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New to Bass Jigs...

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I'm really not good at fishing with bass jigs, and can probably count on one hand the number of bass I've caught with one.  I know this is a major area for growth, and I'm planning on working on that the rest of this fall and moving forward.  I'd really like to tie up my own bass jigs.  Where do you get your skirt tabs from?  Granted, I saw the thread on here about how hard it is to get skirt tabs right now...

Is there a color pattern you would recommend starting with?  I think I'd like to start with a bluegill pattern, as that's what I've caught fish on so far.  I also fish some really clear, high pressured waters.  What tabs would you use to make a pattern like this?  I found a YT channel by Smalljow, and that's been really helpful.

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I get my tabs for LPO, Janns, Barlows, fishingskirts.com, jigjunkie and other ebay sellers, where ever I can find what I want.    I break down bass jigs into 2 main categories, crawfish and baitfish imitators. I usually shoot for 50-55 strands (2 and a half tabs) on both unless it is a finesse jig in which case I go for 40-44 (2 tabs).

With crawfish imitator jigs, I am usually casting to a target like a laydown, dock, or rock, letting the jig sink to the bottom and hoping/dragging it back along the bottom. I mostly use black, black/blue, green pumpkin varieties with a craw or chunk trailer. I would start with those colors on craw imitators. Green pumpkin works well in clear water. If it is super clear, I would try watermelons or a magic craw color. I sometimes use brown colors like big Texan. The crawfish imitator type jigs I use have Arkie type heads. I occasionally use football heads in rocks. Most of the skirts on these jigs are one color (2 and half tabs of the same color tab). The rest are 2 tabs of one color and a half tab of an accent color like 2 tabs of a brown and an orange accent half tab or 2 tabs of black with a half tab of blue for accent. You can add some additional color with the trailer. Menace grubs make good trailers as you can use them horizontally for craws and vertically if going for a baitfish look.

The baitfish imitating jigs (swim jigs) have more tapered heads, sort of bullet shaped. I cast these jigs out and retrieve with a slow to medium retrieve. I am using these to cover water horizontally, especially in weeds. They range in colors to match my local baitfish like gold shiner, perch, silver shiners, and bluegill. I use these jigs with a paddle tail swimbait, grubs, and ribbon tail worms with the head cutoff. The skirts on these are usually more complex involving 2-4 colors. I would recommend starting with either gold shiner, silver shiner / shad type color, perch or bluegill as you have stated.

For gold shiner, I put a half tab of black with gold flake for a back, main body of one and a half tabs of metallic gold/gold shiner/ or gold baitfish, and a half tab of chartreuse or orange (or a mix of the 2) for the belly or clear with gold flake for the belly for clear water.

For yellow perch, I use yellow or chartreuse with black stripes from the ‘living image’ or ‘real bait’ series for the main body, a half tab of black with gold flake or black with green flake for the back, a quarter to half tab of some type of orange for the belly. Different sellers call the striped tabs by different names.

For silver, I go with black with silver flake for the back or pumpkin with green flake for a back for more of an emerald shiner look, metallic silver or silver sil-a-chrome or a mix of the two for a main body, and white with silver flake or pearl for a belly. I sometimes modify this with a few strands of purple in the back and more of the white with silver or pearl for more of a shad look.

For bluegills, I have two type of skirts because in the northeast bluegill vary widely color. The first pattern is two tabs of green pumpkin blue flake with barbed wire stripes. The belly is comprised of some pumpkin with chartreuse tip and sapphire with green pumpkin tip, usually a quarter tab of each for the belly. The other pattern is a mix of the green pumpkin above with metallic gold or gold baitfish and sapphire with blue flake for more of a shiney clear water bluegill color.

I tried to go no less than a quarter of tab on a color and no more than 4 colors on a skirt. At 3-4 colors, it is hard to get them to line up to where you want them. Over 4 colors is a pain. I use silicone skirt bans. After I get the band on the tabs, I try to line up colors where I want them before cutting the tab ends off. It is easier to arrange the skirt with the tab ends intact. I put the skirt on the jig and adjust the tabs as necessary. Then, I will do any tying. I tie above the band and get the skirt locked in at the base of the head. Lately, I have just been putting a colored zip tie on top on the silicone band instead of any tying. After I get the skirt tied or banded, I cut the tab ends off.

When you buy your tabs, save a quarter to a half tab and the plastic bag it came in. A certain color may vary from company to company. Some vendors use the same series and/or color numbers. Having a tab sample with the label showing the company’s name and product number will make it easier to find replacements and do comparisons from company to company.
 

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 JD_mudbug told you where to buy skirt tabs from as there really is no "best place" to get them. As for your situation wanting to get better with a jig and the waters you fish, I can help with that.  The first thing with fishing a jig in clear water with a lot of pressure is the kind of jig you are going to use.  Using a standard type bass jig with 50 or 60 strands of skirt material isn't going to result in a lot of bites, in fact you'll take home a skunk more often than not. 

