Winter jig wisdom

Your nose and ears tingle, steam marks your every breath and frost — if not ice — glistens the deck. This is wintertime fishing and one of your best choices for tempting fish in the chill is a jig.

Whether that’s imitating a tasty crawfish or a calorie-packing bream, the jig consistently delivers quality winter bites. Pro Jason Christie, a big fan of the lead-head fish-getter, offers a handful of pointers:

Size: Favoring a Booyah football jig for moderate clarity, Christie wants the lightest jig he can throw and still maintain perfect contact with the bottom. For fishing the bank down to 25 feet, he’ll use a 3/8-ounce jig in calm conditions, while windy days might call for a 5/8- or a 1/2-ounce.

“A lot of the bites you’re going to get that time of the year are going to be super soft,” he said. “It’s just going to feel like you hit a leaf or something — really mushy. I want to keep my line tight so I can really feel that bite.”

Tackle: Christie likes the football head, as opposed to a traditional flipping jig because he’s typically using lighter line — often down to 10-pound fluorocarbon — and the football head’s lighter hook requires less force on the hook set.

“In the wintertime, the water’s typically clearer, but also I’ll have on gloves and a big jacket, so you can feel the bite a lot better with lighter line,” he said. “Also, I’m using a crisper, more sensitive rod than I would for flipping and I want to get that hook in the fish’s mouth. I don’t feel like I can penetrate a flipping hook with 10- to 12-pound line and a medium rod.”

Colors: Christie estimates that 99 percent of the wintertime jig bites are based on crawfish impersonations. That means a lot of green pumpkins and browns, but he may go with a black/blue in low light of early morning or overcast days, or in dirtier water.

Trailers: Christie’s winter default is minimal motion, as lethargic fish generally ignore stuff that might require a little chase. But equally important is fall rate, a dynamic largely influenced by trailer mass. Summarily, more plastic means more water drag and a slower descent. Less drag; faster fall.

“It doesn’t take a lot of change to make a big difference,” Christie said. “For example, I like a Yum Craw Pappy trailer, but if everything is really slow, I’ll switch to a YUM Christie Critter and that gives you more plastic and makes that jig fall a little slower. If I want a really slow fall, I’ll use a YUM Craw Chunk, which has a wider body and more plastic than the Craw Pappy.

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