In early fall, the bass in most reservoirs gang up on offshore structure like points, humps, and ledges. One of the most efficient ways to locate and catch these offshore bass is with a football jig. Football jigs do a great job of imitating bottom feeding forage species like crawfish, darters, and sculpin.
As effective as they are at catching offshore bass though, fishing a football jig effectively requires a bit of practice, the right setup, and the right attitude.
Here’s how to fish football jigs:
To effectively cover water with a football jig, you’ll want to choose a rod long enough to cast far and pick up lots of line, sensitive enough to feel a distant bite, and strong enough to bury the hook from 30 yards away. Most top pros opt for longer rods in the 7 foot 2 inch to 7 foot 6 inch range, with a fast action and medium heavy to heavy power. They commonly pair this with 12 to 17 pound fluorocarbon line, and a high speed reel. In less than 15 feet of water, start out with a ½ ounce jig, and move up to ¾ or 1 ounce as the water deepens. The goal should be able to feel the bottom throughout the retrieve without too much trouble.
Use your electronics to locate potential offshore structure like humps, saddles, ledges, and points. If you can find cover on these types of structures, like rocks or brush, that’s even more ideal. It pays to put your time in graphing before you fish, as you can often see whether there are even bass on the structure before you ever make a cast.
Once you’ve located a likely spot, make a long cast past the structure, and free spool your reel so the jig falls straight to the bottom. Once you’re on the bottom, keep the rod tip to the side and slowly drag the jig along the bottom, feeling for rocks, wood, or other structure. Pay attention, because sometimes the bite is nothing more than the line going slack or just feeling “mushy.” If you don’t get bit with a slow drag, either move to a different location, or experiment with some hops, or even a quicker drag. Sometimes the bass want football jigs with a specific retrieve, so it pays to experiment a little if you think you’re around fish.