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Dress for Success: Advice from the pros on choosing and Customizing jigs.

Jigs are one of those universal bass baits--it's not that they're useful everywhere, all the time, but they're definitely in every competitive angler's arsenal. Here are a few tricks and tactics I've added to my own playbook, from interviews with some traveling pros.

CHOOSE COLORS TO MATCH THE HATCH

Mike Iaconelli, television host, Bassmaster Elite Series and now Major League Fishing (MLF) pro, says the most important variable in jig setup is the skirt. Two main considerations: food and fall.

"The first thing I want to think about is color," laconelli said. "If you look at my jig box, every jig skirt is designed to mimic something natural in the environment. If it's shad, I want white; if it's bluegill, I want the greens and the watermelons; if it's crawfish, I want brown."

Elite pro Stephen Browning offers this tip: "Every now and then, peek in your livewell, take a peek down a fish's throat for regurgitated or recently eaten meals. There are several different shades of crawfish, so if you take a pair of pliers and pull a crawfish out of a fish's gullet when you see those antennae, you can go back into your tackle box to mix and match a few skirt color variations to pinpoint that particular color."

Flipping legend and past Bassmaster Classic champion Denny Brauer advises keeping a jig skirt's accent color positioned in-line with the hook. "Everything that swims in the water has a lighter colored bottom, or belly," Brauer said. "Aligning the accent colors with the hook shank makes the jig look more natural."

TRIM AND ACCESSORIZE

If bass seem to be keyed on chunky meals like tilapia or big bluegill, Iaconelli suggests leaving the jig skirt full. But if they're snacking on shad or smaller bluegill, Iaconelli will trim his skirt.

"I'll hold the jig skirt between my fingers and trim it just behind the bend of the hook," Iaconelli said. "I create a more compact jig length."

Elite pro Jason Christie says he'll snip a little off each corner. This makes his skirt open more and creates lifelike flare.

As for the fall rate, Iaconelli offers this rule of thumb: The longer and fuller the skirt, the more water drag and slower the fall; the shorter and sparser the skirt, the faster the fall. The latter serves you well with active fish that'll react to quick movement, while the former is what you want in cold conditions or anytime fish need a slower, more vulnerable look.

You might also consider clipping the weedguard fibers, if you wish to increase the fall rate. Or, fan them out some to slow the fall.

Trailers also impact a jig's presentation. Some trailers, like the Strike King Rage Craw and YUM Craw Papi, wiggle enticingly on the descent. Others, such as the Zoom Big Salty and Big Bite Baits Chunk, are more subtle.

Chunk trailers occasionally ride up the shank and cover the hook point. FLW pro Terry Bolton prevents this by threading a piece of used plastic worm on the jig hook shank before rigging the trailer. This spacer keeps the trailer from wandering and thereby keeps the hook free to do its job.

Caption: Bluegill-color skirt trimmed to match local forage size. Also falls faster.

Caption: Piece of worm onshank keeps chunk trailer from riding up.

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Title Annotation:FRESHWATER: EXPERT HOW-TO AND GEAR
Author:Brown, David A.
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Date:Jan 1, 2019
Words:554
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