Missouri bass pro Brian Snowden isn’t shy about telling it like it is, especially when it comes to one of bassin’s most productive presentations: jig fishing. “People don’t get the most out of their jigs because they’re often not fishing them quite right,” he told me as we flipped Booyah Boo Jigs in a grass-lined cove on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville. As I saw that day, he’s right.
Here are the top 10 things Snowden says you need to do to fish jigs better.
1. Use A Stout Stick—Go light and you’ll be sorry. Snowden prefers a quick tip with a heavy backbone; his go-to stick for 1/4- to 1/2-ounce jigs is a 7-foot medium-heavy, fast action St. Croix. He beefs up to a heavy power when fishing 3/4- to 1-ounce jigs.
2. Go With The Fluoro—Fluoro’s low visibility yields more strikes than mono or superline, and its low stretch helps push the hook through the weedguard.
3. Make Sink Rate Your Top Priority—While other anglers are rifling through their tackle trays worrying about jig color, size and shape, Snowden is putting bass in the box by concentrating on just one thing: sink rate. “Most people don’t factor sink rate into their choices. Instead, they’ll think ‘small bait, small trailer,’” he says. “What they should be doing is thinking of the bass’ mood and picking a jig-trailer combo that falls at a rate that fits it.” Snowden also uses line diameter to tweak sink rates. For example, if he needs to use a slimmer trailer and heavier jig, but wants to slow the fall, he’ll use a large-diameter line to put on the brakes.
4. Thin The Weedguard—Snowden says most jig weedguards are made far too thick for common situations. “Adjust them according to the cover,” he says. “If it’s sparse, trim the weedguard at the base and take out about 50 percent of the fibers.”
5. Shorten It, Too—Same goes for weedguard length. Snowden trims the tips of the bristles until they’re just long enough to hit the barb when compressed.
6. Add An Erratic Action—Snowden sees many anglers drag jigs or “work” them with lukewarm hops. Big mistake. “Jigs imitate crayfish, and dragging just isn’t how they move. Use your rodtip to give the jig a quick, erratic, darting action.”
7. Get The Angle Right—Hold the rod high; working the jig with the tip held low reduces sensitivity and puts you out of position to make a solid hookset.
8. Take Off The Skirt—Well, not literally. Still, Snowden says he shortens his jig skirts so they barley cover the hook. “It gives the skirt and trailer a better action, and produces the smaller profile that’s more typical of a crayfish,” he says. “The only exception is when I need to add bulk to get the right sink rate.”
9. Keep Colors Simple—Rather than waste time constantly switching colors, Snowden keep fish coming in the boat by sticking to plain-Jane colors like green-pumpkin, brown and black-and-blue. “These work well in 90 percent of reservoirs nationwide. Why spend time out of commission looking for something better?”
10. Forget About Carolina Rigging—The weight of a jig usually causes bass to spit it faster than they would a Texas- or Carolina-rigged plastic, but Snowden says most anglers don’t speed up their hooksets accordingly. “You can’t wait. If you feel a fish, set the hook instantly, or you’re going to miss it.”