Trout jigs can be real killers on those days when spoons or spinners just aren't performing. Although jigs have been used for a long time in the bass and crappie fishing worlds they are only recently beginning to become popular among trout fishermen.
The best jigs for trout will generally imitate some of the native aquatic food that the trout feed on. That may be various types of nymphs and other insects or the jigs may imitate some form of bait fish or minnow.
However under the right conditions some very artificial looking jigs may out perform their more natural counterparts.
Woolly Bugger - an old reliable that has been around for a long time. Wolly Buggers are best used when trout are feeding on natural insects.
As stated before the use of jigs for trout fishing is relatively new compared to say the crappie fishing world. A lot of trout fishermen now however are becoming increasingly aware of just how effective they are.
This guide will mostly cover jigs for trout on stream, rivers and small lakes. Fishing for trout on large lakes however we will cover in a future article.
Trout jigs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are generally going to be fished on light spinning gear. The can be made from feathers or soft plastic. The one thing most have in common is the weighted jig head although some may use a copper bead on the hook if tied by hand.
Jig heads generally come pre-made. They consist of a light wire hook that has a small shaped weight at the eye of the hook. They are available in the following different configurations:
- Painted or unpainted
- Either with the eye of the hook straight or set at a perpendicular angle
- With or without painted eyes
- Round, flat, angles or ball shaped
They are generally used in weights from 1/32 oz up to 1/8 oz. Although if the circumstances call for it some people have fished them down to 1/80 oz which is exceptionally small, and can only be used the ultra light tackle.
Tying on a Jig Head
When tying a jig to your leader you need to ensure that the knot is tightened in such a way that it is sitting in the direction of the eye. If the knot is angled on the eye in anyway it will effect how the jig moves in the water.
Types of Jigs
There is a huge range of jigs available. The majority of jigs are aimed at the crappie fisherman, the best jigs for trout are not necessarily the best for crappie. Trout jigs will generally be smaller and lighter in their build.
With the more natural looking options performing better.
Marabou jigs for trout generally try to imitate nymphs, injured bait-fish or small crayfish. When imitating nymphs or crayfish the jigs will mostly be olive or dark in color.
When imitating injured minnows they will have some gold or silver wire wound through the body to create a flash.
A tube jig comes all in one piece and are straight in appearances with a fluttering tail. A tube jig for trout will usually work best in sizes 1 to 2 inches, with 2 inch tube jigs being on the high side. It is probably best to stay close to 1 or 1 1/2 inches in length.
Soft bodied plastic jigs will come in a few styles. They can be bought already on the jig head or they can come separate so that you can change or re-use them on the same jig head.
- Fish shaped - imitates small bait-fish
- Curly tail - tends to wiggle as it is retrieved
- Skirt - a little less movement than the curly tail
- Split tail - The split tail has a great action, best known would be the Trout Magnet below
These would be a mix of soft bodied plastic jig and a marabou tail. They can be extremely effective when fished with a twitching action off the bottom.
The most well known would be the Lindy Fuzz-E Grub in a Black/Charteuse or Sunburst Orange.
Techniques for Trout Jigging
The two most common methods for fishing jigs is either under a float or casting them straight and relying on the weight of the jig head. When casting them straight out you will be able to influence how the jig moves. By twitching the rod tip you can trigger a lot more strikes than just statically under a float.
Another effective method is to bounce them off the bottom, this works best when there are less snags on the bottom. When bouncing them along the bottom you can really target trout that are down deep in pools or pockets in rivers where they are lying waiting to ambush.
Vertical jigging is a lot harder to do in a river so unless you have access to a drift boat most of your jigging will involve casting them out and then allowing them to move downstream with the current.
Tackle for Trout Jigging
The tackle used predominantly when jigging for trout is light spinning tackle.
- Line - usually 4 lbs strength, although you could go as high as 6 lbs. In clearer water best to stick to the lightest possible.
- Reel - ultra light spinning reel that is suited to casting very light weights
- Rod - 7 foot light trout spinning rod with a good tip action and generally one made of light graphite. The tip is important as you need to provide the action for these trout jigs as they do not have an inbuilt one like a spoon or spinner.