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Jigging guide

Bucktail Jig Fishing

Bucktail jig fishing is probably the most versatile and simplest fishing presentation there is.  The weight, natural scent and hook are the same medium.  Tie one on the end of your line and you are done.

There is a big difference between time on the water and time in the water.  I have found that Bucktail jig fishing gives us a better chance of having our bait in the water.  Again it goes back to simplicity.  With many techniques of fishing, rigging causes loss of time in the water.

 Advantages to Bucktail jigs

  1. Natural hair fiber of the Bucktail jig makes fish hold on longer for better hook sets.

  2. The Bucktail fibers are tied and glued on so that they stay in place, not like plastics that tear and pull off.

  3. The undulation of the fibers in the water gives the jig a living action even when the fisherman is not manipulating the Bucktail jig.

  4. The hundreds of natural fibers hold more scent when applied.

  5. The natural undulating fibers are a great attractor to added baits.


How to fish a Bucktail jig

It’s hard to mess up jig fishing.  The techniques are endless.  Some of these techniques are: 

Vertical  Bucktail Jigging -   Vertical Bucktail jigging is usually done from a boat or from a drop off on shore.  It is when you drop you jig straight down and just off the bottom.  The Bucktail jig is then jerked up and down in many patterns to simulate moving bait.  Keeping the Bucktail jig vertical is what this technique is all about.  The movement of the boat or the water causes the line to pull the Bucktail jig out of the vertical position.  Depending on the situation adjustments must be made to keep the jig vertical as much as possible.  Sometimes a heavier jig is needed.  Remember try to use the lightest jig possible for the situation you are in.  Movement of the boat is also a way to keep the jig vertical.  An electric motor on the bow or stern can help make the subtle moves that can keep the jig vertical and in the fish zone.

Vertical jigging technique -  The types of jerking, raising and lowering sliding motions a fisherman can make are only limited by imagination.  I like to think of these motions as movements you might think a baitfish, crawfish or other bait might make naturally.  Beyond that unnatural motions can cause a fish to react also.  Sometimes no motion is effective as the Bucktail jig hairs undulate, caused by the subtle currents and wave action in the water. If you are fishing on the bottom it is important to keep the jig as close to the bottom as possible without touching the bottom.  Bringing the jig down to touch the bottom periodically to check depth and making sure that the jig is near the bottom. 

Jerking -  Jerk the Bucktail jig in an up and down motions to attract the fish and trigger it to strike.  The jerking motion can be a fast drastic motion of several inches or can be a short, slow, subtle, movement. The number to times this motion is used before a motionless time varies to the fisherman’s desire. 

Raising and lowering the Bucktail jig slowly several inches to a few feet.  Letting the jig fall slowing to the bottom can also trigger the strike.  It is important to keep the line tight when letting the Bucktail jig fall to the bottom so when the fish takes the jig you can feel it and set the hook before the fish releases the jig.

Rip jigging -  is a trolling technique, the rod is held in a horizontal position.  The rod is the ripped forward from 18 to 24 inches.  The Bucktail jig is allowed to fall back and to the bottom.  When the line becomes tight and the jig hits bottom the rip technique is repeated. 

Trolling a jig -  is an excellent way to find fish.  When trolling a jig it is important to understand that a heavier jig is needed.  Usually in vertical jigging a 1/8 to 3/8 ounce jig is what will be used.  In trolling a 3/8 to ¾ ounce jig will be used depending on the speed used to troll it, the faster the speed the heavier the jig.  Attaching a spinner to the jig can also be very effective when trolling jigs.  A very light jig can also be used to troll with added weight such as a bottom bouncer.  A one eighth or lighter jig trolled on a 48-inch leader behind a bottom bouncer will lightly bounce across the bottom.  Jig weight will also vary depending on where you are in the front of the boat or the back.  From in front of the boat a heavier jig should be used so it will go down and stay down on a short line. Usually a three eights to one half ounce jig will do.   I n the back of the boat where you can release more line to get depth with your jig a lighter jig can be used.  One-eighth to three eights jigs do well.

Drag jigging -  is a technique used when you’re too tired to jig.  Put your rod in the rod holder and drop the jig down to the bottom.  Reel up one turn and sit back and put your feet up and pour your coffee.  Sometimes the best way to jig is to do nothing but let the jig dangle.  The movement of the boat will cause slight undulation of your Bucktail and the slightest movements or no movements are the best. This technique works well if your state regulations allow for fishing with two rods.  Leaving one dragging while you jig with the other.  (Especially when boat control and trying to jig with two rods becomes overwhelming.)

