It seems like in many parts of the nation, anglers who enjoy jigging have shifted from using a straight lead-head jig to casting with a skirted head. Does it really make a difference? And if so, how do you know what skirt to pick out?
After several years of mixing up skirts and skirtless, a few basic conclusions have come to light. First off, yes, having a skirt added to the jig absolutely, positively does get you more bites in some situations. I make this assertion only after watching two anglers side by side doing the exactly same thing have significantly different results, multiple times. Once we even had the anglers trade rigs to make sure it wasn’t anything related to jigging style. However, it certainly doesn’t always make a difference. And yes, on a few occasions we’ve also seen the straight jig head out-fish the skirted variety. I’d love to be able to say there was an obvious reason or factor, but as is often the case with fishing, it seems to make no rhyme or reason – sometimes one just gets more bites than another. The bottom-line lesson is to carry both styles, and when the fishing seems to be below par, switch them up.
Another constant observed while fishing skirted jigs is that color contrast is a huge factor, perhaps the biggest when it comes to added effectiveness. A pink skirt over a lime-green tail, a chartreuse skirt mix-matched with a purple tail, or a white skirt over a red tail – whatever. Any one of these could prove to be most effective on any given day, but the key factor is simply that you’ll usually get more bites if the skirt and tail don’t match up.
Finally, skirted jigs really shine when fish are hanging deep, and you need a fairly large jig head to reach them. I surmise that this may be due to the way the skirts slow the lure’s drop, though this is just a guess. Whether it’s correct or not, skirted jigs do seem to be the most effective when fish are staging at or near bottom in 20-plus feet of water.
So: do I always fish skirted jigs these days? Heck no. But you can bet I always have a full selection of sizes and colors in my tacklebox, and none of them sit around too long before getting a test-cast or two.