There are certain days when a vertical jigging approach is the best way to catch the most and biggest smallmouth bass in a lake.
I’ll share some tips to improve your success for this effective presentation. Whether you use tubes, drop-shot rigs or spoons, practicing your vertical presentation during the summer will ensure you’re ready to catch fat, football-sized bronzebacks come autumn!
Master Controlling Your Boat
Properly presenting vertical jigging baits to smallmouth in deep water begins with having control over your fishing boat. Allowing yourself to get pushed out of position by wind, waves, and current not only moves you off prime fishing areas, but also interferes with your presentation.
A trolling motor with sufficient power to pull your boat is a must for many bass anglers. In wavy conditions, lower the shaft as much as possible to prevent the prop from coming out of the water. Be sure to keep your batteries fully charged and maintain your motor.
Drift socks or sea anchors are another important piece of equipment. These devices are relatively inexpensive and can slow down your drift speed enough so you can methodically work over structures such as mid-lake shoals for bass. Also, in rough water, neglecting your boat position duties can quickly get your blown off course.
Finally, keep your boat organized. Have all the gear you need, from fishing lures to release tools, close at hand.
Electronics: Find And Stay On Fish
Wandering out and away from shore is intimidating for many anglers as shoreline reference points can quickly fade out of focus, and locating off-shore spots can be challenging. Yet GPS technology makes navigating to and staying on offshore structures easier than ever before. Using fishing chart data, mark a reef or a point as a waypoint and return to it on future outings. Of course, in rough water having a GPS unit at your bow helps you stay on position.
Equally as important as GPS mapping technology is quality sonar. Color units provide dramatically more data than black and white models, specifically bottom composition details as well as improved readability of the screen’s display. It’s wise to cruise around known deep-water areas until you mark fish before dropping a line in the water.
Jigging Tips: Power And Finesse
With boat control and electronics out of the way, it’s time to share some tips on vertical jigging. This presentation is both a finesse and power style of fishing. Harnessing the power of wind or waves, it’s easy to drift over areas quickly working baits. Heavy jigging spoons, such as Northland’s Buckshot, Rattle Snakie, and Hopkins’ Shorty Spoon, make great baits to cover water in search of active fish. Although snapping these baits hard will trigger reaction strikes, using spoons with a hair-dressed treble can sometimes add a bit more attraction, and is a teaser for smallies to hit when the bait is at rest.
Vertical jigging is also an excellent finesse method. In the past I’ve been a fan of shaking tube jigs and small grubs through the last two feet of water off bottom. This tactic has boated me plenty of quality fish. Recently though, I’ve become a convert to drop-shotting. With the weight separated and below the bait detecting strikes is easy. By customizing the depth of your offering off bottom you can literally wave a finesse plastic in front of a fish’s nose, teasing it until it can’t take it any longer and strikes the offering.
Some of my favorite drop-shot baits include Berkley’s Gulp Alive! leeches and minnows, 4-inch stick baits, and various teaser minnows, such as Set The Hook’s Drop Shot Minnows. Another great product for drop-shot rigs are StandOut drop-shot hooks. Simply tie the hook on and thread the dropper line through the lower eye guide. It ensures the rig is set with the hook point facing up every time.
Vertical jigging for smallmouth bass is an excellent tactic to take big fish throughout the year, but it’s often dynamite in late summer and autumn. With proper boat control and quality electronics, you’ll be able to find and stay on fish. Then it’s just a matter of mixing up either fast and aggressive, or finesse fishing tactics until you discover what the fish want on a given day.
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