The lead head jig is a staple for walleye anglers across the country. Not only do they allow you to effectively fish a variety of cover types, but jigs also allow anglers to probe the entire water column by altering their weight choice.
It wasn’t long ago that the only walleye jig on the market was a round ball-head with a light wire hook. In the last several years, though, the market has been inundated by new shapes and styles of jigheads, making it a challenge to understand when and where to use each.
Here’s a quick guide to all 3 styles of walleye jigs all anglers should have in their arsenal.
1. Live-bait Walleye Jigs
The best live-bait jigheads are essentially round ball heads, but with shorter shank hooks. When using a traditional ball-head with live bait, the longer hook shank allows the minnow, leech, or crawler too much freedom to slide around and get fouled or slide off. The shorter shank on live bait jigs present a much more compact profile to the walleyes, which results in more hookups and less bait cast-offs.
2. Plastic Walleye Jigs
The fastest growing technique in walleye fishing is plastics. Whether dragging ringworms, hopping Super-Doo’s in current or swimming paddle tails – plastics are all the rage. Unfortunately, many of the traditional jigheads on the market are not designed to effectively fish plastics, and using them results in a lower hooking percentage and more lost plastics.
The best plastics jigheads have two things in common – a larger hook and some kind of plastics keeper. The larger hook size is important because threading a plastic onto a jighead creates added bulk, which minimizes the gap available to hook fish. The plastics keeper is important because it will help secure the plastic to the jighead, which will mean more fish per bait and less time spent sliding it back up into proper position.
3. Weedless or Brush Walleye Jigs
Jig fishing around wood, grass, and other heavy cover is also coming increasingly popular. It’s also leading to a lot of frustration as anglers find that traditional jigs aren’t nearly snagless enough to efficiently fish where the walleyes are.
Enter the weedless jig.
Usually featuring a more streamlined bullet or banana shape and either a plastic or wire weedguard, weedless jigs are an essential for eye-chasers that target weed lines, submerged wood, and stump fields. The weedguard on jigs do an excellent job of deflecting cover while maintaining good hooking percentages.