Steve Mattson holding up two largemouth bass caught on a jig

No serious bass fisherman can call themselves one if they have never used a jig. Sure it’s a bold statement but no other bass lure has had the success or the reputation that the jig has.

In summary of the 2006 Bassmaster Elite Tournament Series, the lure that helped anglers win the most tournaments were jigs. In fact, the data says that over 35 percent were won with jigs and the next closest lure presentation was 21 percent. Now, even though that is a large enough margin for me to believe in its clear-cut advantage in catching high-quality fish. The thing that confirms it for me is this. Baits that closely mimic that of a crawfish won over 78% of the time. Enough said. Once thought of as a cold water lure only, the jig has proven itself as a year-round big fish magnet.

Believe it or not, the favorite food of both large and smallmouth bass is the crawfish. Yep, it’s true. Some may think that it’s a worm, frog, or minnow, but it’s actually a crawfish. And the Bassmaster data clearly supports this claim. Furthermore, any bass angler that has put a bass into their livewell will find crawfish remains in the bottom at the end of the day. You may have been slop fishing all day and caught all your largemouth on slop frogs. Or maybe you were fishing smallies in deep open water situations; nevertheless, at the end of the day, there will still be crawfish parts in the livewell. It is tough to dispute. It doesn’t matter whether or not it takes longer for the bass to digest crawfish over other things. The point is there will always be crawfish parts in the livewell if you do as they say “take a fish boating.”

But to better understand why the bass jig is such a phenomenal lure, it helps to dig into the habits and food preferences of the bass.

Bass, particularly the big ones, seem to occupy the best cover and locales. They set up shop in areas that meet all their needs. The right cover, the right temperature, and access to the right food source. Bass love cover, especially weeds like coontail, reeds, and milfoil, and they are also ambush predators. And it just so happens that crawfish eat decaying vegetation and other things they can get their pinchers on. So figure it out. Bass love cover. Crawfish-like vegetation. Sounds like a good combination for the bass. So let’s get back to the jig.

Almost by definition, a bass jig has a weedless design. They are comprised of a large heavy head with a stout hook and a bunch of bristles to protect the hook from fouling with weeds. Most bass anglers in this part of the country choose the Jungle Jig from Northland. The simple reason is that it was designed, tested, and proven for all the conditions that we face around here. It works great flipping into cattails, reeds, milfoil, docks, cabbage, laydowns, wild rice, and coontail. The bass jig has to be able to go into the places where the bass hide. Although it isn’t always required, it certainly does help to make this jig look more like a crawfish. How do you do this? By simply adding an appendage (trailer) to the jig that looks like crawfish pinchers.

For many years, anglers tipped their jig with an uncle josh pork trailer. Hence the name, “jig and pig”. This was basically a strap of leather that was marinated in a salty solution. When you got it onto a hook, you would have to cut it off, especially if it had dried. But when they were wet and limber they did have great action, scent, and longevity.

Then soft plastic manufacturers started making jig trailers, which of course are scented and come in all shapes and sizes.

Bass hit jigs on the fall, so a trailer is not only designed to call more attention to the presentation, but also to slow the rate of fall. Some of my favorites are the Slurpies Jungle Craw Chunk, Slurpies Brush Beaver, and Northland Fishing Tackle’s double screwtail grub.

Like most things, jigs come in all sorts of sizes and it helps to have the right one for the application. Because bass do hit on the fall, it helps to use the lightest jig possible to be able to effectively fish the cover you are fishing. Couple that with the fact that you need to fish it like a crawfish so it must be on or near to the bottom to be effective. Hop it, drag it, deadstick it, scoot it just make it look like a crawfish.

Denny Brauer is the only angler that I know of to make it onto a Wheaties box. And he has proven the world over that the bass jig is a bait you can rely on all year in many different conditions. There are better times of the year, but when you consider the design of the presentation and where the bass live, it is a match made in heaven. I know that the opening statement was a bold one, but if you are a bass angler that never has used a jig, now is the time to start. Believe me and all the other seasoned bass anglers around the world, you won’t be disappointed.

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