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Here's how to jig your way to more trout

By: Cal Kellogg/The Fish Sniffer Magazine
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Here in California, trout are one of our favorite game fish. They have a wide distribution and often are free strikers. They’ll inhale baits, lures and flies with equal zeal.

But what about the times when the bite is off?

About a decade ago, I stumbled onto a lure that often draws strikes from fickle trout when nothing else will. I’m talking about 1- to 2½-inch tube jigs that weigh from 1/8 to 1/32 of an ounce. These tiny tubes are intended for pan fish, but I’ve found them to be dynamite when targeting trout that require a subtle presentation.

When fishing lakes, I either cast and retrieve tube jigs on a light-action seven-foot spinning rig spooled with four-pound test line, or I team the jigs with a slip bobber for a super stealthy vertical presentation.

When casting and retrieving jigs without a slip bobber, I like to work around areas of shoreline structure, such as rocky drop-offs and fallen trees. Typically, I cast the lure and count it down a few feet before I begin the retrieve.

One key when retrieving a jig is not to overpower the lure. Give the lure a couple of light twitches, wait a few seconds and then twitch it a bit more. Most strikes occur as the jig sinks, so it pays to keep an eye on the line and set the hook if you see the line move in an unnatural way.

When teaming tube jigs with a slip bobber, you’ll want to adjust your bobber stop such that the lure will come to a rest at the depth which you suspect the trout are cruising. This can vary from five to 50 feet, depending on the time of year and water temperature. When working deeper than 15 feet, you’ll need to add extra weight to the rig in the form of slip shot from 16 to 24 inches above the jig to get the rig down.

Working a jig beneath a slip bobber is simple. You should start by dead-sticking the bait without adding any action. If that approach fails to produce, start giving the jig some subtle movement by wiggling the tip of your rod on a semi-tight line. If this doesn’t produce, you can get more aggressive by slowly reeling the jig upward several feet before lowering it to its original depth on a semi-tight line.

In terms of color selection, I like to go with natural minnow imitating colors first, and if those fail to attract trout, I’ll deploy the bright-colored stuff.

This article comes courtesy of the Fish Sniffer Magazine, Northern California’s source for fishing information for more than 30 years. For a complimentary copy, call (800) 748-6599.