Chris Johnston’s jig tacklebox

Learn how Elite Chris Johnston dials in jig details and matching trailers for success.

Chris Johnston came into the Bassmaster Elite Series in 2019 as a perceived smallmouth expert. And why not? In 2020 the Canadian won the Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River on, you guessed it, smallmouth. 
Labeling Johnston as a smallmouth guru is legit. Johnston has also proven many times he’s equally as adept at catching largemouth where they flourish in Southern waters and elsewhere. 
Johnston is especially skilled at flipping and pitching a jig in heavy cover, and this tacklebox filled with those lures proves the point. 
The SPRO CJ Flip, bearing his initials, is testimony to the fact Johnston has the skills to excel at the technique. Today, jigs are highly technical due to the demands of anglers wanting an extra edge on the competition, both finned and human. The CJ Flip is built with a premium 4/0 Gamakatsu jig hook with hand-tied skirts. 
A versatile choice is this 3/4-ounce CJ Flip in matte black. “The jig is designed with an ideal head profile for skipping, and it comes through wood easily without hanging up,” Johnston said. “It also functions on the bottom like a football jig.” You get one jig for three different applications instead of needing to use different jigs for each scenario. 
This 3/4-ounce model is Johnston’s choice for fishing through milfoil in the 5- to 10-foot strike zone. 
“I can punch it through canopies of milfoil and get it quicker into the strike zone.” Johnston also favors the jig for deeper lakes with ledges in 15 of water or deeper. 
This 1/2-ounce CJ Flip is the most popular in the lineup and for good reason. 
The weight covers the 3- to 10-foot strike zone that is typical for fishing around docks. Alternatively, add a swimming trailer to slow the fall for suspended bass along rocky bluffs. 
Johnston chooses the 3/8-ounce size for shallower water. “I use it in 3 feet or less depth zones,” Johnston said. “You get a more natural, subtle presentation for bass easily spooked by baits.” Johnston adds a standard jig trailer (without a kicking action) for added strike appeal. This weight is ideal for shallow docks. 
Johnston keeps his trailers in two separate bags for easy access and identification for matching with conditions specific to the size and application of each jig. “I use standard flat chunks without a kicking action for flipping,” Johnston said. “Chunks with swimming action are best for swim jigs, or for slower flipping presentations and skipping around docks.” 
Johnston adds this Strike King Rage Chunk to a 3/8-ounce CJ Flip for flipping. “It will slow the fall and add kicking action, while the tails add a swimming action while on the bottom.” Johnston favors a strike zone up to 3 feet for this package, and he’ll also skip it beneath docks. 
Johnston uses a Zoom Small Salty Chunk on a 3/8-ounce CJ Flip. Gently shaking the rod allows the tip to impart the needed action, with bites occurring on the fall. To make the jig profile more compact, he will trim the skirt up to below the hook.
A side-by-side comparison of both rigs.