Casting a jig is a very effective way of fishing in shallow water or from shore.  Casting a jig into shallow water from the boat up to the edge of weed lines or drop offs and letting the jig fall slowly to the bottom and the bring it back slowly by raising your rod tip from the ten o’clock position to the twelve o’clock position.  Reel up the slack as you drop the rod to the ten o’clock position again.  Keep your line tight and be ready to set the hook at all times as you retrieve the jig.  From Shore the same technique can be used.  The weight of the jig for casting is usually the smallest jig weight that will cast effectively.  One Quarter ounce jigs work very well out of a boat where you can get fairly close to the areas that you are fishing.  From shore a heavier jig will work better because you will be cast it further. Usually three eights to one half ounce will be enough.

Flipping jigs into shallow water is also a very effective technique.  Usually used when weeds and other debris make casting jigs difficult or impossible.  This technique is to bring the boat into very close proximity to the fish.  In many cases the fish can even be sighted from the boat.  Using a longer rod (rod selection for each of these techniques will be discussed here) grab the line just below the bottom guide on the rod and draw the line back the push the tip of the rod forward, as the tip moves forward release the line and allow the jig to move gently into the area to be fished.

Feeling the jig and what it is doing is paramount to jig fishing.  Because the rod is in hand at all times as you jig fish, feeling becomes the most important factor in this type of fishing.  There are several things that can be done to improve the feel.  First and most important is the rod.  A good graphite rod (rod specifications will be discussed later) will transfer the feel of the jig to the hand.   The line used also will aid in the feel.  Many jig fishermen use a low stretch mono.  The low stretch magnifies the feel.  Some fisherman use the new hi-tech lines such as Fireline made by Berckley.  The hi-tech line will magnify the most.  Some jig fishermen think that this magnifies the feel too much and it’s hard to differ from bottom, trash and the fish.  The feel of the bite can vary drastically from the hard strike which anyone will feel on any tackle to the lightest touch felt only on the finest tackle and best described as “something different” in your hand or where the line meets the water. The feel will give a good jig fisherman a picture of the bottom.  Many of the light bites, which are missed with low quality equipment are felt and caught with higher quality tools. 


Jigging Rods

The vertical jigging rod is the most important tool in jigging for fish.  It will probably be the most expensive rod you own.  The description of the jigging rod will vary a great deal between fishermen.  The length of the rod will vary between 5’3” to 6’2”.  The advantages of each will be discussed.  The shorter rod gives the fisherman more control over the jigging process.  In jigging aggressively the movement of the hand has to be exaggerated because of shortness of the lever.  The tip of the rod is closer to the hand so that trash or adjustments to bait can be done quickly, thus keeping the bait in the water faster.  The longer jig rod can be jigged with less motion of the hand and also will give the fisherman more leverage on the hook set.  The most popular freshwater jigging rod is probably from 5’9” to 6’0” long.  It will be what is loosely called a medium action rod with a fast action.  The tip of the jigging rod will be a little stiffer than that of a live bait rod.  The reason is that to soft a tip, even with graphite, will minimize the feel.  The butt  of the rod needs to be strong enough to set the hook.  Again this becomes the fisherman’s preference.  Some like to see the tip movement and other want the feel in the hand.   The guides should be of high quality.  Because of the length of the rod good quality guides will allow a longer cast making this rod more versatile.  This same rod is effective for trolling and drag jigging.

The casting jig rod should be longer in order to cast further. Rods from 7’0” to 9”0” are used. Also the ten o’clock to twelve o’clock motion will move the jig further. 

The fishing line will vary but rule of thumb is to use the lightest line possible for the application.  For jigging in relatively trash free water use 6 pound test.  If using hi-tech lines like fire line this equates to actual line size of 2 pound.  The thinner the line the less resistance thus it is easier to keep your jig vertical.  In trashy water a heavier line will be used to keep from loosing the bait.  In trolling situations the line again should be as thin as possible to reduce friction.  I casting the line can be heavier because the jig will be dragged back to the fisherman.  Also a thinker line will slow the drop of the jig.  Remember the heavier the line the less casting distance.


Adding bait to your Bucktail jig

You can fish the Bucktail jig with or with out bait.  Some of the additions you may add to your Bucktail are a minnow head or whole minnow, night crawler or worm, or a leech.  The Bucktail is a natural fiber so the proteins and amino acids are present but many fishermen like to add scents to the jig.  The natural hair absorbs and holds these scents very effectively for longer stays in the water.



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