A black and blue bass jig on a wood background with the words "Bass Jigs: A Complete Guide To The Best Bass Lure" in the foreground.

Bass Jigs: A Complete Guide To The Best Bass Lure

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I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – bass jigs are the stuff of legend.

Few fishing lures are as renowned as the bass jig.

Indeed, there are great baits that catch big bass. Then there are baits that are popular because they catch fish year round.

There are killer deep water baits, and effective shallow water baits.

And then there is the mighty bass jig, the bait that can do all that and more

Welcome back to Jig Is Up Lurecraft!

Today we are diving deep into bass jigs, to fully unveil all the many traits that make them so unfathomably awesome for bass fishing. We’ll not only be looking at the different types of bass jigs there are (and how to fish them), but we’ll be looking at different jig trailers and even how you can make your own bass jigs!

If you want to learn all you can about these timeless baits, look no further. This article is your complete guide for anything and everything pertaining to bass jigs!

I. Why Bass Jigs Are The Best

First, let’s take a dive into why I think bass jigs are the best bass lure. Here are 5 terrific reasons why jigs are amazing!

1. Bass jigs are effective year round

The first reason why jigs are so special (and why I love them so much) is because they catch fish during all four seasons. 

smallmouth caught with a bass jig

Jigs fire up fish during the spring spawn, entice fish during the heat of summer, induce bone jarring bites during the fall, and activate lethargic fish in the dead of winter.

Jigs are so effective year round because they are so incredibly versatile. Steadily reel a jig in or dead stick it. Twitch and jerk it back to the boat or drag it on the bottom. In my opinion, there is no wrong way to fish a jig.

Another reason why jigs catch fish all year is because they have tons of secondary motion.

What is secondary motion?

When you cast out a jig and let it settle to the bottom, you will notice the skirt material continues to undulate, subtly and enticingly moving with the current. The material flows gently with the water, resembling the natural movements of fish forage. 

Fish love seeing these movements; it signals to them that this thing moving around is real and probably edible.

These natural movements are known as secondary motion, and they play a huge role in tempting lethargic fish to bite.

This phenomena is also why jigs are fantastic at inveigling fish during extreme weather conditions such as summer’s heat and winter’s cold. 

2. Jigs catch big bass

The second reason why I love jigs is because they catch big fish consistently! This fact is not only widely regarded among avid amateur fishermen, but it is a known fact among pro anglers – professionals who enlist jigs in their everyday arsenals to help them earn a living.

For instance, pro angler Jason Christie famously employed a two-lure arsenal to take home the winning trophy in the 2022 Bassmaster Classic

This two-lure arsenal consisted of a ballhead jig with a swimbait for deeper, suspended fish and a pitching jig with a craw trailer for shallow water fish. 

Using these jigs, Christie bagged 54 pounds of bass and landed a number one spot on fishing’s biggest stage.

In my own experience, I immediately noticed an increase in the quality of fish I was catching once I started using jigs consistently. 

smallmouth bass with a bass jig stuck in its upper lip

Creeks that had yielded one-pound smallmouths were suddenly netting me two-pounders with more regularity. Stretches of water where I had not gotten a bite before were suddenly coming alive with quality fish.

Having tasted the deadly effectiveness of jig fishing, I rarely go out anymore unless I have several jigs with me.

3. There is a jig for every situation

The third reason why jigs are great is because there is a jig for every fishing condition imaginable. I liken this to having a toolbox full of effective, specialized tools.

Collage with 3 bass jigs

Imagine this – you evaluate the water you’re fishing and determine what bait presentation you need to catch fish. 

You open your toolbox. There are several tools that greet you. With these tools, you have confidence that you can meet any fishing scenario you come across. 

You guessed it – these tools are jigs! 

Like the tool analogy, each type of jig is designed to excel under certain conditions. 

Are you fishing a lake full of scattered grass? Look no further than the faithful swim jig; it slides through grass with the greatest of ease.

Are you fishing deep offshore humps? Say no more; sink a heavy football jig down to the depths and drag it over those humps to find deeper fish.

