created to mimic the sculpin minnow, but like many terrific lures, the Muddler imitates many bait species - fat-headed tadpoles, baby bullheads, stonecats, mad toms, sculpins, darters or just big-bodied bundles in general like chubs or crawdads. The way the short strands flare out, it resembles the broad fantail of a backward-crawling crawdad.

In the Great Lakes, the Muddler Jig can be a fantastic goby imitation. Gobies look much like the sculpins the Muddler Minnow is originally designed and named after, and gobies are the predominant food source for smallmouth in sections of the Great Lakes.

Just keep the jig muddling right on bottom, which is the dinner table where slow-moving appetizers like sculpins, tadpoles, miniature catfish pups and gobies squat low on the menu.

The half-skirt presents a smaller profile that appeals better to finicky or inactive fish in clear water or heavily pressured bass. Spotted and smallmouth bass anglers also favor this less bulky jig style.

Attaching a smaller than usual trailer further reduces the overall size of the presentation. The bulk of the skirt has been trimmed down and topped off with a smaller trailer, yet it is still the same Arkey Power Jig beneath. Although the trimmed skirt trim and downsized trailer present a smaller profile, it is still a heavy duty power fishing approach with a stout rod, strong line and heavy wire hook.

But just because these Muddler Jigs are used with heavy line, that does not mean they cannot be used in clear water situations. They sure can. Keep fluorocarbon line in mind. Fluorocarbon is invisible underwater, and you can use heavy strength fluorocarbon line even in the clearest water with Muddler Jigs. It is still a heavy duty jig, just dressed with a shorter skirt and mini-trailer.

This is not a light tackle approach or light wire hook as with true finesse jigs. "Finesse" usually means lighter line and light wire hooks, which is not how these jigs are used.

Unlike Samson, these jigs do not lose one iota of their power when given a haircut.

Whenever you feel you need a smaller, yet powerful presentation, remember the mighty Muddler Jig.

Shades of slime green with a flash of gold has become a popular lure color pattern to imitate Lake Erie's prolific goby population. A flash of gold was found in the tail feathers of Don Gapen's original mottled sculpin Muddler Fly too.

3/8 oz Arkey Muddler Jig ~ Black Brown Craw. Bumble or drag a mottled brown jig slow and easy over rugged bottom inhabited by bottom-dwelling baitfish species. These bottom-huggers camouflage themselves the same color as the bottom and tend to lurk in nooks and crannies for a reason - because they just don't swim so fast and can't outmaneuver predators. Bass know this and show an affinity for such easy prey.

1/2 oz Arkey Muddler Jig ~ Dark Watermelon Red. It's quick and easy to trim and dress an Arkey Power Jig this way whenever you feel you need a smaller presentation.

1/2 oz Arkey Muddler Jig ~ Green Sunfish.  It's simple to trim an Arkey Power Jig this way. When cropped short, the forward-facing strands will spring straight out or flare closely around the jig head, like a bristling lion mane effect.

3/8 oz Arkey Muddler Jig ~ June Bug Bluegill

3/8 oz Arkey Muddler Jig ~ Watermelon Red Pepper

1/2 oz Arkey Muddler Jig ~ Olive Cinnamon

Arkey Jigs Show True Flair for Finesse

The Arkey style jig has proven time and again to catch bigger bass on average than most other bass lures. Who knows why, but it is true. The Arkey jig is one of the most productive bass lures ever made.

The particular Arkey jig you see here is one of the most popular jigs on the planet. Many millions of this same jig have been cast from the same molds and have appeared under many brand labels for many years, but always with a heavy wire flipping hook for fishing with the heaviest kind of bass rods, reels and line. This is one of the first times, however, the Arkey jigs you see here have been cast with a lighter wire Gamakatsu hook and thinner, more collapsible brush guard.

The merits of doing this are two-fold:

  1. First, the advanced angler get the superior performance of the Arkey style head for finesse fishing applications.
  2. Second, the less-seasoned jig fisherman gets the benefits of a lighter (yet still strong) hook and softer (yet still snag-resistant) weedguard that make it easier for the average angler to succeed at jig fishing with the lighter rods and lighter lines that casual anglers tend to use.

Why the Arkey Works So Swell. The wide face and broad belly of an Arkey jig lets it climb up and over bulky bottom debris like it's a 4x4 SUV. Where a more streamlined jig head would get wedged in a crack or crevice, the Arkey jig goes right over it like an offroad ATV. That's why the bulbous Arkey jig head is an ideal choice around laydown logs, stumps, trees and rocks, deep or shallow. It has a round, widened belly so it stands up, keeps the hook pointed up. The broad face and wide shoulders let it bounce and deflect off many underwater objects, and that kind of noisy, bumbling type contact is a strike trigger designed into the Arkey jig shape. At the same time, the face and shoulder shape helps turn the hook away from any obstacle it contacts, and the stand-up stability of the Arkey shape prevents the hook from rolling on its side so it doesn't snag.

