I’ll never forget the first bass I caught on a football jig, it literally changed me forever. For whatever reason it didn’t come easy to me, perhaps it was because I was so green that I can recall flipping Maynard’s boat docks on Minnesota’s, Lake Minnetonka with a football jig, definitely not the best choice in a jig but as I said, nothing ever came easy to me.
Though and behold, I did manage to put two and two together and remember like it was yesterday my first bass that I clothes-lined with a ½ oz. football head. I was on Cook’s Bay on Lake Minnetonka’s west end. Lowrance Structure Scan wasn’t available just yet and I was forced to try to figure out where these hard bottom areas were by studying my Navionics Mapping Chip and actually fishing all the underwater points and humps. What a concept right? Actually needing to fish to practice! A lot has changed in just a few short years; I’m surprised I ever managed to catch fish without my Structure Scan.
** Josh Douglas showing off his go-to football jig setup and his hand-tied Outkast Touch Down JIg and new G Loomis GLX series jig rod.**
I recall making the perfect cast to the very edge of the grass line, I snapped the jig free off the grass and as the jig fell from the grass and started banging into the rocks I felt that infamous “tick”. I swung back and loaded into a solid 4 pound largemouth! I can honestly say to this day, I’ve never been the same.
That day changed me forever. I caught that fish on the first cast but after making the same cast about ten times in a row, I managed to catch at least a half dozen fish all three pounds or better. I went from being a shallow water flipper and boat dock skipper to a legit deep water fisherman in a very short time.
Ever since that day, I lean on a football head jig as one of my go-to baits as I continue to climb the ladder of professional bass fishing. Now living in Tennessee and fishing the giant reservoirs that litter the Tennessee River, I use a football head as much as any other bait and there’s no better than the Outkast Touch Down Jig. No matter where I’m at in the country, the Touch Down Jig comes through the thickest cover and is virtually snag free over the nastiest of structures and the stout hook insures excellent penetration on long casts.
I’ve also learned to fine tune my presentations over the years. I’m a firm believer in creating a reaction bite as bass generally only eat for two hours a day. Being that they don’t have hands, they are forced to use their mouths to react. This is often why studded anglers like KVD are so successful, they use crankbaits to force feed unwilling bass. Imagine you are standing next to me but not paying any attention to what I was doing and all of a sudden I call your name and toss you something undesirable and unexpectedly. Even though you have zero interest in holding whatever it is I’m throwing at you, I took you by surprise so your instinct is to put your hands out in an attempt to catch or stop the object from hitting you. In a basses world, bass don’t have hands, so instead they are forced to use their mouths to react, couple in the fact that they are highly territorial and you can seemingly catch bass all day that have no interest in eating your bait, you’re simply forcing them to react.
I’ve used a Biovex Deep Runner Crankbait to do this for years as its erratic swimming action and its ability to grind through the gnarliest of structures makes it an awesome way to power fish and catch both active and inactive bass. Although this is a hardcore power fishing way to catch them sometimes a bit more stealth is required or perhaps the cover is so heavy that a crankbait is simply not an option. When this is the case, there’s no better choice than the Outkast Touch Down Jig but there’s little things you can do to make this presentation better produce.
** Josh Douglas showing a screen shot from his Lowrance Gen2 HDS 10 of a rock pile scattering out toward deeper water. Make note of the upper right hand corner where the rock is the thickest and the smaller little dots showing a school of bass.
First off, pull up to your favorite rock pile and use your Lowrance Structure Scan to map out the rocks showing you everything from the thickest structure, to where the baitfish are concentrated as well as aiding you in setting up your casts so that your jig is in the strike zone for the longest period of time. Generally, I mark a waypoint on my Lowrance where the rocks start and again where they end so that when I jump up on the deck, I can see my boats position to the structure through my ability to sync my Lowrance network together.
