By now you have listened to me talk about fishing with my favorite jig a lot, and maybe a bit too much. If that is true, then please forgive me, but as you may also know, I won't lie to you.
Truth is most of my fish come by way of the four-inch chartreuse shrimp tail I am always going on about. I usually attach that to a white one-quarter ounce lead head jig hook, especially if I am fishing near my home across from Tomoka State Park.
Now let's get into some of the finer points of making that jig work. Whenever I encounter you, the reader, the question most asked is what action do I give to my jig? That depends on the situation. Whenever I am fishing in a swift tidal flow, I don't give the bait much action at all. I let the tide do that. As I always try to mention, position yourself so you are casting into the current. Then allow the jig to wash along the bottom back toward you.
If a few casts like that produce nothing, then begin to flick the jig once in a while but ever so slightly. In calmer waters I will give the reel a turn or two and then lift the rod tip a foot or so.
Of course, the idea is always to try and make your bait look alive. It is our job to entice a mature, crafty fish to hit a hunk of plastic. Not an easy task. Another thing to remember is that after the initial splashdown of your cast, let the lure settle to the bottom and remain there for at least a count of four before you move it. The splash of your jig will cause a nearby fish to take notice and at times that inquisitive predator may be just sitting there studying your bait. After a suitable pause the first small flip may initiate a strike.
Now let's go back a step. Before you begin to cast, you must thread the soft plastic tail onto the hook correctly. I hope you know your jig moves through the water with the hook up. Your shrimp tail should be lying flat to emulate the swimming motion of a real shrimp as much as possible. If you place your plastic shrimp on the hook so the flat tail is vertical, you may catch a few fish but a proper presentation will increase your number of strikes.
As I said my preferred jig head is a quarter ounce in the Northern Halifax but in Mosquito Lagoon I will go to an eighth ounce or lighter in order to keep it out of the sea grass there. Another good method is to thread your jig tail onto a jay hook and add a small split shot about a foot up the line. This will allow the bait to sink slowly into the grass and give the fish more time to see it.
At times I get into schools of small fish that continuously hit short. When that happens, I will bite about a half-inch off the shrimp tail. Every jig fisherman should carry an array of colors and styles. Although I am hopelessly stuck in my ways, I know lots of anglers have good luck with minnow baits. The paddle tails are especially popular. As for colors I like pink, white, motor oil, chartreuse or silver. I am not much of a fan of two-tone jigs, but the new Irish Beer shrimp tails from Grandslam Baits have been pretty hot. That one is brown in front fading to chartreuse at the tail.
Grandslam provides a wide range of colors and make no mistake about it, color is important in any type of fishing. At times I find fish holding tight in a small area and after the initial success the bite falls off. When that happens I go to the complete opposite color to the one I first threw. Usually that will bring the bite back as strong as it was in the beginning.
Please don't ignore your hook and line when jig fishing. Carry a tool to keep your hook sharp and check it often. Check your line for nicks every few minutes. No matter how well you work your jig, a weakened line will guarantee failure. Most of all, a good jig fisherman must have confidence in the bait. That only happens from success so keep at it and soon your catch will have you dancing a -- well you know.
Dan Smith has fished the waters of Volusia County for more than 40 years. Email questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. His book, "I Swear the Snook Drowned," is available for $10.95 at (386) 441-7793.