Skipping docks? Grab an arky jig and skip away; it’ll hop and skim across the water and under those docks like a champ.

When it comes to jigs, there is one for every scenario. Build an arsenal with each kind, and you’ll be ready to face whatever fishing conditions you may encounter.

4. Jigs are multispecies lures

The fourth reason why jigs are my favorite lure is because they catch many different fish species. 

Sunfish bass jig catch

When most anglers think of jigs, they think of bass fishing. 

Like I mentioned previously, jigs are wildly popular amongst anglers in bass fishing communities. So much so, that their ability to attract other fish easily gets overshadowed.

However, jigs are a great multispecies lure. Ask any bass fisherman, it’s very common to catch great numbers of catfish while fishing jigs on the bottom for bass. 

And they appeal even to smaller species, such as sunfish and crappie. I’ve personally caught green sunfish with a teeny 1/16 ounce jig while fishing for bass.

Whether you use them for bass specifically or you are simply trying to catch whatever is biting, a jig is a great option for hooking and landing all manner of fish.

5. Jigs are a blast to make

Last, but certainly not least, jigs are an absolute blast to build. 

I love making jigs. 

With jig building, there is always something new to try!

jig hook and finished bass jig

Whether it is the sweet gratification of a new paint scheme or the adrenal satisfaction of slamming a new hook home, the rewards of building and using your own jigs are indescribably enjoyable.

The customizations you can make to a jig are endless. Mind blowingly endless. There is so much more to jig building than custom paint jobs or skirt color combinations.

Consider the jig head shape – there are oodles of different head designs you can choose from, each one with its own strengths and weaknesses. 

There is the ball head, football head, poison tail head, arky head, banana head … the list goes on and on! 

And don’t even get me started on skirt material. If you thought silicone skirts were great, just wait until rubber, marabou, and buck tail enter the conversation.

The point I’m making is this – jig building has just as many fun points as fishing itself and is equally as addictive.

II. Anatomy of a Bass Jig

Jigs generally consist of four main parts – a weighted head, a hook, a skirt, and a weed guard. 

graphic of a jig with the various parts outlined

These four parts combine in many unique ways to create different bass jigs specialized for specific conditions.

In fact, there are many styles of jigs, tweaked to perfection by the best anglers over years of trial and error. Learning how to effectively use each type is the key to unlocking the potential hidden within the mighty bass jig.

III. 6 Types of Bass Jigs

1. The Finesse Jig

The finesse jig is a classic jig style, typically characterized by a ball-shaped head and a light hook. This jig is fished with light line (such as 8 pound line) because it is a smaller jig, ranging from ⅛ – ¼ oz.

Tiny Terror Bass Jig Glamor Shot

These jigs are great for fishing around docks. The small compact nature of the jig allows it to skip easily under docks and then fall slowly with a lazy flutter.

The finesse jig also performs excellently in other shallow water conditions, such as areas where there is light cover and rocks.

How To Fish

To fish a finesse jig, cast it out and let it fall to the bottom. Pay close attention, as most bites come when the jig is falling. If you feel the line go slack before hitting bottom, reel up the slack and set the hook!

Once the jig has hit bottom, give it a sharp upward tug and then lower the rod tip. This causes the jig to surge upward and then slowly flutter downwards. Repeat this several times back to the boat to ensure you are putting the jig in front of as many fish as possible.

Recommended Finesse Jigs

Jig Is Up Lurecraft 👉 Tiny Terror Jig
6th Sense Fishing 👉 Divine Ballhead Finesse Jig
Buckeye Lures 👉 Gman Ballin’ Out Jig

2. The Football Jig

The football jig is a bit heftier and is designed specifically to drag on the bottom over rocks or sand. It has a wide football shaped head that ensures it stays upright and doesn’t get caught on rocks. 

This jig usually weighs from ⅜ – 1 oz. It pairs incredibly well with crawfish trailers, but other popular choices include grubs, creatures, and chunks.

