I have been fishing jigs my entire life since I could pick up a rod.  Jigs have been the number one lure in my boats and on my rods since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. My father, Jim Peluso, moved to Bismarck, ND back in 1974 chasing work with hockey. One of the main reasons he decided to come to this wonderful area, as he saw on a map the Missouri River ran right through town.

In the mid to late 70’s, maybe even the early 80’s, the Fuzzy Grub jig came onto the scene. I remember like it was yesterday, my dad ordered two boxes of Fuzzy Grubs,  ⅜ oz in white and chartreuse. He ordered them from my uncle who worked at the now iconic Reeds Sporting Goods in Walker, MN. The jigs showed up in two white boxes. I was mesmerized instantly. The eyes and body with the fuzzy tail had me hooked and as they say, the rest is history!

How Jig Fishing Has Evolved

Jig fishing the Missouri River back in the 80’s and early 90’s looked a lot different than it does now. Probably much the same as anywhere in the US or Canada. Things change and people find different ways to go about things.

I was once told there are many different ways to skin a cat and fishing with this lure is no different. Jigs were often tipped with whole crawlers back in our early days. We used minnows too, but as soon as the minnows started surfacing in the minnow bucket, or the crawlers hit the shelves, it was worm time.

Jigs were not to be pitched or casted back in the day, especially on the River where I grew up.  The Missouri River was full of snags and was a lot less tame like it is today.

Another factor on the River was no traffic. People were afraid of this wild river so you didn’t see many people around fishing. The water was a lot dirtier than it is today, making it a vertical jigging paradise.

A ton has changed with jig fishing over the decades, and here is the list of things I’m going to talk about in this article to help you enjoy jig fishing even more!

Jig Fishing TipsSubtle Jig Fishing Tips

So why do we fish jigs? For me the answer is simple. I can’t find anything in the world of fishing today that can rival the thump or bite on a jig. It’s one on one combat with the fish and you can fish it so precisely if conditions are favorable. Today with the increased pressure you see on so many bodies of water, you can cast a jig away from the commotion.

Here on our river, a lot of times that may be off a current seam or up against a shallow sandbar or rocks. Same holds true on other bodies of water I had the privilege of fishing back in my PWT days.

You can essentially jig fish one of 4 ways:

  • You can slow pull jigs to act like crankbaits.
  • You can yo-yo a jig slipping the current usually in deeper water.  
  • And of course, you can pitch a jig just about anywhere you want to probe the depths for pretty much any type of fish your after.
  • You can always vertical jig, which tends to work best in deeper or dirty water.  One of my tricks over the years while vertical jigging is actually holding the jig a few inches above the bottom and not moving it. You’ll be amazed at how many fish you will catch doing this.

Important Jig Fishing Tips to Consider

Some of the things I pay close attention to is the weight of the jig I’m using. Every fishing situation calls for a different weight jig or even style of jig. The general rule of thumb is always go as light as you can get away with.  Wind, currents, depths all play into this and what you choose and why. I personally like a subtle approach with my jig fishing and I want them falling as naturally as they can. There’s just something about the slow fall of a jig that drives fish crazy.  

Best Method for Casting Jigs

I get asked a lot about casting jigs. If you’re using live bait, obviously you can’t try and cast the thing like Kevin VanDam trying to win the Bassmaster Classic. You have to almost sidearm your casts without snapping the line or rod. Unless you want to continue having to get your hands wet putting on live bait. If your casting plastics, let her rip!

Best Line for Jig Fishing or the Combo

This leads to the million dollar question, do you prefer mono or fireline? If you’re asking me, I’ll tell you mono for 90 percent of my jig fishing. I feel the fall or drop rate is slower and the mono is also more forgiving. Especially when casting your jigs shallow. Deeper, snag filled waters will have me switching to a braid. I won’t say one brand of fishing line is better than the next, or braid isn’t as good as mono. They all have their time and place.

I will say I like fishing line that is high visibility, especially when pitching jigs. The only time I will not use a high vis line, would be while jig fishing in ultra clear water. I would at this time switch to a lower pound test of fluorocarbon. My go-to fishing line (mono) is a 6lb high vis Suffix. If vertical jigging, many times I’ll change back to a braid. Suffix 832 seems to perform well for this application.

Knots for Fishing Jigs

When tying on a jig, I’m pretty old school with my mono and I use the basic trilene knot. If I’m using a braid, I’ll use the Palomar knot.

A Good Jigging Fishing Rod

When jig fishing I’m really particular about my choice of rods. The fishing rod I have found and have completely fallen in love with is the 6’ 10” JTX Mag-Lite JT Custom. I know I catch a lot of fish with this setup, when otherwise I wouldn’t feel the bite. The sensitivity of these rods are in my mind, second to none.  

I love how versatile all their rods are and once you use one it’s like finding that perfect driver for golf or hockey stick for hockey. They just feel good! The one interesting part about JT Custom Rods are is you can only get them through a dealer rep like myself or order them online. Of course, if you contacted me and wanted to get a break on a rod, mention you read this article and I will get you all lined up!

Solid Jig Fishing Reels

I’m not as fussy with my reels as one would think. A Pflueger 5.2:1 seems to accompany all of my JT Custom Rods.  The most common is the Pflueger President, which has kind of become the standard for many around these parts because of the price.

Fishing Swim JigsHow to Fish a Swim Jig?

This leads us into a swimbait style jig or jigs tipped with artificial plastics. I try to mimic a wounded, but still a swimming bait. Somewhat of a steady retrieve with a pop or pause in there from time to time watching my line ever so closely. You will see the line twitch before actually feeling a bite many times while fishing this way. Someday they will crack it so hard you will think you’ve been struck by lightning. A fun way to catch fish for sure.

The Emergence of Jig Raps

One of the last forms of jigging I want to briefly touch on here is using jigging raps. This form of jigging has really jumped onto the scene as of late. It’s another exciting way to catch fish, and it definitely takes a knack to do so. There’s so much detail here, maybe this is a great introduction to another article here in the near future.

I will say this, if you haven’t experienced catching fish or feeling a bite on a jigging rap you need to do so!

Jig Fishing Recap

So in closing this article on jig fishing, I hope you are able to pick out certain things that will work for you or how you approach jig fishing. Taylor it to what works best for you. Everyone is different and everyone has a different cadence. Fit your style to your type of fishing.

First things first in my mind, good rods are key with good line!

Reels are needed but you don’t need to go overboard.

Keep your jig fishing knots simple and try and use jigs just heavy enough to maintain contact with the bottom. Figure out if the fish want live bait or plastics and get ready for one-on-one combat!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mike Peluso is a long-time resident of Bismarck and one heck of a walleye fishing guide in the area.  Check him out at Mike Peluso Outdoors to book a trip.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *