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The World's Greatest Lure

The world's best lure is a jig. It is both simple and the most versatile in catching a wide array of fish. Happily in these hard times, it's also among the least expensive.

A jig hops, darts, and sways underwater as if moving to a lively tune conducted by the rod tip, befitting the namesake of an equally enthusiastic Irish dance. The lure's rhythm mesmerizes everything from bluegills to bass to bonefish. Although jigs designed for different species may differ in appearance, all jigs are basically the same: a weight molded near the eye of a hook with some sort of flexible, wiggly material that trails and waves behind the head as the jig moves in the water.

Dress for Success

Basic jigs that are commonly used for bass, walleyes, and many saltwater fish are bucktails in various colors. They range in size from 1⁄4 ounce for fishing your local lake to 6 ounces or more for deep jigging in the salt. Bucktail hair is too bulky for most tiny (1⁄100- to 1⁄16-ounce) trout and panfish jigs; either marabou feathers or a variety of miniature soft plastics provide wiggly appeal there.

Trailers are important. Bass jigs are often fished with a pork-rind or soft-plastic crawfish imitation on the hook, which contributes bulk and action. Walleye anglers add a live minnow, hooked through the head, to better entice finicky fish. In saltwater, a thin strip of cutbait or squid gives extra movement and fish-appealing scent.

While a jig is a jig is a jig, head designs also vary according to purpose. Round heads are ubiquitous, but narrow, arrow-shaped heads can achieve a faster sink rate. And although the hook eye normally points straight up from a jig's head, the latest fad in bass fishing is the "swimming" jig, which has a forward-pointing hook eye so the jig can more easily be pulled horizontally-instead of simply up and down-through thick underwater weeds.

Jig Partners

You can fish just about any jig of the appropriate size with any tackle you happen to have, but certain elements of rod and line design will obtain better results. A rod with a relatively stiff tip and an overall fast action will give a sharper, more pronounced snap to the jig as you work it underwater.

By similar reasoning, low-stretch superlines bring your jig to life better than elastic nylon monofilament. With mono, the stretchy line-especially in lighter line sizes-dampens every rod twitch you make. Since much jig fishing is done along the bottom of a lake or river, the feel you have for bottom contact is critical, and superline substantially enhances that kind of sensitivity. If the water is clear and the fish are fussy, use a couple of feet of fluorocarbon leader between your superline and the jig.

Jigging, of course, doesn't mean fishing the lure only straight up and down. When a jig is cast and retrieved, its darting and sinking motion perfectly imitates a baitfish. Dead-drifting is important, too, especially in trout or walleye rivers where a jig swinging in the current, and occasionally ticking bottom, is a top producer.

More than any other lure, the jig is widely adaptable to a broad range of fishing conditions and tactics. When other lures drop down the list of favorites because of indifferent results, what smart anglers almost invariably find is that the jig is up.

Comments (41)

Top Rated
All Comments
from hunterkid94 wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

well they do work but i dont seem to have much success with them.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from churro73 wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

not the best.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from streack wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

Mr. Merwin has it right, with the proper sized jig; you can catch any fish imaginable.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from walleye fisherman wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

Most definetly is the best lure. It catches bass, walleye, perch, pike even. You can get a 20 pack for around $2 around here. I even know a few people that make their own and have success with them. Great article.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from WVOtter wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

It's not my favorite, and I've caught my best fish on other tackle; but I've got to agree, it is a great choice when the day is slow and you want some bites. Rivers or lakes, sunnies, bass, whatever...you can count on it to bring you some luck.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Woodstock wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

I agree - especially when you consider how effective it is in both fresh and salt water.