How To Fish

The football jig is a great option for deeper, offshore fishing for big bass. To retrieve this jig, first pull back the rod tip. Then reel in your slack as you lower it back down. This will give life to your jig, allowing it to snap over rocks and crash back down to the bottom.

3. The Swim Jig

The swim jig is widely popular and a favorite among many.

White bass swim jig resting in hand
Stealth Terror Swim Jig by JIUL

It has a long narrow head and stiff weed guard to help it slide through grassy cover.

It excels in grass beds or medium cover but will also land bites in open water.

Swim jigs usually range from 3/16 to about ¾ oz and are often paired with a shad bait or paddle tail trailer.

How To Fish

This jig is wildly popular because it is so easy to fish!

One popular way to fish this jig is to swim it back and shake the rod as you retrieve it. If that retrieve doesn’t get bit, a simple cast and retrieve also works remarkably well. With both retrieves, most of the action comes from the the thumping of the plastic trailer on the back of the jig.

Recommended Swim Jigs

Jig Is Up Lurecraft 👉 Stealth Terror Swim Jig
6th Sense Fishing 👉 Divine Swim Jig
Strike King 👉 KVD Swim Jig

4. The Arky Jig

The arky jig is great for beginners to use because it does a little bit of everything.

arky jig

This jig has a smaller narrow head and a flat bottom, and typically weighs ¼ – ¾ oz.

Due to its head shape, the arky jig boasts itself as a remarkably versatile lure! Consider this jig a reliable choice for basic jig fishing in rock, wood, and even grass.

How To Fish

Skip this jig under docks, pull it through grass and wooded cover, or even fish it in open water. To take its skipping game to the next level, fish this jig with a flat, streamlined chunk trailer such as the Zoom Super Chunk!

5. The Flipping Jig

The flipping jig is a beast, crafted to tear through heavy cover while keeping the hook from snagging.

Heavy grass, rocks and submerged wood are this jig’s specialty.

The weed guard is stiffer than that of its counterparts and the hook is much thicker and larger. This jig typically weighs in at ⅜ – 1 oz. 

Creatures, craws, and chunks are great trailers for this jig. The bulky profile of these trailers helps fish notice the jig more as it bounces around in heavy cover.

How To Fish

When you fish a flipping jig, you will want to use heavier line and a fast reel for optimal success. The heavier tackle helps muscle fish out of weeds, removing any concern that the fish will tangle up the line in the thick cover.

Cast around heavy cover, let this jig sink, and then give the jig a few upward yanks. If you don’t get a bite, reel in and repeat.

Recommended Flipping Jigs

Buckeye Lures 👉 Mop Jig
Missile Jigs 👉 Mini Flip Jig

6. The Casting Jig

The casting jig is like a flipping jig but lighter in weight, normally in the ballpark of 3/16 – ⅝.

It has a round head and a flat underside. This jig can be flipped, skipped, and can be fished in open water.

How To Fish

At its best, it shines when tugged around rocky slopes and ledges. When on a lake, look for points of land thrusting out into the lake. Cast the jig at various angles close to the point, and slowly reel it back in, pausing and twitching the jig at various times along the way. Look to pair this jig with creatures, grubs and craws for an optimal presentation.

Recommended Casting Jigs

6th Sense Fishing 👉 Divine Hybrid Jig

IV. Plastic Trailers for Bass Jigs

A jig trailer adds considerable color, bulk, and action to a bass jig.

In fact, you can give a jig a totally different appearance merely by swapping out which trailer you’re using!

These are the 5 types of trailers to consider, each with different strengths and weaknesses.

1. Chunk Trailers

The chunk was the first trailer made for jig fishing. Early chunk trailers were made with pork, a material that is not only buoyant but remarkably tough and flavorful. 

These trailers were incredibly popular and, although pork has since been substituted for plastic, they remain a constant in the tackle boxes of anglers everywhere.

Chunk trailers are best for presentations where little action is desired. 

Indeed, the large chunky body creates a fantastic profile that resembles crawfish and baitfish alike. With that said, chunk trailers do not have much action underwater. Rather than flap or kick, they impart a subtle gliding action as the jig falls.