Wood is Good. Arkey style jigs were originally designed, as the name implies, in Arkansas over 45 years back by Bob Carnes when many of the bass fishing impoundments there were newly-made. With so much freshly-flooded standing timber, the Arkey jig was devised to fish through the trees without snagging. Still to this day, the Arkey jig style is the best head shape for fishing wood, be it stumps, laydowns, knees, limbs and trunks of standing timber or whatever wood type cover, shallow or deep.

Hitting Rock Bottom. Although originally designed for wood, Bob Carnes quickly discovered the Arkey also excels at climbing uphill on deep water ledges. Indeed, the Arkey's equally as good as a football jig on any hard or rocky bottom too. Whether gravel bars, stair-step ledges, round river rock, glacial boulder beds, the Arkey excels wherever rocky cover abounds. With some hard cases such as square chunk rock or sharp-edged broken rock slides, the Arkey performs even better (snags less) than a football jig on sharp-edged square rock.

1/4 oz Finesse Jig ~ Black Blue Flash

3/8 oz Finesse Jig ~ Black Blue Flash

1/2 oz Finesse Jig ~ Black Blue Flash

Hole-In-One Skirt Technology

Hole-In-Ones first came out in late 2005, but it is only in 2007 that the technology to produce half-size short-haired Hole-In-One skirts has been possible. The Hole-In-One style skirt locks the short hairs in place so they can never be pulled off the skirt by a fish, and they can never wiggle out from under the collar. On standard collars, the retainer band softens and loosens with use. With a standard full-length skirt, this loosening of the collar is not as big a problem as with short-haired finesse skirts which will fall out from under a loosened collar. With the Hole-In-One style skirts, fish can't pull the short hairs off the skirt, and the strands can never wiggle out from under the collar.

Inner Core.
First, these finesse skirts are built using Hole-In-One bands, meaning there is an inner core (clear colored in this photo) that the skirt is banded around.

Outer Band.
Second, there is a second collar (black in this photo) that is put around the outside, that sandwiches the strands between the inner core and outer band.

Glued in Place.
Third, and what makes Hole-In-One skirts the best is that a light application of transparent glue is used to lock everything into one unit. Un this way, the short hairs can never wriggle out from off the collar. You rarely see this glue at all, as this photo shows no clue of the glue. Yet every strand is locked practically permanently in place on the collar, and it is unlikely a short-striking or hard-fighting fish can pull any of the strands out from under the retainer collar.

Short Hair Finesse Skirts

FINESSE SKIRTS. These half-size skirts have a short fuzzy forward-facing stubble. An important breakthrough in 2007 is the technology to make these short-hair finesse skirts with the strands locked in place using Hole-In-One collars. These have an inner core tube and an outer band, and colorless light glue. It's hard to see there's any glue, but it's there, which is especially important to lock and keep the short ends from slipping out.

Finesse skirts have the same number of strands (44 to 50 strands depending on color) as full size skirts, but finesse skirts are exactly one half as long as full-size skirts.

Arkey Jigs ~ Finesse Versus Power

Comparison of Arkey Finesse Versus Power Jigs:

The hooks in the photo are premium Gamakatsu flat eye jig hooks. The hooks appear blotchy in color, but only in the photo, not in reality. The jigs, the hooks and the paint colors all look far better in reality than in the photos.

Points in common:

  • Both come out of the same mold.
  • Both have the same Arkey head shape that works especially in wood or rock. The shape does not excel in thick grass.
  • Both have the same double collar: 1) a ring to keep a skirt secure, and 2) a bayonet barb collar to hold a soft plastic trailer.
  • Both have the same hook sizes: 1/4 oz 3/0; 3/8 oz 4/0; and 1/2 oz 5/0.

Differences are:

The finesse jigs have a corrosion-resistant black nickel Gamakatsu 60 degree flat eye, round bend light wire hook made specifically for finesse jig fishing. Although thin wire diameter, it is exceptionally strong. The power jigs have either a heavy Gamakatsu flat eye or a heavy Mustad Ultra Point flat eye. Both are corrosion-resistant black nickel, heavy wire for flipping or power fishing with heavy rods, reels, lines.
The finesse jig has a softer, more collapsible, thinner fiber brush guard. The power jig has a firmer, less collapsible, thicker fiber brush guard.
The finesse jig brush guard is molded in during the casting process. The power jig brush guard is glued in after casting and painting.
A finesse jig is also sometimes referred to as a "casting" jig. A power jig is also sometimes referred to as a "flipping" jig.
A finesse jig is ideal for deep water, for sparse cover or open bottom. A power jig is ideal for shallow water and heavy cover.
A finesse jig is ideal for light to medium rods, reels and lines. A power jig is ideal for heavy rods, reels and heavy line.
A finesse jig matches the new half-skirt styles and small trailers. A power jig matches with full-size skirts and big, bulky trailers.
The finesse jig does not come in a 3/4 oz size. The power jig comes in a 3/4 oz size (not shown) with a 5/0 hook.

