One of the most effective and least understood lures around.Yes dear friends, we are talking about jigs! While many professional anglers swear by them, jigs have never really caught on in the South African market the way that soft plastics or crank baits
“Jigs” One off the most effective and least understood lures around. Yes dear friends, we are talking about jigs! – Dewald Viljoen
Since this series is a broad strokes explanation of the different lures available on the market, will not go too deeply into the techniques and tackle requirements needed for jigs, but rather discuss the different types of jigs and their best scenario applications.
In its simplest form, a jig is a weighted head attached to a hook. The material the head is made of is most commonly lead but can also be tungsten, tin, bismuth or even some type of blended resin. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages. A quick breakdown reveals the following: Resin heads have lots of bulk for very slow fall rates. They are very rare and unique and often just different enough to swing the balance in your favour on a tough day. Cons: Almost exclusively custom made which makes them difficult to find and expensive! Tin is environmentally friendly. It is lighter than lead giving bulk to lighter lures. Cons: Few brand options and quite pricey. Bismuth, a brittle heavy metal with lower toxicity than lead and approximately 86% the density of lead. Manufacturers started using bismuth as a lead replacement when state laws in in the USA started banning lead products in a number of lakes. It is a more environmentally friendly material with many of the same attributes as lead. Cons: While it should be relatively inexpensive, the fact that so few manufacturers are making bismuth lures tends to inflate the prices. Lead is the mainstay of the jig industry. Cheap and easy to work with, it does almost everything that anglers and manufacturers require from a mass production material. In my opinion, lead is also a better material to use when the fish are under pressure because the noise that lead makes when it impacts with obstacles is softer and less threatening. Cons: Lead can cause serious pollution over the long term. Furthermore, it can cause reproductive problems and lead poisoning.
Tungsten is the new kid on the block. Being a super dense material tungsten is 1.7 times heavier than lead making it a great material to use for compact heavy baits. Being very hard it also transfers vibration very well making it very sensitive in fishing applications. Cons: Tungsten is notoriously difficult to work with making the manufacturing processes quite expensive which results in quite expensive product for the consumer. It is also somewhat poisonous to animal life.
Materials out of the way, jigs can be divided into two main groups.
Dressed jigs and undressed jigs
Undressed jigs consist of a hook with a moulded on head. That is it. The shape and size of the head will be dictated by the conditions and the technique you are planning to employ and is material for a completely separate article. Undressed jigs are used almost exclusively with soft plastic bodies and as a result there are different heads for different applications. The most common two however is the swim bait head and the shaky head. Swim bait heads are designed to have a soft plastic swimming lure attached to it and can usually be identified by the placement of the line tie towards the front of the head where it is best positioned to drag the lure through the water well above the lake bed.
With shaky head jigs the eye is placed on top of the head where it can help the angler pop and lift the jig over and around obstacles on the bottom. Shaky head jigs also
tend to have longer shanked hooks since it is often expected to work with soft plastic lures with longer bodies.
Dressed jigs come with some form of skirt attached to the jig head. The most common skirts are silicon and can easily be interchanged. Less common but often far more deadly are the natural material skirts. These skirts are permanently attached to the lure and can be from buck tail, feathers and even strips of rabbit fur! Jigs made from natural materials are more specialized and fish a little different but often excel in cold or clear water conditions where their subtle and supple movement can trigger even the most finicky fish!
There is a dressed jig available for every imaginable condition and you should always inspect the manufacturer’s labels and packaging carefully to make sure you are purchasing the correct jig for your needs.
A few pointers to look for:
A good quality jig must have a weed-guard regardless of its intended use!
Swimming jigs usually have a sharper, more bullet shaped design with the line tie right at the end of the head. This allows it to swim easily through the thickest cover!
Look for jigs with a heavier gauge hook if you are planning fishing heavy cover. Jigs have a tendency to penetrate deep into the cover to where the biggest fish live and the last thing you want is hook failure when you new PB eats the lure!
A quality jig should have a stand up design, which prevents it from rolling over on the bottom.
Well designed grass jigs must have a recessed line tie. This design hides the knot and lets the lure slip through grass and vegetation with ease.
We have only touched on jigs in a very superficial manner this month and there is tons more to discuss about these fascinating lures, but like I mentioned before this is basic introduction to the different lure types out there. I hope you will go out and do a bit of experimentation on your own with these lures, and hopefully by the next time I get an opportunity to write about them more people will be willing to give them a chance!
In its simplest form, a jig is a weighted head attached to a hook
Lead is the mainstay of the jig industry
A wide range of different jigs
Tungsten is 1.7 times heavier than lead