How Slow Should I Fish A Jig in Winter?

Jeff Little drops some awesome winter jig knowledge and how he can find good fish even with sub-40 cold water temps. 

How slow should I fish a jig in Winter? I had been asked that question dozens of times before I really knew the answer. Sure, countless hours of fishing in water temperatures below 40 had taught me that the pause far exceeded the slow drag, and forget about hopping it. But one day in particular really opened my eyes to what the crawfish are doing in cold water.

The water temperature that day was between 36 and 37 degrees. Hopping out to relieve myself, I noticed what I assumed was a crawfish shell in the shallows. But when I picked it up, it wasn’t hollow, and it moved. It moved so imperceptibly slow that I wanted to put my jig side by side with the real McCraw.

Filming the jig side by side with the craw for a Winter River Smallmouth DVD, I finally admitted to myself that I could not work it slow enough. Any movement I made with the jig was too jerky to match the slow clumsy movements of the crawfish I caught. Watch the video link below and you’ll see what I mean.

So that leaves us with the conundrum of how to fish slower than we possibly can. The answer is that you do what works: deadsticking and hoping that a fish is in the area, saw it descend to the bottom, and eventually gets to it. Even if they wander over to your jig, that doesn’t guarantee a bite.

Little slow jig
Jeff Little with a Winter jig fish

Two things that will improve your chances of getting that cold water jig bite are 1. Round Rubber and 2. Scent. The jigs that I tie feature a sparse silicone skirt layered with brown or black round rubber. The same springy legs that fly tiers put on terrestrials like grasshopper flies do very well on a jig. The movement of this old school material is perpetual. It’s cheap material too. Tie some on a jig head, put it in your sink, and see how long it takes for the round rubber strands to stop moving.

That sort of built in movement without the lure moving away is as close to what a cold craw really does as we can come up with. The next step is making it smell right, so that a close up inspection of a winter largemouth or smallmouth results in a hit. Over the years, I’ve used Smelly Jelly, Mega Strike and other paste based scents. One that I’ve started using recently and really like is called Liquid Mayhem. It doesn’t last as long as Mega Strike, but the bass are retaining the bait in their mouth a long time. That means that even when I don’t feel the initial suctioning in of my jig, I feel the throb of the bass and can set the hook on it solidly.

So if you aren’t getting bit this winter on a jig, chances are that you’re moving it too fast. And if your moving it slow and not getting bit, you might need to stop moving it all together, and have faith in the inherent motion in place of a jig and the scent that will seal the deal.

The video above has been provided free by Tight Line Junkie Journal. It is normally a subscription based video site that covers tips and tricks for lots of species in lots of different environments. If you’d like to try out TLJJ for one month free use code: 1FREEMONTHTLJJ when you go to

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