Jigging Walleyes 101
by Jeff Beckwith
Scenic Tackle and Guide Service
Beginning with a quality hook, add just the right amount of lead, a quality paint finish and what do you have? You have in your hands one of the most deadly fishing products ever produced. You now have a quality fishing Jig.
You do not have to be a "fishing pro" to fish this item. What you need is a quality graphite rod. By using a quality rod it gives the user several things. First and most important it gives the user a sense of feel. You want a rod that is sensitive enough to feel what that jig is doing on the bottom of the lake.
For most of my fishing I prefer a 6'6" - 7' medium action spinning rod with a very fast tip. When buying a new rod I look for a quality IM6 or higher graphite blanks, cork handles, guides that are properly placed and a quality reel seat.
Next you will need a quality reel. While some think that all a reel does is hold line, cast and retrieve this line. This is not the case. All reels are not created equal!!!!.
When purchasing a quality fishing reel for jigging you need to look for several features. You want a reel that will balance your jigging rod. I prefer a medium spool capacity spinning reel that will hold an appropriate amount of line to fish in the depths you most often fish.
Look for this reel to have ball bearings for ease in reeling and performance and your new reel must have a smooth drag system to help you land the big one without breaking off your line.
Line....so many choices. Picking out a quality monofilment is worse then picking out soup in the grocery store. Like the many reels on the market today, not all line is created equal. When choosing a monofilment you want a line that is easy to cast, does not have a high memory when coming off your spool and you want a line that will sustain a certain amount of abrasion caused by fish and bottom elements.
My personal preference time and time again on my jigging system remains to be Trilene XL. For all of my pan fishing I use 4# clear Trilene XL and for all my walleye systems I use 6# clear Trilene XL.
You are now ready to become one of the proud, one of the many and one of the best jig fisherman. All you need now is quality jigs and the desire
to catch fish.
Talk about choices. They come in round, football, oval, flat, short, fat, skinny, heavy and micro lights just to mention a few. Then we have color choices and sizes....oh WOW!.
Now what makes a quality fishing jig stand above the rest? A quality fishing jig begins with a quality hook. When choosing a jig look for a strong hook such as a VMC or Mustad that will not bend when you catch your first trophy fish. This hook should be "sticky" sharp. (run the
point of the hook lightly over your thumb nail and it should slightly stick).
Look for a quality paint finish on this jig. We are not talking about a finish that looks pretty. We are talking about a quality finish that will stay on your jigs even when you are fishing in the rocks where some of the big guys live.
For most jig fishing quality round head jigs will work better then most.
Choosing the size of the jig should match the water depth you are
fishing and the speed in which your boat is traveling. When fishing rivers you will need to allow for current as well. You want to be using a jig that you can always have and know that you have contact with the bottom structure. Often times you will only be fishing the bottom 12" of the lake or river that you are on. If you are using the proper size jig head you should be able to tip your rod tip down and feel the jig make contact with the bottom.
Choosing the proper color jig head has many variables. What is the water color, what are the fish feeding on, and what triggers active fish? All points to consider when picking a quality jig.
Making a color choice is sometimes worse then choosing what to cook for dinner each night. Often times in stained water you may want to use a glow in the dark jig to aid the fish in finding your bait. Finding a triggering color often times consists of simply changing colors until you find just what they want.
When I fish a lake that is new to me I begin my arsenal
with a chartreuse orange or chartreuse lime colored jig heads unless I am in stained water.
As mentioned before if in stained water I will then begin with a glow color combination. Do not be afraid to be different. Many times I have seen guys go out and use one color because they heard that is what the fish are biting on.
Triggering colors may change from day to day or even change several times during the day.
Light and often times fishing pressure will all influence fish
triggering colors. Always have a selection of colors and sizes with you.
You now have a good part of what is needed to be a jig fisherman. You are equipped with a quality rod and reel combo, a variety of quality jigs in different colors and sizes. Now what?
In "Jigging Walleyes
102" we will other techniques. Look for this next week!!!
[Editors Note] Check out Jeff's tackle company Scenic Tackle (Link above) to see some quality jig choices.