Football jigs are certainly old standby lures for bass fisherman once bass move from the shallows to their offshore summer homes. Bassmaster Classic champion Jordan Lee can speak to this, as he is somewhat of a football jig aficionado.
Growing up fishing for offshore bass in Alabama’s Lake Guntersville taught Lee the key nuances of a football jig. These 3 simple, yet important tips have helped him catch more and bigger bass no matter where in the country he is fishing.
Profile trumps color
Jordan Lee came up through the Carhartt college series and has taken the professional fishing world by storm the past three years. Oddly enough, Lee attributes much of his success to keeping his fishing style simple. So it comes as no surprise to learn Lee practices this same approach when it comes to football jig colors.
“There are all kind of color combinations that bass will eat but I keep it pretty simple,” Lee explained. “I try to not get too caught up in the specific color of a jig; it’s more about the size and profile to me. You want to match the size of the bluegill or crawfish you think bass are eating before worrying too much about color.”
Lee said he sees a lot of anglers getting too worried about the intricacies of the color(s) they fish. Hinting that the spot you’re fishing will typically always be more important than the color of lure you’re fishing with.
“I stick to natural colors nearly 100 percent of the time,” Lee said. “Colors like browns, green pumpkin, maybe something with a little purple, along with good old black and blue. More often than not, I choose colors I think mimic bluegill down there deep on an offshore spot. For trailers I stay with similar colors. Strike King’s Summer Craw and Plum Crazy are the two I use most in the summertime. Match your trailer color somewhat closely with your jig color and get to dragging.”
Don’t be scared to go big
Just like many anglers opt for larger-than-usual spoons, crankbaits, worms or swimbaits, Lee likes to show bass an oversized football jig when they move offshore throughout the summer months.
“Summer is the time of year to throw big baits,” Lee said. “Whether it’s a 10-inch worm, an oversized crankbait or a big jig, you want to present a hearty meal to offshore bass. Those big lure presentations are going to catch better-than-average fish, too. Fishing professionally, a lot of times I’m not looking for 2-pound bites, I need those 3 to 5-pound bites to be competitive. By using a big football jig, I know I am hunting the bites I need to win a tournament or earn a check.”
Lee’s jig selection isn’t out of the ordinary. He predominately depends on a 3/4-ounce Strike King Tour Grade Football Jig with a silicone skirt, or a 3/4-ounce jig with a living rubber skirt.
“A 3/4-ounce jig is a good all-purpose size for a football jig,” Lee said. “It’s an effective presentation you can fish at any depth, from 3 feet to 30 feet deep. If I had to choose one size to fish in all scenarios, that would be it.”
The reigning Bassmaster Classic champ uses his soft plastic trailers to beef up the profile of his football jigs. Lee prefers trailers that not only have a lot of action, but also trailers that add size and bulk to his jig for summertime bass fishing.
“I typically only use two different soft plastic trailers when the bass go deep,” Lee admitted. “A Rage Tail Space Monkey and a full-size Rage Tail Craw. Both are big chunks of plastic, which move a lot of water, but just as importantly they add a lot of bulk to my jig’s profile. I’ve caught a lot of fish over the years with this setup and that large profile gives me a lot of confidence that bass will be able to find my jig in deep water.”
Lee’s football jig setup
Rod: Quantum Tour PT 7-foot, 4-inch heavy
Reel: 7.3:1 gear ratio Quantum Smoke HD
Line: 17-pound Seaguar AbrazX Fluorocarbon
Slow it down
Even though baitfish and bass are active this time of year, Lee urges anglers to slow down your presentation with a football jig. Lee explained he might stroke a jig to fire up an offshore school if they are inactive, but he spends most of his time slowly dragging a football jig during the summer months.
“Usually I’m not going to use a football jig to find offshore schools of bass,” Lee said. “I’ll use a deep diving crankbait or a swimbait to cover water and find fish. Once I have a few areas found and I know I’m around some fish, that’s when I’ll slow down with a jig. A football jig gives me the confidence to fish painfully slow and milk a spot for all it’s worth.”
Lee explained that how he works a football jig chiefly depends on the mood of the fish, but on the whole, he feels anglers tend to move a jig too fast when fishing offshore.
“This year’s Bassmaster Classic on Conroe was a perfect example of how slowing down can pay off,” Lee said. “Due to mechanical issues, I was forced to sit on one offshore spot all day. Since I legitimately had no other options, I pulled out a football jig and slowed myself way down. I ended up catching over 27 pounds with that jig off of one little 30-yard area and the rest is history. The whole experience reminded me just how important slowing down can be.”
Heed Jordan Lee’s tips and add a few football jigs as well as some big, bulky trailers to your tacklebox if you plan to target offshore bass this summer. It might not be the best way to catch huge numbers of fish, but this kind of jig could easily garner a bite from a kicker fish in a tournament or even the biggest bass of your life.