The football jig is easily one of the best lures for cold-water fishing. They’re perfect around gravel, mud, and other hard bottom structure- anywhere cold water bass might be sitting. And they have the ability to draw a strike when all other moving baits are useless. They may not have the same adrenaline-fueled fun of a bite on a chatter bait but it’s a perfect way to pick up some of those bigger boys in your pond or lake. Here are three ways to fish the football jig in cold water that work.
1.) Football Jig: Fish It Slow
No surprise right? But, every angler has a tendency to speed up their retrieve without thinking about it, myself included. Keep your retrieve slow, regardless of what technique you use. Allow for long pauses between movements. And I mean very long pauses. Similar to the cadence of a jerk bait, I like to count out to 5 between hopping or dragging my jig. If nothing strikes, I’ll increase or decrease the cadence. Remember, allowing your jig to rest on the bottom gives the bass the opportunity to muster up the energy to eat it. The longer the pause the more enticing the bait.
I also like to keep my bait as close to the bottom as possible. By doing this, you’ll present a meal that could be just as lethargic as the fish. This means, don’t hop or swim too high off the bottom. I like to try to maintain bottom contact at all times, or at least most of the time, depending on the situation. Remember, if you’re fishing a jig, presumably your goal is to be on the bottom. If the fish are on the bottom, they’re sluggish, cold, and VERY less likely to move up, down or side to side to chase down a meal. Keep it on their level.
2.) Drag It Slowly
Dragging a jig has a way of presenting an easy-to-catch, less energetic food source. And the football jig head shape is perfect for sliding over obstructions like gravel and small stones. For this reason, the jig has earned a place as one of the most effective bass fishing lures when targeting larger bass. When dragging it, allow long pauses in between. And only drag a few inches at a time. When your jig gets hung up, do the following:
- Shake it like a drop shot technique
- Let it rest
- Shake it again
- Pull it free
The action of that jig clearing the obstruction has a way of triggering bass to strike. It also adds more commotion when water clarity is poor. This technique of dragging, pausing, and then busting loose is a perfect way to get a big bass down low to bite.
3.) Hop It
Giving your jig small hops is a great way to throw more life into your bait. I always start small by letting the jig hit bottom and wait. I follow this with the slow drag and if all else fails, I transition to small hops by raising my rod tip a few inches allowing the jig to rise and fall. This technique depends on that long pause in between because your bait can (and usually will) rise too high in the water column. Try hopping your jig with short hops and maintain that long pause in between. Gradually increase the action if no action occurs.
Again, keep it slow. Don’t hesitate to let your jig sit there on the bottom. Several times I’ve fished a jig like this and literally put my rod down and received a bite while tending to other rods.
With a football jig, you can detect what kind of bottom you’re moving across. Practice dragging your jig across the sand, mud, gravel, rocks, clay, etc, and learn the difference between soft and hard. Winter bass will typically hang out around rocky bottoms, so having an idea of what you’re making contact with will benefit you. It will also help you to mark spots to return to.