GYCB National Pro-Staff
There are a number of reasons why I bass fish: I love the competition, I like to be outdoors and I like to catch fish are a few of them. But one of the real reasons I bass fish is because I love to figure out the puzzle. Bass fishing is a very complex sport with a large number of variables and if you don’t solve them all, you don’t catch fish.
This exact scenario happened to me late last winter when I was fishing the FLW Stren event on Shasta. I was on a deep pattern catching spots in practice and by the time the first day of competition rolled around, my fish were gone. That’s when I figured out the key puzzle piece and went on to have a good tournament.
The key was I stumbled onto an interesting jig technique that the fish really reacted to. Since then, this technique has pulled me out of a number of binds and has become a go-to method for me. Some may call what I am about to explain swimming a jig but it’s far from that.
Swimming a jig is done primarily with a medium to fast retrieve, keeping the jig near to but off the bottom. This technique, though, is done with a slow retrieve, the jig in constant contact with the bottom, while trying to bang every rock, stump or piece of vegetation throughout the entire cast. Essentially the jig has become a 4-wheel-drive vehicle.
Going into the Shasta Stren event I had a good jig bite in 30 to 40 feet of water that I felt would last for the entire tournament. The reason I thought this was deep fish are less affected by weather change and I knew the weather was about to turn nasty. Unfortunately, the fish didn’t listen to what they were supposed to do and my fish evaporated. At this point I had to make a move and figure out the missing piece of the puzzle.
Dejected, I made a cast up into two feet of water and began a slow retrieve of the jig down the rocky bank – thinking what I needed to do to get back on fish. That cast changed my thoughts on how to fish a jig.
That first cast resulted in a healthy 2-1/2 pound spotted bass and keyed me into a bite I had never been on before. That fortunate cast also resulted in a 40-fish day and eventually gave me a 20th-place finish in the tournament.
Since that tournament, the technique has proven itself not only on deep spotted bass impoundments like Shasta but on smallmouth fisheries like Lake Havasu along with lakes that have trees and vegetation.
Here’s how it works
The basis of the technique rests solely on the retrieve. Again, you want the jig to hit every obstacle in the path of your cast – therefore, your cast needs to be placed in order to give you the most bang for your buck.
When working a steep bank or point, position the boat so you can make 45-degree casts towards the bank. This is important in that it will allow your jig to stay in the strike zone longer without falling into too deep of water towards the end of the cast.
Once the jig has hit the bottom, slowly begin to retrieve the bait, making sure not to lose bottom contact at any time. It’s important to feel and hit every obstruction on the bottom. Doing this knocks up mud and debris off the bottom and looks like a crawdad making a lot of commotion on the bottom.
This was a key for me at Havasu last year. The smallies were on a shallow rocky flat and I could see them cruising. Problem was they wouldn’t eat any of my offerings; jerkbaits, cranks, or blades. That changed when I used the jig and the 4X4 technique. The fish went from avoiding my bait to crushing the jig as I bounced it off the cover.
But rock isn’t the only place this technique works, it’s also been great in standing timber and weeds. When I’m fishing timber, I try to make a cast so I can hit every piece of wood I can with the jig. It’s almost as if I’m slow-rolling a spinnerbait through the trees. On the other hand, in weeds, I fish it primarily like a Rattle Trap. When the bait gets hung, I rip it out of the cover and that’s when the strikes come.
Over the last year I have developed some basic gear for the technique and it’s all dependent on the type of cover I’m fishing. For example, if I’m fishing rock I’ll stick primarily with a standard football head anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 ounce in size depending on the depth. But if I’m fishing grass I’ll use a 1/4-ounce GYCB Swim Jig head. That head allows me to Texas rig the jig making it weedless and its shape comes through the grass a lot better. For wood, I’ll use the Swim Jig head too but will vary the weight between 1/4 and 3/8 ounce. In those last two applications, it helps to add a drop of super glue to the shoulder of the jig in order to secure the bait.
Because this is what I would consider a power fishing technique, you need sturdy tackle that can take the abuse. The rods I use are Powell 734CF for the lighter jigs and the 764 for the heavier applications.
On those rods I use the Shimano Curado E7s. I prefer these high-speed reels because with this technique, the fish have a tendency to throw slack into the line after they attack the jig and the high-speed reel allows me to catch up to them quickly.
For most of my applications I use 12- to 15-pound fluorocarbon line. It’s very sensitive and abrasion resistant – something you need while fishing this technique. I have gone as high as 20-pound test and as low as 10-pound test for some scenarios, though.
As for the business end of the package, my favorite bait overall is the old standby GYCB Series 93 and 97 Double Tail Hula Grubs. For a jig, these are hard to beat. But I’ve also caught fish using the Swimming Senko, grubs and the Flappin’ Hog II so use your imagination.
As I stated in the beginning, this new technique has really produced for me and I know it will for you if you give it a chance. Just remember to keep in contact with the bottom and be ready when that fish comes out of nowhere and tries to pull the rods from your hand.