Once I’m familiar with the structure, I’ll heave a cast or ten with the Touch Down Jig. It’s important to keep them honest and if they are hungry, they’ll bite it every single time. If I’m not getting any bites working the jig like a crawfish over the rocks it’s time to force feed. There’s two ways I’ll do this but first I need to modify my jig. First off, I’m going to remove any rattle. The fish already know of my presence and after 10 casts are very familiar with my tricks, it’s time to get stealthy. My goal is to creep up on them all finesse-like and then startle them, forcing an angry bite and at this point, the rattle will surely give me away. Next I’m going to trim down my skirt and also put on a smaller more compact trailer like the Lake Fork Tackle 4” Craw. I don’t want a big bulky skirt or a bulky trailer as that will slow my fall, instead I want something that I can snap up and down quickly and at the same time falls fast, again think reaction. One more small modification would be to use lighter line; I generally always use 15lb. Seaguar Invizx as the lighter the line the quicker the fall and the lighter the line, the better action your bait will have. Don’t go too light though remember you are sticking hogs in their terrain, anything from 12 to 20 lb. fluoro will do the trick depending on conditions. Just remember, the lighter the line the better the baits action.
Once I’m ready and I’ve fine tuned my jig there’s two ways to create that reaction strike, first I’m going to make a long cast but my goal is to land the jig into the edge of the weeds alongside the rock structure. This annoys some but I catch giants doing this, as soon as I know my jig has landed in the thick vegetation I’ll snap it free and almost every time that motion will create a bite. I’m convinced that largemouth live in the weeds and cruise the rocks when they’re hungry. This technique pulls the big ones away from the cover and startles them into biting. The other presentation is very similar but instead I use the rock boulders to my advantage and try to snag up my jig, once I do this I stroke the jig with a hard upward motion of the rod and then allow the bait to fall on a slack line and repeat this technique all the way back to the boat, creating an erratic action and coaxing that big bite.
It’s important that you use the right setup for this technique as you’ll need a long rod for long casts and ultra sensitivity for detecting these bites out in deeper water. My setup that I use is a G Loomis GLX 855C, which has a extra heavy backbone to pull the bass away from cover and helps penetrate the hook on a long cast. I always use a fast gear ratio reel to help pick up the slack line quick, because when stroking a jig, the bass will grab it on the drop 90% of the time. I like the Shimano Chronarch 200E7, which has a large spool that will hold plenty of Seaguar Fluorocarbon for making long casts.
To take it to the next level, Bassmaster Central Open Pro, Andy Young, who resides right off the shores of Lake Minnetonka in nearby Mound, goes further yet to entice that reaction bite. He agrees that the weedline is the super highway that feeds the deep rocks but also knows that the end of the rocks, wherever the bottom transition changes from rock to mud will hold another school of bass and generally fat ones too.
** Andy Young showing off two giant bass caught off the same rock pile on consecutive casts with a 3/4 oz. Outkast Touch Down Jig.**
“I’ve found that the Outkast Touch Down Jig has specific properties that produce more bites,” explains Young. “The stand up head design keeps my craw style trailer pointed up exactly like a live craw does when it feels threatened.”
Andy also tries to create a reaction strike when the bass aren’t cooperating but he too finds it beneficial to think outside the box by switching out his craw trailer for that of a 10 or even 12 inch ribbontail worm. “A lot of times, I just need to trigger a single strike from one in the school and that will activate the rest of them to start eating,” explains Young. “That big ribbontail worm will not only compliment a reaction strike by allowing my jig to hop up but it’s large profile size will elicit a strike from the largest bass in the school.”
With all the outdoor consumer shows coming up and the cabin fever consuming your every thought, get out and check out these fine products because the big bass will be roaming the deep haunts before you know it! See you on the water!
Josh Douglas is a professional tournament bass fisherman who spent endless hours fishing Minnesota’s, Lake Minnetonka. Now living off the Tennessee River, Southeastern Tennessee, he’s got the Bassmaster Opens, FLW Evertstarts and the PAA Tour slated for the 2013 season with the ultimate goal of qualifying for a world championship. When not on the water, Josh enjoys writing about his passion of bass fishing through numerous outlets including his personal website, www.joshdouglasfishing.com.
Andy Young is a professional angler who has years of experience on Lake Minnetonka and is a perennial tournament check casher no matter which body of water he fishes throughout Minnesota’s vast waterways. Andy has the Bassmaster Central Opens slated for the 2013 season as well as many local tournaments. For more information, check out his website at www.flipnfool.webs.com.