And another nod to its classic status is how the jig has influenced streamers in fly-fishing: many of the best streamers nowadays are tied with weight in the forward portion so they "jig" when retrieved. Think Clouser Minnows; cone-headed Wooly Buggers, etc.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from j-johnson17 wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

My vote is for C4 - if there is a fish around, C4 will catch it...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dean Oh wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

Largest bass I ever caught was on a marabou jig out of my grandpa's pond. Reminds me I should fish 'em more often. Micro jigs are also good for stocked trout in Kansas and Missouri.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ravenscar wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

i just got a shakspeare jig and cut the back endof a dr shoals insole going totest it soon

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from aragonnapoles wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

I agree with the author,fishing jigs are my top producer in both fresh and salt water,catches from tilapia to carp to saltcatfish and ocassional snook.My favorites are the egg type head with fibers like bucktail and dog tail (my poodle bring a lot every month),but sometimes the sintetics works well.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from loperjim wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

John Merwin is right here. The jig is awesome, can do so much. I have caught trout on white jigs that imitate cut up shad and large mouth bass that think it is an easy minnow lunch. They are cheap and catch fish, outside a hook and worm, this is probably the cheapest way to fish.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Evan Delp wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

crappies and walleye are the two fish that i use jigs to catch

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tomkly wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

Is this the old "no name" lure that came out in the fifties

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I can't argue with John Merwin.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from labrador12 wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

My dad was the best jig fisherman I ever saw. He was great. For me, not so much. I do catch silvers on clousers though. I've caught more fish, bigger fish, and more species on flatfish and their clones.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from aspen wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

big trout sure love marabou jigs

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Elliott Balthazor wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I've used them a couple times, but they never worked for me.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Silewski11 wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I would say they do catch all sorts of species, but you have to add bait to it in order for it to work.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from sasquatch75 wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I know tat where i live a pink or orange is the only way to catch crappie.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from KJ wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

One other advantage of a jig is that with soft plastic, twister-tails you can change colors and styles quickly and easily. And they do catch everything. I've caught everything from blue gill to northern pike on these, including a channel cat and a carp.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 4 years 40 weeks ago

Jigs are good lures for all the reasons mentioned, and I prefer to tip mine with a "sassy sad" or rubber skirt.
It's not my "go to" lure, but I always keep a few handy!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Peter Campbell wrote 4 years 40 weeks ago

Jigs are great. Now if only you could fish them from shore into a pond...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from BassBasher wrote 4 years 38 weeks ago

I remember the good old days of grabbing some sweet corn out of mom's pantry and heading down to the pond....

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bassman3-15 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I do not know if it is the best but certainly on the top of the list.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from earlyriser81 wrote 4 years 16 weeks ago

I have had luck crappie fishing with them, but that is about it. I always have a few with me but rarely use them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Fishfry wrote 4 years 13 weeks ago

i need to find where to buy these. i live in pennsylvania and in my creek (the perkiomen creek) you can catch anything on anything!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Arcamedies wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

Crappie and jigs go together like peanut butter and jelly.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hunt and fish wrote 4 years 3 weeks ago

Usually the only time i use jigs is on bass and kokanee. but they are very versatile- last summer i was jigging for kakanee i caught a 20 inch brown trout.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from littleshagshag wrote 3 years 50 weeks ago

A white jig has been my go to bait for years. A lot of times catching fish when the fishing was slow.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from littleshagshag wrote 3 years 50 weeks ago

A white jig has been my go to bait for years. A lot of times catching fish when the fishing was slow.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from thebigone wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

anybody everyheard of taimen? well there a salmanoid and there giants normally if i'm holdin one by the gills and i'm raising it up the tail will still be brushin against the ground!Now the only way i know how to catch one is with a mock mouse bait or a huge baitfish anybody think a jig will work? (FYI taimen are only found in mongolia)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Rob27shred wrote 3 years 43 weeks ago

