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Tackle & Techniques – Jigging deep weeds

Tackle & Techniques – Jigging deep weeds

Aug 16, 2013

Heavy Rigging for Grass Flat Bass Part 1: The Big Jig and Pig

By Mike Pehanich

Try deep jigging with heavy jigs and pork trailers during the dog days of late summer to call big bass from the deep weed flats. See exclusive SWF videos below.

Lots of bass anglers curse the “doldrums” of mid- to late summer. Unlike the shallow bass of spring and the hungry bass of early summer, August bass often take up residence in hard-to-reach cover and structure during these so-called “dog days.”

Bass of late summer aren’t hard to find, particularly on small waters. But they can be hard to reach – unless you’re armed with tools to pry them from their lairs!

Jigging with 3/4- and one-ounce jigs like the Kalin's Grass Stalker and tough pork trailers enables you to fish aggressively and draw reaction strike from bass in hard-to-reach vegetation on deep flats and drop-offs.

The bass of the deep grass

On many natural lakes and impoundments with healthy vegetation, late summer bass take shelter on the grass flats, weed edges and tapering breaklines where much of the deepest vegetation grows.

Dialing in bass in such areas can make the difference when it comes to weighing in a limit or bringing the “Big Bass” award home from your weekend tournament. Some of the best grass locations, however, can be among the hardest to fish.

The grass

I joined Matt Bichanich, head of marketing for Uncle Josh Bait Company, on a Small Waters Fishing video shoot recently, fishing  grass flats on natural lakes in the area of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, We found bass in prime fish-holding areas so typical of this late summer season and had the hardware and trailers to catch them.

Our first productive location featured sand grass, cabbage, and coontail, three types of vegetation common to lakes in the upper Midwest. Although the grass was abundant, it did not grow in impenetrable jungles but in patches and with only a moderate amount of the kind of moss or slimy algae that can discourage many types of presentations.

These were ideal conditions for triggering reaction strikes with heavy Uncle Josh “jig-and-pig” combinations and bullet-weighted Texas-rigged tubes.

The jigs

Jigs of ¾-ounce or more seem excessive to many anglers, but “heavyweights” get down into, between or just above the grass patches where summer bass reside. Not only do they get into the “fish zone” quickly, but they will rip free from grass stalks, and trigger strikes in the process – provided you fish them with the proper tackle!

“When I’m fishing around docks or boat decks, I am fishing a 3/8-ounce jig, but the first thing I do when I come out to eight- to 13 feet is step up to a ¾- to one-ounce jig,” explained Bichanich as he tied on a one-ounce Kalin’s Grass Stalker jig. “The 3/4- and one-ounce jigs are the two best sizes for working these areas. They allow the jig to penetrate deep, thick vegetation and to draw a reaction strike.”

Learn how to work this heavy jig and pork technique in thick vegetation in this exclusive SWF video

httpvh://youtu.be/Hx-97ficnSU

The head on a good “weedless” jig like the Grass Stalker has an effective weedguard and few exposed areas other than the hook eye to latch on to vegetation. Heavy ¾- and one-ounce jigs get into the strike zone fast and often trigger bites with their rapid descent.

“I choose these big jigs because I want a reaction bite,” says Bichanich. “I want it to fall real quickly. Then I will pop it in the weeds. That’s when you get a reaction bite. Whether those fish are lethargic or aggressive, that fast fall should trigger some bites.”

The trailers

We triggered bass from two- to nearly five pounds on the jigs, using two Uncle Josh pork trailers. The heavy jigs dropped fast. When they hit bottom or vegetation, one or two quick “pops” with the rod tip ripped them free – and often prompted strikes!

Matt preferred the big profile of the big Kalin’s Grass Stalker Jig and Uncle Josh #10  Big Daddy Pork Frog. The durability of this skin-on traditional pork bait also allowed him to fish the bait extremely aggressively.

“Nothing beats ‘old school’ pork for this kind of presentation,” he said. “I can rip it hard and not worry about it sliding down the hook shank or tearing off like plastic trailers do.”

Uncle Josh MEAT Frog

My trailer option was the Uncle Josh MEAT 2.5-inch Diamond Frog, a more buoyant bait that matched up with the jig in a more compact and integrated bait configuration but which dropped more slowly due to its 100 percent pork fat (i.e. “skinless”) composition.

Both combinations caught fish.

Other trailer options for this presentation include the Uncle Josh Jumbo Pork Frog (3-1/4” by 1-1/8”, packed in the traditional Uncle Josh jar), and the Uncle Josh MEAT Frog, Beaver and Craw. In moderate  vegetation, twintail grubs and other compact plastic trailers will also work.

Another option is to peg a heavy ¾- to one-ounce bullet nose sinker to a Texas-rigged tube jig – which is exactly what we did late in the day using 3.5-inch Kalin’s tubes and tungsten sinkers. Tungsten delivers added density in a small diameter sinker. The compact profile of this combination also penetrates the jungle well.  We fished it almost identically to the jig-and-pig combination with comparable results, though our biggest fish did come on the jig and Big Daddy pork tandem.

When do I jig heavy? How do I tease reaction strikes? Learn to fine tune your jig-and-pork presentation in deep grass in this part II video from SWF

httpvh://youtu.be/XdwhMhbIetI

Tackle and presentation

Select a rod designed for pitching heavy jigs – a heavy or medium heavy flipping stick with lots of backbone, and a baitcasting reel to crank big bass out of deep, thick grass.

“I use a 7-1/2 foot rod and 50-pound test braid,” adds Bichanich. “Braided line is a must. Vegetation can be thick on some of these deep flats, and you want to turn their heads instantly and get them out before they hang you up in the coontail or sand grass or whatever you are fishing.”

No need for long casts on the deep grass flats! A 15-yard pitch is usually enough. Allow the jig to fall fast, and watch your line as it falls. When the jig hits the grass, start working it – and don’t be afraid to be aggressive!

“If you don’t get hit on that initial fall with the heavy Grass Stalker jigs, you will probably be in the weeds,” says Bichanich. “Pop it! A lot of times that’s when you get hit!”

When the going gets tough in late summer, try this deadly technique. It just might be the “missing link” in your summer bass arsenal!

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