In prior articles, we’ve talked about throwing faster moving reaction baits, like jerkbaits, crankbaits, and swimbaits to trigger sluggish cold-water bass. However, sometimes, the fish get super lazy and won’t even react to a lure, so anglers are forced to slow their approach even more.
That’s where a jig comes into play and can be a big factor when bass get sluggish. Anytime the fish refuse to strike a reaction bait, I turn to that slower, more subtle approach provided by a jig.
What is a jig?
When anglers throw a jig, usually their goal, especially during the winter, is to imitate a crawfish. Rigged up with a trailer, a jig can appear very similar to a live crawfish moving through the water. Because of its size and bulk, a jig may not always get a ton of bites, but the bites it does get are usually big fish.
Because of its bulkier profile, a jig tends to entice those bigger bass into striking. The slow moving, subtle action of a jig makes it a large, easy meal for a hungry bass that doesn’t want to move too far to eat. Some of the best jigs to tie on during the winter include football jigs and finesse jigs.
What is a football jig?
As the name implies, football jigs have a head shaped like a football, which is designed to help the bait avoid hang-ups as much as possible.
Football jigs aren’t made for fishing around grass or other dense vegetation. They are intended for fishing hard bottom structure, such as rock, sand, shell or gravel. Brush piles, shell and sand bars, points, drop-offs, ledges, bluff walls, stumps, and even boat docks are all high percentage areas for fishing a football jig.
Strike King Tour Grade Football Jig
My preferred football jig is the Strike King Tour Grade Football Jig. It’s a super durable lure that has a very real appearance. My favorite trailer for a football jig, or any jig, is a Strike King Rage Tail Craw. The soft-plastic bait has excellent action and flare, appearing to bass as a real crawfish.
Top 3 Football Jigs
Each of these football jigs will are a great choice when fishing for big wintertime bass. They all get the job done this time of year. If the Strike King Tour Grade Football Jig is unavailable, I reach for the Logix Baits or Dobyns Football Jig.
3 Best Jig Trailers
When it comes to the best trailers, the Strike King Rage Tail Craw is my top pick. It has awesome action and a very lifelike appearance. I love using it on all my jigs year-round.
However, I won’t shy away from using the Ultra Vibe Speed Craw and the Super Chunk in certain situations. These two baits also add a large amount of bulk and action to the bait and move through the water just like a crawfish, so they are reliable back-ups.
4 Tips for Fishing a Football Jig
1. Analyze depth
I vary my sizes based on how deep I’m fishing and how fast I want the bait to fall. Both a 3/8 and a ½ ounce bait are my two main sizes. Sometimes, I will upgrade to a ¾ ounce jig if I’m targeting bass in water that’s deeper than 15 feet.
2. Bottom contact is key
Throughout other times of the year, when the water is warmer, I like to swim a football jig through the water column and keep it moving a fairly quick pace.
However, during the cold months, the bass move slow, so I slow my retrieve. I try to always keep the bait in contact with the bottom and slowly drag it.
I might hop the bait once or twice during the retrieve, but mainly keep it on the bottom. This retrieve best imitates those crawfish during the winter.
3. Keep colors simple
Water clarity is typically how I determine what color jig and trailer I’m going to throw. In clearer water, if visibility is 2½ feet or more, I will likely go with a green pumpkin color because it looks more natural in clear water.
In water that has 2 feet or less of visibility, I will usually tie on a black and blue bait because it provides a larger silhouette, giving bass a better chance to pick up on it in stained water.
4. Football jig tackle matters
I throw a football jig on a medium heavy 7’-7’6” baitcasting rod paired to a reel with a 7:1:1 gear ratio and spooled with 14-17-pound P-Line fluorocarbon. The cleaner the water I’m fishing, the lighter the line I’ll use. The sensitivity of the fluorocarbon allows me to feel even the most subtle bites, which is critical during the winter, as many bass will barely tap the lure.
Click here to see my favorite Football Jig Rod/Reel Combo.
Back to you
Alright guys, thank you so much for reading about these wintertime finesse baits. I hope you enjoyed the article and can put some of these techniques to the test the next time you hit the water this winter.
Feel free to leave a comment down below and let us know what your favorite bait is for targeting wintertime bass.