There are many types of jigs that are all meant for different purposes. Swim jigs are meant to be fished above the bottom of the lake more like a crankbait. But then there are football head or finesse jigs which people commonly think of when they hear the term “jig” that are meant to drag the bottom.
But what many people don’t know is that jigs are more versatile than just what they’re labelled for. Can you swim a football jig? Yes. Can you fish a swim jig on the bottom? Also yes.
A swim jig wasn’t created to fish on the bottom, but it’s absolutely possible if you don’t have another type of jig. Just remember the below tips to avoid mishaps and you can easily catch great bass dragging a swim jig across the bottom of your local lake or river.
What a jig head style can tell you about a jig
So the major difference between swim jigs and other jigs meant to be fished on the bottom is head type. Swim jigs don’t have flat or elongated rounded bottoms that drag the bottom of the lake well like a football or finesse jig. Instead they have shallow rounded bottoms that are meant to come through tight spaces in the water well. And they are often painted and have lifelike characteristics, but this isn’t going to hurt you trying to hop along the bottom.
So why does the head design matter? When dragging a jig on the bottom it’s important that it stays upright so that the hook doesn’t tilt and get caught in anything on the bottom of the lake. It also keeps the trailer upright and gives it the most realistic looking action. A heavy flat bottom will help keep that hook up in the air, while a swim jig type head has a tendency to fall over more easily because it doesn’t have the surface area on it’s head to keep it upright.
But, you can get around this a few ways.
One of the easiest is to just fish it quickly and just bounce it across the bottom instead of slowly dragging it. In this scenario, you don’t let it sit long enough to actually fall over and are mimicking a crayfish or bait fish bouncing across the bottom trying to flee from a predator. But you still can fish the bottom if bass are in that area.
Another is to let your trailer do the work of keeping the swim jig upright. If you have a beaver style bait or anything with a large flat bottom – like this Strike King Rage Bug – it will keep the jig upright by itself. Just make sure to thread it on so that it is even with the head and the most surface area as possible is flat on the bottom. Instead of the head keeping the jig upright, the trailer will. And you can fish it just like a normal jig.
Weed guard considerations
Another potential factor to consider is the weed guard, or lack thereof on some swim jigs. This is just plastic wires that stick straight off the jig’s head and towards the hook point. They are strong and stiff, designed to push away debris, weeds, or other things that could easily get hooked by the exposed hook on any jig.
All jigs fished on the bottom will come with this to prevent accidentally catching anything on the bottom of the lake. Some swim jigs come with this, some do not. If yours does, then just make sure the weed guard is long enough to completely cover the point of the hook and you’ll have no further issues.
But if you don’t, then you need to know you can’t fish a swim jig in really dense brush like you might be able to another type of jig. You will simply get hung up without a weed guard to protect your hook. It’s possible though to build your own if you have the time, want, and materials. Watch this video for a good tutorial or be imaginative with what you have on hand.
A final difference you’ll want to consider are all the types of trailers you can use and how to rig them. Normally, a swim jig can have many types of trailers when swam in the water and paddle tails are really popular. When fishing the bottom with a swim jig though, you’ll want to focus only on using beaver or craw style baits.
As mentioned earlier the first benefit this will provide is keeping your swim jig upright so that the hook doesn’t dig into the bottom of the lake and hook debris. Beaver style baits with their wide bodies are especially good for this purpose, but anything with a large flat bottom can work.
But craw and beaver style baits are also more natural trailers for a jig fished on the bottom. You are mimicking a crawdad in most situations, and these baits are most effective at that. A swimbait bounces on the bottom just won’t have any realistic looking action and not match what you’re trying to imitate. So stick with craw and beaver styles when fishing a swim jig on the bottom.
If you use all the tips above, you can easily fish a swim jig on the bottom if you have a reason to or simply don’t have any other jigs available. When I first started fishing, I had a swim jig that I used both ways simply because I didn’t know any better and thought all jigs were the same. And I caught fish. I also caught a lot of debris on the bottom, which is how I found out to prevent it from happening with beaver style trailers, bouncing across the bottom and creating my own weed guards. They aren’t ideal, but they’ll work and still catch great fish.