Finesse Gear to Use ~ Rods, Reels, Line

Gary Yamamoto Casting Rod ~ Medium Fast Model.
Gary Yamamoto has produced several fantastic new rod models for 2007. Shown here is the medium fast new casting rod model by Yamamoto. I don't think I've ever used a better rod for 12 to 14 pound test deepwater finesse jigging applications, or any jig application, shallow or deep, in the 12 to 14 pound test range with jigs from 1/4 to 1/2 oz heads, including the finesse jigs shown here, Yamamoto double tail hula grubs, tube jigs or any kind of jig fishing where a medium heavy application is required, this new Yamamoto rod is a sweetheart. The Arkey finesse jigs shown here have medium wire Gamakatsu hooks and more flexible fiberguard matches perfectly with medium/heavy rod and 12 to 14 pound test Sugoi fluorocarbon line.

Gary Yamamoto Spinning Rod ~ Medium Heavy Model.
Gary Yamamoto currently offers three awesome spinning rods. The medium heavy model with ten pound test mono or castable fluorocarbon is absolutely perfect for finesse jig fishing, especially with the 1/4 to 1/2 oz jig sizes shown here. The Arkey finesse jigs shown here have medium wire hooks and more flexible fiberguards that work fine with stout spinning tackle like the medium heavy action Yamamoto spinning rod shown here. Stick to medium wire diameter (yet still strong) hooks like these Arkey finesse jigs with spinning gear.

Trailer Choices

A jig with a skirt only, but no trailer, will catch few fish. No jig is complete without a trailer added to it.

The Yamamoto Flappin' Hog is both compact and bulky at the same time. The finesse skirt has only half the strand length of a normal skirt. So the finesse skirt really highlights a short but bulky trailer much better. With a full size skirt, such a trailer would get lost in the strands. On a half-size finesse skirt, however, this type trailer is presented the best possible way.

Many of your favorite finesse trailers are worth trying!

Don't Forget the Scent

There's endless speculation among anglers whether fish attractants do or do not work as advertised. They do. At least for me. Especially with soft baits. I first began to use fish attractants in the early eighties. Dr. Juice was the first attractant I tried, soon to be followed by Fish Formula and a host of other attractants. After 25 years of experience, I can tell you they work, especially with soft baits. Some of the best attractants today are Gary Yamamoto's own fish attractant, Kick'n Bass and MegaStrike (shown above). I like the ease of MegaStrike's gel tube because it can be applied and stored with less mess. Squeezable bottles of non-gel liquid with spout type nozzles make more mess on you, the boat, and in storage. With MegaStrike's gel tube, there is still a mess, just less. Why put up with the mess? Because soft baits with attractant catch more bass than without. Twenty-five years of fishing with and without attractant have proven this to me beyond any doubt. If you don't want the mess (on you, your boat, your lunch, your rods, reels, everything you touch, etc.), that's understandable. Also understand that if you're not using an attractant with soft baits, you are not catching all the bass you could.

I like to keep whatever trailers I am using in their original bags. This way, it is easy for me to add a pea-sized glob of MegaStrike gel or a few drops of Yamamoto's liquid fish attractant or Kick'n Bass into each fresh bag of trailers when first open the bag for a day's fishing trip.

During hot times of the year, the MegaStrike gel will liquefy. I do not know whether you can see the liquefied MegaStrike remaining in the half-used bag of jig trailers (Yamamoto Flappin' Hogs) above. However, the attractant is in there. You don't need to put in much at all. A pea-sized glob or just a few drops. It will quickly work itself all over all the baits in a bag. It will give them a lifelike sheen coating which will disperse, causing a visible oily and olfactory-detectable "chum" slick in the water column and on the surface above the bait. If any baits had gotten kinked or bent while stored in the bag, the oil helps relax and unkink the baits. With heat from the sun beating down on the bags on the boat deck, it won't be long before the oils and sun's heat help restore all baits back to their originally-molded perfect shapes without kinks and bends.

I do not add fish attractant to the jigs nor skirts. Enough attractant gets on the trailers alone, and it is the trailer the fish tends to strike.

Bass hit jigs different ways. Some say that bass engulf jigs in their entirety as the jig falls, and that may be true. Swimming jigs along steadily, however, many times bass will nip and tug at the tail tips to begin with, and when a jig is at rest laying on bottom, bass often grab the tip of a trailer and yank it rather than engulfing the entire jig. If a bass nips and tugs at a swimming jig or if it grabs and yanks on a resting jig, if there is no attractant or if there is no expendable part that comes off in the fish's mouth, then the chances the fish will wheel around and strike again are iffy at best. Most likely, you will not get a second strike. At least that's what my research proves. On the other hand, when an attractant-coated part of a Flappin' Hog gets sacrificed to a hungry fish, it convinces the fish it's good to eat and has just been injured. It's almost certain you'll be struck again as the fish comes back to finish the job. All you need to do at that point is get prepared to set the hook.

Short-haired finesse skirts let trailers like this attractant-coated Yamamoto Flappin' Hog take center stage as the main strike target.

And that's the beauty behind a succulent trailer glistening with attractant and fished on an Arkey finesse jig dressed with a short skirt.

