Msg 1 Posted: 09:49 AM 07/07/06 (CST)
Rip JigginMore To It Than Meets The Eye|
BY MARK MARTIN
While donning a pair of polarized sunglasses and peering through the calm waters surface of early morning, Ive seen walleye cruising over the weed tops in shallow water. These fish were there to do one thing and one thing onlyeat!
Insects, crustaceans, minnows, and young-of-the-year fishall are all fair game for a walleye hunting thick matted weed beds scattered about shallow water. One of the best ways to catch walleye in these areas is to rip jig, either with live bait or a with rubber-bodied lure, which imitates all the aforementioned.
Is rip jigging a simple technique? Oh yeah. There is, however, more to it than meets the eye.
Simply put, rip jigging is not much more than just a cast out into a patch of weeds and giving a quick lift, then drop, of the rod tip; giving a swim and fall action to your bait. It is, however, the little things you dolike paying attention to exactly where you caught your fish; where your boat was in conjunction to the weeds and breaks; what lure or bait action tripped your fishs trigger, and the likewhich can turn a day of catching only a couple fish into a day with a livewell full of walleye.
Polarized glasses, sonar, GPS, rod, reel, and FireLine, all helped the author, walleye pro Mark Martin, catch this eater-sized walleye. Photo by David A. Rose.
A LITTLE BIT GOES A LONG WAY
Rule number one when rip jigging (or any jigging for that matter) is to always use the lightest weight jig you can get away with. If winds are calm I prefer to use a 1/16-ounce Northland Gum-Ball jig when fishing plastics, or, the same weight of Northland Fire-Ball jig when using live bait.
Why two different style jig heads? Gum-Ball jigs have a long shank hook which works well when hooking up soft plastics. The hook protrudes from the lure further back in the body. The short-shank, wide-gap hook of a Fire-Ball jig is ideal for all live bait applications with crawlers, leeches, and minnows.
I am often asked why I prefer such a light-weight jig when fishing weeds. Well, two reasons, really. First, the slower the fall of a jig, the longer a walleye has to gobble it up before it hits bottom. Second, you dont want the jig to fall too deeply into the weeds. When fishing light-weight jigs your live bait or plastic tends to fall only to the top of the weeds, not deep down inside. For the most part, feeding walleye swim along the top or outer edge of weed beds. It is the inactive fish which bury themselves into the weeds. Fish a jig which is too heavy andbesides the angler snagging up frequentlythe active eyes will never get a chance to see, let alone eat, your bait.
Are 1/16-ounce jigs the only weight I use? No, I may go to heavier jigs as the wind picks up; with 1/8-ounce and 1/4-ounce being the max for rip jigging.
For the most part, Ill start off using live bait, just in case the walleye are not real active. If, on the first or second pass trough an area, I find the fish are really sucking up my live bait presentations, Ill quickly switch over to plastics. If the bite slows with plastics, Ill then switch back to live bait.
A close-up of a four-inch Berkley Power Worm, a Northland Gum-Ball Jig, and a walleye fooled by the rig. Photo by David A. Rose.
If the walleye bite is on, and plastics are the choice, Ill try several different shapes and sizes to see what action and profile the fish prefer.
Overlooked by most anglers are rubber worms, like Berkley four-inch Power Worms, Berkley three-inch Gulp! Fry, and three-inch Gulp! Crawlers (although Gulp! is not truly a plastic, but a soft baitan all natural, biodegradable bait), and Northlands new four-inch Slurpies Ringworm. Hook these baits up to a Gum-Drop Jig (or new Northland Lip-Stick Jig Worm Head), cast em out, let them fall to the tips of the weeds, and start rip jigging.
No matter the plastic or live bait used, rip jigging consist of the following: cast out, quickly snap, or lift, the rod tip (to about 11 oclock), drop the rod tip (to about 9 oclock) and repeat the process all the way back to the boat.
Other great rip jigging plastics which walleye have a hard time passing up are Berkley three- and four-inch Gulp! Minnows, Berkley four-inch Power Grubs, and Northland two-, three-, and four-inch Slurpies Swimn Grubs.
As for colors to use, that always depends on water clarity. The clearer the water, the more natural colorslike pumpkinseed, shiner, black, and white (all the aforementioned with perhaps a hint of bight orange chartreuse, or green)and bright colors working best in dingy, tannic, or mud-stained water.
No matter the water clarity, one thing I have found to be a saving grace (even when using live bait) is the use of scent on my jigs. A quick spray of Dr. Juices Tournament Walleye Super Juice on my jig every so often has, in my opinion, triggered strikes which would not have normally occurred without it.
EQUIPMENT FOR RIP JIGGING
When rip jigging youll want to use a sensitive, six- to seven-foot, medium-light action graphite rod. My preference is Berkleys one-piece, six-foot, six-inch medium-light, Series One, spinning rod (SOS661ML). You will also want to use a light-weight reel which balances out well with the rod. My choice is an Abu Garcia 500ABL (C501ALB).
The proper line, when rip jigging, is essential; my preference is six-pound test Berkley FireLine, flame green in color. The bright color of the line will help you detect the light bite of a walleye.
When a walleye sucks in a jig, it will usually do so while the jig falls. Even with a taut line, there is enough slack on the fall that a walleye can suck and spit out your bait without you ever feeling it. Bright colored line (including mono such as six- to eight-pound test Berkley Trilene Iron Silk, solar mint in color, and Berkley Vanish Transition, going from invisible under water to an easy-to-see gold out of the water) allows me to visibly see the line TWITCH when a walleye strikes, rather than waiting for the feel of the hit; which once felt, may be too late.
When fishing a lake with clear water, Ill use my Solar Bat polarized sunglasses to find weed beds in shallow water (four to 12 feet deep). Once I spot weeds, Ill keep my Lund off the deep side of the weed bed while using my bow-mounted Motor Guide electric trolling motor. With a cast just inside the weed bed (not too farmaybe 15 feet at the most) Ill rip jig back to the boat, paying special attention to the scattering of weeds on the outer edge of the bed.
In stained water, Ill mark the weeds on my lcX-111c HD (in split-screen modesonar on one side, GPS on the other) then place an icon on the GPS so as to come back to that area later on. In conjunction with the lcX-111c HD Ill use a Navionics chip to shows me where all the breaks lines lie. Some break lines will lie right within the weed beds Im fishing. These can be especially good areas to target.
As I catch fish, Ill place an icon on the GPS screen, and then come back later to fish it again. After I feel all the active walleye have been caught from the area, Ill again come back, motor over the weed bed, and watch the sonar to see what it was that was holding that fish there. Be it a rock pile buried within the weeds, wood, or a change in bottom composite, all can be seen on the screen of the Lowrance.
Rip jigging is a simple but deadly technique. Find the weeds, either with your polarized glasses or sonar, and cast rubber or live bait. Lift, drop, reel; lift, drop, reel; repeat its as simple as that. Pay attention to little details, like breaklines, and jig action, and whether the fish want live bait or plastics, and youll catch plenty of fish.
IF IT'S WET...IT'S CATCH'N FISH