(Editor's note: The following is the latest installment in a series of fishing tips presented by The Bass University. Check back each Friday for a new tip.)
Jason Christie grew up fishing the Oklahoma mud, where a hard-thumping spinnerbait was king. He never let it go, but about a decade ago he added another tool to his arsenal, the vibrating jig, and over time he's developed a system for when to use one over the other.
They're like "cousins" he explained, but there are enough differences that it pays to use each one under specific circumstance. "Both have their place," and he learned early on that sometimes the fish distinctly prefer one over the other. In fact, his first weekend of fishing the vibrating jig he went from getting four or five bites a day on the spinnerbait to 20-plus on a vibrating jig. He recalled that the water had cleared up, and he couldn't make a spinnerbait go fast enough or create enough deflection to generate strikes.
The two factors that determine which one he uses are water temperature and water clarity. In colder water he prefers the spinnerbait, and he noted that it comes through wood better. It allows him to control the vibration more successfully, too. On the other hand, it's harder to get reaction bites with one. You need to work harder, pumping the rod to make the skirt flare, to get a triggering action. Additionally, it's less weedless in many types of grass.
He rarely uses a spinnerbait that's under 1/2-ounce, and prefers gold blades in off-colored water, then transitioning to some or all silver as the water clears. He uses a red kicker blade in dirty water, and in true chocolate milk he likes a black skirt with a gold blade to maximize visibility.
The vibrating jig, like the Booyah models he prefers, have their time and place as well. "If you're not throwing this bait, I think you're hurting yourself," he said. "It attracts big ones." He likes it when the water is semi-clear or clear, because he can fish it faster than a spinnerbait. It's exceptional in grass, especially when ripped free after getting hung, and it rarely gets as bogged down as the lipless cranks that excel in the same situations.
He'll use a 3/8- or 1/2-unce model the vast majority of the time, but when he really wants to burn his vibrating jig he'll upsize to a 3/4-unce version. The disadvantages of this style of bait is that it "hates wood" and it's harder to wake.
He throws both lures on 6'10" Falcon Rods with a soft tip - going up to a 7'3" model in Florida, and he spools his reels with 22-pound Sunline fluorocarbon most of the time. That heavy line prevents him from breaking fish off on the hookset and the soft tip allows them to engulf it fully. Unlike many pros who use high-speed reels almost exclusively, Christie likes a 5.4:1 for his spinnerbaits year-round, and starts with that same reel on the bladed jig before transitioning to a 6.8:1 as it warms up. The only time he typically goes faster is when burning a spinnerbait for northern smallies in the summer.
If you want to learn some of the other keys to Christie's system for shallow-water moving baits, including when and where he uses a red kicker blade, but why he won't often use a single red blade, check out his full video, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.