Trimming the Fiberguard

How to Trim a Weedless Jig

Many moons ago, I cut the fiberguards off jigs entirely. I fished jigs with fully-exposed hooks in the heaviest cover imaginable. This was in order to teach myself the hard way how to fish jigs in heavy cover. I reasoned that if I could master how to get an exposed hook jig into thick cover (the easy part) and out (not so easy), then it would be a cinch when I resumed using a fiberguard.

Without any fiberguard, you need to land your cast precisely where you want it, often in the thickest part of the cover, or the exact spot you want to work it. In dense weeds, you would need to land right in a hat-sized hole in the weeds, for example. Once it hits the water, you really cannot move it at all. Just let it sink and wait for what seems like forever without moving it at all. Fish will often pick it up, even after a long, long time without moving it. If that doesn't happen, just shake the line, quivering the jig without moving it forward. After shaking and quivering the line for about ten seconds, wait for another long, long time, which is when the hit will come. I call this the "shake and bake" tactic. Repeat shaking and baking about four or five times. All the while, the jig hasn't moved an inch. You shake the line, not the jig. When you finally do feel a need to move the jig forward, do it ever-so-slowly, hardly moving at all, until it bumps some obstacle - a rock, wood, weed edge or whatever. Now, just keep backing off and bumping the object, back off and bump, back off and bump several times, then wait a long time without moving the jig. I refer to this as "knocking on the door." Repeat knocking on the door, but make sure to pause. The bumps calls fish over to see who's at the door, and when you pause, they answer by hitting your jig. Even if the jig snags onto an object, never mind. Just shake it patiently and attractively while it's snagged. Always make painstakingly long pauses in between the short bouts of shaking. When you pause, fish will pull the snagged jig off whatever it's stuck on.

It took me two seasons to get good at it, but that's how I learned to fish jigs in heavy cover with fully-exposed hooks. The same applies to jigs with fiberguards, except they snag less.

In case you do not want to learn the way I did, I offer you the tips below that tell you how to trim a fiberguard to best protect a jig hook from snags. Why do you need to trim a fiberguard at all? Too full a fiberguard may block the strike, impede the jig's way into the mouth, and resist your hook set. So trimming the fiberguard (while still preventing snags) reduces these potential problems.

Tools Required to Trim Jigs. A knife blade and scissors are ideally required tools. A Leatherman Wave multi-tool conveniently includes both.

Step One. With the pocket knife blade, carefully and gently rock the base of the blade against the fibers, right where the fibers are molded into the jig head. There's no need to actually cut or apply force. Just gently and carefully rock or wiggle the blade against the fibers a few times. How many fibers you cut off depends on two things: 1) the cover you'll be fishing, and 2) the rod, reel and line you use. In light cover and/or with a light rod and line, cut off more. In heavy cover and/or with a heavy rod and line, cut off less.

In open water with no obstructions swimming a jig above the bottom, there's no need for a fiberguard and it can be cut off entirely. In light cover, often as few as 7 or 8 fibers are all you need. It goes against logic to buy a jig with a bushy fiberguard and then cut off all or most of it, but that can be your best option in open water or light cover.

To begin with, it is better to cut off too few rather than too many. You can always trim a couple more later. Especially if you are not hooking a high percentage of fish, your fiberguard may still be a little too thick. So you may want to trim a couple more fibers off. It's a trade-off between better hooksets (fewer fibers) and better snag-resistance (more fibers).

Step Two. About 20 of the approximately 40 fibers have been cut off flush with the jig head. Never pluck the fibers out. Plucking leaves a hole which will cause the remaining fibers to loosen and fall out. By keeping the "roots" intact as shown above, the remaining fibers cannot easily loosen.

Step Three. Clip the remaining fibers short with the scissors.

Step Four. How short to clip the fibers depends upon how heavy or light the cover you will be fishing. That's really the key to trimming a jig - where you will be using it. You usually do not want the fibers to be shorter than just touching the hook point, as shown here. In some cases however, especially in soft grass that can stick to a jig, I leave the fibers a little longer than shown above.

Step Five. Half the fibers have been cut off at the base, and the remaining half trimmed to barely above the hook point. However, a fiberguard bundled directly in front of the hook point as shown offers poor snag protection from the sides. There are still further steps to complete.

Step Six.  Most snags don't happen directly straight up in front of the hook point. Most snags happen from the sides of the hook point. So you need to fan the fibers out to the sides, forming a one inch wide shield of protection for the hook point.

Step Seven. Press a finger straight down the center in front of the hook point, and gently part the fanned-out fibers into two halves. This forms a vee or two bundles of snag protection, one to the left and the other to the right of the hook point.

View from Behind. Shows how fibers fan, forming snag shield to guard hook point from the sides.

Before and After. Untrimmed jig on left as it comes out of the package. Fibers have been thinned out, clipped short, fanned out and vee'd to the sides on jig at right.

