A jig is simply a piece of lead with a hook molded into it. A dressing of hair, feathers, tinsel or soft plastic generany conceals the hook. Other types of jigging lures include the jigging spoon, a very thick metal spoon; the vibrating blade, a thin metal minnow imitation; and the tailspin, a lead-bodied lure with a spinner at the rear.
Jigs and jigging lures can be fished slowly, so they work especially wen in cold water. Low water temperature reduces the metabolic rate of fish, making them reluctant to chase fast-moving lures. But the slow jigging action will often tempt a strike.
The rapid sink rate of most jigs and jigging lures makes them an excellent choice for reaching bottom in current or for fishing in deep water. Lake trout anglers, for example, regularly use these lures at depths up to 100 feet with no extra weight added to the line. But jigs and jigging lures can also be effective in water only a few feet deep.
Most jigs and jigging lures have compact bodies, so they are ideal for casting into the wind or for casting long distances. The extra distance helps you take fish in clear water or in other situations where they are easily spooked.
Despite the effectiveness of jigs and jigging lures, many anglers have difficulty catching fish with them. The main problem is detecting the strike. Fish seldom slam these lures as they do a crankbait or surface lure. Instead, they inhale the lure gently, usuany as it settles toward bottom. If you are not alert or do not have a taut line as the lure sinks, you will not notice the strike.
Because strikes are often light, jigs and jigging lures should be fished with sensitive tackle. Most experts prefer a relatively stiff graphite or boron rod, with just enough flexibility in the tip to cast the lure.
Ultra-light to medium-power spinning or light bait-casting outfits work well in most cases. But heavier tackle is needed to handle lures over 3/4 ounce or to horse fish from heavy cover.
Use the lightest line practical for the species and fishing conditions. If your line is too heavy, the lure will sink too slowly and will not stay at the desired depth when retrieved. Also, strikes will be more difficult to detect.
With ordinary monofilament, the twitch signalling a strike is hard to see. To detect strikes more easily, use fluorescent monofilament. Many jig fishermen wear polarized sunglasses to improve line visibility even more.
When selecting jigs and jigging lures, the main consideration is weight. Your selection must be a compromise based on the type of fish, water depth, current speed and wind velocity.
For panfish, most anglers prefer lures of no more than 1/8 ounce. Some panfish jigs, ca11ed micro jigs, weigh as little as 1/80 ounce. For mid-sized gamefish like waneyes and bass, 1/4 to 1/8-ounce lures normally work best. For larger gamefish, lures of 1 ounce or more are usua11y most productive.
The lure must be heavy enough to reach the desired depth, but not so heavy that it sinks too fast. Fish usuany prefer a slowly falling lure to one plummeting toward bottom. As a general rule, allow 1/8 ounce for every 10 feet of water. For example, a lure of at least 1/4 ounce would 'be needed to reach bottom in water 20 feet deep.
In slow current, however, the same 1/4-ounce lure would only reach a depth of about 15 feet. As the current becomes faster, the weight of lure needed to reach bottom increases. Wind affects your lure choice much the same way as current. The wind pushes your boat across the surface, increasing water resistance on the line and lure. This makes it more difficult for the lure to reach the desired depth and stay there.
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