all jigs are created equal. Martens discusses how he matches selection and
presentation to local conditions and crawdads
first thing I do when I get to a new lake is walk down bank and begin
flipping some rocks. I want to dig up a few crawdads, just to see what
they look like in that particular lake, and I'll usually find what I need
within the first 50 feet of bank. I want to know their average sizes,
colors and patterns, which are different in every lake, so I can select
jigs that match them.
I'll pull out jigs that are well-suited for that type of
water--considering rocks, vegetation, clarity, etc.-- fine-tuning the
colors and trailers to match the crawdads. Finally, before I'll look at
the jigs and the crawdads together in the water. It's important to hold
both under the water. A jig that looks like a perfect match, may look
completely different when submerged.
lot of people don't go through this trouble, thinking it's a waste of
time. However, I believe that using the right jig is just as important as
fishing it the right way. In fact, matching color to the local
crawdads--the food item jigs best imitate--is a major part of jig fishing
that most anglers overlook.
spend a lot of money on jigs, and have boxes full of countless weights and
styles. Some boxes are loaded with nothing but grass jigs, rock jigs or
maybe finesse jigs, and I'll pull out different boxes based on the kind of
lake I'm fishing.
also use a lot of different trailers, among them Roboworm Kickin' Craws,
plus Zoom Brush Hogs and Super Chunks. The Kickin' Craw works great for
swimming, a technique I'm just beginning to explore. The Brush Hog is
extra good in the spring, when the big females are looking for larger
meals. The Super Chunk is great for hopping because the jig falls straight
back down when you let it drop, and the legs kick a lot.
fishing around grass, which I do a lot when I'm fishing out East, my jig
must be able to pull though cover. Therefore, most of my grass jigs have
the eye at the tip, which works best for nosing through vegetation. My
favorite jig for this application is a Lunker Lure Ultimate Rattlin' Jig.
jigs, on the other hand, should have the eye on the top, which keeps the
rocks from tearing up the knot. I especially like football heads for
fishing clear, rocky lakes, and a friend hand-makes my football jigs using
fine rubber skirts and Gamakatsu hooks.
I use fluorocarbon about 90 percent of the time when I fish jigs, I use a
San Diego knot. A palomar knot, I believe, will cut fluorocarbon, and the
San Diego knot is very strong. It's also a tight knot that holds secure to
the eye, which is important. For casting applications, I like to place the
knot right at the front of the eye and tighten it. For more vertical
approaches, like flippin', I'd rather have the knot right on top. The knot
position makes a surprisingly big difference in the action of a jig, and
provides a little extra control.
Ups And Downs
retrieves vary greatly, based depth, cover and aggression level of the
fish. Generally speaking, I use more hops on grassy lakes, where the
crawdads spend more time up in the water column. Over rock, I tend to drag
the bait more. Crawdads typically stay close to rocky bottoms, so dragging
works much better, especially when I stop and shake the jig whenever I
feel a boulder, or other cover. Try hopping it a bit, too, instead of just
shaking it against cover.
fishing grass I experiment a lot, using big hops for aggressive fish, or
just shaking the jig--much like shaking a worm--for more tentative bites.
Usually there's that happy medium somewhere, and once I get bit a few
times, I can usually figure it out. Most days, the bass will definitely
want a jig a certain way, so it's important to mix it up and not get
caught fishing just one standard way.
jig-fishing outfits include a 7-foot, 2-inch flippin' stick, matched with
20- to 25-pound fluorocarbon; a 7-foot, 2-inch pitchin' stick, matched
with 16- to 20-pound fluorocarbon; and a 6-foot, 8-inch medium-action rod,
matched with 12- to 14-pound fluorocarbon. Occasionally, I'll use
monofilament for a slower sink rate around grass, or braid for fishing
really dense cover.
main jig sizes I use are 3/8- and 1/2-ounce models; however, I'll go as
light as an 1/8-ounce for very clear water and shallow fish. Plus, I have
plenty of 3/4- and 1-ounce jigs for when I need them.
I carefully consider conditions, the depth where I expect the fish to find
the most crawdads and the technique that I want to use, then try to pick
the best jig I own for doing what I need it to do. Go through these steps
in your mind, don't shortcut inspecting the crawdads, and you'll catch
more jig fish. That's my promise to you.