In the summer months, fish are eating aggressively. But every now and then, something happens that makes them a little more selective about what they eat. When that happens, and it’s usually weather-related, a plain jig tipped with a piece of plastic can put fish in the boat better than almost anything. Here are some ideas about how you can use jigworms to catch fish when others can’t.
The jig we’re using is a plain jig: No rubber skirt, feathers or hair. A larger than usual hook is usually better. Strike King’s Tour Grade jigs would be a good example.
Jigs come in a variety of colors and sizes. I use mostly 1/16th, 3/32nd, and 1/8th ounce jigs. If I was limited to 1 size, it would probably be 3/32nd’s, but there are plenty of applications for the other sizes.
We’re usually throwing jigworms along the deep weedline. If you notice most of the strikes coming as the jig falls to the bottom, try a lighter jig. It will sink a little slower and stay in the fish-zone longer. If most of your strikes are coming near the bottom, try a heavier jig. It will get to the bottom where the fish are faster than a lighter jig.
I generally like the jig to be a subtle color. Watermelon, crawfish, and black are the colors that I use. The fish will generally hit any of those colors. Because the 3 weights of jigs that I use are very close in physical size, I color code them. 1 size is watermelon, 1 size is crawfish, and the last size is black. To me it doesn’t matter which size is which color, it’s just far easier for me to look at the color and know what size it is.
The plastic that you thread onto the jig is a very important consideration. Plastics come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Some look like something that you might actually find living in the water being fished, others have legs and appendages that wiggle and provide lots of action and don’t appear real natural. Natural in appearance or not, both will catch fish. Generally, in clear water, go with a more subtle color and less action. If the water has some color, go with a brighter color and more action, increasing both as the water gets more stained.
Last year, my biggest bass of the year came on an Ocho Worm. The Ocho is a good worm for many situations, but I really like them in clear water. They come in several lengths. Go with the smaller size when the fish are finicky, larger when they’re aggressive.
More anglers are going with braided line with a fluorocarbon leader for jigworms. 15 or 20 pound test XTCB8 Braid with an 8 pound test Tactical leader provides a natural appearing presentation with outstanding sensitivity and hooksetting ability. Some anglers like to connect the 2 lines by tying them together, others prefer a small swivel to connect the 2. The swivel route is easier to tie, but the swivel will also pick up small pieces of weed and doesn’t reel as easily through the guides on the rod. The leader should be about 15 inches in length.
Last consideration: Most anglers prefer a spinning rod/reel combo for jigworming. The Lew’s Custom Speed Stick medium spinning 6’6” rod is an outstanding choice. It provides excellent sensitivity and hooksets.
Jigworms are often thought of as a bass bait, and they are outstanding bass-catchers, but walleyes, pike, crappies, and pretty much anything that swims along the deep weedline will eat them. If you’re just looking to get bit, you’ll make that happen with a jigworm.
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For more articles by Bob, visit From the Field here on The American Outdoorsman.