This subtle action makes chunk trailers a great option spring through winter, and any time when the bite seems particularly tough.

This classic trailer provides a great profile for finesse jigs, football jigs, and any other jig type!

2. Craw Trailers

Craw trailers, in contrast, bear a closer resemblance to crawfish than even chunk trailers do.

These trailers come in two varieties – those with flappers and those with realistic claws.

Craw with flappers, such as the Strike King Rage Craw, generate tons of action as they are retrieved in the water. The powerful flapping of these claws triggers hungry bass to strike, making them a perfect trailer for times when bass are actively feeding.

In comparison, craws with realistic claws have little action, but look more like an actual crawfish. These trailers are best for clear water conditions, when bass are feeding by sight. The subtle action of these trailers also makes them very effective on days when the bite is slow and bass are not actively feeding.

As with chunk trailers, craw trailers make great sidekicks for any of the 6 jig types.

3. Beaver Trailers

Beaver trailers exploded onto the fishing scene within the last few decades.

Whereas many trailers focus on providing lots of action, the beaver trailer instead offers plenty of bulk. 

Indeed, the little appendages move very little underwater. However, the fat body of a beaver bait stands out like a chunky snack to any bass cruising by.

Beaver baits are great options for both thick cover and dirty water. The streamlined shape of the bait allows it to slide in and out of cover with ease. In addition to that, the beaver’s thick bulk makes it stand out so bass can actually see it.

As such, beaver baits are a great option for most jigs, but they are particularly effective when paired with a flipping jig and fished in heavy cover.

4. Paddletail Swimbait Trailers

Paddletail trailers embody yet another totally different kind of bass forage – baitfish and bluegill! 

These trailers typically consist of a long slender body and a boot-shaped tail section. This shape allows the bait to kick and thump on the retrieve, which makes them particularly appealing to anglers who use a swimming retrieve with their jigs.

Since these trailers are best used with a swimming retrieve, they pair beautifully with swim jigs in open water and around grass patches during times when bass are hungry and actively looking for a meal.

Popular paddletail swimbait trailers

5. Grub Trailers

Grub trailers, like chunks, are classic jig trailers that have been catching fish for decades.

black micro bass jig with a baby goat jig trailer

Unlike chunks, however, grubs have a streamlined segmented body and two thin tails that vibrate rapidly on the retrieve.

This slim, subtle profile is effective much of the year, but is particularly deadly in the winter when bass are lethargic and do not feed as aggressively.

As such, I use grubs a lot with finesse jigs, when I am fishing creeks or when the bite is slow.

With that said, grubs also pair terrifically with football jigs and arky jigs.

V. How To Make Bass Jigs

One of my favorite things about bass jigs is that they offer endless options for customization! This section will reveal how straightforward (and gratifying) it is to build custom bass jigs to match your personal style of fishing.

First off, let’s go over the materials you will need to build your own custom jigs.

Materials

(Click on each item to view its product page.)

Lead Pot ➡️ 4 lb Lee lead pot or the 10 lb Lee bottom-pour lead pot

Ladle ➡️ Small ladle from Barlow’s Tackle

Lead ➡️ Soft lead from Barlow’s Tackle

Jig Mold ➡️ Do-It round head jig mold with weedguard

Jig Hooks (Pick One)

Powder Paint ➡️ CS Coatings Protec Powder Paint in Coppermine color

Blue Skirt Material ➡️ Pale Blue Pepper Silicone Material

Orange Skirt Material ➡️ Nature’s Edge Orange Silicone Material

Brown Skirt Material ➡️ Brown Silicone Material

Artistic Wire ➡️ For the skirt collar

Weedguard ➡️ Brown FG-12 weedguard

Loctite Super Glue ➡️ For gluing in the weedguard

There are 4 main steps to building your own bass jigs.

  1. Pour the jig
  2. Paint the jig
  3. Tie the skirt
  4. Attach the weedguard

1. Pour the jig

Safety first

Although this is a straightforward process, I always follow basic safety procedures, especially when working with hot lead. 

