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Updated Aug 7, 2023 3:14 PM
There’s not much to a bass jig, they’re just a hook, a lead or tungsten head, and some type of skirting material, yet it’s perhaps the most universal lure. They work 12 months out of the year, in a wide variety of water clarities, all depths, and for every species of bass—yet if you don’t have the best possible jig for a particular situation, you’re leaving fish behind.
Legendary bass angler Denny Brauer, who made hundreds of thousands of dollars flipping a jig, frequently opined that he was only fishing for five bites a day, but they’re the right five bites. Yes, the jig is a big bass magnet, but it’s so much more: a limit-getter, a horizontal lure, one that can be cast, and one that can be flipped. They come through all kinds of cover with ease and replicate a wide range of forage. Find the right one, and you’ve got a ticket to excellence.
Here are some of the best bass jigs:
Why It Made the Cut
Made for the deep, thick grass of East Texas, but corrals giant bass everywhere they hide in thick cover.
- Beefy, tuna-style hook
- Classic range of colors
- Hand-tied skirt
- ½ through 1 ¼ ounce sizes
- Extra-stout hook holds up to hardest braided line hooksets
- Skirt resists unraveling
- Recessed line tie and thick weedguard come through vegetation especially well
- Those without a powerful hookset need not apply
The late bass pro Lonnie Stanley of East Texas possibly did more to move along jig specialization and skirt technology than anyone in bass fishing’s history. His namesake company, Stanley, continues that legacy with this true beast of a jig. It’s built around a Mustad “Skippy” hook originally constructed for tuna, and everything about it can withstand the shock and awe conditions of heavy cover. Tie one onto 50-, 65- or even 80-pound braid, and you can’t flex the hook or break any other part of the jig. That enables you to throw it into the heaviest grass, thickest brushpiles, and gnarly trash mats, and haul the bait—or a fish—out. Colors like Black Blue Firetip and Cajun Crawfish are standards, but Stanley has also conceived other killer colors, and the skirts stay put because they’re all hand-tied.
Why It Made the Cut
The brainchild of past Angler of the Year Greg Hackney penetrates heavy cover but doesn’t require braid to set the hook.
- 60 strand silicone skirt
- Corkscrew wire baitkeeper
- Thinner-diameter hook than those made for braid
- 3/8, ½, and ¾ ounce sizes
- Great color selection
- Smaller diameter hook penetrates with less effort
- Same weedguard as original Hack Attack jig
- You’ll probably need another jig if braid is required
Strike King makes a wide range of situationally-specific jigs tailored to the pros’ needs. Among them is the original Hack Attack jig, which withstands the hardest braided fishing line poundings. Sometimes, though, the same pointed head style is needed with a lighter hook, especially when using fluorocarbon. That’s where this jig gets the call, and I find it exceptional when flipping and pitching for pressured bass. Yes, you can use it with braid, but the one-two punch of this and the original are a deadly duo when switching back and forth between some of the best fishing lines for bass. I especially like the fact that Strike King has incorporated favorite regional colors into the lineup like Bama Craw, Okeechobee Craw, and Falcon Lake Craw, but it’s no secret that they don’t just work on their namesake lakes.
Why It Made the Cut
All of the power of a standard flipping jig in a downsized package that sneaks through the smallest openings.
- Downsized package made to get into thick cover
- Iaconelli-approved colors unique to Missile Jigs
- ¼, 3/8, and ½ ounce sizes
- Remarkably weedless due to specially-angled weedguard
- Compact profile falls faster than larger jigs of the same weight
- Fine cut skirt moves seductively
- Not available in heavier weights
This is another one of the best bass jigs made by the specifications of a noted pro, in this case, New Jersey’s Mike Laconelli, who was raised fishing the pressured waters of the northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. He used a prototype to win a Bassmaster tournament on the stingy Delaware River in 2014, and shortly after that, the product came to market. Because it packs substantial weight into a small profile, it’s easy to feel what the jig is doing, and it can be paired with a range of soft plastic trailers to adjust its fall rate. I’ve had solid success with this jig on both fluorocarbon and braided line on both tidal waters and in lakes, and while they have an ample selection of “standard” hues, I really like Brown Purple Passion and Sunfish IPA when I want my offering to stand out from everything else the bass have seen.
Why It Made the Cut
Thick-skirted mop jig provides a bulky offering in a bottom hopping bait, and provides great movement and allure even when sitting still.
- ½ and ¾ ounce sizes
- Heavy living rubber skirt
- Chip-resistant, powder-coated head
- Thick skirt provides bulk and movement
- Stout Mustad Ultra-Point flipping hook
- Proven, rock-resistant head design
- Would like to see a 1 ounce size for deep water and heavy wind or current
Buckeye took their regular football jig, already a proven winner, and added a super-thick “mop” like skirt made of living rubber, a favorite of anglers in the Carolinas that works just about everywhere. It undulates even when sitting still, and by adjusting your trailer size and profile, it’s possible to alter the rate of fall or movement. If the skirt feels too long or bulky for a particular situation, simply trim it back, and you have a lure like many other football jigs, except with all of Buckeye’s built-in features. When others are reaching for a Carolina Rig or crankbait, this is a “mop up” bait to catch fish that they leave behind. It’s available in a solid range of traditional jig colors, but one of the sleepers is PB&J, which resembles crawfish and gobies, and works in a range of water clarities.
Why It Made the Cut
Compact package excels on pressured fish and catches limits, but will stand up to the aggression of monster bass.