I've been trimming jigs this same way over twenty-five years. It's not that I'm set in my ways. I have heard of and tried other ways to trim jigs, but keep coming back to the steps above because they work for me. Over time, what has changed is the availability of lighter and varying size fiberguards. Years ago, there was really only one size fiberguard (or so it seemed) - extra full and extra long with extra thick fibers. Today, there are light (.018), medium (.021) and heavy (.024) action fibers, base sizes (of the entire bundle) in 1/64" increments from 1/16" through 5/32" (which determines fiber count), and  from 1-3/8" to 1-7/8" lengths available. So jigs today can come off the shelf with fairly different fiberguards. Nevertheless, finding a jig that needs no trimming is not common. It's like finding a pair of fine dress slacks that fit perfectly off the rack without needing to be tailored. If the pants fit you, they may not fit other customers as good. So, good pants are often made long and unhemmed so everyone may tailor them. Likewise, good jigs are often left a little too full and a little too long. It's intended that you tailor them to fit your needs perfectly. The way I trim all jigs (if they need trimming) is as above.

Finesse Versus Power Jigs. Shown above are two Arkey style jigs out of the same mold. In font is a "power" jig with a heavy hook and heavy fiberguard requiring heavy rod and line to set this hook. In back is a "finesse" version with thinner (yet still strong) hook and more flexible fiberguard. The finesse jig has softer 1-3/4" long, .018 light action fibers in a 5/32" base. The power jig has stiffer 1-1/2" long, .021 medium action fibers in a 9/64" base. Both need to be trimmed in most fishing situations. How much to trim depends on where you will use them, and with what strength rod, reel and line.

The power jig is molded and painted with a metal pin temporarily in place of the fiberguard. Then the pin is pulled and the fiberguard is glued in. The finesse jig is molded and painted with the fiberguard in place, which seats the fiberguard a little more securely. In either case, however, you can expect a small percentage of fiberguards to pop out from handling them, from fish or hard use. Sometimes a fiberguard will come lose during the trimming process. This is not a mistake or badly-made fiberguard. It's just their nature. Just like an egg is fragile, that doesn't mean it's a defect if one's shell gets broken in the egg carton. It's just the way eggs (and fiberguards) are made. Point is, fiberguards may loosen. Don't pull or tug on the fiberguard more than you have to.

There aren't many more than a dozen strands left in the fiberguard on this finesse jig...

...which proved just perfect!


Adding Rattles to Jigs

I've banged rocks together while wading waist deep on a ledge near deep, clear water, and had dozens of smallmouth come right up to my hands with the rocks in them. They will usually do this every time you try it.

I've had bass circling like sharks, eyeballing a falling Senko in clear water. My fishing buddy would plop his Senko loudly into the water about fifteen feet away, and the bass would make a beeline right over to the noisy splash every time one of us did that.

I have watched in clear water with 20 foot visibility where a Texas-rigged craw dropped straight under the boat with a bead to make noise got more attention and bites than the same Texas-rigged craw without a bead.

I have also been in a shallow cove filled with sunning bass where splashing your fingers in the water would draw all the bass closer to see what was splashing, but tapping your rod tip against the side of the boat caused every fish to jet out of the cove.

What these little anecdotes show is that fish react to noise, often looking for food when they hear it.

The photo shows a rattle strap contraption that can turn any jig into a double rattling fool.

Looking like a miniature pair of martial artist's nunchakus, they offer great flexibility to add rattles to a jig or lure that otherwise doesn't have any rattles. These rattle straps first became available in 1999, not too long ago. Actually, the entire notion of adding rattles to a jig is not very old.

Today, many anglers commonly prefer rattles on jigs, especially around sight-obstructing cover or in dingy water. Guys who fish at night feel rattles are a "must" for best results. Night anglers may put several of these nunchakus on a jig in order to make it rattle as much as possible at night.

The entire contraption is 3-1/4" long from tip to tip. Each end holds a hard plastic rattle chamber. Each chamber contains 3 steel metal ball to create a loud rattle. The flexible neoprene rubber bands arms are each about 1-1/2" long. You can slip this rattle strap onto any jig. There is a hole through the center hub to slip it on or off any jig hook. It can be left dangling on the round bend of the hook or slipped all the way up behind the jig collar. The tentacles flex and wave, rattling the metal balls as you shake, jig or simply retrieve steadily. The long, thin, wavy rubber arms never sit still. Even free-falling to the bottom on a semi-slack line, the arms wave all around and rattle.

Even with a jig that already comes with rattles attached to the skirt band itself, some expert anglers still add rattle nunchakus to further increase the rattle noise. For instance, the black blue jig in the photo carries a total of four rattle chambers on board. It has two rattle chambers attached to the skirt band plus a rattle nunchaku slipped on the hook shank.

Keep in mind, the steel metal balls do rattle from simply waving around, and simply moving the jig will create a rattle. The height of effectiveness however, is to make sure the hard plastic rattle chambers are positioned toward the bottom of the jig so that the hard plastic chambers make hard bottom contact as often as possible. The constant clatter of the hard chambers against hard objects underwater is what you want!

Try it. I hope you will like its flexibility. And I think bass will like belting your rattle nunchakus!