I start with putting on a mask, safety glasses, and welder’s gloves. 

I also make sure the lead pot is safely sheltered from any source of water. 

Water combined with hot lead is not safe and can lead to miniature explosions! This is easily avoided by working in a dry garage, basement, or other roofed structure free from the elements.

Pour the lead

To melt the lead, I turn on the lead pot and carefully place the lead inside. Lead doesn’t melt until it reaches roughly 620 degrees, so the lead pot must get very hot to do its job. 

While the lead is melting, I place the lead mold over the top of the pot. This warms up the mold, which allows lead to flow more easily during the pour.

Once the lead is properly melted, the pouring process is very straightforward. 

My ballhead jig mold has slots for 1/32, 1/16, ⅛, ¼, and 3⁄8 ounce jigs. The lead mold has information stamped on it, telling what slot is for which size and also which hook size is recommended for each slot.

Ballhead Jig Mold Slots

Since this will be a 1/8 oz jig, I use a size 1/0 jig hook. The particular hook I am using for this build is a quality Victory 10575BN, which is a 90 degree light wire hook perfect for light tackle fishing.

See Related: Why The Jig Hook Is The Most Important Part Of A Bass Jig

When I go to pour the jig, I place the jig hook into its slot and shut the mold tightly closed.

Jig mold with drill bit and round bend hook in the slots

Carefully scoop hot lead with the ladle and slowly pour the hot lead into the hole in the top of the mold. 

The lead quickly fills the slot and cools so rapidly that I am able to open the mold and pull out the freshly molded jig within several seconds.

2. Paint the jig

Once the lead has been molded onto the jig hook, the jig is almost ready to be painted. 

Clean up the jig head

First comes the matter of removing the excess lead off of the jig head. This excess – where lead filled the slot hole during the pour – is called the sprue

unpainted jig with sprue

To remove the sprue, I carefully take needle-nose pliers, grab the sprue, and wiggle it back and forth until it pops off the jig head.

Once the sprue is off, look over the jig head and gently file off any burs on the head with a metal file. Once the lead head is all cleaned up and looking good, the jig head is ready to be painted.

Heat up the jighead

A heat source is very necessary for painting jigs. Some baitmakers use a lighter, toaster oven, or a propane torch to heat up the jig heads for painting. 

For me, heat guns are the simplest and easiest way to heat up jig heads.

With the heat gun running, I grab the jig by the hook with a pair of needle-nose pliers and begin to rotate it over the heat gun. 

jig being heated over heat gun

You will need to experiment to know how long to heat the jig head for the powder paint to stick.

Usually, I can tell I’ve overheated a jig if the powder appears to be globbed heavily onto the head after I’ve dipped it in the powder paint.

Too little heat means the powder paint won’t stick. This is easily identified by patches on the jig head where the lead can still be seen peeking through the powder.

 For these ⅛ ounce jigs, I heat up the jighead for about 10 seconds to get an even paint finish.

Dip the jighead in the powder paint

After the 10 seconds are up, I swiftly dip the hot jig into the jar of powder paint, quickly swishing back and forth so the loose powder can stick onto the hot lead. The whole process takes but a few brief seconds, and then the jig is back out of the paint jar.

In my humble opinion, few powder paints are better than Protec Powder Paint by CS Coatings

Though inexpensive, their powder paints are offered in a charming myriad of colors and have all the quality you will ever need in a jig powder paint.

Coppermine Protec Powder Paint

After applying a coat of powder paint, I take a drill bit and clean out the weedguard hole. This keeps the hole clear and clean so the weedguard can be added later. 

Some jig makers insert a Teflon pin into the weedguard hole to keep paint from filling the hole in while painting. However, few Teflon pins can be found for a jig this small, so I have chosen instead to manually clean out the hole with the drill bit.

Then, I take an extra jig hook or an eye buster tool and clean out the hook eye. 

Clean hook eyes are not merely an aesthetic preference – paint in the eye can harden and induce wear on the angler’s fishing line.

