Frosty jigs — Fishing pros share tips on how to catch winter bass with jigs

When water temperatures fall, bass become lazy and less aggressive. That makes a jig the perfect tool, if you understand the best presentations. Here are some pro thoughts.

When the cold months result in bass that favor easily captured meals over more-mobile finned forage, jigs of various styles and sizes provide options.

For Bassmaster Elite Series pro Brett Hite, one of the key elements to success is slowing down and fishing more methodically.

“This is the season when I turn to a jig because you get into that time frame when the fish typically want to eat one big meal rather than chasing around a bunch of shad,” Hite said.

As with any pursuit, digging deeper into a premise often delivers greater consistency — if for no other reason than trial and error.

Let’s look at a few areas in which you can dial in your winter jig game.

Portion control

Jig weight is largely determined by depth, and in most Louisiana waters a ½- to ¾-ounce flipping jig will get the job done.

But whatever size you choose, give some thought to what’s on the back end.

“My main choice for a flipping jig trailer is the 4-inch medium Yamamoto Craw, but if I want to condense my bait profile for more of a finesse presentation, I might go to the 3 ¾-inch Yamamoto Baby Fat Craw,” Hite said. “If I’m fishing weed mats or grass this time of year, I want a nice, compact trailer so my jig doesn’t get hung up a lot.”

When he wants more action in his presentation, Hite goes with the 5-inch Yamamoto Double Tail Grub. And, if he feels the need to spice things up a bit more, he’ll even put a Yamamoto Flappin’ Hog on his flipping jig for a more active display; tearing off a couple of the side appendages streamlines the profile and keeps the skirt from bulking unnaturally.

Despite the logic of feeding winter bass one big meal, there will be times — particularly in those dreaded post-frontal conditions — when downsizing takes precedence.

FLW Tour pro Andrew Upshaw approaches tough winter bass by pitching a finesse jig — a compact bait with a lighter head and shorter hook that’s more likely to tempt a lethargic bass.

Such jigs, along with shaky heads toting skinny finesse worms, can prove highly productive for probing docks and wood when post-frontal bass snub full size jigs.

Think of it like bringing meals to a flu-stricken family member. They need to eat, but they’re just not going to finish an entire sandwich in one go.

The answer? Cut that BLT into quarters and feed them a little at a time.

Skirt scheme

Now, whether or not you step down in jig size, you can whittle away at the overall profile by removing a few skirt strands or trimming the length.

Finesse jigs are often pretrimmed, but even full-size flipping jigs can benefit from skirt reduction.

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jason Christie starts by holding his jig vertically and pinching the skirt between his index and middle finger (similar to a barber trimming your hair), and snips the strands just about even with the hook bend.

This reduces the profile and frees up even a subtle trailer for more visual appeal.

“If I stop there, that doesn’t look very good, so the next thing I do is trim the sides of that skirt at an angle,” Christie said. “Now, that gives me a compact skirt that flares outward.”

The total package

For optimal jig performance, Christie said pairing the right type of trailer with the appropriate skirt length helps achieve the appropriate fall rate for his winter presentations.

Specifically, warming trends might energize bass enough for them to snap at quickly descending meals, but shivering fish will simply watch the fast food fall past them.

In the latter case, slowing the fall rate is what you want.

Generally, your thinner trailers create less water drag than a bulkier chunk-style trailer. Taking that into consideration, the Oklahoma pro often uses a full jig skirt with a YUM Craw Chunk when he knows the fish are lethargic.

However, if a pleasant spell has them frisky, a trimmed-down skirt with the more-streamlined YUM Christie Craw gives him a peppier package that flares nicely and has just the right amount of trailer wiggle.

“I like the Craw Chunk when the water is cold because I don’t want a lot of movement,” Christie said. “With the Christie Craw, it’s the opposite: It has a good profile with the right amount of movement.”

Sometimes Bassmaster Elite Series pro Timmy Horton wants the enticing action of a Klone Crawsome, but the 4-inch trailer might be a little long for the winter package he’s trying to present. The easy solution is to bite about an inch off the body.

Similarly, Upshaw lessens his finesse jig’s length by removing the tail of his Biffle Bug Jr. trailer.

Clearly, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for winter jigging, but play around with the different elements and you’ll dial in a package that fits the day’s scenario.

About David A. Brown 323 Articles
A full-time freelance writer specializing in sport fishing, David A. Brown splits his time between journalism and marketing communications

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