Vertical Jigging Tips
By Tim Allard
There are certain days when a vertical jigging approach is the best
way to catch the most and biggest smallmouth bass in a lake. In this
article I'll share some tips to improve your success for this
effective presentation. Whether you use tubes, drop-shot rigs or
spoons, practicing your vertical presentation tactics during summer
will ensure you're ready to catch fat, football sized bronze backs
Master Controlling Your Boat
Properly vertically jigging baits to smallmouth in deep water begins
with having control over your fishing rig. Allowing yourself to get
pushed out of position by wind, waves and current not only moves you
off prime fishing areas, but also interferes with your presentation.
A trolling motor with sufficient power to pull your boat is a must
for many bass anglers. In wavy conditions, lower the shaft as much
as possible to prevent the prop from coming out of the water. Be
sure to keep your batteries fully charged and maintain your motor.
Drift socks or sea anchors are another important piece of equipment.
These devices are relatively inexpensive and can slow down your
drift speed enough so you can methodically work over structures like
mid-lake shoals for bass.
Lastly, keep your boat organized. Have all the gear you need from
fishing lures to release tools close at hand. In rough water,
neglecting your boat position duties can quickly get your blown off
Electronics: Find and Stay on Fish
Wandering out and away from shore is intimidating for many
anglers as shoreline reference points can quickly fade out of focus
and locating off-shore spots can be challenging. Yet GPS technology
makes navigating to and staying on off-shore structures easier than
ever before. Using fishing chart data, mark a reef or a point as a
waypoint and return to it on future outings. Of course, in rough
water having a GPS unit at your bow helps you stay on position.
Equally as important as GPS mapping technology is quality sonar.
Color units provide dramatically more data than black and white
models, specifically bottom composition details as well as improved
readability of the screen's display. It's wise to cruise around
known deep-water areas until you mark fish before dropping a line in
Jigging Tips: Power and Finesse
With boat control and electronics out of the way, it's time
to share some tips on vertical jigging. This presentation tactic is
both a finesse and power style of fishing. Harnessing the power of
wind or waves, it's easy to drift over areas quickly working baits.
Heavy jigging spoons, like Northland's Buckshot, Rattle Snakie and
Hopkins' Shorty Spoon, make great baits to cover water in search of
active fish. Although snapping these baits hard will trigger
reaction strikes, using spoons with a hair-dressed treble can
sometimes add a bit more attraction and a temping teaser for
smallies to hit when the bait is at rest.
Vertical jigging is also an excellent finesse method. In the past
I've been a fan of shaking tube jigs and small grubs through the
last two feet of water off bottom. This tactic has boated me plenty
of quality fish. Recently though, I've become a convert to drop
shotting. With the weight separated and below the bait detecting
strikes is easy. By customizing the depth of your offering off
bottom you can literally wave a finesse plastic in front of a fish's
nose, teasing it until it can't take it any longer and strikes the
Some of my favorite drop shot baits include Berkley's Gulp Alive
leeches and minnows, 4-inch stick baits, and various teaser minnows,
like Set The Hook's Drop Shot Minnows. Another great product for
drop shot rigs are StandOut drop shot hooks. Simply tie the hook on
and thread the dropper line through the lower eye guide. It ensures
the rig is set with the hook point facing up every time.
Vertical jigging for smallmouth bass is an excellent tactic to take
big fish throughout the year, but it's often dynamite in late summer
and autumn. With proper boat control and quality electronics, you'll
be able to find and stay on fish. Then it's just a matter of mixing
up either fast and aggressive or finesse fishing tactics until you
discover what the fish want on a given day.