Jigheads 101: How to pick the best
Situations dictate which style of leadhead, soft-plastic baits match up best
One of the most-versatile and effective ways to catch speckled trout is with a soft plastic and jighead pairing. Seamlessly transcending the range of experience levels, they allow anglers to target fish both shallow and deep.
With all kinds of different jigheads saturating the market, it’s worth spending some discussing their capabilities. Keep in mind, there are no absolutes in fishing. Exploring different brands and styles is what makes targeting big trout so much fun.
Admittedly, these are probably the most-popular styles, and for good reason. Most lure manufacturers produce a 31/2-inch soft-plastic swimbait that pairs perfectly with these styles of jigheads.
I mostly use either of these when fishing deeper water — 5 feet or more — or areas with heavier tide or wind, and I always pair them with some “boot” tail style softplastic. Since all of the weight is on the front of the soft plastic, it allows the bait to go up and down in the water column. Also, the weight of the jighead displaces a fair amount of water, allowing the boot tail to kick while ascending/descending.
Jigheads preferred: Deathgrip, Golden Eye, H&H, 10 Mile
Soft plastics preferred: Matrix Shad, Egret Wedgetails, DOA Cal Shad, MirrOlure Marsh Minnow Jr.
The NED Rig is a complete fish-catching deal, and the unique, stand-up feature these jigheads gives small, finesse baits drives fish of all sizes crazy. Designed to rest nose-down on the bottom, your soft plastic stands straight up. This technique is exceptionally effective in clear sky, clear water, calm situations when fish are particularly finicky.
Jigheads preferred: Owner Blockhead (1/8-ounce) and ZMan NedLockZ (1/10-ounce). Go up and down in weight as needed based on depth, tide and wind.
Soft plastics preferred: ZMan Finesse TRD, ZMan Trick ShotZ, ZMan HogZ and Cajun Lures T-NED
Designed as a modified, stand-up jighead, arrow-style heads are typically more slender than most. As a result, these compliment jerk shad-style baits perfectly since they enable a more erratic action. I typically like to throw an 1/8-ounce or lighter head over shallow grass, and they work extremely well in cloudy, clear water situations in 4 feet of water or less. I normally prefer the 1/0 or 2/0 size hook, and since these are paired with 5-inch or larger plastics, castability normally isn’t an issue.
By going as light as possible with your jighead, you’re allowing the weight of the soft plastic to keep pace with the descent of the jighead. In other words, your offering will descend in a more horizontal fashion instead of straight up and down.
Jigheads preferred: Texas Custom Lures’ Jay Watkins Series Jigheads, Saltwater Assassin Pro Elite, Mirrolure Push On & Pro Series, Norton Lures GFX
Soft plastics preferred: Down South Lures (Southern Shad and Super Model), MirrOlure Provoker, KWiggler BTS, Gambler 6-inch FlapN Shad, Norton Sand Eel, Big Bite Baits Jerk Minnow, Mann’s 6-inch Hard Nose Jerkshad
Dome-style jigheads are incredibly versatile and work in any situation, and they pair well with most soft-plastic brands and sizes. However, I specifically use them on smaller, darter-style baits. The shape of the head, combined with the shape of the soft plastic allows your offering to descend through the water column very quickly. This means you can reduce the weight of your offering as much as possible given the wind and tide and allow the slower descent to the bottom. Also, the contour of the jighead paired with the bait allows it to move in an erratic action, typically drawing strikes from bigger fish.
Jighead preferred: Yellowmouth Baits (1/8- or 1/16-ounce)
Soft plastics preferred: Capt Lanes Ghostminnow, Pure Flats Lil’ Slick, MirrOlure Lil John, Cajun Lures T-John, Norton Lures Sand Eel Jr, Deadly Dudley Jr.
As you can see, there are many jigheads on the market, and they range in size, style and shape. My goal for you to start thinking about the different things you can do by just changing your jighead.
JOIN THE CLUB, get unlimited access for $2.99/month
Become the most informed Sportsman you know, with a membership to the Carolina Sportsman Magazine and CarolinaSportsman.com.