May 11, 2021
Fishing a jig to penetrate cover or plumb the depths? These are the styles best-suited for Florida waters.
Even in Florida's mostly shallow fisheries, a lead head jig offers undeniable benefits: fast fall, bottom contact and aggressive access—getting a bait into areas you would otherwise have difficulty reaching.
Speed and accuracy are the hallmarks of this technique, with 1/2- to 3/4-ounce weights common for vegetation and hard targets, such as docks and laydowns. Dispelling a little confusion, we often say “flipping a jig,” but it's usually the pitching presentation. Flipping uses a set amount of line (reel engaged), with your free hand drawing the slack to one side and releasing it on the forward motion for a measured underhand cast. Pitching finds anglers thumbing a disengaged reel, moderately loading the rodtip with a firm down stroke and releasing the spool as they make a sharp forward swing.
Florida-based tournament pro Scott Martin does a lot of work with jigs and subdivides this bait category according to the cover he's fishing.
Arkie-style jigs with rounded, upturned heads are good for dense reeds because you can bump and bang your way through—much as you'd deflect a squarebill off stumps.
“You'd think you'd want to swim it through there calmly and quietly, but when you flip it up there by those little reed patches and you hit that stalk it rattles the stalk and it makes a little noise,” said Martin.
Martin described his technique as “pumping” the jig through the reeds. It's kind of a swimming action with frequent drops and rises. Seeking to mimic a bluegill, Martin rigs the Arkie style jig with Googan Baits Bandito Bug or a swimming trailer.
“You want it to glide,” he said. “You let it go to the bottom and then you swim it up through the next little patch of reeds. Pump it through there, let it fall again; pump it through and let it fall.”
A pointed, bulky designdoes a better job of plowing through grass and hyacinth. Beavers and other minimal action trailers work best in the thicker habitat; but in sparser cover, the action of something like a Googan Baits Krackin Craw gets the looks.
Narrowing head and a substantial weedguard traverses the kind of vegetation in which a spinnerbait would quickly bog down. The swim jig also performs well in sparse cover like pad stems (a killer prespawn pattern), laydown branches and eel grass. Swim jigs also skip well.
Several trailer options work, but considering this is always a moving presentation, go with something that'll add backside motion. Paddletail swimbaits like the Jackall Rhythm Wave top the list, but also consider the wily wavings of limber crawdad baits like the Strike King Rage Tail Craw.
SWIMBAIT JIG HEAD
Given their utilitarian task of escorting the “talent” — usually a hollow belly swimbait like a YUM Money Minnow or a solid model like Gamblers' Big EZ— modest, unpainted swimbait heads do just fine. That said, you also have models with enticing paint jobs, molded gills and realistic eyes (Dirty Jigs, Megabass). With any, the exposed hook presentation is best for open water, possibly tracing dock perimeters, riprap banks or grass edges.
Match head size to bait choice, but also consider requisite casting distance — especially for windy days. Also, swimbait heads are made with
bait holders — wire stems, screw locks or molded collars; nevertheless, softer baits are prone to slipping after a catch or a missed bite. Minimize your maintenance time by adding a drop of Super Glue or Loctite between the bait and the lead head.
Designed to hold a worm in a semi-vertical posture to mimic a baitfish nibbling along the bottom, this bait defines “user-friendly.” Pitch it around docks, laydowns, bridge pilings, reed points or holes in grass beds; give it a wiggle and let this vulnerable ruse do the rest. FS
Florida Sportsman Magazine February 2021