Applying Fish Attractants to Jigs

No one can say for sure whether fish attractants applied to lures cause more fish to be caught. I have used fish attractants on lures for the past twenty-five years during many thousands of bass fishing trips. Honestly, it has never been possible for me to say for sure whether fish attractants applied to lures have helped add to any day's catch or not.

There is no doubt that manufacturers strive to produce and market the best fish attractants possible. Fish attractant is a tool, a well-made one, and I never go fishing without it. Whether I use it or not depends on the day and the mood of the fish.

I tend to use fish attractants with slowly-fished soft plastics more than other bait types. On jigs, I never intentionally apply attractant to the head or the jig skirt. To do so only goops up and mats down the skirt into a solid congealed clump of stuck-together strands with little or no action. The skirt looks like when you cook spaghetti incorrectly, and they all get glued to each other and you cannot ply them apart. Some attractant manufacturers claim you may pull to stretch the strands on the skirt, and the individual attractant-anointed strands will snap back and stay apart. I have never found that to work. The skirt always clumps together into one big messy mass if attractant gets on the skirt.

That is not to say bass won't bite a jig with a solidly clumped-together skirt. They certainly will whack it in a heartbeat. It always makes me chuckle when they do since it totally debunks all the rhetoric bandied about how the subtle action nuances of silicone strands versus rubber legs versus fine-cut "frog hair" rubber strands matters. Not! Nevertheless, it has just been so ingrained into a bass angler's psyche that jig skirt strands have to wiggle and diggle, that I do not apply attractant to jig heads or skirts. That way, the strands stay individual and wiggle and diggle like we always preach about it.

Straighten Out Your Trailers

Pressed against each other in the bag during storage, the bodies, tails and assorted appendages of soft plastic trailers get folded over and bent out of shape. You will catch fewer bass with badly bent trailers. You will catch more bass by picking out the most perfectly-shaped trailers in the bag. Who knows why bass care about this? But my experience says they do. You can help bent trailers recover back to their original shape by anointing trailers in an attractant in the bag. Marinating tends to relax baits and helps ease them back to their original properly molded-in shape alignment. With the rejuvenating effect of an attractant, trailers want to go back to the shape they were cured and solidified in the mold. They get more supple, limber up, the kinks come out, they spring back into shape. Exposing the bag to warm sun also aids this process. On a hot, bright day with attractant in the bag, you can notice the wrinkles smoothing out of your jig trailers within the hour. One may wonder why should fish care? But in my experience, there is nothing like a perfectly straight jig trailer to generate maximum bites.

In a pinch, plain lake water can be used to help soften and straighten baits back toward their original molded alignment and makes them slick and slimy just putting some lake water in the bag of jig trailers you plan to use. However, an attractant gets absorbed into the bait's surface. They get more of a slick slimy feel than is possible with mere water. They take on a living sheen coat. Especially the translucent colors capture light better when glistening in attractant.

So yes, I do use attractant squirted into a bag of soft plastic trailers in order to rejuvenate, remove the wrinkles and add sheen. But I do not apply attractant to the jig head or jig skirt, and I do not ordinarily apply attractant to pork trailers.

Get Back at Those Tail Biters

At times, fish tend to bite short at jigs, nipping the tails. There is a period in springtime when it seems most every bass is picking up a jig by the tail. At those trying times, I definitely do want the jig trailer's tail slimed in attractant. If a fish bites the tail off a jig trailer that's been marinating in an attractant, you can expect that bass may hit again on that same cast. The second strike may come instantly - or a bass may follow the bait for a distance, even all the way back to the boat - but get ready because that bass will attempt to get the rest of the bait that went with the tail. Even if you see the fish chasing or following back to the boat, and it breaks off the chase, it ducks under a rock, ledge or descends under the boat - immediately toss the jig right back where the fish went down. It will usually bite. However, to cast a tail-less bait back in a second time to a different area tends to be futile One may wonder why should fish care if there's no tail? Yet in my experience, I don't catch many bass once the trailer is de-tailed - except on the very same retrieve or immediate toss back at the same bass that took off the tail. Simply by continuing to work a jig or by slowing down with it, even pausing, you can get those tail biters to come back - and this time they have no option except to whack at the hook. So tail-biting is not necessarily a bad thing provided you are alert for and can induce that second strike they definitely want to make after taking the tail.

Trailer Time

A skirt provides some fluid movement to and bigs up the appearance of a jig. Yet the skirt is more of a backdrop. The skirt is not the prime offering - the trailer is. The skirt is only an accessory, a piece of fluffy collar used to heighten the allure of the jig trailer. Don't believe me? I didn't think you would. So why not prove it easily to your own self? Fish just two rods all season. One with a jig dressed only with a skirt. Make the second rod a jig with only a trailer. Although you may use either rod, it won't be too long before the first rod (with the skirt only) goes uncast. The trailer matters more.

There are two types of trailers: 1) soft plastic baits, and 2) brined pork skin. Pork is a bit messy, and most anglers don't use it. It dries out quickly, is hard to store, leaks, gets corrosive brine on everything, stains the boat carpet, and in my experience, you will catch fewer fish on pork. There's really only one reason to ever use pork but that single reason is a doozy - big kicker bass are caught on it. For that reason alone, I will always have pork on board and switch to it when I want to try something different in order to jig a big kicker fish.

