Compact jig

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Whether we’re talking a compact flipping jig in 3 feet of muddy water around stumps or a compact finesse jig dragged across a gravel bar in 5 feet of clear water, small jigs catch big fish in the winter. I don’t often slow down to a jig, even in the winter. But that says more about my style of fishing than it does about fishing in general. I know guys who lay with a jig all day in shallow, cold water and they are hard to beat.

When I do slow down to a jig, it’s typically when I’ve found a concentration of fish. Whether I’ve gotten into a muddy creek with a lot of fish hanging tight to isolated cover like rocks or stumps or I’ve found an offshore hard spot that’s holding a group of fish, pitching and dragging a small jig gives me the approach I want. I don’t have to worry as much about the fish slapping at a treble-hooked bait or spinnerbait and not getting the hook well. Instead, I can just pick off the fish one by one.

It’s easier to be accurate with a jig and you’re less likely to hang up if you pick the right jig. Pay attention to the style jighead you’re buying. Jigs are intentionally designed for the style of fishing you’re going to be doing with them. A compact skipping jig like the Nichols Lures Casting Jig with an almost Arkie-style head is my favorite all around jig if I had to choose just one. But that jig was designed primarily with skipping in mind.

Baits like the Nichols DB Finesse Jig you see pictured here are designed primarily for pitching and flipping in thick cover. Then you have ball head and football head jigs meant more for dragging, each with a different shape to the head and orientation of the eye. All of that is important when picking a jig. What I believe holds true across the board in cold water, you want a compact jig 99% of the time. There’s no call for a huge flowing skirt or big flapping craws. Nice, tight and compact is the way to go in the cold.