Wednesday, January 11, 2012

* Jig Color Considerations


Jig Color Considerations
You've got to pick just one

Some anglers say color doesn't matter much. They say you can get by with black blue jigs, green pumpkin soft baits and chartreuse white spinnerbaits are all they ever need. I'm not one of them.

I've seen color matter too many times. While I don't want to overplay the importance of color, I don't want to discount it either.

The biggest tip I can give you when it comes to color is to keep an open mind, meaning don't get married to any favorites and don't cotton to "go to" colors. That's the best attitude - unattached and indifferent - to have toward color. In time, it is true you will get settled down into your usual or standard colors you use. Just don't get emotionally attached to them. Keep looking for what color the fish want - not what you want.

Bottom line, you've got to pick just one color - meaning you can only tie one color jig on the end of your line. You can only present one color on a cast. The color you have tied on will influence how many fish you catch. So keep an open mind and make the color you cast count.

In paging through this article, you'll notice a number of different jig skirt colors. In assessing so many colors, almost everyone forms the same questions at first along these lines:

  • "Why are there so many different colors?"
  • "Which color do you use where or when?"
  • "Can one angler really even use - or need - so many colors?"
  • "How can one possibly cope with or manage so many colors?"
  • "When all is said and done, what are the very best jig colors?"

So that's why I'd like to first summarize for you some of the feedback I have gotten from anglers who use skirted jigs worldwide. This may help to narrow down some of the most popular and productive jig colors for you.

First, let's sidestep down nostalgia lane. Historically, black or brown jigs (with various accent colors such as a thin swatch of blue or purple) seem most popular. This may be because originally, latex rubber jigs (also called "living rubber") were really only available in black or brown rubber (with accents of red, blue, orange or purple rubber). There weren't many other color options for latex rubber jigs.

Nowadays, most jigs are silicone, not latex rubber. There are many more color options today with silicone. Nevertheless, the black, black blue, black red, brown and brown purple colors still rank among the most popular, no doubt due in part to their long legacy as limited colors of living rubber.

Various good green color skirts, never really possible in living rubber, are nowadays gaining popularity as silicone skirts.

The "Dark Green Pumpkin" and the "Green Pumpkin Blend" are popular jig colors today. They have been used in a handful of tournament wins made by anglers.

The "Green Sunfish" color always seems to get mentioned as a good producer by anglers, especially on weedy lakes.

Another that always gets good feedback is the "June Bug Bluegill" used on jigs in murky water like deltas, muddy rivers and such.

A short list of other skirt colors that anglers tend to write me about most often to say they've done quite well with these colors on jigs include:

  • Black Blue
  • Black Blue Flash
  • Black Brown Craw
  • Olive Pumpkin
  • Green Pumpkin Olive
  • Brown Purple
  • PBJ Flash
  • Peanut Butter Jelly

A number of other colors certainly produce well too. I could mention another 6 or 8 good jig colors but I don't want to water down the list here. Just note that there are some other very good skirt colors - but the ones already listed above are the most popular color jig skirts cited by anglers who have done well worldwide. So that's the short list of what seems to be the top jig colors used by anglers.

Additionally, in Europe, anglers show a lot of confidence in the rusty red craw and black neon jig colors.

Across North America, are there regional differences reported in terms of jig colors? No. Dramatic differences are not reported from anglers in different regions across North America, including the USA, Canada and Mexico.

Where differences do exist, they seem to stem from water clarity, depth and whether weedy or rocky cover.

For instance:

  1. Anglers who fish areas with overall shallower, darker water tend to report success on the various black blues, black reds, june bug bluegill and other darker-than-average colors.
  2. Anglers who fish areas with overall deeper, clearer impoundments (usually = rocky) tend more toward various browns, especially brown purples or peanut butter jelly colors.
  3. Anglers who fish areas with overall shallower, clearer water (usually = weedy) tend to rely more on various greens - green pumpkin, watermelon and olive jig colors.

