For the type of fishing that we generally do, a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors of jigs are a necessity. Panfish tend to be very picky with even the slightest abnormality in a presentation. In many cases, you can catch at least a few fish on any jig but I am confident that everyday there is one specific bait that will drive the fish crazy somewhere on your selected body of water.
Fish develop a search image for whatever food source is their primary diet at the time being. If you can piece together a bait that resembles their desired prey you will be successful. There is more to catching fish than just using right bait though… You need to give the bait the correct action, speed, and put it at the right depth. Once you figure this out, stick with it and stay mobile. There are always fish that are active and some will not bite regardless of what you do. By continuously moving, you are able to catch the active fish in each hole and not waste much time beyond that. Panfish usually are on the move so make sure you keep track of holes that have produced and be sure to return to check for fish again as these holes will likely be replenished.
As you will see below I have more jigs than I will ever use in one day. I’m not ashamed to admit these are just the ones that I have in my pocket for every trip. I have boxes of extras for when I break off and need to refill my pocket boxes. It’s a bad feeling when you are on a good bite and you lose your last jig that the fish are pounding on.
I have four main boxes of jigs and they are sorted for different applications and locations. The jig boxes that I use are made by Rose Creek. They hold even the heaviest jigs very well. The categories the jigs are sorted by are lead horizontals, Lindy, non-lead verticals, and tungsten. New Hampshire put a ban on the use of lead jigs under 1″ or 1 ounce starting this year so I can’t even bring it on the ice. Its definitely not worth getting a ticket just because I want to fish with a lead jig when there are many just as good options to use!
So onto the boxes… The first one here is my tungsten box. Tungsten has the largest size to weight ratio of all metals. It is good for situations when you want to downsize your presentation and still be able to fish deep water, fast. It is also very useful in thick weeds because you can punch through them to get to the fish. Jigs in this box come from several distributors. On the left side of the box, the top three rows are from Sportsmens Direct. The next three rows are a new option this season. They are “hard rock” jigs by Northland Tackle. The remainder of that side are Fiskas. The right side of the box is filled with jigs from Bentley Fishing USA.
This is my non-lead vertical box. I have been using these jigs more and more lately and am finding that I get a better hookup percentage! The entire left side of this of this box are Caty jigs. The right side of the box is mostly random jigs and proven flies that I have picked up at bait shops through the years.
This is my Lindy box. Unfortunately, all these jigs are lead and I cannot use them on the river. I used them quite a bit last year with great success! It is stocked with only three styles of jigs but they are good ones! These fish very heavy and show up on the flasher very well even in deeper water! On the left side at the top you see the Genz Bug, below that is the Fatboy, and on the right side is the Worm.
This is my final box. All these jigs are made of lead so they don’t get too much action anymore. All the jigs on the left side excepts for the last row are made by Custom Jigs & Spins. These are a very good option for beginners because they are cheap and have a big selection of colors and sizes. The top three rows are gill pills. They have a flat bottom and when jigged have a very good flutter action. The next four rows are diamond jigs. They fish very precise and work better than tungsten at times because they sink a bit slower because they weigh less. The last row on the left side is composed of Northland gill getters. The right side of the box the top row is he CJ&S mini mert. The next two rows are primarily Northland forage minnow fry. The remainder of the right side is made up for “shad dart” style jigs from CMT Tackle.
These have been my go to jigs this season. From top to bottom and left to right they are: CMT super glow butt silver/orange size 12, Bentley black size 4, Custom Jigs & Spins diamond jig pink size 12, Bentley chartreuse size 3, Fiskas gold/glow bead 4mm, Custom Jigs & Spins gill pill red glow size 12, Caty jig teardrop orange/chartreuse size 8, Caty jig willow pink/glow size 6, Custom Jigs & Spins demon gold size 6, and finally a tiny no name glow jig I picked up at Classic Outfitters.
I hope this helps you be more confident with your future jig purchases. There are a lot of choices out there and its hard to know where to start. I am still learning every day and am always trying to find better options. Stay tuned for future posts on the topic of jigs. There will be one in the soon by Bobby taking you through the steps of jig making and how anyone can do it!