By Tim Huffman
March 8, 2012
No matter where you’re located it’s for sure you’ve got some crappie nearby just waiting to get caught. It’s a good time to watch your favorite college basketball team fight in the tournaments but a better time to put a bend into your fishing pole.
Jigging/ Jigging Tools
Spring is fun for a jig fisherman. Crappie move into mid-depth and shallow waters. Stumps and other stickups are holding spots for fish moving into and out of spawning areas.
Jigging gives you a one-on-one challenge with crappie. It’s also an economical way to fish. All the equipment you need is a jigging pole, good line and jigs. However, be picky on each of these items. For example, the pole needs to be a very lightweight model so it won’t cause too much fatigue in a day of fishing. It needs to be extremely sensitive to feel as many bites as possible. The length should be 9 foot when fishing areas of heavy cover with overhead limbs or obstructions. An 11 foot pole is better when fishing more open areas. Very clear water with shallow fish may require a 12 foot to avoid spooking the fish. A good versatile pole is 10 foot. Choosing the right pole will make you a better fisherman and make fishing more enjoyable.
Line is better today than ever before. Out of habit, lack of knowledge, or just preference many fishermen still use monofilament. Limp, light line is good for handling light jigs no matter what depth you’re fishing. Copolymer lines are very similar but they are an improvement, using more than one type of monofilament to make a limp yet tougher line.
Fluorocarbon has become more popular for jigging for a variety of reasons. One advantage is that it is almost invisible under water. It’s great when fishing clear waters. The second advantage is that is more sensitive so you feel more bites. The line has very little stretch so it makes for quick hook-sets. A third advantage is heavier weight so it will get light jigs down quicker and help keep them there; a huge advantage in the wind or current. The disadvantage is a stiffer line. Most fishermen stick with six or four pound test.
Braided line is a third choice. You can have a tiny diameter line with high strength. A 10 pound line can have the diameter of 3 or 4 pound mono. It’s a line many fishermen love because of the tremendous sensitivity, and other fishermen hate it because of handling and other quirks like difficulty tying knots. You have to give it a try and make your own conclusions.
Next is the third component of jigging; the jig. The two-part bait is divided between the jighead and body. The main jighead choices are weight, size and color. A 1/32-ounce head gives a slow, natural fall while a heavy 1/8 gives you more contact with your jig and works best in wind and current. A 1/16-ounce is a good all-around choice. Hook size is an important factor with #2 and #4 being most popular and #6 in ultra-clear waters when using smaller baits. The head shape is another choice but not critical. Color can be important with many fishermen choosing a contrasting head color or one to match the tail. For example, a white head/ blue body/ white tail.
Jig body choice is important because size, color and action will determine the number of bites you get. There are many good jigs on the market. In the Yamamoto line, three choices stand out for jigging: the tube, Tiny Ika and Yamaminnow.
The tube jig has subtle action but it doesn’t take much rod tip movement to make the tail tentacles ‘breathe’ to give it life. Number two is the Tiny Ika, a similar bait but longer, giving it a big profile for big fish or heavily stained waters. It’s versatile because it can be shortened as needed to fit the situation.
The third bait, the Yamaminnow, is deadly for jigging. The single tail has a unique action and the minnow profile is an attention-getter. You can’t go wrong with this bait.
You have the right pole, line and jig, so now what? When water temperatures are between 62 and 72 degrees crappie will be in some stage of spawning activity. Stained water will have crappie shallow so target your fishing accordingly. Actual depths are determined by water clarity.
Ease quietly into crappie areas and work baits in and around cover. Once you find the exact depth keep your jig in the strike zone all the time. Learn from each fish you catch to form a pattern of depth, type bottom, structure and the right presentation. Once learned, you can repeat this pattern in other locations to catch fish.
Jigging in the spring offers a variety of fish movements during pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn so your job is to find the fish. Once found, jigging offers an economical and fun way to catch them.
Tip of the Month
The number one mistake made by beginning jig fishermen is giving too much action to the jig. Fish a jig like you would a minnow; slow and deliberate. If you learn that fish are more aggressive then you can try speeding it up a little.