By: Joel DeBoer
Fishing is a sport unlike any other for a variety of reasons. Perhaps one of the most alluring factors that sets fishing apart is the never-ending challenge resulting from continual changing and varied seasons, weather changes, water types and conditions, and of course the vast variety of species available to pursue. While each season presents its own unique obstacles to success, spring is arguably one of the more trying times for the angler; with that in mind, here is not-so-secret information on a “must-have” lure for the ardent fisherman’s tackle box, sure to tip the odds in your favor.Jigs are one of, if not the most versatile lure on the planet. Available in a mind-boggling array of shapes, sizes, and colors, jigs are consistent producers of just about every species of freshwater fish that swims, from panfish such as crappies, perch and bluegills, to large toothy predators such as giant walleyes, pike, and muskies. I could literally write pages upon pages on the nuances of fishing with jigs, but will for this instance stick to the basics on utilizing the round-headed jig.
Perhaps the most common and all-around useful types of jigs are the basic round-head style. Round-head style jigs, such as those produced by Mister Twister, can be fished in a variety of presentation types ranging from straight dragging, to a jigging (lift-and-drop motion), to an actual straight, swimming retrieve. Each of these methods has a time and place, and account for more than their fair share of catches each fishing season. Angler’s looking to take their fishing to the “next level” would be wise to explore, understand, and implement various jig-fishing techniques into their repertoire; trust me, there are times jigs will produce for you when virtually nothing else will.
Jigs, including round-head style, can be tipped with a variety of trailers, including live bait. There is no more productive livebait option in the early spring of the year than the minnow. From small crappie minnows for panfish, to large shiners and suckers for over-stuffed walleyes and northern pike, the minnow family excels at eliciting strikes during the early season months, especially when tipped on a jig. The numbers speak for themselves – a properly presented jig and minnow has been the undoing of literally tens of thousands of walleyes over the years from the Wisconsin River during the months of February, March, and April.
In addition to livebait, plastics offer a productive trailer alternative for spring jig fishing as well. Lures such as Mister Twister’s Exude Curly Tail Grub, Double Tail, Spilt Double Tail, Sassy Grub, and Sassy Shad offer a vast range of colors, sizes, and silhouettes; each style presents a different and unique action and vibration in the water. There truly is no one trailer style that can do it alone – to remain productive, anglers need equip themselves with a myriad of presentation options, and through experimentation, let the fish tell you which style is the “hot ticket”.
Equipment for fishing with jigs needn’t be overly complex. A quality St. Croix spinning rod ranging in length from 6′-7 1/2′ is an excellent choice, depending on whether you will be casting or vertically fishing; as a general rule of thumb, the shorter length rods work better when vertical jigging, while the longer lengths excel for casting situations, especially when using lighter gear. Rig a quality spinning reel such as one in the Abu Garcia Cardinal series, spooled with either Sufix monofilament or braided line, and you are ready to get your “jig on.” To become an effective jig-fishermen takes practice – learn to “feel” what your jig is doing, and to watch your line. Strikes when fishing with jigs may be subtle, where your only cue to set the hook may be a jump or twitch in your line. Perhaps the best rule of thumb in fishing… when in doubt set the hook!
Regardless of your preferred quarry, learn to fish jigs, especially during the spring time, and you’ll notice an increase in your catch ration! I’ll see you on the water…
As an outdoor educator and guide, Joel is involved in a myriad of fishing-related promotional and educational events including teaching fishing techniques through both classroom and on-the-water clinics. He is active on the internet, providing articles and fishing reports to over a dozen different web sites in addition to appearing on television and doing web-radio shows. Joel is a published outdoor author including articles in Musky Hunter, Muskie, On Wisconsin Outdoors magazines, and his highly-acclaimed syndicated weekly column, “The Guides Corner”.Wisconsin Angling Adventures
“Fishing’s our business. and business is good!”