River Jigging

Vertical jigging in rivers is a top option year-round. It’s especially effective for working fish-concentrating structure such as shoreline breaks and gradual rock spines. I rarely use it when fishing lakes, although it can be good in certain situations, such as when walleyes are tightly schooled in areas that are tough to fish with other presentations.

Total Solutions Technique

Before wetting a line, I scout a likely area with sonar to see if there’s any fish on it. Not all arcs are walleyes, of course, and since you can’t tell whether a mark is a walleye or a redhorse, the only way to know for sure is drop a jig and start catching fish. When I decide to fish a spot, I motor slightly upstream and use the bow-mount to slip down-current over the fish, keeping the line as vertical as possible. To double my chances of success, I often fish with a rod in each hand.

The presentation is simple: lift the jig 6 to 8 inches off bottom and drop it down again. River jigging strikes are seldom light—you’ll know when a fish hits. If they’re just nipping at the tail of the bait, try a stinger hook.

Total Solutions Equipment

I use a ¼- to ½-ounce jig—just heavy enough to maintain bottom contact. Wedge-shaped heads cut the current better and allow you to go a little lighter than other designs, but a round-head jig is a good choice, too. Tipping options include minnows or a variety of manmade baits in Berkley’s Powerbait and Gulp! families.

My favorite jigging rods are 6½-foot Berkley AIR IM8 spinning rods. The weight of the jig determines whether I fish with medium-light or light action. Abu Garcia’s Cardinal SX  balances nicely with any of these  light to medium graphite rods. The reel’s nine bearings make it a smooth operator, and the Carbon Matrix drag comes in handy when you stick a big fish.

An all-around line choice is 6/2 FireLine, but you can go to 4/1 or 8/3 if conditions call for it. No matter the pound test and diameter, I like Flame Green for high visibility. I usually tie direct to the jig. If you don’t like snapping superline when you get snagged, add a 1- to 2-foot Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon leader—it’s a lot easier to break.

Berkley® 3 inch GULP!® Minnow

Berkley® 3 inch Power® Minnow

Berkley® 3 inch GULP!® Fry

Abu Garcia® Cardinal® SX

Berkley® FireLine®
Berkley Pro Spec 100% Fluoro Leader Material - Pink (75 YARDS)
Berkley® 100% Fluorocarbon Leader