How to Choose the Right Jig Head Style for Bass Fishing

Don’t get stuck in the weeds and miss your chance to reel in a big one. This bass season, check out these Pro Tips to help you pick the perfect setup to handle any situation.

There’s no need to be “weighed down” with indecision regarding jig heads. True, there are a myriad of shapes, styles and materials on the market, but Pro Tips is here to help take the guesswork out of your next tackle purchase and help ensure you load up your box with the most effective — and popular — styles of jig heads for the right situations and conditions on the water.

FOOTBALL HEAD

Situations: Rocky/hard bottom, deep water, vertical presentations, docks.

Advantages: This wide head style is great for rocky situations. It’s more likely to roll and deflect instead of getting stuck between rocks, potentially saving you a ton of headaches when the smallmouth bass are biting. The placement and position of the line tie is meant to keep the hook pointed upward, which can result in better hooksets fishing in this type of structure.

The football head style tends to come in heavier weights and has good motion transfer to feel the bottom, making it a good choice for deep-water jig fishing. The design of the head puts a good portion of the lead or tungsten in front of your line tie as well.

“With the weight being out in front of the hook, it’s going to fall very vertically, which is obviously great around vertical structures like dock pilings and things like that,” says Conlon.

This can be utilized in varying situations, such as standing timber or docks with deeper water beneath them.

A football head is typically fished with more of a dragging motion when thrown over a hard bottom structure. This enables the shape of the jig head to impart a natural erratic motion to the jig.

BRUSH HEAD

Situations: Shallow laydowns, trees or bushes, offshore brush piles.

Advantages: This style can be more situation-specific than others, but it could result in fewer lost lures. The line ties with this style will be set up perpendicular to the hook and on some models the lead will be molded around the line tie. The lead and tie should create a triangular shape and a line direction that allows the jig to come up and over brush, limbs and cover without snagging.

“When you come up over top of branches and things, it’s not going to catch. It’s going to pull over nice and easily, so this is really your heavy wood cover option for any type of bass fishing,” says Conlon on the benefits of the brush head’s profile.

The brush jig head style can also display a more vertical presentation on the bottom, resulting in a trailer that sits in a higher position more reminiscent of a defensive crawfish, drawing the attention of big bass. This head style is ideal for flipping and pitching in heavy, solid cover in shallow water.

A brush head is typically hopped or shaken through heavy cover when fished.

SWIM HEAD

Situations: Clear water, deep water structure, grass or weed beds, reaction bites, current.

Advantages: The slim design of a swim head is ideal for swimming or reeling jigs for a moving presentation. Typically, a swimbait is used as a trailer with this jig head style to imitate baitfish. The line tie is in line with the hook, keeping the presentation tight and compact.

A heavy version of the swim head is great for deep bottom structures such as ledges, road beds and creek channels, where ambush predators like northern pike lurk. A lighter weight version is ideal for fishing shallow vegetation, to help draw out largemouth bass. These heads also work especially well on days with changing weather conditions, when the fish aren’t interested in a slower presentation.

This jig style can also be productive in situations where current plays a big factor like rivers, streams or neck down areas, where baitfish are forced into concentrated or smaller locations on windy days.

GRASS/WEED HEAD

Situations: Heavy vegetation, shallow or deep water.

Advantages: This style is designed to be sleek and slim. Similar to a swim jig style, but with a different hook angle and bottom presentation, grass or weed heads feature a line tie aligned with the hook. This head is also slim, pointy and long. This allows the jig to penetrate and cut through heavy vegetation without getting caught on its way through cover.

Grass/weed heads are typically fished slowly through vegetation with pulling, hopping or dragging motions.

ARKY HEAD

Situations: Vegetation, shallow or deep water, fishing through different covers and all-around performance.

Advantages: A great, versatile style suited for any bass fishing situation, the arky jig head can help bolster your fishing skills as a solid introductory lure. It’s great for beginners still learning their way around bass fishing.

Arky heads are pretty universal, making them just as efficient when flipping and pitching as they are when used as a swim bait.

“You can throw this in deep water, you can throw this in shallow water, heavy cover, open water,” Conlon says.

If you’re looking to own just one lure style, the arky head could be your best option to cover multiple fishing techniques.

BONUS PRO TIP: Lead jig heads can be a traditional, cost-effective option. Use tungsten for better sensitivity and durability, since these have a higher density allowing for smaller profiles with heavier weight. Be sure to double check with your state fishing regulations to confirm if lead weights are permitted. They are prohibited in some areas.