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How to Hook a Live Shrimp with a Jig Head

Three wayas to hook a live shrimp onto a jig head

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When I use a jig head, I will have a bait attached to it. It could be an artificial like a swim tail grub, but more often than not it is a live bait, usually a live shrimp. How I hook that shrimp depends on how I plan to fish it. This is how I use a jig head and live shrimp when fishing inshore.

1. Tail Hooked

Photo © Ron Brooks
Click on picture for larger image Photo © Ron Brooks
Shrimp normally swim backwards when they move fast. They crawl forward or move forward slowly my maneuvering their flippers and feet, but when they move quickly, they kick backwards.

So, hook a shrimp to a jig head by the tail makes a more natural presentation. The shrimp is hooked from the bottom through the second tail joint. The whole rig is streamlined, easy to work, and moves through structure well. The weight of the jig head keeps the shrimp upright when sitting on the bottom or moving through the water. The more natural it looks the better. I cast the jig head and work it back to the boat trying to make the shrimp appear to be as natural as possible. One or two quick lifts of the rod tip followed by allowing it to settle toward the bottom. This works for Seatrout, flounder, redfish – literally any fish that is in the area.

This is also an ideal way to move a live shrimp along the bottom as you fish it. Cast the jig and let it settle to the bottom. Then work it slowly back to the boat on or just off the bottom with the lift and settle method.

The one disadvantage of this hook-up is that so much of the shrimp is exposed with no hook in it. It looks more natural, but you may find yourself missing fish. That’s because smaller fish will hit the head of the shrimp and miss the hook. With this hook-up you will need to let the fish take the bait just a little longer before setting the hook. Of course larger fish are not a problem – they inhale the whole bait and the hook-up is a lot easier.

2. Double Tail Hooked

Photo © Ron Brooks
Click on picture for larger image Photo © Ron Brooks
This presentation is very similar to the first, but here the shrimp is actually hooked twice. It’s a much more secure hook-up, yet it allows the shrimp to remain upright in the water. When shrimp kick to swim backwards – which is what they do to escape danger – their tails curl under. This hook-up has the tail curled under and the shrimp more securely attached.

I use this presentation then I want to work the shrimp faster. Remember – natural looking. I can work it faster without ripping the hook through the shrimp as would happen on a single tail hook-up.

To hook the shrimp start by running the hook down through the top of the shrimps’ second joint. Then turn the hook and bring it back up through the underside of the shrimp. The weight of the jig head once again keeps the shrimp upright as you move it in the water – remember natural looking?

This presentation is also good if you have very fresh but dead shrimp. A dead shrimp loses muscle strength quickly, and a single tail hook-up will not stay on the hook. But this double hook-up will, and it lets you make a dead shrimp appear to be live. Sometimes fresh dead shrimp will catch as many fish a live shrimp. It’s all in the presentation

3. Head Hooked Live Shrimp

Photo © Ron Brooks
Click on picture for larger image Photo © Ron Brooks
There are times that I will hook a live shrimp on a jig head and hook it through the head of the shrimp. If I want a slow vertical presentation – one that keeps the bait in the strike zone for a longer period of time, I will hook the shrimp through the head.

By hooking the shrimp in the head, I allow the shrimp to kick its tail naturally. This works extremely well for large live shrimp, and they can actually move around some with the jig head. I use a more vertical, up and down presentation, lifting the rod and letting the jig settle. Sometimes I may do that three or four times before taking up any line. This allows the shrimp to kick and act as natural as possible in the strike zone.

Notice in the picture where the hook penetrates the head. Put it through the clear spot just ahead of the dark spot on the shrimp’s head. That dark spot is the brain.

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