Once the hook eye is clean, it’s back to the heat gun for the jig. 10 to 15 more seconds is all most lure makers will ever need to have a quality paint finish on their jigs.

Optional step: bake the jigs for better durability

If you want your paint jobs to be extra durable, take the extra step of baking them in a toaster oven for 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

ballhead jigs in a toaster oven

This step is a little extra work, but the end result is well worth it; the paint finish becomes rock hard. To this day I have not chipped the paint on a single jig that I have painted and baked in the toaster oven.

3. Tie The Jig

Now we get to add some color flair to this jig!

Today’s jig build will use a color combo I call “Molting Lava Craw.”

Molting Lava Craw

  • 10 strands of light blue silicone material
  • 10 strands of brown silicone material
  • 20 strands of Nature’s Edge orange silicone material

To tie the skirt onto the jig, first I cut off about 3 inches of artistic wire and lay it flat. This wire is what will attach the skirt securely to the jig.

wire laid out on a wood background

Now I lay out the skirt material on top of the wire. The blue and orange layers for the bottom of the jig will be placed first.

orange and blue skirt material and a wire laid out on a wood background

Next, I place the jig on top of the skirt material and the wire. Make sure the wire is aligned just below the round head of the jig.

wire and orange and blue silicone skirt material laid out underneath a ballhead jig

Once the jig is correctly placed, put the brown silicone carefully on the top of the jig.

wire and silicone skirt material laid out underneath a ballhead jig

Now we are ready to cinch the skirt material onto the jig.

Carefully wrap the wire two times around the collar of the jig.

Before pulling the wire tight, be sure to adjust the silicone as needed so it is equally distributed around the jig.

closeup of a wire collar getting tied on a bass jig

Using needle nose pliers, grab the two ends of the wire and pull it tight. 

Once I’ve done that, I use the pliers to twist the two ends together. As I do so, I periodically pull the twist to further tighten the wire around the jig collar.

closeup of a wire collar getting trimmed on a bass jig

Once the twisted wire is snug up against the jig collar, trim the twisted wire so it is ¼” long. Once the twisted wire is trimmed down, I use pliers to pinch it against the wire wraps so the twist blends in.

Now, all that’s left is to cut off the tabs at the end of the skirt material. 

silicone skirt tabs getting cut by scissors

The skirt is now tied!

4. Attach The Weedguard To The Jig

The last step to making a bass jig is attaching the weedguard. 

Attaching the weedguard is very simple.

First, I squeeze a small drop of Loctite super glue into the weedguard hole on the jig head.

closeup of a bass jig's weedguard hole

Then, I gingerly push the weedguard into the hole. Weedguards come with one end glued together – make sure to insert this end into the hole.

After several minutes, the super glue will have set. At this point, you can use a pair of scissors to trim the weedguard to whatever length you would like.

an orange and blue micro bass jig

Now you have a fishable bass jig!

Recap

We’ve covered a lot of information in this article about bass jigs.

Quick recap!

You learned that bass jigs come with some amazing perks. Not only do they catch big bass, but they catch bass all year long!

I also unveiled 6 different jig types for you to choose from. No matter if you prefer to power fish in thick grass or finesse fish in deep water, these 6 jigs guarantee that you will find a jig that matches your personal fishing style.

You also got a close up look at jig trailers, as I revealed the different kinds of trailers and the specific conditions each trailer is best for.

Last but not least, I brought you with me as I crafted a custom bass jig. In doing so, I revealed to you the ins and the outs of custom jig making, and how you can make them yourself!

Conclusion: Bass Jigs – A Complete Guide To The Best Bass Lure

Now that we’ve explored the many facets of bass jigs, it’s time to take action and experience the unparalleled success they can bring to your fishing!

Armed with the knowledge gained from this complete guide, you are now well able to fish with jigs and even make your own jigs. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, jigs will catch you tons of fish. 

So get out there, tie on a bass jig, and let it work its magic!

Have you had much success with jigs? Tell me what your favorite jigs are and if you’ve ever made your own!
Send me an email at blaine@jigisuplurecraft.com or leave a comment below.

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