As I was fishing several months ago under a partly cloudy sky with patchy fog starting to set in, the reality hit that fall weather was upon us. The temperature when I arrived at one of my favorite fishing holes was a beautiful and sunny 70 degrees and now I was starting to get a bit chilled. The weather had taken on a new identity in the past hour or so. The fishing had started to slow down as well. The hits were plentiful and constant when the sun was beaming down upon the dam and the bass were stacked around the rocks adjacent to the weed beds just begging to be caught. I had already landed around 15 nice keepers when the sun disappeared behind a cloud and failed to show its face again. I began to rummage through my tackle bag trying desperately to find the perfect bass wrangling lure that would take my catch rate back to an acceptable level. I threw a spinnerbait for a while and then switched to a Rat-L-Trap. I then threw a few in-line spinners followed by some crawfish imitation plastics and followed up with the Junebug colored stick worm I had caught all of the previous fish on. Still, I could not find a bite.

As I sat on the bank of the pond I started to think very hard about my present situation. I looked around and noticed that the trees were just beginning to shed their dark green colors and change to shades of red, orange and yellow. I reached into my bag and pulled out my box of jigs and selected a 1/4oz model with a brown and orange skirt. I then put a chartreuse plastic craw as a trailer, which made the jig match my surroundings perfectly and flipped the jig towards the rock ledge. The jig was allowed to sit for about 60 seconds and then the slow retrieval process began. A very slow upward motion of the rod tip with a few slight jerks thrown in intermediately was exactly what the bass wanted. After a few retrieves were made and I was waiting for the jig to travel back downward so I could begin the process again, that’s when she hit! Once I landed the fish she was weighted and released. It was the largest bass of the day weighting in at 5lbs 4oz.

Fishing with a jig or the jig-and-pig is an extremely effective method for catching those stubborn fall bass. I rely on this method during the spring as well as certain times throughout the year, but sometimes forget how effective the bait really is until I throw it a few times usually out of desperation. Lets first talk about the equipment needed for effective jig fishing. A baitcast reel with a flipping switch built in the reel is my number one choice. Pair this reel with a medium-heavy 7 ½ foot pitching or flipping stick and as far as the equipment goes, your ready to go. I prefer to use a heavier line such as 50lb Power Pro with about 48” of Berkley Vanish or Transition fluorocarbon line tied on to the braid as a leader. This will assure that you have the strength needed to horse those big bass out of heavy cover when necessary. I realize that some of you might not be baitcast users so rest assured that a spinning reel works also as long as you have a long spinning rod about 7 to 71/2 feet. You want to be able to flip the jig into place without causing a big wake and disrupting what you hope lies below. Accuracy is a big key when flippin’ jigs.

I know many anglers who are of the opinion that jig fishing is rather complicated and they don’t really understand how to do it. Lets take a little time and discuss the important facts surrounding jig fishing. First and foremost, I want to stress to you that confidence is the most important key regardless of what you are throwing. I have been in the situation when I am fishing with a partner and he ties something rather odd on his line and I think, “What is this guy doing”? I watch as he fishes the lure with total confidence and concentration and before you know, the fish are coming in the boat. I might not have tried that particular lure, but through commitment and confidence it's surprising what can happen, if you will maintain an open mind. Whether you fish the jig as is, or with some type of plastic chunk, craw or worm as a trailer, the choice is yours. I fish the jig both with and without and they will produce both ways. I usually put on a large flat plastic chunk if I want to slow the fall of the lure a bit.

Color is very important, and to some people overly technical, but I tend to simplify if a bit. How many of you have a favorite lure, that you have all 26 colors available in your tackle box? Do you use each and every color? Most anglers have all of the colors and out of all of those colors, they might have 4 or 5 colors they are stuck on that really produce. I simply take the 4 or 5 colors that work on the other lures and add a few other colors and end up with 7 or 8 jig colors. Don’t forget to look around you and “match the hatch” so to speak. I fish black & blue, black & chartreuse, blue & chartreuse, brown (or copper) & orange and watermelon w/black flake jigs most of the time. Some models have rattles and some do not. I love to fish lipless cranks because of the noisy rattle; therefore I choose models with rattles. Once again, it all revolves around what you have the most confidence in. Jigs come in a vast array of sizes as well. I prefer 1/4oz and 1/2oz the most, unless I have to punch down through heavy structure like heavy brush or submerged hydrilla. When everything is still and the wind is not blowing, I always go with the lighter jig.

As far as the presentation goes, it’s pretty simple. Find the spot you want to lay the jig and flip it to the target. This is a technique that takes practice and during the off season I tend to practice in the basement with 5lb coffee cans placed strategically around the floor. Keep in mind that jigs are target-specific lures. Once the lure is flipped out, I usually let it sit for about 30 to 60 seconds. If you choose to just leave the jigs sitting there for a while and then reel it in and repeat the process, this is called deadsticking. You can lift and drop your tip and let the jig fall and then repeat again or you can bounce, hop or swim it across the bottom as well. Do what you want to do with the jig, as there is no right or wrong way to fish it, just theories. During fall, bass tend to become more lethargic as water temperatures drop. My favorite method during this period is to simply drag the jig past each and every piece of cover. Just a slow steady retrieve without any jerks or tugs on the line produces the best results. Bass will absolutely whack the jig if it comes cruising slowly past them. I also like to flip it to a stump or cover point and just let it fall, then hop it a few times and let it fall again. This technique is used when you are simply going for a reaction bite on the fall.

I think one of the hardest things I had to figure out when jig fishing was when to set the hook. I still know weekend anglers as well as pro anglers who miss about 70% of their strikes on the jig because they set the hook to late. I am a big plastic worm fisherman and have learned to always set the hook on the second tap, especially when you are using a Senko style worm. With a jig, the first tap is generally the bass sucking the jig up and the second tap is the bass spitting it out. I think it would behoove you to set the hook the very second that you feel a tap or when the jig feels different in any way whatsoever. One method that I use whether fishing a plastic worm or a jig is to put my finger under the line and lift up just a bit so I can feel any change that might occur. Remember, don’t try and force the jig on the fish. He will either want the bait or he will not. During early spring fishing, the jig can really irritate bedded bass and cause them to strike uncontrollably.

As you can see, there is nothing difficult about the mechanics of bass fishing with a jig. Keep in mind that confidence plays a major role in everything you do in life. When I am fishing and starting to struggle with the confidence factor, I am often reminded of Takahiro Omori from Japan. Takahiro came to the U.S. in 1992 to become a professional bass angler. When he left Japan, he had it in his mind he would win the Citgo Classic event. Before the 2004 B.A.S.S. Citgo Classic, Takahiro went to Woo Daves house to visit Woo and see the trophy that Woo had won at the Classic several years prior. When Takahiro saw it, he grabbed the trophy and started to yell and scream and shake the trophy over his head as if he had just won the Classic himself. He actually visualized himself winning! He was pretty pumped up when he left Woo’s house that evening. A short time later, Takahiro Omori won the 2004 B.A.S.S. Citgo Classic and was the first non-American too ever win a B.A.S.S. Classic. Bye the way, Takahiro said that he refocused his thinking, pumped himself up and started fishing hard during the last minutes of the tournament. Takahiro caught his two biggest bass during the last five minutes of the tournament.

"This is the best day of my life," said Omori, who pounded the stage repeatedly and cried openly before the 13,200 spectators in the Charlotte Coliseum. Until next time, keep a tight line and happy fishin’.

G. Wayne Byrd is a professional tournament bass fisherman, who loves to help others catch more and bigger fish. He is a regular contributor to Fishin' Secrets with Eric Allee and Friends.

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