Those are the major differences I hear from anglers about what jig colors seem best where.

In terms of jig styles (flipping, football, Arkey power, Arkey finesse, etc.) there does not seem to be differences in colors based on different jig styles, except where the differences are because of what is already reported above. What I mean is, more blacks, black blues, black reds get favored on flipping jigs because flipping tends to be done in shallower, often murkier areas. Conversely, more browns are used on football jigs because they are used in deeper areas. So the differences are not because of the jig styles, but where they're used (shallow vs. deep, murky vs. clear, weedy vs. rocky for example).

One jig style that does vary from the others, however, is the Wisconsin style swimming jig. It is often used in baitfish color skirt patterns such as chartreuse shad, white shad and gold shiner for example. The other jig styles (football, flipping, Arkey, etc.) are not used as much in such baitfish colors.

In terms of the two most popular freshwater bass species:

  1. Largemouth anglers tend toward black-based and darker colors.
  2. Smallmouth anglers tend toward brown-based colors.

As you may realize by now, this is most likely since largemouth tend to be caught in relatively shallower, darker water. Smallmouth are more often caught in relatively deeper, clearer water.

Lastly, are there any "undiscovered stars" among the jig skirt colors in the store that anglers aren't using - but should be?

Well, among the other jig skirt colors, the assorted watermelon varieties, watermelon candies and others, are being used by anglers with good, steady success.

There are a few, however, that I am surprised that anglers do not use more. The brown oranges such as the Brown Sunfish, Brown Sunfish #2 and Green Craw. Always a good jig color combo, brown orange has been around since the beginning since it was one of the few colors possible in living rubber. With a watermelon trailer, brown orange jigs can be incredibly productive. Yet it surprises me that anglers do not seem to use brown oranges as much as I do.

Also, the green reds - Dark Watermelon Red Pepper, Dark Watermelon Red Belly and Rusty Green Craw - are steady producers that anglers should try more. And Green Monkey Shine and Dark Green Monkey Shine are admittedly unfamiliar yet awesome jig colors. A few anglers who have tried the Monkey Shines have reported outstanding results.

Practically all the jig skirt colors have been mentioned above - either by name or by generic color category. The few that haven't been mentioned yet are Rain Frog (a weird weedy color that defies classification), Natural Frog (with its chartreuse belly that's visible even in very heavy cover) and the combined brown greens like Warmouth Sunfish, Olive Brown Craw and Olive Cinnamon that combine both brown and green in the same skirt.

That's just about all the jig skirt colors now, and they're all good. Please enjoy and use them with confidence.

True, it does seem at first like there are so many colors, and it may seem daunting how to possibly manage them all. But in time, it's really not hard to get a handle on them. All you have to do is try, and you may find the pieces of the puzzle all fall into place.

A really big step, in fact a leap, that few anglers ever make - is to realize that all these jig colors also work on spinnerbaits. After all, a spinnerbait is just a punk rock version of a jig with its nose pierced and a pair of flashy earrings dangling overhead.

An easier step is to realize all these jig colors equally apply to soft plastic lures. The only difference is the addition of smoke-based colors in soft plastics. But all the blacks, black reds, black blues, browns, brown purples, watermelons, green pumpkins and everything else about jig colors equally and fully applies to soft plastic lure colors too.

So when you master jig colors, you're also mastering soft plastic lure colors at the same time, and don't hesitate to apply the same colors to spinnerbaits also. You'll be pleased with the results.

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* Giving Fish too much Credit

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Fishing Articles by Colin D. Crawford
Giving Fish too much Credit
by Colin D. Crawford

A fish has two major things in its environment, the water it lives in and the weather that is changing, not only seasonally but day-by day, hour-by -hour and minute-by-minute. These two things alone control fish activity. The most unstable either the weather or water becomes, the more rapid these two factors change, and you'll see an effect on fishing. A fish cannot stand a fast change.

