Mini Jig Fishing for Trout

Posted by  Tuesday, May 14 2013 7:00 am
expert

 

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On your next trip out to your favorite body of water jig your way to some quality trout; it might just be the technique you've been waiting for.

From the gracefulness of fly fishing to burning the water with spinners, many different techniques and tackle have been proven to fool trout time and time again. One of the most overlooked but effective techniques is using mini jigs. Every year in some of the trickiest rivers and lakes across the country, mini jigs provide anglers with an alternative method to getting the big fish to bite down hard.

Most traditional trout fisherman probably laughed the first time they heard the notion of using mini jigs to catch large, wise trout — thinking these baits would just spook the fish. But after seeing the many double digit fish caught every year by these baits, their effectiveness cannot be understated.

The best part to mini jigs is that they can be fished in all the different types of water that big trout like to live in. From spring creeks, to beaver ponds, big-river rapids and cold water lakes, mini jigs have a way of stirring large trout into a feeding frenzy.

Mini jig fishing is nothing new to trout fisherman. Anglers the world over have been using this technique for the better part of the last century to catch trout. Manufacturers are expanding their horizons and coming up with many new types and colors of materials to use in their fishing baits, making mini jigs even more potent then they ever have been before.

Of all the trout species, rainbows, browns and brook trout are the three most sought after in this group. These three special trout are for the most part heavily spread throughout most of North America, making them accessible to all fishermen. Rainbows are noted for their hefty size and spirited aerobatics when hooked; browns for their brute strength and surprise attacks; and brookies for their willingness to bite and brilliant coloration. 

Although these three rainbow, brown and brook trout are such a plentiful species, do not be fooled into thinking that fishing for these big three will be easy. A good understanding of the fish's behaviors and plenty of time out on your favorite waters is a good start to landing a true lunker, but it is the time-tested dancing action of the mini jig that will get the fishes' attention and put a bend in your rod.

Color Considerations

If your interest is peaked and you are wondering about where you could possibly find a few of these potent fish catchers, it is not a hard task. Nearly all tackle dealers found across the country will have some sort of mini-jig that you could use for fishing trout. Trout mini jigs are very similar to jigs that you would use to for panfish, with the exception that these trout jigs have a special design to their plastic bodies to enhance their action once in the water.These mini jigs incorporate a small soft plastic body that is rigged to slide over the hook point (with the hook gape coming back out of the plastic body) and up the hook shank until you reach the back of the small jig head.

Trout mini jigs come in a wide variety of hook sizes and head weights ranging from 1/100 ounce to 1/16 ounce. As far as the colors are concerned, mini jigs come in almost every color combination imaginable. If you are not to sure about what types of colors will work best in your area, then a good idea is to start out with a variety pack that consists of the most popular standard colors.

When your favorite water is running low and is crystal-clear like it probably does during the hot summer months, a good idea is to size down your choice of mini jig. Large jigs can be very noisy when presented in skinny water. Trout are notorious for being weary so being able to present jigs to these fish quietly will only work to your advantage. Smaller, less colorful jigs are what most anglers turn to use when the bite gets tough in clear water. White, grey, or tan jigs seem to work best in these clear conditions. If you are going to be fishing lakes or rivers that harbor a large amount of baitfish trying to tailor your approach to these fish will pay off greatly. Perch, rainbow, or darter patterns should be a standard in your tackle box if you are a serious lake fisherman.

After a heavy rain or during the spring ice melt all rivers and lakes will look stained brown with the high water levels. To fish this stained water that has limited visibility, you want to choose a jig that will be conspicuous; and large. In these stained waters trout will venture out from their respective cover in search of an easy meal. As far as choosing the right color for stained or clearing water, jigs that use bright fluorescent materials or very dark colors are a good idea. These bright colors or contrasting jig colors help fish separate your lure from other debris floating down the river. The right color and movement will entice trout to strike. Many seasonal considerations need to kept in the back of angler's minds as well. During the spawning seasons for trout and salmon, trout will become keyed in on eggs and decaying fish. Jigs in oranges, reds, pinks are great for imitating fresh roe that has become swept from fish's redd, while jigs in white and smoke simulate pieces of flesh washed free from dying and decaying salmon. A good idea is for all serious trout fishermen to have a summer jig selection and a winter jig selection.

