The action of a swing-head jig might be footloose and fancy free, but tackle considerations are firmly rooted in a disciplined approach to effective presentations.
Starting with his line, Toledo Bend guide Stephen Johnston said fluorocarbon is essential for this game. He likes 16- to 20-pound Seaguar.
But, while fluoro’s tough, abrasion-resistant composition and its nearly invisible nature certainly help the game, it’s the line’s aqua dynamics that mean the most.
“Fluorocarbon is key because it sinks, and you always want to keep that bait on the bottom,” Johnston said.
As for the proper tackle, Johnston goes with a 7-foot, 6-inch medium-heavy rod for the right balance of castability and fish-pulling power.
On the reel, Johnston goes 6.2:1. Some might opt for a 7:1 ration with the logic that it provides faster wind-ups, but Johnston said that’s a minimal benefit with potentially adverse side effects when he’s looking for a creeping presentation.
“I use a 6.2:1 gear ratio to make myself reel slowly,” he explained. “If you have a 7:1, you have a tendency to work the bait too fast and the bait will come up off the bottom.
FLW Tour pro Andrew Upshaw often races his Gene Larew Hardhead across the bottom to trigger reaction strikes, so his choice is a 7:5:1 Team Lew’s Lite reel on a 7-foot, 3-inch Lew’s Custom Speed Stick Football Jig rod and 15-pound fluoro.
“Although many like using 20-pound line, I personally go a little lighter so I can reel my bait better,” Upshaw said.
On the hook set, Upshaw offered a little advice.
“Anytime you feel a thump or you feel the Hardhead lift off the bottom, you have a fish,” he said. “I set the hook to the side, sweeping it hard. The 7:5:1 gear ratio is very important in taking up slacked line to hit the fish hard enough.”