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FOOTBALL JIGS OFFER SPECIAL ADVANTAGES FOR SUMMER FISHING

Posted 7/27/2010

Yamaha Pro Greg Vinson qualified for the Bassmaster Classic® during his rookie season on the Elite Tour in 2009, and he qualified for the Classic® again during this Elite season, and in both years he attributes nearly all of his success to one lure, a football jig.

"For me, the football head jig has all but replaced the Carolina rig when I'm fishing deeper water," says Vinson. "The jig allows me to cover a lot of water just like a Carolina rig, but it catches larger bass. This style of jig has been available for many years, but only recently, as we fish it more, have the tournament pros really started to understand its advantages."

Named because its head is shaped like a football, the lure has a distinct action as it is dragged along the bottom. The unusual head shape not only keeps the hook riding up so it doesn't snag as often as conventional jigs, the football shape also causes the jig to roll whenever it hits a rock, stick, or other cover. This rolling action brings any attached plastic trailer into a more natural-appearing upright position where it quickly gets the attention of nearby fish.

"This is why you always use a plastic trailer with this type of jig," continues the Yamaha Pro. "My favorite, and the favorite of most of the tournament anglers I know, is one that resembles a crawfish, because when the jig does roll over a piece of cover, those plastic claws look very realistic as they wave in the water.

"I also occasionally use a twin tail grub as a trailer, especially if shad are the primary forage in the lake. Most of the time, however, a crawfish imitation is all you'll ever need."

Football head jigs could hardly be easier to fish, because most of the time they're just dragged along the bottom. Vinson prefers using a ¾-ounce jig because it sinks quickly and is easy to feel as he drags it over gravel, rocks, or shells. If bass are suspended slightly above the bottom, he may hop the lure periodically to get their attention.

"Other times, I may 'stroke' the jig when I feel it touch a piece of cover," he adds. "I snap my rod upward quickly to make the jig jump five or six feet off the bottom, and sometimes this triggers a strike."

Football head jigs can be fished throughout the year, but Vinson particularly likes to use them during the summer. He rarely fishes them deeper than 20 feet, and he tries to use them along channel edges where bass have both depth and current.

"The very best places are junctions where a tributary creek channel intersects the main river channel in a lake, or where a small creek flows into a larger one," he explains. "I like to make casts upstream and then drag the jig downstream with the current so it looks more natural. In tournaments, I really like to concentrate more along the main river channel because the general area is larger and has more potential to produce more fish, but if I find a creek with good structure and a hard bottom, I'll certainly explore it, too."

The Yamaha Pro spends a lot of pre-tournament time studying lake maps to identify places like this, and he marks potential areas he later checks when he's on the water. Because he uses the heavier jig with more sensitive fluorocarbon line, he can identify the bottom composition almost immediately; if the bottom doesn't contain some hard rock or gravel, he won't fish it.

"If the bottom is soft, the jig sinks into the mud and doesn't roll when it bumps into a piece of cover," he explains. "What makes the football head design so effective is that rolling action, but you really only get it on a hard bottom. I know anglers who will use this as a flipping jig, but it wasn't designed for that purpose.

"This is a lure you just drag along the bottom, which is how I fished it at Guntersville, Pickwick, and Kentucky Lakes where I've had some of my best finishes the past two seasons. These really are easy lures to use because the action is already built into them."