I tend to favor two shapes of pork. One, the biggest frog-shaped chunk of pork possible, about half as big as a ham hock. Second, a bulky pork eel, which is a big baitfish-shaped pennant of pork that I'll shorten at times.

Most guys just don't think of pork trailers nowadays. Soft plastics are what's on their minds - and on the backs of their jigs. I use pork more often than most anyone I know, but that still equates to my using soft plastic trailers eighty percent of the time.

Single tail grubs, craws, double tail Yamamoto Hula grubs and the new Yamamoto Kreatures and Flappin' Hog are the trailers that go under my jig skirts.

Whatever you choose, keep in mind it is the trailer - it's color, size, shape and action - that is the most important component of your jig.

For years, I used the Yamamoto craws as jig trailers more, until some of the newer Yamamoto baits including the Kreature and the Flappin' Hog came along. As the newer baits hit the market, I simply started to work more with the new baits as trailers.

As a consequence, I use the Yamamoto craws less nowadays as jig trailers. That's not to imply they don't make great jig trailers. They do. On the Potomac River in the final event of the 2005 season, FLW Tour pro Toshi Namiki caught his fish mainly on jigs. He used Yamamoto's Fat Baby Craw as his jig trailer in black color and green pumpkin. He finished 5th for $30,000. He used the black craw trailer in the morning and green pumpkin later during the daytime. In the morning time, the water is darker, there is less sunshine, and black is easier for the fish to find in the diffused morning light, says Namiki.

The fishing got tough for Toshi on the final day of Potomac competition, but he nabbed the biggest fish in the event that day, a four pounder, on a jig with Gary's Fat Baby Craw trailer. That fish helped Namiki finish in fifth place on the Potomac, and second overall in the Angler of the Year race on the 2005 FLW Pro Tour. Fact is, the Yamamoto Craw is and always has been as good a jig trailer as any.

Left: 3-3/4" Fat Baby Craw (3FS).  Right: 4" MediumCraw (3M).

Several other Yamamoto baits also make good jig trailers for me:

  1. the Single Tail Grub (18 and 18T series)
  2. the Skirted Double Tail Hula Grub (97 series)
  3. the Kreature, and
  4. the Flappin' Hog.

L to R: 18-series Single Tail Grub, 16L Pro Double Tail Grub, Flappin' Hog, 97-series Double Tail Hula, and Kreature.

With several such trailer options to choose from, that all work super, I do not get too hung up on what jig trailer style I'm using, with the exception that the size of the trailer will have to match the size of the jig to some degree, and the overall bulk of the jig plus trailer combo will have some influence on the size of the fish caught - for me.

Starting with one of the smallest jig trailers I have been very successful with is the 5-inch single tail grub, and I favor the discontinued 18T-series tough trailer formula. This trailer formula is so tough, a single grub may last an entire weekend without getting torn, and the tail has a strong wriggling action.

Alas, there are two small problems with the 18T-series single tail grub trailer:

  1. it's been discontinued, and
  2. it comes in only a few colors.

I use the 031 pearl blue silver color with white or white-bellied baitfish color jig skirts.

18T Tough Single Tail Grub has been discontinued, but is still available while supplies last. 031 color shown.

I use the 150 smoke pepper color with brown, brown purple, and I also use the smoke pepper sometimes on black blue skirts.

18T Tough Single Tail Grub in color 150 smoke pepper

I use the merthiolate 320 color with green skirts at times. Those are all 18T colors so far. There really aren't many other 18T colors.

About the only time I use the softer 18-series instead of the 18T is to use an 042 watermelon 18-series single tail with a brown orange jig skirt. This brown orange skirt with watermelon trailer has proven to be an outstanding jig color for me ever since GYB's sales supervisor Jeremy Riley showed me this jig color combo about seven years back. Before that, I had always used a brownish or smoke trailer with a brown orange jig, but the watermelon trailer truly perks up this presentation. It's outstanding. So that's why I use the watermelon (and a few other colors) even though the softer 18-series tail gets torn off easily. The silver lining is, even when tails do get pulled off, fish often circle back and bite again.

The 18's and 18T's are the smallest trailers I use on jigs, usually on smaller profile Wisconsin style swimming jigs in the spring - or swimming other jig styles (like swimming skirted football jigs) in the spring. For some reason, it seems the single tail grub works swimmingly with swimming jigs.

Yamamoto's coming out with a new, thicker legged double tail series, the 16L Pro Double Tail Grub. The L stands for Long. It is longer in the body than the legacy 16-series. I'm loving the 16L as a jig trailer.

The 16L Pro Double Tail Grub will be released in early 2008. Color 042J shown.

The 16L is going to be a great trailer for lighter swimming jigs and for finesse jigs where you trim the skirt strands or use a half-skirt "finesse skirt" for a smaller presentation than a full-sized jig.

