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Carroll Outdoors: Jig fishing basics

Jigs are artificial lures that combine a lead head and a skirt of feathers, plastic, or animal hair.

They are typed according to the shape of the head; ball, oval, bullet and so on. Jigs of some sort have been my top producing lures foir salt and freshwater fishing uses for decades.

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The late Duke Nohe fished a "spider jig" almost exclusively whenever we fished Prettyboy Reservoir for smallmouth bass and he was a master at the game. You will rarely see spider lures except in mail order catalogs. When you see some, put in an order for a bag or two to use on this year's smallmouths.

Many anglers make their own jigs by melting lead and pouring it into a mold. My late friend, Keith Walters, once told me that it was his favorite rockfish lure and Keith was one of the best striper anglers ever to wet a line in the Cheasapeake Bay.

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He made his own jigs and a few that he gave me are some of my most prized lures. I still use them when on the Bay. Most anglers form the head of the jig around an off-set hook. The point thus rides up, making the lure weedless. But, it is important that the hook point is kept needle sharpe or many strikes will be missed - I speak here from experience!

Jigs may be hopped along the bottom, much like a plastic worm is worked. In fact, many fishermen use a jig-and-worm combination.

Jigs are good lures to use in snag areas because they can be worked straight up and down through limbs and other obstructions. They are also favorites of ice fishermen. Skirts of marabou feathers are particularly desirable on jigs since the soft fibers will undulate with the slightest manipulation. Jigs come in all colors, even polka dots, but black, white and yellow are the most popular.

They can be purchased or made and can be successfully fished with all types of tackle, though I usually prefer a spinning outfit. I like a spin/jig rod to sport a fairly stiff, fast tip for good hook-setting.

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A slider head is specifically designed for bass fishing. The important characteristic of this lure is how the hook comes out of the forward part of the head. It is made so that nothing can snag or hang up on the front part of the lure.

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