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August 18, 2021

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Everything You Need to Know About Jigworm Fishing

Everything You Need to Know About Jigworm Fishing

A jigworm is one of the most versatile lures and is particularly popular with largemouth and smallmouth bass anglers. Also known as a shaky head, it’s simply a plastic worm attached to a lead head jig. It’s simple to use and has very subtle action that black bass go crazy for whether you’re fishing in deep weedy areas, under docks, or finessed near shallow cover.

If you’re just starting out, here’s everything you need to know about jigworm fishing.


The Set-Up

The jigworm has become a favorite in sport fishing because it's one of the simplest to set up, use, and attracts a lot of bites as well. It’s a great starter lure for newbies or those just looking for a relaxing day of fishing.

Jigheads can come in many different forms and shapes such as flatheads and mushrooms while others may even have spikes so you can attach the worm without sliding in the hook. However, a light round jig head with a large and light hook is often preferred. 

Contrary to what some people think, using a light jig head is better for catching largemouth and smallmouth bass. A 1/16 or 1/8 ounce jig head works great for most circumstances, but on a day when the water is choppy, you’ll need to use a 1/4 ounce for extra weight. 

The easiest way to attach the worm on the jig is to just superglue it onto the head, but this will leave the hook exposed. If you don’t want the hook to be seen, you can do a “weedless” rig wherein the hook’s point should be just underneath the outer layer of the worm’s body. The number one rule here is to make the worm straight on the hook to prevent it from twisting because the whole rig can spin and create a big mess in your line. 


The Cast

A jigworm is best on a 7-foot medium-action spinning rod – it’s sturdy enough to withstand a fight but has a sensitive tip. The simplest way to use a jigworm is to cast it out and let the lure hit the bed or the bottom. Keep an eye on where your line enters the water and make sure it’s not completely slack – there should be just enough tension so you can see the line tighten up when you get a bite. It’s important to know where your line enters the water because strikes usually occur as the lure descends to the bottom. 

Now, once your lure is in the water, let it rest for a while and then give it a few light tugs upward to lift it off the bottom again. Don't pull on it too much so that it breaks the surface though – think of it like dipping a teabag. Keep repeating this process until you get a bite, although you can switch up your routines and motions to find what works best in the area you’re fishing in or for your target species. This rise and fall technique works best in rocky drop-offs or ledges and can be a great warm-up as well.

However, what makes the jigworm so alluring is that you can get quite creative with it. If you’re going after largemouth bass during their spawning or post-spawning seasons, they’re mostly going to be in shallower water. These are some of the best times to reach for your jigworm because they are extremely effective when fish are more alert and are looking to feed. 

However, remember to keep your distance – while they’re actively searching for food, the shallower waters can spook them, so cast long.

You’ll want to be casting out a little further away from the nests and you’ll want to retrieve it slowly, dragging towards the nest. If the fish don’t bite it on the retrieve, let it sit in the nest and start shaking it with your line slacked up – this will let the bait move while staying within the nest. 

If you're after post-spawning bass, you’ll want to focus on areas with cover and structure near where they might be guarding the fry, such as boat docks. After casting the lure, its’ best to shake it a bit as it falls to the bottom or you can keep your line tight and let it hop and shake. You’ll need to experiment as fish can be unpredictable as every angler knows, but be ready for a quick strike at all times. 

A ⅛ or ¼ ounce jig head with a 4 to 6-inch worm in more natural and neutral colors will seem less artificial in these settings. Using the same 7-foot medium-heavy casting rod and high-speed baitcasting reel, spool in some 12-pound fluorocarbon in there too. Manufacturers have more jigs now available with larger hooks, usually a 1/0 or 2/0 hook, which can hook up a fish much better. 

During the summer, when the waters are warmer, you’ll need to change up your tactics. You can start by targeting rocky bottoms and brush piles, so upgrading to a 1/2- or 3/4-ounce jighead on a heavier line of 14-pound fluorocarbon would be wise. You'll want to "hop" and drag the jigworm along the bottom and if you hit an obstacle, give the jigworm a shake to see if any fish hiding in cover goes in for a strike. 

As the waters get warmer, fish like largemouth bass move to the deeper weedier areas and rocky drop-offs. You’ll want to focus on bends and turns where rocks are scattered among soft weeds, and this is when a weedless rig would come in handy.

When you’re in this setting, the technique will be different – you’ll want to make the jigworm “swim” rather than let it hop from the bottom. Lighter jigs are better for this movement so that you can help it stay upwards in the water column and avoid thicker weed clumps. If the jigworm gets caught in weeds, just give it a good shake and you might get a strike. A 1/16 oz or 1/8 oz works well in this scenario, but switch it up to a 1/4 oz for choppy water. You’ll need to feel it out as many factors can affect the jigworm’s movements, so adjust your size as necessary to prevent your line from bowing. 


The Jig is Up

Jigs and worms are some of the most beloved lures by anglers so making a combination of the two just makes sense. Whether you call it a jig worm or a shaky head, it's a must-have in your tackle box every time you go on a trip. It's versatile, simple to use, and effective at catching almost anything.