McClelland on Football Jigs


Name: Mike McClelland
Hometown: Bella Vista, Ark.
Technique: Structure fishing with football jigs
History: McClelland has fished the football jig for about six years, but, with improvements in the football jig design, he's concentrated on this jig type more intensely in the past three years.
Highlights: McClelland utilized a football jig to win the 2006 Sooner Run Elite Series event on Grand Lake in Oklahoma. He weighed in 79.7 pounds, beating second place by over 16 pounds. He also credits football jigs for his Elite Series victory at Clarks Hill Reservoir in 2007.
When to Use: Football jigs are effective year-round, according to McClelland, but he thinks they are especially useful from late postspawn to early summer when water temperatures are moving into the low 70s and up to around 85 degrees.
Where to Use: McClelland uses football jigs on almost any underwater structure, allowing the jig to feel what he is on. Ledges, points, creek channels and transitional banks are his favorite spots.
Tackle: Nearly all of McClelland's football jig fishing is done with a 7-foot, 4-inch heavy action Falcon Mike McClelland Heavy Cover Jig Signature Series rod with a 6.3:1 or 7:1 Quantum Tour Edition baitcasting reel. He prefers the faster speed reel because the hook set with a football jig is different than with a normal jig. He says you have to reel in the slack before setting the hook, and a high speed reel is more effective in doing so. Fluorocarbon line is a must, and he prefers 15- or 20-pound Seaguar InvizX for its sensitivity, refractive properties and low stretch.
Lures: Jewel Bait Co. gets the nod for McClelland's jigs, and he uses 3/8-ounce to 1-ounce jigs, depending on current, depth, and density of cover. For trailers, McClelland uses a Zoom Brush Hog 90 percent of the time. He uses a Baby Brush Hog with 5/8-ounce and lighter jigs and a full size ones for anything over 5/8. He also modifies them so that they are shorter, clips the front appendages to dangle, and trims the rear ones to look like crawfish claws. If the Brush Hogs don't work, McClelland trails with a Zoom Fat Albert.
Basics: McClelland says that keeping the bait in contact with the bottom is an important part of his success with football jigs. Not only is he sure about what he's fishing, but dragging the bottom provokes strikes from lethargic fish as well. When the fish are more aggressive, he may high-hop or "stroke" the jig. This entails periodically lifting the rod tip sharply to make the jig jump. Long casts are necessary for fishing a football jig like McClelland uses it. After setting a buoy to precisely mark his target, he'll throw past the mark and allow the jig to sink. Keeping the rod horizontal and to his side, he begins dragging the jig across the structure, and maintains contact with the bottom at all times.
One More Thing: According to McClelland, color selection is vitally important to successful jig fishing. It all starts by knowing what the bass in your waters are feeding on and then matching the hatch as closely as you can. If he feels the fish are feeding on shad, he'll use brown and purple hues. If crawfish is the main fare, green pumpkin gets the nod. McClelland says the further south you fish, the redder the crawfish get, so use more orange and brown colors.