Jigworm Fishing: All About The Original Ned Rig

Combine a leadhead jig and a plastic worm and you have two of the best bass lures all in one bait. The original combination was called a jigworm and now has become the popular shaky head worm. An In-Fisherman article states the history of the jigworm stretches across more than 50 years. The article noted it didn’t have an exact date when an angler affixed a plastic worm to a jig, but it mentioned that Ted Green and Gayle Marcus of Mar Lynn Lure Company of Blue Springs, Mo., purchased Dave Hawks’ Thinga-ma-Jig in 1955. They added a plastic worm to the jig in 1956 and called the combination the Skworm-n-Jig.

Jigworm History Born In The 1960’s

shaky head

Variations of the Skworm-n-Jig emerged in the 1960s and the jigworm delivered several first-place finishes in the World Series of Sport Fishing. Dwight Keefer attached a 6-inch Crème Scoundrel Worm to a 1/16-ounce Texas-rig jig created by Chuck Woods to win the 1967 World Series of Sport Fishing.  During this same period, Cotton Cordell manufactured the Banana Head Jig, which anglers combined with a worm by either Texas rigging it or threaded on the Banana Head with the exposed hook shielded by a weed guard. 

Charlie Brewer made a significant impact on jigworm fishing in 1970 when he developed his Original Regular Slider Head jig and adorned it with a 4-inch plastic worm. The Brewer family has produced a wide array of finesse jigs and plastic worms that have tricked untold numbers of bass throughout the years. 

During the mid-1970s, Danny Westfall of Arizona created the Westy Worm which featured either a 4-inch or 6-inch worm attached to a jig with a stinger hook.  The worm became a mainstay of Major League Fishing pro John Murray and other Western anglers because of its effectiveness for catching suspended bass in the clear waters of Western reservoirs.   

The darter jig phenomenon that erupted in the mid-1980s in California and other Western states stimulated the shaky head presentation of today’s jigworm fishing. The West Coast shaky head presentation featured the darter jighead combined with either a plastic grub or 4-inch plastic worm. 

Shaking Things Up With A Jigworm

jig worm fishing

The shaky head worm concept arrived in the East during the 1980s when Fred “Taco” Bland of Alabama converted a 1/8-ounce ballhead crappie-style jighead into a bass jig by replacing the crappie jig’s No 2 hook with a 2/0 hook. Bland called his creation the Taco Head, but it was also called the Shake-N-Head.  William Davis of Davis Bait Company also crafted a ballhead jig for a jig-and worm combo around the same time Bland was working on the Taco Head.  Davis named his jigs The Shaky Head and that has become the popular name for today’s jigworm fishing. 

The shaky head worm will catch bass year round but I prefer to fish the jig and worm combo during the warmer months (April through October). The combo is my favorite go-to lure when fishing pressure causes bass to ignore power fishing lures such as spinnerbaits, crankbaits or jigs. The versatility of the lure allows me to fish it shallow with a 1/8-ounce jighead or deep with 1/2- or 3/4-ounce jigheads.   I can also fish it with various sizes and styles of worms.  My favorite worm lengths for the shaky head are 6 and 8 inches although I will use some 4-inch worms for bass fishing in streams or ponds.  Most of the time I match the jig with a straight tail worm but I also like to show bass a different look by adorning the jig with a paddle tail worm.  

When And Where To Throw A Jigworm

jigworm fishing

The spawn and postspawn are my favorite times to tempt bass with a shaky head worm.  Bass are shallow then so I rely on a lighter jighead (1/8- or 1/4-ounce) and match it with a 6-inch finesse worm in natural colors such as green pumpkin or watermelon/red flake.  I pitch the shaky head on a 7-foot medium-heavy casting rod and a high speed baitcast reel (7.1:1 or higher gear ratio) filled with 12-pound fluorocarbon line. 

If I see a bass on a bed, I pitch the jigworm past the bed and slowly drag the lure into the nest. If the bass doesn’t immediately pick up the worm, I let it sit in the nest and then start shaking it. I shake the worm with a slack line, which generates action to the bait while it remains in the nest.  

After the spawn, I like to pitch the jigworm to any cover along the spawning banks where bass are guarding fry or recuperating from the rigors of spawning. On my home waters of Lake of the Ozarks, the shaky head is extremely effective for catching postspawn bass suspended in the front of boat docks. I catch these fish by pitching to the front corners of the dock or in the boat wells and shaking the worm as it falls.  As the worm pendulums towards the boat strikes usually occur on the fall. 

Summertime Shaky Head Fishing

jigworm

My summertime shaky head fishing requires an upgrade to a 1/2- or 3/4-ounce jighead a BioSpawn Plasma Tail or paddletail worm. I am usually targeting rocky bottoms and brush piles so I throw the jigworm on heavier line (14- or 15-pound fluorocarbon).  I hop the jigworm along the bottom until I feel it hit an obstacle such as a boulder or brush and then I shake the lure on a slack line for a while to trigger a bite from any bass holding close to the cover. 

The shaky head worm also shines for me in autumn when bass tournament championships increases fishing pressure increases or Indian summer keeps the water warm and bass in a funk. I switch back to a 1/4-ounce jighead and 12-pound fluorocarbon line but stick with the 8-inch Trick Worm to tempt bass with a larger meal.   I pitch the jigworm to any shallow cover and shake it next to the cover for several seconds before reeling in the worm and pitching to another target. 

Whether you call it a jigworm or shaky head worm, the combo of a jig and worm should be one of your go-to lures for catching bass throughout the year. 

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