(Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the 2013 August/September issue of Bass Fishing magazine. To read more compelling articles from Bass Fishing magazine each month, become an FLW subscriber member. If you'd like to sign up for a digital subscription to access articles online, click here).
A jig trailer seems simple enough: a piece of molded soft plastic that dangles from a jig’s hook to add bulk, enhance action, temper the fall and suggest a crawfish or other food item. Those basic functions, though, are somewhat divergent and sometimes work against each other. Consequently, the best trailer to use depends on the jig and the fishing technique. So what style of trailer is best for what you want to accomplish?
Here are some suggestions.
Ideal technique: pitching to wood cover
Good example: NetBait Baby Mad Paca
Action description: Paddles flap, arms flair, legs quiver, tails waver – specifics depend on the model, but the common denominator is that several appendages move in different manners and directions to create much movement and a bulky profile. Dragging a football jig with a creature trailer is a good alternative to a Carolina rig.
To counter short strikes from bass when using a creature bait as a jig trailer, shorten the whole trailer by trimming the head end. This allows you to thread the trailer farther up the hook. You can also tweak the presentation by removing some appendages.
Ideal techniques: bottom bouncing and dragging
Good example: Zoom Super Chunk Jr.
Action description: The chunk helps create a slow fall overall. The tail flaps like a flag in the wind as the jig falls. Smaller sizes have subdued, less intrusive actions.
Two ways to get chunky
For maximum profile with a chunk trailer, simply hang the thick body on the hook from its end. Shorten the jig-and-trailer profile by threading the chunk up the hook shank instead. This rigging method also pegs the body to the jig and shifts virtually all the action to the chunk’s tail.
Ideal technique: offshore dragging
Good example: Trigger X Aggression Flappin’ Craw
Action description: The flat curved-edge claws flap hard as long as the bait is in motion. Oversized claws and, on some examples, such as the NetBait Paca Chunk and Damiki Air Craw, a hollow body or appendages help create a claws-up posture. Many body and claw sizes are available. This is a good all-around choice for a jig trailer.
If possible, determine what the prevailing crawfish color is where you’re fishing. Sometimes bass will spit up crawfish in livewells, or you might be able to find crawfish in shallow aquatic grass or along rocky shores. Crawfish coloration varies dramatically by waterway and by season. Match jig and trailer colors accordingly.
Ideal technique: swimming, especially for smallmouths and spots
Good example: Damiki Hydra Evolution
Action description: Twirling tails constantly move whether the jig is in motion or at rest. Models such as the Hydra Evolution and Yamamoto Hula Grub have a built-in skirt for extra flare, and often are fished on a football jig with no skirt in deep water.
Shoot to kill
When swimming a jig, retrieve it steadily, but kill it briefly a time or two per retrieve, ideally in key ambush zones. Be ready, especially as you start it moving again.
Ideal techniques: dragging and pitching to rocky banks, docks and shoreline cover
Good example: Luck “E” Strike Guido Bug
Action description: Although most realistic finesse craws lack appreciable movement when falling or swimming, they land with upright claws that wave naturally as the bait settles. Generally speaking, their best “action” is looking realistic in clear water.
The natural shake
Make a natural finesse craw trailer come to life by jiggling the rod tip enough to rock the jig and make the wispy pincers and antennae dance without actually changing the location of the jig. Then stop all motion before hopping it again.
In current-driven fisheries – especially with clear water – use a light jig and let the current sweep the combo along. The moving water, with occasional bottom ticks, creates a similar affect as jiggling the rod.
Ideal techniques: pitching to edges and beside cover or dragging offshore
Good example: Strike King Rage Tail Lobster
Action description: Claws flap hard on the hop and the drop. The entire soft bait moves a lot of water to draw fish with vibration and by sight. It creates a “magnum profile” jig. The Rage Lobster is 4½ inches long for a true big-fish presentation.
Even more attraction
There’s nothing subtle about an oversized craw trailer, and you won’t be using one when fish are fussy. But when they’re chomping, you might as well amp up the attraction by adding rattles. Shake the rod tip to engage the rattles and call fish for a closer look.
Flat flippin’ bugs
Good example: Gene Larew Rattlin’ Crawler
Ideal techniques: punching vegetation, flipping woody cover and stroking
Action description: This bait slides through cover, planes on the fall (thanks to its flat surfaces) and darts when hopped. The claw action is subtle on some versions, but overall it makes an impression.
Slim down to slide
For punching the thickest mats with flat, flipping bug trailers, pinch off outside appendages and make the profile as sleek as possible.
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