Do jigs catch fish straight out of the package? Absolutely. However, if you take the time to do some simple modifications you can greatly increase your efficiency, boost hook-up ratios, and optimize your presentation for any situation. One of the few bass fishing lures known to catch fish year-round, jigs can be modified throughout the season to heighten attraction and match the attitude of the fish, making them an invaluable tool anytime your trolling motor touches the water. Don’t get caught throwing the same jig as the next angler; check out our Top 5 Jig Modifications to improve your success and take your jig fishing game to the next level!
1. Trim or Thin Out the Skirt
A full-length jig skirt may be the best option when fishing dirty water or mimicking large forage, but always keep some scissors handy in case you need to thin it out for added flare or trim it down for a more compact presentation. Most manufacturers intentionally package jigs with extra-long skirts so anglers can modify them to their desired length. Long and bulky jig skirts have a tendency to wad up when they get wet and can kill the action of your trailer, so you should always consider doing some trimming to maximize action and create a more realistic look.
After threading on your favorite soft plastic trailer, allow the skirt to fall naturally over your jig trailer, and start by trimming the strands back so they don’t impede the movement of any of the appendages. Next, try thinning out the skirt by trimming some of the strands to different lengths. This allows the skirt to pulse and flow enticingly as you work it along the bottom but also makes the jig sink faster through the water column.
2. Modify Your Jig Trailer
Jig trailers come in various shapes and sizes and can be used to mimic all kinds of forage that bass love to feed on. One of the most important things to consider when choosing a soft plastic trailer is how it will affect the action of your jig. As the fish become lethargic and less willing to chase when water temperatures cool off, the subtle do-nothing action of an old-school chunk or beaver-style bait is typically more effective at tempting inactive bass.
Conversely, the energetic thumping action of a twin-tailed grub or the large flapping arms of a craw may be the best choice during the warmer months. If you are using a jig trailer with multiple appendages, experiment with cutting some of them off to change the action or dye them a different color to provide some added distinction in dirty water.
Suggested Jig Trailers & Accessories
3. Trim the Weedguard
Much like the jig skirt, manufacturers commonly build jigs with an oversized weedguard so the angler can customize the length, stiffness, and flexibility based on the situation. When trimming the weedguard, you want to maintain enough stiffness so the jig moves through cover while still providing enough flexibility for a positive hookset.
Cutting down the end of the weedguard will stiffen the fibers to help prevent snags around heavy cover, while trimming some of the fibers at the base of the jig head will allow for more flex and improve your hook-up ratios in open water. Try to avoid pulling the fibers completely out of the jig head when thinning out your weedguard, as it will create a gap that may cause the entire weedguard to come free.
4. Add Scent
Whether or not you believe scent attracts bass or improves your chances of getting more bites, most would agree that applying scent can help cover up unnatural smells and human odors like sunscreen, gasoline, and skin oils. Biological studies have proven that bass will bite and hold scented lures much longer, which provides a huge advantage when fishing a jig, as the angler has more time to register the bite and deliver a solid hookset.
The sport of bass fishing has rapidly grown in popularity in recent years, and with the substantial increase in fishing pressure throughout the country, modern-day anglers must do everything they can to stack the odds back in their favor. Try adding scent to your jigs to boost attraction in tough conditions and draw curious fish in from greater distances.
Suggested Scents & Fish Attractants
5. Add Sound
When fish lose the ability to visually locate prey at night, during low light, or in stained and dirty water, adding sound to your jig will increase the drawing power of your presentation and accurately mimic the sound of foraging crawfish.
There are two different ways to apply a rattle to your presentation. If your jig skirt includes a rattle collar, simply attach a rattle to the preexisting holes in your skirt band. If your jig does not include a skirt collar, you can thread a rattle holder down the shank of the hook and sandwich it between the head of your jig and your jig trailer, making sure to orient the rattles so that they are on the underside of your jig.
Suggested Rattles & Rattle Bands
Jigs are one of the most versatile and effective lures for catching fish throughout the year, but many beginners shy away from them after making the mistake of tying one on without doing any modifications. A fundamental bass fishing technique that every angler should feel confident using, be sure to try some of our Top 5 Jig Modifications if you are ready to throw in the towel on jig fishing!