(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.)
When Tommy Biffle introduced the swing-head jig to the bass fishing world in 2010, few anglers realized how deadly it could be, and nearly a decade later it’s still misunderstood by many of us. Mark Zona has experimented extensively with it all over the country and is acutely aware that there are times when it’ll outfish a Texas Rig, Carolina Rig, or football jig – if you use it right.
“I throw this thing a ton,” he said. “A lot of the guys I fish with throw this thing a ton. They just don’t talk about it.”
While other soft plastics presentations have their time and place, one advantage of the swing football head is that “you can cover an enormous amount of water.” Zona also believes that it consistently catches bigger than average fish.
His preferred model is the Strike King Tour Grade Tungsten Swing Football Head, which he believes offers several advantages. First, tungsten is far superior to lead for this purpose. “That tungsten is like a telegraph that I can feel the bottom,” he said, whereas lead is like reeling in a rag. Also, it allows him to tailor his hook choice to the particular fishery, cover and soft plastic. He generally employs a 3/0, 4/0 or 5/0 Trokar Mag Worm Hook.
One key with the hook is to bend it out slightly and then pivot the point right or left. “That one degree will help you hook that fish,” he said.
Another key strategy is to delay your hook set. When you feel the fish running with the lure, just keep reeling. He doesn’t want to drop it. “They’ll hit it and they’ll swim with you,” he said. When the fish finally makes a turn to the left or right, that’s when you hit him. This is when the high-speed reel becomes critical, because it allows you to gather up line quickly on a hard-charging fish.
He fishes it on a 7’4” Daiwa Tatula Frog Rod, a high speed reel with a 150-sized spool, and 17- or 20-pound fluorocarbon. He’ll generally use a half-ounce weight in water less than 10 feet deep, 3/4-ounce in water 10 to 20 feet deep and 1-ounce in anything deeper than 20. That means he’s in the 3/4-ounce range most of the time. He keeps his lure choices simple – a 10-inch worm, a Rage Menace Grub and a Rage Bug fit the bill almost all the time.
This is typically not an effective approach where the bottom is soft or mucky. Zona likes it in hard-bottom situations, specifically where there is rock, gravel or shell to feel, and the tungsten helps him discern which one it is.
“I want to feel that crunch on the bottom,” he said.
If you want to learn some of Zona’s additional tips for maximizing your wobble-head success, including the only type of grass where he’ll employ it (in every other “it’s fairly useless"), check out his full on-the-water video, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.