Weather Considerations

Rain can be a very important variable in catching quality trout. As the level of rainfall increases, the rivers and lakes will rise accordingly and trigger trout to migrate back to their native streams or begin the spawning process in lakes. While rising rivers help bring migrating fish upstream, dropping water levels pen fish in deep holes providing ideal fishing conditions. Trying to plan your fishing trips around these rising and falling water conditions can be very hard seeing as the weather is very hard to predict with any degree of accuracy. Ideally fishing is best if you could be out on the river 1-2 days after a light rain, or 3-4 days after a heavy rain. The water should be just starting to drop and have a slightly stained color. On lakes the 1 day after a light rain, and 2 days after a heavy rain seems to produce the best results.

Sunlight also plays a critical factor in how successful you are going to be on your fishing adventures especially if the body of water you plan on fishing is clear and clear. Fish are able to quickly picking up shadows cast over the water so when the sun is high be sure to keep out of the rays being cast over the water. When planning your fishing trip start your day off downstream of where you want to fish and fish upstream. Fishing in an upstream fashion will allow you to approach the fish from behind so that they do not ever get a glimpse of your shadow. Another good idea is to try and place more importance on the shaded runs or holes. Vegetation along the river or overhanging lakes can also provide some mid-day shade for fish and keep them active and biting all day long.

Tackle Considerations

One of the best parts to switching over to mini jig fishing is that in most cases anglers already have the most of the tackle they will need to fish these jigs. First and foremost having the right rod and reel makes big difference in presenting jigs to fish. In most situations a 7-foot graphite spinning rod with a medium- to fast-action tip will work best. You want to use made from quality light graphite and is able to apply good action to any mini-jigs.

If you plan on fishing very small streams then an ultra-light 5 foot graphite spinning rod is ideal. Light spinning reels matched to the appropriate length and action rod should work fine and be comfortable enough to allow anglers to work jigs all day long. Keep away from using an ultra-light reel for this type of mini jig fishing. Trophy trout are known for making long powerful runs so having a smooth drag system and good gear ratio is important to pick up line quickly so that slack does not develop in the line.

As far as what line is needed for mini jig fishing, your ideal choice should be light, limber and tough. Long casts are a necessity when fishing mini-jigs, so using a line that comes smoothly off of the reel will help getting the jig to where it needs to be. Additionally the line you choose should be as abrasion resistant as possible. Trout will hold in heavy cover and run through sticks and stumps if you give them a chance. Having a line that can withstand this punishment will better your odds at landing that real trophy.

In addition to this you want to use a line that has reasonable stretch to it. You will be fishing in close quarters to the fish so that when you set the hook you want a little give so that you do not pull the hook from the fish's mouth. Line in the 4- to 6-pound test are ideal as long as the diameter is extremely small — trout can be spooked easily by heavy lines so sizing things down as much as possible is a good idea.

Additionally line capacity should be a consideration for anglers. You want approximately 100 to 150 yards of monofilament on your reel. You do not want to load any more line than this on to your reel because it will cause casting problems and tangle easily. Just remember any line that you do choose be sure that you believe in its quality. There is nothing worse than losing that fish of a lifetime because your line was weak and broke easily.

Fishing Techniques

Deciding on what could be the best way to fish trout mini jigs is almost as hard as picking out the best color, with almost the same amount of choices possible. Mini jig fishing for trout can be done many different ways by anglers with all being very effective in the appropriate situation. 

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Trout mini jigs come in a wide variety of hook sizes and head weights ranging from 1/84 ounce to 1/16 ounce.

Smaller creeks and rivers — when fishing small creeks and rivers one of the most important principles with mini jig fishing is to get the jig in front of fish with out spooking them. Trout are ferocious predators by nature and will readily eat any free meal that crosses their path. Key areas in a river to look for large trout are submerged logs or rocks, undercut banks or pocket water in fast flowing runs. To fish these flowing bodies of water a good idea to quietly stalk up to your potential target (on your knees if you have to) and cast the jig upstream and across from your target at a 45-degree angle. When the jig hits the water give it a few seconds to sink down in the water column and allow it to begin drifting downstream. When the jig reaches the area that you think might hold a potential fish, flick the rod tip slightly causing the jig to dance up and down a few times. On this first pass through a fresh section of water, try not to go crazy bouncing the mini jig of the bottom.

A good idea is to fish the jig slowly on the first pass to entice lackadaisical, weary fish first, and then to target the more aggressive fish in the run on subsequent passes of the jig. For the proceeding casts once the jig has entered the water and neared the target actively dance the jig throughout the water column by flicking the rod tip upwards slightly. Your best bet is to keep things moving as erratic as possible.

