How I ‘mop up’ bigger bass

If you look at the history of fishing lures, several baits are trendy for a while and then fade to the back corner of the tacklebox.

Some of these baits may lose popularity among anglers because the fish on a given lake become conditioned when seeing them frequently. Some baits are replaced due to angler frenzy over a different hot trend.

But one lure that has remained a steady staple for decades is the skirted jig. Nearly every major lure maker offers a skirted jig because they have always caught fish.

There have been a few subtle changes over the years, but the basic function has remained the same.

However, the skirt on yesteryear’s jig was made of rubber. Most of today’s skirts are made of silicone.

That seemingly wouldn’t make a difference, but I’m here to tell you that it does.

Call me old school, but I believe the lively rubber skirted jig, often called a “mop jig,” will catch you bigger fish.

I’ve watched both types in the water and have seen rubber skirts be livelier and more tantalizing.

Not only do rubber skirting on jigs move seductively with the slightest current but I’m convinced that movement creates a subtle noise that pressured fish either hear or feel that you don’t get from silicone skirts.

I helped introduce the Buckeye Mop Jig to the country when I won a Bassmaster Elite at Clarks Hill in 2006. At that point it was a very small company that has since blossomed into a bigger company.

Buckeye called it a living rubber jig at that time, but that changed after I won at Clarks Hill, thanks in part to Kevin VanDam.

I roomed with Kevin during that event. We were rigging baits at the end of the day, and I threw one to him and suggested he try it to catch bigger fish.

He looked at it and said, “How much do you trim it?”

“You don’t,” I replied. “That’s part of what makes it special.”

“It looks like a dang mop!” he joked.

After the tourney, I told Buckeye owners what VanDam said, and they changed the name to “Mop Jig.”

The Buckeye Mop Jig became very popular after I won that event. In fact, I know for a fact it was used to win two Bassmaster Classics even though the anglers who won never mentioned it.

Today, several companies offer similar versions of the Mop Jig in various sizes and head styles.

Regardless of which one you use, it works well in dirty and clear water. I use it any time I go to a lake known to have big fish and that has big crawfish.

If I’m not getting bites, I might trim the skirt some, but that full-flowing skirt is the key to that bait.

I’ve also used it on big female bedding fish that I can’t get to react to the smaller stuff.

Of course, I use a trailer with it. I like the large Yamamoto Flappin’ Hog. You have to go with bigger trailers because smaller ones get lost in the skirt.

Sure it looks overwhelming compared to the standard jig setup, but I truly believe the Mop Jig matched with a large trailer has the potential to catch you that big fish when you need it.