A gold 1/16 oz. bare trout magnet jig head with a 3/4" black & chartreuse micro bitsy tube & a nice fat wax worm has caught me a ton of trout in my local stream. My trick is to find a place where some decently heavy current runs into a deep hole. Then I will put my hip waders on & sneak up to casting distance from downstream. I will stand to one side of the stream & cast as far upstream into the rapids as possible. Then just let the current bring the jig into the hole while slowly taking up the line. I try to let the jig bounce along the bottom so leave some slack in the line until the jig reaches the bottom of the hole & the current stops pushing it. When this happens I like to use a slow pause retrieve method to drag the jig along the bottom & throw a few rod tip twitches in here & there. This set up has also worked well for me using a dead-drift method, trout will slam it when it swings out of the current. For clear water conditions or extra finicky fish I use a 16" 100% fluorocarbon leader.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from caliigiirl19 wrote 3 years 32 weeks ago

i like it

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from caliigiirl19 wrote 3 years 32 weeks ago

except i like to stick with floating lures cause for some reason i always get these caught up in rocks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from zrock365@yahoo.com wrote 3 years 31 weeks ago

I have seen guy catch a 3 pound crappie. That's big for a crappie,in case you don't know.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bass2Buck wrote 3 years 26 weeks ago

I caught my biggest Striper on a red and white jig with a Blue Herring trailer

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from spokey9 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

aint met a fish yet, that wouldn't at least chase a jig.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Justin Engelman wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

I agree, but I mainly use jig heads as a backup lure.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gimpergoo wrote 2 years 14 weeks ago

Always the go to lure/bait when all else fails.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gimpergoo wrote 2 years 14 weeks ago

Always the go to lure/bait when all else fails.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Charrio wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

My choice is a Size 12 Hook and a Splitshot along with a slip bobber.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from streack wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

Mr. Merwin has it right, with the proper sized jig; you can catch any fish imaginable.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from walleye fisherman wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

Most definetly is the best lure. It catches bass, walleye, perch, pike even. You can get a 20 pack for around $2 around here. I even know a few people that make their own and have success with them. Great article.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from hunterkid94 wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

well they do work but i dont seem to have much success with them.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ravenscar wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

i just got a shakspeare jig and cut the back endof a dr shoals insole going totest it soon

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I can't argue with John Merwin.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Elliott Balthazor wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I've used them a couple times, but they never worked for me.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from WVOtter wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

It's not my favorite, and I've caught my best fish on other tackle; but I've got to agree, it is a great choice when the day is slow and you want some bites. Rivers or lakes, sunnies, bass, whatever...you can count on it to bring you some luck.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Woodstock wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

I agree - especially when you consider how effective it is in both fresh and salt water.

And another nod to its classic status is how the jig has influenced streamers in fly-fishing: many of the best streamers nowadays are tied with weight in the forward portion so they "jig" when retrieved. Think Clouser Minnows; cone-headed Wooly Buggers, etc.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from j-johnson17 wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

My vote is for C4 - if there is a fish around, C4 will catch it...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dean Oh wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

Largest bass I ever caught was on a marabou jig out of my grandpa's pond. Reminds me I should fish 'em more often. Micro jigs are also good for stocked trout in Kansas and Missouri.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from aragonnapoles wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

I agree with the author,fishing jigs are my top producer in both fresh and salt water,catches from tilapia to carp to saltcatfish and ocassional snook.My favorites are the egg type head with fibers like bucktail and dog tail (my poodle bring a lot every month),but sometimes the sintetics works well.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from loperjim wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

John Merwin is right here. The jig is awesome, can do so much. I have caught trout on white jigs that imitate cut up shad and large mouth bass that think it is an easy minnow lunch. They are cheap and catch fish, outside a hook and worm, this is probably the cheapest way to fish.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Evan Delp wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

crappies and walleye are the two fish that i use jigs to catch

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tomkly wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

Is this the old "no name" lure that came out in the fifties

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from labrador12 wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

My dad was the best jig fisherman I ever saw. He was great. For me, not so much. I do catch silvers on clousers though. I've caught more fish, bigger fish, and more species on flatfish and their clones.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from aspen wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

big trout sure love marabou jigs

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Silewski11 wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I would say they do catch all sorts of species, but you have to add bait to it in order for it to work.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from sasquatch75 wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

I know tat where i live a pink or orange is the only way to catch crappie.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from KJ wrote 4 years 42 weeks ago

