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Fishing a Jig Head

Jig Heads are Arguably the Most Versatile Piece of Tackle


Fishing a Jig Head
Photo by Ron Brooks
There are a lot of terminal tackle choices on the market. Some are simple; some are complicated. All can be as expensive as you would like them to be. My personal choice for most of my inshore fishing (with natural bait or with a plastic tail) is a jig head.

The Product

Made usually with lead – sometimes with bismuth or other “non-polluting” metal – they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.


I use them from an eighth ounce up to three-quarter ounce in size with hooks that increase in size accordingly from a number 1 all the way to 5/0. The choice in size depends on several factors.

Which Size to Use

First remember that if played right, a small hook can catch an awfully big fish. In general my choice of size depends on water depth, current speed and the desired sink rate.

Shallow Water

For shallow water I try to stick with the lightest jig I can cast with the given bait. It allows me to work a bait without fear of hanging the bottom. If I fish with a grub tail, I can get a much more natural movement.

Mid-range Depths

Fishing with a grub tail here, I might go to a slightly heavier jig – maybe three eights ounce. I want the bait to get down a little in the water column. With natural bait – like a shrimp or small crab, I may stay with the lighter jig. It allows a more natural slow drop of the bait through the water column. You don’t want a natural bait speeding past holding fish to the bottom.

Deep Water

The same theory applies here as in mid-range depths. How deep to I want my bait to go and how naturally do I want it to drop. I experiment until I get it right – and I know that because the bait gets eaten!

Current or No Current

Current speed also plays a part in the decision. Once again I use as light a jig as possible to get the bait down where I want it. That may dictate a heavy jig if the current is really strong. I try to fish across the current, allowing the jig to go with it and to go down at the same time. In general, the lighter the current, the lighter the jig head.

Fish Species

What are you fishing for? Don’t use a jig with a 5/0 hook if you’re fishing for a fish that can’t get the whole thing in its mouth! Adjust your jig choice accordingly!

Bottom Line

The choice in jig size is really simply a logical choice arrived at by deductive reasoning. Picture the bait as it moves through the water and think about what the depth and current will do with it. Then choose accordingly.
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