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Go big or stay home

By Captain Ernest Miller

Is it true that going as light as possible when fishing jigs is the best way to go ? It sure can be but it’s not the case all the time. Sometimes a walleye will draw in water in a subtly manner to feed. Mostly when they aren’t actively feeding. We all know that’s the case more often than not. The heavier the jig the harder a fish has to draw to bring the bait into it’s mouth. Using the lightest jig possible in this instance is your best bet.
Captain Ernest Miller with a nice walleye I’ve found it’s most critical when pitching digs in areas where there is little to no current .In this situation fishing a slower action rod with a soft tip works best. Complementing your soft rod with monofilament is a good fit. You want the fish to pick the jig up and take it in before your able to pull it away. By lessoning the sensitivity of the line and using a softer rod the fish has to take it more before you will react.
Spring time on the other hand presents a common scenario. Current is where most anglers are focusing there time. Fisherman are looking for numbers of fish. That usually means river systems with lots of structure. Fisherman are targeting migrating walleye in their spawning runs. Fish are driven by current but happy to hold up where ever they can with out having to fit it.
The more bottom structure the better.
When the water isn’t dirty vertical jigging is by far the most effective presentation for fishing rivers in the spring time. Especially when the depth varies and the bottom consist of a good deal of structure. This by the way is some of the best areas for holding fish. There are two keys to being effective when jigging. The first is staying vertical and the second is knowing exactly where your jig is in relationship to the bottom. Other factors include rod sensitivity and line make up.
Another nice walleye comes to the boat Many Experts will say boat control is the key to staying vertical and their absolutely correct. One problem with that is you have little control over your learning curve. Another issue is weather what if you just can’t keep the boat under control. What options do you have if you don’t posses good enough boat control skills? The easiest thing to do is add weight by using a bigger jig. It’s common for the person controlling the trolling motor to have a good feel while their partner is struggling to stay in tune with where they are. The person on the motor has insight to there next move before they make it while everyone else is flying blind.
A good rule of thumb is everyone in the boat uses a bigger jig than the person on the motor.
Staying vertical does two things. The first is it keeps you from dragging your bait into and across snags as you float with the current. The second thing is it gives you a point to measure from. As you set your bait down to feel bottom only to lift it up again. Odds are your setting your bait on the structure only to lift it over as you drift down. If your line isn’t vertical instead of lifting up and over you’re pulling into the structure. As you lift you can visually gage how far from bottom you are. The most common mistake is a rapid jigging motion with no consistency. When the fish are tight to bottom to get out of the current random pulls lesson the time the bait is in the strike zone. Ideally the motion you want is to just touch bottom only to lift and hold with in six inches of bottom. After holding the bait in place for a few moments follow your bait to the bottom only to briefly touch to find bottom and gage you next lift. The longer you can hold it with in a few inches of bottom the more often the fish with see your presentation.
Unlike pitching jigs fish in current only get one look as your presentation goes buy. Stuck tight to bottom in current breaks walleye’s are presented with quick opportunities to decide. This type of strike is less vulnerable to a heavier jig being to heavy to take in. The fish is going to commit or he is going to slash at it and short strike. If short strikes are a problem pull out the stinger hooks. With the lifting action as apposed to a random jigging pattern stinger hooks tangle very little. It’s very rare that the random snapping of a jig in current is the key to fish striking. More likely than not it’s keeping your bait right in the fishes face for longer periods of time.
There are other options that you can control that complement a heavier jig. Small diameter no stretch lines such as 2-10 Power Pro. The smaller diameter line has less resistance and transfers energy better than mono. Both together make it easier to feel bottom. Complement that with a high modulus graphite rod such as the 5’9” jigging rod made by Jason Mitchell Elite series rods. Both together conduct as high of a percentage of energy into fell as you could hope for. This can allow you to use a lighter jig as you can feel bottom much easier. A great advantage to this sensitive equipment is you feel the fish as soon as your offering is touched. Allowing no delay between when the fish bites and the feel in your hand. The only delay you might find is with your reaction time. If that’s the case you can keep practicing, go big or go home.

A heavier jig helps you feel bottom better, stay vertical more often and helps with snagging less. The three of these advantages together add up to tremendous advantages. If nothing else you’ll loose less jigs.

Additional Suggestions
Go to a heavier jig when adding plastic bodies to your jig when fishing current .
When water is stained or dirty add a soft plastic with a paddle style tail like Bass Assassins Sea Shad to create vibration.

Written By Ernest Miller
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