Next up in size of trailers I use is the 97-series skirted double tail hula grub. In the past few seasons, I am getting back into using the skirted 97-series much more as a jig trailer. I simply stuff the skirted grub up under a skirted jig. Jeremy Riley of GYB and I first started doing this a lot a few years ago. At the time, I had never known of anyone else using a skirted hula grub stuffed under a jig skirt. But now it seems I hear of everyone up to and including the top pros using it more and more - a skirted hula grub under a jig skirt. Reason is, it works. The skirted double tail Yamamoto hula grub is the jig trailer that rookie pro Derek Remitz used to win $102,000 in the 2007 season opener on Lake Amistad, Texas. So a skirted hula grub makes a superb jig trailer.

A 97-series Skirted Double Tail Hula Grub in color 190 motor oil pepper.

Next up in size of trailers - and commotion created (due to forcing the thicker legs to bend over backward) is the Kreature. This is bulkier than the previously-mentioned trailers and I tend to use it on my relatively bigger, heavier jigs. It's no coincidence that bigger heavier jigs sweetened with bulkier Kreatures tend to attract a bit bigger fish on average.

With the Kreature, I prefer to rig with skirt to front on a jig.

One of the newest jig trailers I've used a lot lately is the Flappin' Hog, which Yamamoto released earlier during 2007.

Flappin' Hog in color 214 smoke bluegill.

I currently fish jigs mainly with the soft plastic Yamamoto jig trailers listed above.

Why not give this nice trailer mix a try.

I hope they'll work as good for you as they have for me.

For moderately lighter (meaning medium heavy) work like the 1/4 oz swimming jig shown here and for finesse jigs that don't have heavy flipping hooks, Yamamoto's medium heavy action rods excel with line from 10 to 16 pound test. The two sizes and model numbers of Yamamoto's medium heavy action baitcasting rods are: 1) 7'0" #SM2601MHF, and 2) 7'6" #SM2661MHF.

For heavier work, like slinging the 3/4 oz Arkey jig above or any jig with a heavy wire hook, Yamamoto's heavy action rods get the affirmative nod. The two sizes and model numbers of Yamamoto's heavy action baitcasting rods are: 1) 7'0" #SM3601HF, and 2) 7'6" #SM3661HF.

For those who pursue the biggest bass in the baddest cover, there also are two extra heavy Yamamoto rod models: 1) 7'0" #SM4601XHF, and 2) 7'6" #SM4661XHF.

Another important thing you can do in a tournament is to size your trailer precisely to win it. Tournament angling is different, and often opposite, from recreational angling. Whereas the recreational angler is often looking for lots of non-stop fun action, it would be a distraction and handicap a tournament angler to spend the whole day fighting and releasing many unneeded fish. The jig fishing tips below are written to help a tournament angler hone in on the few fish worth his time.

At a place or time of season when a meager ten pound limit can win, I'll throw a five-inch Yamamoto 18-series single tail grub trailer. In addition, there is a special tough plastic model of this grub called the 18T series that is molded of a tougher plastic than the standard 18 series. Gary Yamamoto designed these 18T's as the ideal trailers for spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and heavier flipping jigs. They are the same sizes as the existing 18 series, made in the same molds, but of a tougher plastic so as not to tear as easily. Of course, the harder plastic formulation is not so hard that it compromised the rippling action of the tail, and in actuality they send out a heavier, louder vibration than their non-T counterparts. Unfortunately the 18T series never caught on with anglers, and Yamamoto has discontinued the 18T trailer series. One of the drawbacks with the 18T series was it came in limited colors. Nevertheless, it is one of the best jig trailers you can ever use, and one single grub has lasted for an entire weekend of fishing more than once!

For twelve pounds a day, I may use a bulkier five-inch 3-series craw worm, possibly pinching it down a bit.

Where fifteen pounds are required, I'll stuff a five-inch 97-series double tail Yamamoto Hula grub or jam a 5-series Yamamoto Kreature onto my jig.

When twenty pounds per day are expected, you won't find me lacing up any less than the six-inch 99-series double tail skirted Yamamoto Hula grub.

It doesn't sound radically different to read it, but actually on a jig, the 99-series Yamamoto Hula grub has about 4 times the bulk of an 18-series single tail. So each of the progressive trailer upgrades above enlarges the jig appeal from two-pounders (10 pound limit) to four-pounders (twenty pound limit).

I'll also trim my jig skirt to match the trailer. I'll almost always use a sparser and shorter jig skirt with a five-inch 18-series single tail as opposed to hardly trimming the skirt at all with a six-inch 99-series double tail Yamamoto Hula grub.

And keep in mind that once I and/or my team partner have five fish of the approximate winning size, then I just may switch to a large size pork trailer for a while, just going for that one kicker fish with a sweet tooth for pork. Keep the Super Pork Sleeky in mind. It is a long thin strip I can cut from any length - starting at 6-1/2" - or cut as short as 3". At times, if I desire even more bulk to my skirt while using pork, I will stuff an 11-series Yamamoto Skirt under the rubber or silicone jig skirt for more bulk and/or additional color effect when using pork.

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