Jigging lures don’t get much press, but smallmouth insiders know how effective they can be. Although they’re not widely used among northcountry anglers, they’ve long been popular among Southern smallmouth addicts.
Jigging lures differ from leadhead jigs in that they have some kind of built-in action. There are three main types:
• Bladebaits. With their thin metal body and lead head, these lures vibrate rapidly when pulled upward but have little action on the drop. They are sometimes called “vibrating blades.”
• Jigging Spoons. These thick metal spoons sink rapidly and have an erratic tumbling action when jigged vertically. Because of their heavy weight, they also work well for distance casting.
• Tailspins. These lures have a heavy lead body with a single spinner blade on the tail that turns on both the lift and the drop. They are used for both vertical jigging and distance casting.
All three types of jigging lures are relatively heavy for their size, so they are good for working deep-water structure or fishing in current. But many anglers make the mistake of selecting jigging lures that are too heavy. As in fishing leadhead jigs, the idea is to use the lightest lure that will easily reach the desired depth.
Here are specifics on fishing with each of these lure types:
For decades, bladebaits have been the “secret weapon” of many of the South’s top smallmouth anglers, including such notables as Billy Westmorland. Using the “Silver Buddy,” a bladebait with an unpainted stainless-steel body, he has taken numerous trophy-class smallmouth in mid-South reservoirs.
The intense vibrations emitted by a bladebait draw the attention of smallmouth in even the murkiest water, explaining why action is a more important consideration than color.
Some bladebaits come with a series of attachment holes on the back. Clipping your line to different holes changes the lure’s action (below). Always use a Cross-Loc snap, rather than a snap-swivel, to attach the lure. Otherwise, you’ll have problems with the hooks tangling in the line.
Bladebaits are usually fished by jigging them vertically over likely structure. Because of their exposed hooks, they are not a good choice in heavy cover. On some days, the fish seem to prefer an upward sweep of several feet followed by a drop; on others, a sweep of only a foot or so works much better.
A medium-heavy-power, fast-action baitcasting outfit spooled with 10- to 14-pound-test mono is a good all-around choice for fishing with jigging lures. But you’ll need a heavier outfit with line up to 30-pound test for fishing jigging spoons in heavy cover. In very deep water, consider using superline because the low stretch gives you a stronger hookset.
Tips for Fishing Bladebaits
Attach your clip to the middle hole (arrow) for a moderate wiggle. Attaching it to the front hole gives the lure a tighter wiggle; the rear hole, a looser wobble.
Some bladebaits come with special split-shank hooks (inset). But when these hooks get damaged, it’s difficult to find replacements. If you need to change a hook, just add a split ring and an ordinary treble.