A lot of people don't realize that fish move on a seasonal and daily basis, and when they move they use underwater structure, essentially the bottom of the lake that is just a little different. Things like bars, underwater humps and manmade structure like submerged roadbeds, levees or riprap along dams or causeways.

When a fish leaves its sanctuary, to eat or search for food, it has to have something visually to follow. A fish is a stupid creature. It cannot rationalize like a human being, and when it moves about it must have something it can follow. Fish don't swim about a lake haphazardly. Not only can they see structure but, we can also locate that same structure with our observations of land, depthfinders and the feel of the lures on the bottom.

Largemouth bass will be in 30 to 35 feet of water the bulk of the season, and in winter they will be a little bit deeper if that depth is available.

The most important thing to remember is that the larger a fish becomes the tighter it schools and the more time it spends in deep water. A fish lives there because it is forced there by environment over a period of time. When a fish becomes an adult, its body takes longer to make adjustments to the changing conditions of the water and weather. It's easier for it to make these adjustments in deep water. The deeper you go, the more stable conditions will become. A fish can stay there for weeks. It doesn't have to move into the shallows all summer.

Is there enough food and oxygen down deep to support fish populations? Absolutely there's food. There are shad, baitfish, and bluegills at 35, 45 feet. A fish's menu may change and it may be less selective, but it doesn't have to move shallow to feed. But you have to keep this in mind: When a fish is down deep it's probably dormant and its body requires very little food. It is just sitting there and not expending much energy, so it really doesn't need any food. This also makes for difficult fishing, and you have to get your lures closer to them. A strike zone is very small in deep water, because of visibility and the lethargic nature of the fish.

We all know that a fish requires certain amounts of oxygen to survive. You must remember that a fish is a very adjustable creature, and when there is a very small amount of oxygen in an area it will adjust, unless the situation gets to a point where there is just not enough to survive. But no one has proven that a fish has a preferred oxygen zone. Structure in relation to deep water is our guide to finding fish.

We've heard hundreds of times that "you can't catch fish in this lake because of the thermocline and there's not enough oxygen down there," and invariably we go find a deep hump and bang there is the walleye or smallmouth.

When big, adult fish do move out of this deep water they leave as a school. Even muskie school, contrary to some things you may have read. The reason most people don't realize this is because they are not fishing the depths correctly.

A good level wind reel is essential and a good graphite rod that has the potential for a long sweep of the rod tip so that when those "eyes" hit, it has some give. I prefer to use the downrigger variety of rods. They have the sensitivity and the backbone that I need for this type of system.

You should start with a level wind reel spooled with 500 feet of 8 pound test line, tie in a segment of one, two or three colors of 18 pound leadcore, and finish with another 50 feet 8 pound test, as a leader to the bait.

The length of the leadcore segment varies by the type of crankbait you'll be using and the depth you need to achieve. For example, in the late fall's chilly water, I've found walleyes to prefer subtle action lures like a Reef Runner Ripstick. To get this shallow-diving bait down 30 to 40 feet you need three segments of leadcore. If we're using a deeper diving lure like a Reef Runner Deep Diver you can achieve the same depths with just two segments of leadcore. The general rule is high action crankbaits for warm water, subtle action for cool water.

When you find a concentration of fish in over 40 feet of water and they are suspended at 30 feet, start from the bottom and work your bait up to the strike zone. Most anglers would try to determine how much line to let out until they were in 30 feet of water. The easiest method is to let out line until you are on bottom and then crank in line until you have a strike.

A fish basically is a fish, and it reacts to the environment accordingly. If you keep the basics in mind you will catch the species that you are after.

If you are interested in reading more about this technique or other techniques you can find me on the web at If you are interested in a guided trip, a personal media interview, or photo shoot, please call 715-545-8347. I am located in the Phelps, Wisconsin area.

This Fishing Article is brought to you by Colin D. Crawford

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