Lift, drop, lift, drop … Pow! That’s what makes jig fishing for walleyes so addictive. That instant gratification when fish connects to lure. The connection that telegraphs an unmistakable thump to the angler’s touch. It’s the closest thing to hand-to-hand combat that there is in walleye fishing. The amazing thing is how basically simple the jig is: lead and steel, common materials, brought to life by the magic of an anglers hand. This article will explore the "magic" and the ideology behind the jigging presentation that can often make the difference between getting a bite and going home skunked.
I have spent many hours over the years fishing along side some of the walleye world’s best jiggers. Some days I’ve been able to hold my own … other days I’ve been put to shame. But on every outing there was learning ... the kind of in-depth angling brain food that can only be passed by those that truly know what makes a jig work … what makes the seemingly simple jig, not so simple after all.
I recently did an informal poll of some of the better jig fishermen I know to get their thoughts. The targets of this inquiry included the 2004 PWT Angler of the Year, Tommy Skarlis of Walker, Minnesota, an angler well known among walleye fishing enthusiasts as a true "jig master", Daryl Christianson of Montello, Wisconsin and Hall of Fame Legendary Angler Gary Parsons of Glidden, Wisconsin. My questions were few but poignant: 1. "What is your favorite jig style for vertical jigging techniques?" 2. "What’s your favorite jig style for pitching scenarios?" and, 3. "If you could fish with only one jig, what would it be?"
On the subject of jigs for vertical jigging, the consensus was that jigs with long-shanked hooks were the hands-down favorite. "You don’t want the fish grabbing the jig by the head … that’s #1." Says Christianson, "I think that’s what happens a lot when you get a bite on a jig and miss the fish … he’s just grabbed the head of the jig and missed the hook. A long-shanked jig gives you a better hook for threading the bait on, and keeps it away from the head of the jig cutting down on missed fish." Gary added that the physics involved in a vertical hook set have much to do with why a long-shanked jig is better in this scenario. "When you set the hook vertically, a long-shanked jig provides a cam action that drives the hook point into the roof of the fish’s mouth. With a short-shanked jig, there’s less hook in the fish’s mouth upon the hook set and a much greater chance that the jig will be pulled out before the hook hits flesh."
I also learned that a jig’s head design plays a large role in the angler’s hooking percentage. Parsons explained "If you have done any amount of jig fishing for walleyes, you have no doubt found that as many as half your bites come as the jig is on the bottom. A stand-up or semi-stand-up style jig head, like that found on the XPS Walleye Angler Jigs, positions the hook and the bait so that it’s much easier for the walleye to see