Although the popularity of jig fishing has seen a resurgence in recent years, they’re hardly a new invention. Popularized in the early 1970s by Musky Hunter field editors, Spence Petros and Tony Portincaso, they are now widely used for musky fishing here at Eagle Lake in Ontario. Their newly realized effectiveness has been the cause of increased use and some wonderful new developments in jig tactics.
Jigs excel under tough conditions and can be used throughout the season. They’re at their best picking away at fish tucked into turns, points, and pockets of weeds. They can be used during and after cold fronts as well as during hot, flat, and sunny conditions, so be sure to include them in your spring presentations. They are also the bait of choice when targeting shallow, cold water. Effective with post-spawn fish as well, they can be used in the backs of bays, in dead reeds, and around timber or piers. When you are sight-fishing lazy or cruising fish in warming sand flats adjacent to the spawning areas, jigs tend to outperform the old chub twitching presentation. Have a rod rigged up in the boat as a throwback and bring the bait directly at the fish as they head back to the structure after failed figure-8s or L-turns.
It is easy to overfish jigs, especially those with swimmer heads. Experiment with them first by observing them in shallow water with a sandy bottom. You’re sure to be amazed at how lifelike they look scurrying and wiggling along the bottom. Just simply point the rod at the bait and reel a couple of turns, let it settle, and repeat. You can do the same using a rod tip; much like fishing a jig and minnow slow using a pull-and-sit presentation. The big twisters and paddle tail combos can be snap-jigged, especially as a throwback, but seem to work best with a steady swimming retrieve. Let it drop once in a while, then it happens! Pickups are just a tick and weight. Don’t just go by feel though, be a line-watcher!
Great Jigs and Where to Buy Them
Bait Rigs tackle offers the Esox Cobra Muskie and Pike Jig Kits that make choosing a jig a no-brainer. The kits come complete with reeper, lizard, and over-sized twister tails in various colors as well as a glow set. The new Cobra swimming jighead is included in these kits but can also be purchased separately. It is available in sizes ranging from 3/8 to ¾-ounce and features a unique Mustad Ultra-Point razor sharp hook design that bites like no other. The new 1 1/2 –ounce head allows for better penetration into heavy cover, deeper breakline presentations, and the ability to use bigger and bulkier paddletail/rubber skirt combos. All of these combined features mean more profile and bigger jig fishing potential.
Jack’s Jigs offers several different head designs, including a swimmer head, ball, and stand up style as well as a wide variety of body designs. Other great manufacturers to check out are Moore’s Lures and Odyssey Lures. Moore’s offers paddle tails, reepers, and a hybrid called the Creature Spin that features a stand up, swimming head and a plastic body with a spinner tail. At Odyssey Lures you’ll find their great Dragon Lizard jig.
Jigs I Use
When it comes to jigs weighing 3/8 to 5/8-of an ounce, I personally use a St. Croix PS70HF and PS3500 spinning combo with a 14-pound test Fireline. For jigs ¾ to 1 ½ -ounces, a casting outfit with a AC70HF and an AC250 or Calcutta 250 with a 50-65-pound test Stealth is ideal. With all jigs or tubes, be sure to use a fine wire leader of at least 12 to 14 inches.
Good luck out there!