(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.)
A jig is known as a big-fish bait, but the same characteristics that make bulky versions excel also work with downsized options. That’s especially true under adverse conditions and it’s one of the reasons that Bryan Thrift has integrated finesse football jigs into his regular rotation.
“It’s something that gets a lot of bites in a lot of different pressured situations,” he said. They especially shine in offshore scenarios on hard structure.
That led the North Carolina pro to develop his own signature series jig for Fitzgerald Fishing. It comes in 3/8-, 1/2- and 3/4-ounce sizes and distinguishes itself with a hand-tied skirt, an effective keeper, a light weed guard and a light-wire 3/0 Mustad hook. They also used finesse silicone for the skirt.
He and Fitzgerald also developed a signature rod for the technique. “I want a long rod with a soft tip,” he explained. That’ll prevent him from breaking his 10- and 12-pound P-Line Tactical fluorocarbon on the hookset. The rod is 7’3” with a medium action. He pairs it with a 7.3:1 Abu-Garcia Revo STX. “It’s slow enough that I can do everything I want to do . but it’s also fast enough that if I make a super-long cast and I’m ready to wind it in I can get that bait back to the boat quickly and make another cast.”
Thrift varies his trailers according to the type of forage he expects bass to be feeding upon, and how active the fish are. When he believes they’re eating crawfish but don’t want a lot of action, a 3-inch Damiki Air Craw gets the nod. If he’s winding it a little faster (wobble-head style retrieve) and wants something that’ll kick, he replaces the Air Craw with a Baby Rage Craw.
If bass are feeding on shad, other baitfish or young-of-the-year bluegills, he’ll switch to a 3-inch Damiki Armor Shad. One place that many anglers might not think to use this technique, but where Thrift finds that it excels, is when bass are chewing on gobies on the Great Lakes. That led him to experiment with a number of trailers with thick heads and narrow tails. Eventually he settled on the 4-inch Damiki Stinger. He cuts a half-inch or so off of the head and then threads it on the hook. “This is going to give you an awesome goby profile,” he said.
He employs a number of different techniques with the micro football jig, but as a general rule he prefers to stay low in the water column.
“I want this jig to maintain bottom contact pretty much all the time unless I hop it real high off the bottom or something like that,” he said. When fish are lethargic, a slow, steady drag usually works best. “I want to count every rock.”
If you want to learn some of the other aspects of Thrift’s micro football jig expertise, including some of his retrieve variations not mentioned above, check out his full video filmed on the water, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.