There are so many ways to catch fish, but one of the most consistently productive lures for all species of fish is the jig.
Jigs come in sizes ranging from 1/32 ounce (for pan fish) to over an ounce (fishing in current). The most common sizes are the 1/16, 1/8, 1/4 and 3/8 ounce jigs. A rule of thumb is 1/16 ounce for about every 8 feet of water. Wind or current may demand a step up in size.
Jigs come in many shapes, with the most common being the round lead head. Playing around with jig head shapes may help you find what works best for you as you use them for many applications.
They also come with rattles and small spinners on them to add noise and attraction.
Multiple colors and combinations of colors can be confusing to the beginning angler. Stick to brighter colors on bright days, darker or natural colors on darker days or stained waters. Glow colors available also work well in stained water or deep water presentations.
Jigs can be bounced up and down vertically, and vertical jigging is the most familiar presentation for most anglers. Jigs can be cast and retrieved with multiple cadences, including snapping, pendulum, twitching, and steady retrieve.
They can be dragged in hard bottom areas with great bite-triggering success. Fish them fast-trolling with them, or fish them slow and precise under a slip bobber. They also produce trolling from speeds ranging from .8-1.2 mph.
Jigs can be tipped with minnows, leeches, crawlers, or plastics. Jigs are made now with bait keepers that hold plastics on and make them far more efficient.
You get the idea -- they are versatile!
Jigs catch fish of all species swimming in area waters, and are a great presentation to start kids out fishing. Feel the bite, set the hook! Jigs are also easy on fish as the fish are usually hooked in the mouth, making for easy and successful releases.
Jigs are fished in the weeds, or above the weeds, more effectively than most presentations. They are a great choice of lure if fishing from shore or a dock, and casting and retrieving.
Jigs also have different sized hooks and include long shank, and wide gap. Your choice for the configuration you want to choose is most likely going to be the size of bait you are using. Small minnows, like crappie or fathead minnows, may get the nod for the short shank hook, whereas the bigger minnows or plastics may require the long shank hook to improve hook setting percentage success.
If you have not been a jig fisherman, get busy practicing with them, because you have been missing out on a super productive technique.
(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)