- 3/8 and ½ ounce sizes
- 3/0 Gamakatsu Hook
- Ballhead style jig with angled line tie
- Super-sticky Gamakatsu Hook
- Small profile does not repel fish of any size
- Solid color selection, especially for clear water
- No ¼ or 5/16 ounce sizes
War Eagle calls the Ozarks region home, and they’ve built on that area’s heritage to offer a jig that can be cast into schools of largemouth, spotted or smallmouth bass and pluck one after another after another away. This jig may look “finessy” in the package, but a close examination shows that each component is built to last. It even has a bait keeper on the hook shank to preserve your precious soft plastic trailers. Cast it out on deep structure and hop or drag it back, or pitch it into shallow cover and you’ll be surprised at how snag-resistant this little ball of dynamite can be in both rock and brush. Patterns like Cali Craw 420, Green Pumpkin Orange, and the LBJ (little brown jig) are the pros’ go-tos when things get especially tough. In that instance, it often seems that nothing beats Phantom Brown Craw.
Why It Made the Cut
As stout as the strongest heavy-cover flipping jig, but made to run horizontally through dense cover.
- 5/16, 3/8 and ½ ounce sizes
- 50 strand skirts
- Super-strong Gamakatsu hook
- Barbed baitkeeper
- Ultra-stout hook
- Extensive color selection
- Goes into and out of the thickest cover remarkably easy
- Not all colors available in lighter sizes
On fisheries like the California Delta or Lake Guntersville, where giant bass live in the darkness of brush and thick grass, a regular swimbait won’t live up to the requisite day-to-day abuse. This one will, thanks to a bullet-shaped head and a razor-sharp hook that resembles a gaff. It’s made to be fished on braid and heavy rods, and presents bulk and stealth at the same time. Moreover, Dirty Jigs makes some incredible skirt colors—not just the standard black/blue, white, and green pumpkin. Try Alabama Bream, Bluegill, or War Mouth when panfish are around, and rely on one of the shad-colored versions when bass are chasing those species. I’ve done well in Mexico slow rolling the Chartreuse Shad pattern through deep trees with a swimbait on the back for some true grandes and I’ve never felt that it was going to give up the ghost.
Why It Made the Cut
This swim jig looks like a finesse lure, but it’s really a Four Wheel Drive truck for grass and other cover.
- Custom Gamakatsu hook
- 1/8, 3/16, ¼, 3/8 and ½ ounce sizes
- Variety of skirt materials, including living rubber and tinsel
- Huge range of skirt options
- High quality custom Gamakatsu hook
- Pointed head comes through cover easily
- Not available through a wide range of retailers
Wisconsin, along with Alabama, is one of the swim jig centers of the world, with a specific pointy-nose style of jig that was developed and refined on the Upper Mississippi River. The Brovarney is a local favorite that has adherents all over the country.
While the weedguard keeps it grass-free and snagless, it also serves as a rudder of sorts, allowing the jig to lean across the vertical axis and then return to center. While it looks like a finesse bass lure, there’s no doubt that you can plunk this into heavy grass on braid or fluorocarbon and extract big bass. Some Wisconsinites like to fish a big curl tail grub on the back, but it also works well with craw-style trailers and boot tailed swimbaits.
Things to Consider When Buying Bass Jigs
Jigs come with a wide variety of hooks, in various shapes, sizes and gauges. The one you need to remain solid on a short hookset with 65-pound braid is vastly different than the one you drag over a distant rock pile on 12-pound fluorocarbon. No matter what, the hook should have enough gap to clear the weedguard and not to get covered up by your trailer.
Depending on the profile you’re trying to create, skirt densities can vary greatly, from just a few strands up to thick jungles. The material matters, too—everything from silicone to living rubber to old school flat rubber has a time and a place. So do alternate materials like bucktail and tinsel. Some respond better to changes in temperature, and some can be produced in a wider array of colors.
Because most jigs are made to cover over or through heavy cover, head design can make a huge difference in terms of how many you lose, and how much time you spend retrieving jigs from snags. A football-shaped head that jiggles through rocks with aplomb may be disastrous in buck brush or grass. Meanwhile, the pointed head that cuts through grass like a razor could get stuck in every crevasse in a field of softball-sized rocks.
Even a jig with the perfect hook can see its landing percentage substantially reduced if the weedguard prevents it from sinking in properly. Too thick and the jig will shed fish, but too thin and it might as well not be there at all. The stiffness of the fibers matters, too.
Q: What color jigs are best for bass?
The best bass jig colors are black, white, black/blue, and craw colors. But bluegill colors and shad colors are also great in bodies of water where they are the primary forage.
Q: What are the different types of bass jigs?
Bass anglers will choose from flipping, punching, heavy cover, finesse, and swig jigs depending on the fishing scenario.
Q: What makes a good bass jig?
A good hook and weed guard paired with a well-designed head and skirt make for a great bass jig.
Over the past year I’ve traveled from Texas to Mexico to Michigan and back home to Virginia in search of bass and the one rod that never leaves the boat is a jig stick. Because there are so many permutations, it’s always an option. That said, I’ve learned that depending on pressure, water clarity and local forage, a few simple tweaks can make a big difference. I’m a huge believer in the “Keep it Simple, Stupid,” mantra in fishing, and it’s possible to go too far down the rabbit hole, but once you get the right choice ride it until it gives you everything it can do.
Most bass anglers, from beginners to pros, love a worm or soft stickbait because there’s immediate gratification, but learning to rely on the jig takes a little more effort and seasoning. That’s often because the best bass jigs are so highly specialized, and using the wrong one in a particular situation can lead to frustration. Dial in the one that works, and you may end up consistently attracting and landing a better class of fish.