Bucktail jigs, or dollflies as they are also called, are one of the most versatile lures that can be used for Stripers and Hybrids. It would be rare to find a Striper or Hybrid angler who did not have at least a few bucktail jigs in their tackle box. Whether cast or trolled, jigs can be used year round. This page focuses on beginning tips for using jigs for Stripers and Hybrids.
During most of the year, some sort of trailer is added to the jig. There are three basic colors used for trailers: white, pearl and chartreuse. During the winter months, or when water temperatures are cold, many people either use no trailer or add a short split-tail spinnerbait type trailer. When the water temperatures are cold, fish the jig slow. For jig fishing in the spring, summer or fall: add a curly tailed grub trailer. Jig and trailer size will depend on the size of the bait the Stripers or Hybrids are eating and, to some extent the depth that you are trying to fish. Try to match the hatch. If fish are feeding on 3 inch Threadfin Shad, a ¼ oz jig with a 3-inch trailer will be best. Conversely, if they are feeding on 6-7 inch Gizzard Shad, a ½ oz jig with a 6-inch trailer would be best. You might need to use a heavier jig if you need to make longer casts, to fish deeper, or if you are fishing in currents.
Casting a Bucktail Jig
For general casting, there are basically a couple of retrieves. Many times, simply reeling the jig straight back to the boat or bank with a steady retrieve works fine. If you are “jump” fishing, jerk the rod tip slightly to make the jig swim like a wounded baitfish. If no hits, cast to the middle of the jumps and let the jig fall 5 feet, give a jerk, start reeling with a jerky retrieve. Many times they’ll hit it on the fall, so let it fall on a tight line. If the line twitches at all, set the hook. When Stripers or Hybrids are hanging close to the bottom, allow the jig to sink to the bottom, give a short jerk and reel for a few seconds and let the jig drop again. Repeat this retrieve a few more times, and then use a slow, steady retrieve to bring the jig back to the boat.
Trolling with jigs can be very effective, especially during the summer or early fall months when Hybrids or Stripers are schooling. Use your depth finder to determine how deep the fish or bait are holding and bracket that depth with your jigs. Depending on how deep they are, flat lining or downrigging will be the method to use. Flat lining is simply letting out line, putting the rod in a holder and trolling. The greater the length of line you have out, the deeper the jig will run. You can also use a planer board to move the jig away from the boat or to allow for more lines and a greater spread. Just add a barrel swivel about 3 feet ahead of the jig so the planer board will not hit the fish. If they are running deeper, downriggers are real useful. See our page on using downriggers for more information on how to use downriggers.
If you do not have downriggers, there are several ways to get a jig or other lure deeper. Dipsy Divers are trolling disks that can get a lure down to around 40 feet. For shallower fish, you can often just add more weight to your line to get the jig deeper. Simply place an egg sinker on the line, attach a barrel swivel then a 3-foot leader. Tie your jig to the end of the leader. Bomber Model A’s (white) or other diving plugs can also be used to get baits deeper. Remove the rear hook of the plug, attach a 3-foot leader and tie your jig to the leader. When you troll, move the boat in an s-shaped pattern. This causes the inside line to sink and the outside line to raise on turns and helps you cover more water. As a general rule of thumb, 2-4 mph is a good speed for both Hybrids and Stripers. In terms of diving curves, a ¼ oz jig will sink around 2 feet with 60 feet of line out on 20 lb test at 2 mph. A 1/2 oz jig will sink around 6 feet.