Jigs are a favorite big-fish bait for many bass fishermen, and there are plenty of options when it comes to the choice of shape and size of the lead-and-rubber lures.
It would seem that having to match those baits with the soft-plastic trailers that are available might give fishermen too many choices, but that isn’t necessarily so, according to retired bass pro Marty Stone of Fayetteville.
“To me, in the spring, you’re talking about two jigs that will take care of any situation,” said Stone, who qualified for four Bassmaster Classics and three FLW Tour Championships before retiring from professional fishing in 2011.
Stone’s first choice is a living-rubber jig with a standard, ball-style head, mated with a Zoom Critter Craw.
“When the water is cold, when the fish are first moving up, when the water is relatively clear, they will get around a letdown or next to a dock, and they’ll be a little skittish or spooky,” he said. “That’s when I fish a compact bait like this jig and the little plastic trailer. It doesn’t have much action, and it’s small enough that it’s not intimidating to the fish. It’s about the size of the crawfish that their metabolism is geared to. They can eat a couple of small crawfish a dad; if they eat a real big one, it might take them a couple of days to get rid of it.
“Later in March, when we’ve had more warm weather, the fish have been up for a while and they’re feeding up, that’s when I’ll fish a 1/2- or 5/8-ounce jig with a Zoom Super Chunk, with those big flippers,” he said. “By that time, the bass are looking to eat something bigger; they’re not intimidated by a really big bait.
“It’s more of a big bait, big fish think. They’re super aggressive — this is when they’ll knock 2 feet of slack in your line when they hit.”
The big bait also helps cut out bites from smaller fish, he said, because with fish ganged up on pieces of cover, the small fish aren’t going to get a chance to hit the big bait.
“It will cull out the little fish,” Stone said. “A 1 1/2-pound bass is not going to grab it with a 5-pounder swimming around.”
Stone said he normally fishes both of those jigs in a day’s time.
“I’ll fish the smaller jig at daylight, when there’s not even a ripple on the water and you need a more subtle bait,” he said. “As the day goes on, when it gets warmer and you can feel the sun on your face, then I’ll move to the bigger bait.”
Stone said he’ll go with a huge trailer like a Brush Hog or other creature bait, but not during the spring.
“When I want to use a Brush Hog or some other big piece of plastic, that’s when I’m going to be dragging it on a football jighead, say, in June, when you get your big gizzard shad out on rock piles in 4 to 7 feet of water, after they’ve spawned,” he said. “That’s when you want to drag a really big bait.”