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Gary Howey

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Jigging- The Method that works on all Game Fish By Gary Howey

Entered by Gary Howey

Former tournament angler, hunting and fishing guide. Inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing "Hall of Fame" in 2017. Active member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), Past Executive Director (AGLOW). Howey has been an outdoor communicator since 1980 with his award winning syndicated "Of the Outdoors" columns appearing in magazine, newspapers, and tabloids throughout he upper Midwest and nationally.

July 26, 2018

  When I do my seminars throughout the upper Midwest, I talk to a lot of anglers and at one, I had several anglers tell me that they either had trouble fishing a jig or had not used them much as they did not have the time needed to learn how.

  I told them, fishing jigs is not bait used just for species, as they will catch all species of game fish, from panfish on up to lake trout. 

  For me, I do not believe there you will find a more effective piece of equipment in your tackle box or bag an angler can use!

  It surprised me to see that some folks felt jigs used for only one or perhaps two species of fish.

  Jigs are such a versatile tool, that they will catch any game fish that swims!

  Some anglers think that a jig has to be jigged, on the bottom, raised, lowered, and used only when fishing from a boat.

   Jigs are baits that, all anglers should have, no matter what species you fish for or how you fish, as they work when fished from boats, the shore or through the ice.

  If you want to make them more effective, add to them, add a plastic body, night crawlers, leeches, and minnows or fish them plain!

 They come in all sizes, colors and designs.  Bulk them up with marabou, squirrel tail, buck tail or plastic to make the jig drop slower and during cold-water fishing, many anglers simply use a plain jig tipped with a minnow or even a wax worm.

  When fishing smaller jigs, those used for panfish, you can jig them, working them up or down off the bottom, or jigged vertically, cast along the edge of the weeds or suspended under a slip bobber with a piece of crawler, worm or small minnow, making them a very effective method of taking a wide variety of panfish.

  Walleye anglers use jigs from 1/8 to 3/8 ounce, depending on where they fish, the amount of current and the depth they are fishing. They attach minnows, leeches or crawlers to entice walleyes that at times can be very finicky.

  Those looking for bass use a jig & pig combination, with a trailer, which can be plastic like Berkley Gulp, Power Bait, or a pork rind to take both smallmouth and largemouth bass during the toughest of conditions.

  One of the things that anglers who may just stated using jigs are doing wrong is that they are using too heavy of a line for the size jig that they are using.

  You want your jig to swim or drop naturally and if you are using a line that is too heavy, for the jig you are using, it will restrict the drop and not look natural.

Our Team members fish jigs whenever they are on the water, no matter where they are fishing. This big Bluegill, from a small pond fell for one of Larry Myhre’s 1/64th ounce feathered jigs. (Gary Howey Photo)

  By using a lighter line or a lighter jig, your offering will appear more lifelike, it will sink quickly and you will be able to detect a lot more bites by keeping a tight line.

  Another thing that is confusing to anglers who do not use jigs a lot is color! No matter where you go to buy tackle, in a bait shop or mega chain store, you will find hundreds of colors and color combinations of jigs and this can be terribly confusing.

  My rule of thumb on jig color has a lot to do with how clear or dirty the water is.

If I am fishing a section of the river or a lake with dirty or turbid water, I will go with a brighter color, a florescent jig that holds its color at deeper depths.

  When I did a lot of diving, I could see that fluorescent colored jigs retained their color in low light situations and will appear hold their color better than your standard reds or yellows in deeper or dirtier water.

   This is why when I am fishing turbid water; I tie on a fluorescent orange, green or chartreuse colored jig.

  In clearer water, I use a more natural color, a shad, bluegill or perch color. I will still use a brighter florescent color if I am fishing deep, but I do not feel that I need to go to a bright jig when fishing in clear water as the fish see better and farther in clear water conditions.

  It depends on the species you are after when it comes to your choice of jig color and size!  If you are after walleye or sauger, chartreuse and orange are preferred colors, with walleye anglers more likely to use these bright colors than bass anglers would.

  Bass anglers prefer the black, purple and less gaudy colored jigs, while pan fishermen like to throw a white, pearl or pink colored jig.

  There are days when one species of fish will prefer a certain color; this is especially true with walleyes, so I often use many multiple colored jigs. There are days when walleyes will only bite on chartreuse and the next day it may be orange, so I give them a jig with several colors.  This gives me a better chance of having one of the colors that they are biting on that day.

  Chartreuse and orange, lime green and yellow or pink and white are some of the combinations that I have had excellent luck when fishing for walleyes.

  I use multiple colored jig heads because I have a better chance of getting a finicky fish to bite by offering them several color choices. It also saves time and lets me work and catch active fish quickly.

  If I were using a jig that was one color and the fish were not biting on that color, I would have to keep retying until I found the color they wanted.  With a jig head or body that is multi-colored, I am cutting my searching time down big time!

  Jigs are very versatile bait that used for any fish that swims and used in so many ways, that if you are not fishing with a jig, you may want to spend some time using them, as you will be surprised how well they work.






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