One other advantage of a jig is that with soft plastic, twister-tails you can change colors and styles quickly and easily. And they do catch everything. I've caught everything from blue gill to northern pike on these, including a channel cat and a carp.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 4 years 40 weeks ago

Jigs are good lures for all the reasons mentioned, and I prefer to tip mine with a "sassy sad" or rubber skirt.
It's not my "go to" lure, but I always keep a few handy!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Peter Campbell wrote 4 years 40 weeks ago

Jigs are great. Now if only you could fish them from shore into a pond...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from earlyriser81 wrote 4 years 16 weeks ago

I have had luck crappie fishing with them, but that is about it. I always have a few with me but rarely use them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Arcamedies wrote 4 years 11 weeks ago

Crappie and jigs go together like peanut butter and jelly.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from littleshagshag wrote 3 years 50 weeks ago

A white jig has been my go to bait for years. A lot of times catching fish when the fishing was slow.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from thebigone wrote 3 years 44 weeks ago

anybody everyheard of taimen? well there a salmanoid and there giants normally if i'm holdin one by the gills and i'm raising it up the tail will still be brushin against the ground!Now the only way i know how to catch one is with a mock mouse bait or a huge baitfish anybody think a jig will work? (FYI taimen are only found in mongolia)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Rob27shred wrote 3 years 43 weeks ago

A gold 1/16 oz. bare trout magnet jig head with a 3/4" black & chartreuse micro bitsy tube & a nice fat wax worm has caught me a ton of trout in my local stream. My trick is to find a place where some decently heavy current runs into a deep hole. Then I will put my hip waders on & sneak up to casting distance from downstream. I will stand to one side of the stream & cast as far upstream into the rapids as possible. Then just let the current bring the jig into the hole while slowly taking up the line. I try to let the jig bounce along the bottom so leave some slack in the line until the jig reaches the bottom of the hole & the current stops pushing it. When this happens I like to use a slow pause retrieve method to drag the jig along the bottom & throw a few rod tip twitches in here & there. This set up has also worked well for me using a dead-drift method, trout will slam it when it swings out of the current. For clear water conditions or extra finicky fish I use a 16" 100% fluorocarbon leader.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bass2Buck wrote 3 years 26 weeks ago

I caught my biggest Striper on a red and white jig with a Blue Herring trailer

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from churro73 wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

not the best.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BassBasher wrote 4 years 38 weeks ago

I remember the good old days of grabbing some sweet corn out of mom's pantry and heading down to the pond....

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bassman3-15 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I do not know if it is the best but certainly on the top of the list.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Fishfry wrote 4 years 13 weeks ago

i need to find where to buy these. i live in pennsylvania and in my creek (the perkiomen creek) you can catch anything on anything!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from hunt and fish wrote 4 years 3 weeks ago

Usually the only time i use jigs is on bass and kokanee. but they are very versatile- last summer i was jigging for kakanee i caught a 20 inch brown trout.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from littleshagshag wrote 3 years 50 weeks ago

A white jig has been my go to bait for years. A lot of times catching fish when the fishing was slow.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from caliigiirl19 wrote 3 years 32 weeks ago

i like it

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from caliigiirl19 wrote 3 years 32 weeks ago

except i like to stick with floating lures cause for some reason i always get these caught up in rocks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from zrock365@yahoo.com wrote 3 years 31 weeks ago

I have seen guy catch a 3 pound crappie. That's big for a crappie,in case you don't know.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from spokey9 wrote 3 years 1 week ago

aint met a fish yet, that wouldn't at least chase a jig.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Justin Engelman wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

I agree, but I mainly use jig heads as a backup lure.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gimpergoo wrote 2 years 14 weeks ago

Always the go to lure/bait when all else fails.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gimpergoo wrote 2 years 14 weeks ago

Always the go to lure/bait when all else fails.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Charrio wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

My choice is a Size 12 Hook and a Splitshot along with a slip bobber.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment