By Bob Jensen
Whenever someone asks what my favorite bait is, I reply, “Whatever the fish want on that particular day.” I’m promise I’m not trying to be a wise guy!
Fish change their lure preferences on a day-to-day, even hour-to-hour basis, so it’s hard to settle on a favorite that works in every circumstance. However, if for some reason I could only take one type of lure with me on my Larson FX, at any time of year, for any type of fish, I would grab my box of jigs. Jigs, I believe, are the most universal bait available to anglers today.
One of the many things I really like about my Larson FX boat is the bow storage containers with inserts for holding tackle boxes that are the perfect size and shape for jigs. The back of my 1750 TL features two more storage areas below the control center that have more boxes ideal for jigs.
Choosing the Size
For most anglers, a selection of jigs in the 1/16-, 1/8- and ¼-ounce sizes are a good start. If you fish rivers or in heavy cover for largemouth bass, you’ll need some heavier ones. If panfish are your game, you’ll want to have some smaller ones. For most of us, those first three sizes will do the job most of the time. Use a jig heavy enough to keep in contact with the bottom, but not so heavy that you’re constantly snagging. The 1/8th ounce size is the bread and butter for many Midwest anglers.
Choosing the Color
Jigs come in all colors. Some anglers have favorite colors, while others let the water clarity dictate what color to tie on. Here’s my best idea: I like to use a jig with a plastic body, and I want the body to be a different color than the head. That way I’m showing the fish two different colors, which increases the odds of having the color that they want on that particular day and time.
We often tip our jig with a live minnow, leech or piece of nightcrawler, but more and more, we’re using plastic with an action tail. These baits can be fished faster, they’re less susceptible to panfish pecks, they require no care and they come in lots of colors.
Choosing the Line
A good rule-of-thumb is the lighter the jig, the lighter the line. Six- or 8-pound test will do the job almost all the time, but don’t hesitate to go to 4-pound test with 16-ounce or smaller jigs, and heavier line with heavier jigs.
I store my jigs in a new type of tackle box, a Lure Lock with Elastak Liner. This flat box has a sticky surface, so my jigs don’t move around. It prevents them from getting chipped, and also makes it easier to get them out of the box because they don’t get tangled up.
If I was limited to just one bait for the rest of my fishing days, I wouldn’t like it. But as long as jigs were available, I’d be okay with it. Make jigs a part of your fishing and you’ll catch more fish more often.