Saturday, April 10, 2021

To Jig or not to Jig



Captain Mary A. Fink

The word “jig” has two meanings relating to fishing. The noun “jig” relates to a type of artificial lure or “jig head” which is usually tipped with some form of live or cut bait. The other meaning, used as a verb; to “jig,” relates to the physical movement of the rod tip that will often entice fish to strike more readily. This article will address each meaning of the word and its relevance when fishing our fish rich waters.

When fishing our beautiful local back country bays and mangrove islands, jig heads are most commonly used when tipped with either artificial soft plastics or live bait. Jig heads used locally generally range in weight from 1/32 oz to 3/4 oz depending on the species targeted, water current and desired depth of bait. Jig heads are available in a large variety of shapes and colors. I have found chartreuse to be a most effective color for all local species. In most instances, I use 1/4 oz when fishing back country bays, islands and passes. 1/8 oz jig heads are effective as well when fishing in and around mangrove roots and other cover. The lighter the jig head, the more sensitivity to strikes improves.

Once you decide the best weight and color to use, you must select either an artificial offering or a live or cut bait presentation. The most common artificial bait used locally includes a large variety of soft plastics. The varieties and styles of soft plastics found can be equated to the varieties and types of candies found in a candy store. DOA shrimp are very popular and quite effective rigged on a 1/4 oz jig head under a popping cork, especially when targeting trout and red fish over grass flats. Berkeley GULP soft plastics are very popular as well and imitate a variety of bait fish, shrimp, shad and crabs. If you choose to tip your selected jig head with live bait, shrimp and live minnows or bait fish work best. Additionally, jig heads tipped with strips of bait such as lady fish belly strips, squid and other cut bait can be enticing to our local fish audience, as well.

Once you have selected your jig head weight, color and bait type, you must now decide the best place and best way to present your offering. This is when you must ask the question, “to jig or not to jig?” In this case, of course, I am referring to the word “jig” as a verb; that is, to move the rod tip with a series of small, vertical wrist flicks up and down which will have an impact on the way the jig moves in the water.

In most all instances, I highly recommend jigging, as it gives the appearance that the bait offering is in distress, which will attract predators. The act of jigging causes both sound and vibration in the water which is also a fish attractant. It is wise to experiment with jigging techniques but be sure that your jigging doesn’t allow too much slack in the line which could easily result in a lack of sensitivity and lost fish. The only situations where jigging would not be necessary would be when bottom fishing over a reef or wreck or when trolling off the back of a boat.

Go out and select a number of jig head weights, colors and sizes to add to your tackle box. Soft plastics such as DOA and GULP styles should be included. Once you rig up, get out there and do some jigging around structure and cover in moving water, and get hooked up today!


Captain Mary specializes in fishing the beautiful Ten Thousand Islands. She holds a “six pack” captains license and has a knack for finding fish. A passionate angler possessing over 35 years of extensive experience in both back country and offshore fishing, Mary offers fishing expeditions through her Island Girls Charters company. When fishing with Captain Mary, you will be exposed to a variety of successful techniques including cast and retrieve, drift fishing, bottom fishing and sight fishing.  Visit to learn about fishing with Capt. Mary. Or reach her at 239-571-2947.

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