Fishing Strong Jigs for Big Stripers
Written by Eric Harrison
I had been looking for the right jig head for over ten years—after switching from fishing the canal to the much shallower waters of Boston Harbor, I was looking for a head that would swim my plastics and keep them out of the rocks. I kept trying new heads and they all failed for one reason or another. Some snagged too easily, some had hooks that bent way too easily, and most just didn’t swim right in really shallow water.
The Lighter Barbarian Jigs are designed for fishing around rocks shallow water—less than 15’. That isn’t its only application, it is great for tossing baits on breaking fish, but that isn’t the original design focus.
The challenge with fishing around boulder fields and shallow rips is that the bottoms are uneven and usually covered with weeds. Many anglers avoid these spots because they think that they can’t be fished because of the snags. In some spots I fish plastics, I get hung up with top waters! But a single hook jig head with a big plastic retrieved at the proper speed will slide over most snags and bounce off rocks.
Shore and boat/kayak fishermen take the opposite approaches:
- Shore anglers toss from shallow water to deep and begin their retrieve.
- Boaters toss in shallow and retrieve to deeper water. Both directions work with this jig!
- Cast out and begin the retrieve as soon as the lure hits in shallow water, in deeper water let it sink near the bottom.
- Move it at a steady pace twitching the rod tip occasionally and give it a quick burst of speed after a missed hit.
- This technique allows you to cover a lot of water quickly.
Speed swimming is the next step up in covering water.
- By speed swimming, I mean a fast crank—trust me, you can’t get your plastic moving fast than a bass!
- A fast retrieve with sudden speed changes during the retrieve can be killer, stopping for a fraction of a second, then speeding up leads to some seriously thumping hits.
The big fish retrieve is the bottom bounce.
- This is something that I do along the transition lines between the shallow and deeper water.
- Places where the depth drops 5’ create a great break that big fish will use as ambush points. I will bump up to the heavier head off the bottom.
- The retrieve is pretty simple, tighten the line as the lure hits the water and feel it down to the bottom, take a couple cranks on the reel and let it slide back down until it bumps again. Keep jumping it up and down off the bottom doing this.
- Most hits come on the swing back down to the bottom and you can’t beat the feeling of a hard tap, then lifting the rod into a full bend and feeling the head shake of a big bass.
This type of head is also great for fishing on breaking fish. The shape of the head give you a good swim and comes quickly to the surface, pauses will allow the bait to drop under the school of bait to where the bigger fish are. On breaking fish, top water is the most exciting, but a bigger plastic on jig heads worked under the school will consistently produce bigger fish.
In the kayak, I bring 3 rods and rig depending on fish size and water depth.
- When I’m fishing the 10’ to 15’ I will use the ¾ oz head.
- Under 10’ I will use the ½ oz head unless the current is really strong.
- I always keep one rod rigged with a 13” Jiggin’ Hogy on the ¾ oz head so as I drift off the structure I can bump the bottom.
- Another rod will have the ½ oz head with a 10” Jiggin’ Hogy for drifting across shallower water.
- Usually I will have the third rod rigged with a ½ ounce head and a 13” Jiggin’ Hogy to help weed out the smaller fish, but sometimes the third rod goes weightless.
There are plenty of good fish in shallow water, the challenge is to effectively fish that water without being constantly hung up. The Barbarian Jig will give you the ability to cast farther than you would without a weighted head and work your bait deeper in the water column. Moving a bait down a foot or two in the water column (light jig versus unweighted plastic) can make a huge difference in your results.
The Barbarian Jig is designed to work with either the standard or the Jiggn’ Hogy. The Jiggn’ Hogy with the jig has a danny style front that pushes more water as you swim it, so that is my preferred rigging.
One other tip:
When you set the hook, don’t go with a mighty swing of the rod, give the reel a few fast cranks. That way if you miss, you don’t jerk the bait out of the water, it stays in the strike zone. I can’t tell you how many times my biggest fish of the night comes after missing one or more hits from smaller fish. There is something about a bait that gets away from smalls that drives the big fish mad. Of course I have broken and bent a few reel handles doing this, but it is worth it!
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