A while back I delved into the use of my favorite artificial bait, the shrimp tail jig.
I suppose I delved a bit too much and ran long while talking about what happens on splash down and how fast to retrieve. I know I do run on at times, but jig fishing is one of my all time favorite things to do.
Now, as promised, I will get back to the technique I have developed after nearly 60 years of jigging. I feel qualified since I believe there are few that have caught as many fish on one lure. I am often accused of being hopelessly single-minded, but I say do not tamper with success.
One of the best things about fishing with a jig is they are usually inexpensive. That takes some of the sting out when you lose one and, to be sure, you will lose them on occasion. If you are using the bait properly, you will be throwing it into the current to allow it to wash back toward you as it bumps the bottom. That means your jig will be coming up behind stumps, logs oysters and all manner of structures.
As you feel that obstruction, the natural instinct is to set the hook. Once you are hung up, you must decide whether to disturb your fishing spot or to break the bait off. If I am in the kayak, I paddle over the snag to try and pull it free from the opposite direction, but in an outboard I will break it off before starting the engine and spooking up everything for a half mile.
For the most part I fish my four-inch, soft chartreuse jig tail on a white ¼ oz. lead head hook, just the way it comes from the store. (For the most part, but not always.)
In a few spots, I sweeten the jig with about a half inch of shrimp. I only do that where I know the fish to be finicky eaters. The bits of shrimp will provide smell and taste and make for a harder hit. I am not sure how I decide when to do that, but I expect it comes from trial and error.
I know there are jig fishermen who sweeten their bait on every cast, but I don’t believe that to be necessary, besides I enjoy the freedom of not using natural bait. Sometimes when I suspect that fish are hitting short, I will bite off a half inch of the soft plastic.
Now, despite my own preference, the most popular jig is the paddle tail that imitates a minnow. When you throw one, you will know immediately why it is so popular. The motion is built in, whereas, with my shrimp tail, you must learn a technique in order to fish it properly. Every jig fisherman should own several paddle tail jigs in a variety of colors with white being a must.
If there is a drawback, it is that some fish do not prefer to eat minnows, but for the most part that should not be a problem. The fish we seek most, like flounder, snook, red drum and sea trout, will all take a paddle tail. Black drum and sheep’s head are not eager to hit them, but those prisoner fish are difficult to catch on any jig.
As with any artificial lure, confidence breeds success. Find a jig that catches fish for you and stick with it. Repetition and experience with the same lure will give you the confidence you need to become proficient.
After all these years, I have refined my jig fishing so I can go on a trip with only a couple spare jigs in my shirt pocket. That is all of the tackle I need to bring along in order to guarantee a good trip. That’s about all I have. Do the jig – you may like it!
Dan Smith has fished the waters of Volusia County for more than 40 years. Email questions and comments to email@example.com. His book, “I Swear the Snook Drowned,” is available for purchase for $10.95 at (386) 441-7793.