Look to make a downsized jig, 1/8oz to 5/16oz is the range you want to go with most of the time and 1/4oz will be like the best all purpose size. That isn't to say a larger full size jig isn't going to work, clear water isn't ideal for large jigs and add in high pressure and it practically eliminates a big jig. 

Skirts are going to be around 40 strands, that gives good movement with just a little bulk, you want to keep these jigs on the smaller, more compact size.  Bluegill colors are good but don't use a lot of bright colors, keep it on the natural side. A good bluegill pattern in a 1/4oz jig would be 30 strands of watermelon blue magic craw Dalmatian, 5 strands of blue shad Dalmatian, and 5 strands of perch belly. 

That color pattern does well in my clear water fisheries and most of the places I fish get a lot of pressure. A good craw pattern would be 25 strands of green pumpkin, 10 strands of brown, and 5 strands of natures edge orange. Now if you find the fish are really active and you are catching fish, that is when you may want to try the larger jigs with a full 50 or 60 strand skirt. Good luck with getting better with your jig tying and fishing.

Edited by smalljaw
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You may also be trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. That body of water may simply not be conducive to a fishing a skirted jig. You might want to try your jigs around cover that limits light penetration like under docks and lily pads, after heavy rain that creates some runoff to stain the water a bit, or on less clear water bodies.

1-2 times a year, I fish a lake in NH where you can see the bottom in 20 feet. I rarely catch bass on a jig there no matter how finesse or natural colored I make it. To catch bass there, you have to alter the way you fish. I don’t use braid there. I use clear mono, copolymer and fluorocarbon lines. If I want to bottom fish there, I throw natural looking baits like a Zoom ultravibe craw, Yum crawbug, or Nikko hellgrammite on a matching jig head or Texas rigged with a matching tungsten weight held to the bait with a sinker stop. The water is so clear I don’t want a skirt. I use plastic baits that have the carapace section lines and side legs as I know the fish get a great look at the bait. For swim jig type fishing on that lake, I just fish a finesse paddletail  on a matching jig head or belly weighted hook and avoid skirted swim jigs and big wide kicking paddletails. Not far from this super clear lake is a marshy lake with poor water visibility where you can throw obnoxious baits and big bulky jigs work great.

Give your jigs a fair chance and try them on a variety of water bodies. The jig that doesn’t get a lot of bites in clear water may get crushed in stained water.

Edited by JD_mudbug
typo
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Good ideas guys, thanks for the insight! I'm going to tie some up and try them out as the water cools. Thanks for sharing those patterns.

There are 3 primary bodies if water i fish locally. One has very stained water but gets a ton of pressure (lake Shabbona, in Shabbona, IL), another is a local pond that is also stained and pressured. The third is an old quarry thats 60' deep at its deepest point. The quarry also gets a lot of pressure.

The best (and only so far) bass I've caught out of the quarry was on a bluegill colored jig with a 4" white twister tail trailer.  I've caught a ton of bass out of the pond with spinnerbaits and plastics, but haven't fished a jig there much. Lake Shabbona has some good fish, but they get hit really hard throughout the summer. I'm hoping that throwing something different there might be helpful.

@JD_mudbug I love the idea of trying some really natural looking plastics in the quarry.

@smalljaw, I think I'll build my first bunch on 1/4 oz heads.

 

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I looked at Shabbona Lake on google maps. There aren't many nearby bodies of water. Because of the limited options and pressure, can you fish them on Wednesdays and Thursdays when the pressure is lower and the fish might be more settled from the weekend? Maybe before sunrise or at dusk? I am just trying to think of anything to give you an edge. Some of the lakes in my area I don't even bother going to on the weekends because of the fishing pressure and recreational boating. I feel the fish are still wary on Mondays because of the weekend boat traffic.

I take it for granted I can try new lures or techniques in waters that should be suited to them. I fish the Lakes Region in NH a lot. There are over a hundred bodies of water within short driving distance. They range across nearly every type of water body. Small 30 acre ponds to reservoirs to larger lakes like Winnipesaukee, Squam and Newfound. There all sorts of streams and rivers. You can fish water from super clear to chocolate milk. Cover can range from nearly weed-free rock and sand bottoms to weed-choked marshes. Some of the small 30 to 100 acre ponds don't receive much pressure. Some bodies you have to walk through woods and drag a kayak or jon boat to fish.

I have only fished a quarry a couple of times. I did well on tight wiggling subtle cranks like Shad Raps and silent lipless cranks, suspending jerkbaits, vertically jigging a Silver Buddy, and the realistic plastics. I noticed after I caught some fish on a given lure I had to switch to a different technique. It seemed the bass caught on real quick there. When it completely slowed down, I had to dead stick a fluke and even broke out the original Banjo minnow to get bites.

Good luck. If you do find a good jig pattern, let us know.

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Hey guys, here's my first jig. I used wire this time because I forgot to bring thread with me. Not sure about the wire, it's coated steel and seems kind of brittle. I used 24 gage. Either way, I think it looks alright.  I had to think it over a few times to not put the colors upside down. Gotta remember a jig's not a crankbait.

20211025_205921.jpg

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