If you do happen to get a swing from a fish but it does not happen to hit your jig and won't come back for a second bite then changing up your angle might do the trick. Instead of casting upstream this time cast downstream at a 45-degree angle to the target and let the jig swing slowly across the current to the target. Once the jig is near to where you had seen the fish actively retrieve the jig back to you against the current. This aggressive back and forth swimming motion in the current is sometime just enough to get fish to take a second or third look. If a fish happens to bite then a short, quick set is best. Don't get over excited and pull too hard on the hook-set, trout have soft mouths and the hook can be pulled free easily.

Lakes or deep current-less holes — Fishing lakes is generally a lot different then fishing a river. Fish in these bodies of water do not need as much structure as river fish to hide in they simply use the deeper spots in the body of water they live to elude predators. Trout in lakes or deep pools will frequent shallow shorelines looking for an easy meal that has gotten blown into the water. If you stand quietly enough in the woods you should be able to see fish actively working these shorelines in search of food. The trick to the whole process is getting your fly in front of these fish without spooking them.

This shallow water fishing can be quite challenging to the beginner but with patience it will get much easier. First off, an angler has to study the pattern of the trout. In most cases trout will cruise the shallows in a circular pattern that holds pretty much the same every time through. Once you have figured out this pattern cast your jig to a spot just out of the fish's path and wait. Once the fish begins its run of the shallows begin bouncing the jig off of the bottom slowly as if it were an injured fish or crayfish trying to bury. In most cases trout will come screaming over to gobble up the free meal, but in the case of a stubborn fish, you might need to get the jig moving a little faster (fleeing response) to get a bite. If you are going to be fishing from a canoe or float tube, start by positioning yourself about twenty feet from shore and try and sit still for a short while. Again it is wise to start out by watching the water for a few minutes before you start fishing an area just to see what might be going on beneath the surface.

If you happen to see fish actively sipping bugs from the waters surface then tie on a small jig and take aim. When a fish sips in your casting radius toss your jig out immediately towards the sip and begin retrieving the jig as soon as it touches down on the water's surface. Swimming the jig across the ripples on the surface where you saw a fish sip in an insect could cause the trout to strike the jig a second time out of instinct.

If you are on a bigger body of water and you have not witnessed any action on the surface or near the shorelines, fishing the deep transition zone where the shoreline drops off into the body of the lake can be excellent. Position yourself as far from shore as possible (should be able to just about cast onto land) and begin to repeatedly cast and work the mini-jig back to the boat. Use this rise and fall retrieve to walk the jig from the shallows to the deep transition. On the retrieve back to the boat or shoreline, pause what you are doing every so often to allow the mini-jig to sink a couple of feet. In most cases the bite will come on the fall of the jig, but there are times when an aggressive trout will chase a mini-jig right up to the surface. Any of the larger sized jigs should probably be used in this situation, such as a 1/32 ounce jig seeing as it will help to get the jig down deep were the fish are fast.

If you are still having problems locating fish and getting bites try and look for darker colored patches of water (deep spots) where fish could be pooling up. In these areas cast your jig for these suspended fish over points, above sunken trees and brush, or over bottom 10-30 feet deep, and let the lure drop vertically on semi-slack line. Watch your line as it sinks and set the hook if your line jumps or just stops. Allow the jig to sink all the way to the bottom then give it a few twitches to entice fish. If you think you might be getting very light bites from trout then adding a bobber to the line help and angler tell what is really going on. Aggressive trout can hit the mini-jig at any time as it sinks, so be prepared to set the hook when the line jumps or the bobber bounces.

If you live in an area that has quality trout fishing opportunities and you always wanted to hook into a trophy, take a chance and get into mini jig fishing. It is a great way for anglers to get to learn the intricacies of trout fishing while at the same time giving them a shot at catching fish on every outing. Mini jig fishing is great for everyone in your family because it is easy to do, fun and flat out catches fish. On your next trip out to your favorite body of water jig your way to some quality trout; it might just be the technique you've been waiting for.

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Last modified on Monday, May 13 2013 2:43 pm
Jason Akl
expert

Jason Akl is a writer, commercial fly tyer and guide with 15 years in the industry. Professionally, he's been a seasonal guide and fly tier that ties commercially and teaches tying classes to both adults and children. Most of his flies make their homes in fly shops in the northern Midwest but some have found their way as far as Europe. As a freelance writer, he's had many written pieces appear in both Canadian and American publications, as well as numerous global websites. When not on the bench or behind the computer, he spends time working with companies such as Daiichi Hooks, Monic Fly Lines or Gatti rods as part of their pro-staff doing product testing pieces and seminars.

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