Deep Water Jig and Pig
Right away when anyone mentions jig and pig, you tend to automatically relate that with flipping and pitching to shallow visible cover. And sure that?s a dynamite way to catch bass. But it leaves a giant window of opportunity open. Just as guys like David Fritts and Paul Elias exploit deep water with crankbaits, the same can be done with jigs. Jigs in fact, in my opinion are more effective than crankbaits. First and most obviously they are more weedless. Second, by using the weight of a sinking jig, you can more effectively present a bait to a deep strike zone. There?s no waiting for a floating crankbait to reach maximum depth. Plus you don?t get worked to death like you do when deep cranking.
REMEMBER DEEP IS A RELATIVE TERM TO WHERE YOU ARE
I. JIG AS A SEARCH TOOL:
Just as in any other form of deep water fishing the most important aspects are bottom contour(structure) and the presence of cover and food(bait). This brings us to the first critical aspect of deep water jig fishing. The jig is one of the best baits you can use to not only catch deep bass but to figure out where they are located. By this I mean a jig in deep water becomes both a fish catcher and a fish locator. Right away we have to clear up the myth that a jig is a slow presentation bait only. That?s just not true. Anyone who knows my fishing style knows that I?d rather fish fast and cover water. Well that?s what a big jig in deep water allows me to do. Using a heavy jig in conjunction with my electronics, I can find the type of areas that bass congregate around. For example, I can find that one area of rock bottom along a mile stretch of channel drop. Or I can find that lone stump off the edge of a deep flat. Lets start at the beginning. First, in reference to seasonal pattern and water type, I start using my electronic eyes to locate the type of deep-water areas bass will be holding. Lets use the example of a deep, fairly clear highland reservoir during the early summertime period, water temp. around the 70 degree mark. I know that almost all bass are done spawning and well into their transition between spring spawning areas and deep summertime retreats. After identifying some spawning areas (FLATS) I use my map to identify channels leading off flats to main channel or main lake ledges(circle them in black pen). I then fast idle my boat across these circled areas. I?m specifically looking for the contour breaks and any irregular feature on these breaks. Seeing the presence of baitfish or cover on the bottom would enrich my chances. Once I establish an area that meets the criteria I am looking for, I?ll drop a marker buoy on the break or area that shows most promise. It?s now time to deploy the jig. Using a heavy jig (1/2oz. to 1oz. ¾ most often) I fan cast the potential area zig-zagging up and down the areas in both directions. The jig becomes my bottom transmitter. I can tell the bottom compositions (mud,sand,rock,shell) and cover type(wood,weeds) by the feel. A graphite rod is a much better deep-water transmitter than a fiberglass cranking rod. Hopefully this physical search with the jig will lead to something. If I find that I caught a bass every time I hit a hard rock area along the break, my search can then be narrowed.
II. JIG AS A REACTION BAIT IN DEEP WATER:
The second main strength is using a heavy jig as a reaction bait in deep water. Just as spoon fisherman use a heavy slab of metal to explore the depths you can do the same with a jig. This is really an under exploited technique. I first read about it after a lot of tournaments on the West Coast started to be won doing this. On these deep clear, western impoundments, guys were taking ¾ and 1oz. jigs and catching bass. What really intrigued me is the fact that they were not finessing the fish. They were power fishing and using the extremely fast fall rate of the jig to trigger a reaction strike. This is where a heavy jig will really outshine a Carolina rig in deep water. The reaction is the key! Your not just trying to elicit a hunger strike here. This means your now appealing to more bass. Yea, you?re still going to catch the bass that are eating because their hungry. But now your going to force un-active bass to hit. THAT?S THE KEY. Un-active bass will strike at a jig whizzing by their head. (The human ball theory can be used here.) This technique is especially effective on more vertical break areas. I call it the crash and burn method. I?ll start by casting to the shallower lip areas, usually near the shore. I?ll then pop the jig up, letting it fall down the stair step break. Line watching is critical. Each time I pop it off the bottom, I am letting it fall back down on a semi slack line. You must often strip line under extreme deep break conditions. This is also the technique I?ll use when fishing around deep grass. In lakes where thick vegetation, such as hydrilla and milfoil are present, the grass often mats together forming small tunnels in the grass. The heavy weight of the jig allows it to penetrate inside the mats and strands of grass and enters the tunnels. I?ll use the same popping technique but I will often only be able to get that first initial fall. KEEP YOUR CAST SHORT. In deep water you loose bait control when you make long cast!
TACKLE and EQUIPMENT:
I generally use Stone Jigs in weights ranging between ½ oz. and 3/4oz. The 1/2oz. I?ll use for depths between 10 and 30 feet and will use a 3/4oz. for depths ranging from 30 to 50 feet. Deeper than 50 I?ll go with a 1 once. Color choice depends on both water clarity and forage. Generally I like four colors: Natural and Green Pumpkin for clear water and where abundant crawfish are present; Black/Blue for stained water; and white where the main forage is some type of shad or herring. I use some type of Uncle Josh Trailer depending on what the fish are telling me.(action or straight tail) I also like to use Stone Jig Heads with just a spider grub body, especially for ultra clear water. I always use a glass Rattle!
Rod and Reel:
I use a medium heavy rod with some tip in the 7?3? length. The rod is a Team Daiwa SLT 7?3?. It has enough length for good leverage and has enough tip. The reel I use is both compact and palm fitting. It has a fast ratio to enable me to pick up the slack. It also has to have a great anti-reverse. It is a Team Daiwa TD-X with a 6.3 to 1 gear ratio. The line I use is heavily dependent on the conditions. Generally I use Clear Original Stren in 14 or 17 pound test for most applications. In extremely clear water I might go to green in 12 if cover permits. In extremely deep water, water deeper than 30 feet I use a less stretchy line like Stren Flora Carbon or Sensor. In water deeper than 50 feet I use a super line like Stren Kevlar in 50 lb. strength. I?m looking for zero stretch.