If you’re into bass fishing you’ve likely heard of the legendary big bass bait – the jig. But when you look at it in the packaging it doesn’t look so special. It’s just a weighted head with a skirt and a hook. How could that be so special?
Well most jigs are meant to be fished with a trailer. A trailer is simply a soft plastic that is threaded onto the hook to extend past the jig skirt (the little plastic pieces that give a jig it’s color and bulk). This combination of the plastic and the jig itself is what makes it a killer combo for big bass.
But can you fish a jig without a trailer? The answer is yes, but you are sacrificing a lot of action and likely aren’t going to get as many bites without one. So whenever possible, put a trailer on your jig. But if you want to fish without, or have to because you’re out of plastics, you can catch it without a trailer.
Let’s get into it more in depth below.
Types of Jigs that do not require a trailer
When people refer to “jigs” they usually are talking about silicone skirt, heavy weighted jigs that are meant to be fished for all types of bass. They are large, thick, and made of rubbery materials in the skirt and can come on football heads, ball heads, and many others.
These types of jigs all should be fished with trailers. While the skirt itself may provide some natural movement in the water it is not enough to get the majority of fish to bite. You can catch them without trailers, but it’s less likely.
However there are other types of jigs available. Most notably is the hair jig, often used by smallmouth anglers. These jigs are generally much smaller than other jigs and have a natural hair skirt that comes in various colors. Look at the picture below and you’ll see the difference.
Hair jigs are actually not made to be fished with trailers, so you can just tie one on and go fishing immediately. They are most often used to fish for smallmouth but can catch a variety of fish types. You fish it very similarly to any other jig as well.
Ice jigs are another potential jig you may find. They do not have skirts at all but are just a colored head weight with hook attached. They are meant to be “jigged” or just shook vertically up and down when ice fishing. These usually are paired with natural baits like worms on the hook end to hide the open hook from fish’s eyes.
So first, determine the type of jig you’re using to determine if you need a trailer or not. But for the most part, when a fisherman refers to just “a jig” they’re talking about the heavy weighted, silicone skirt kinds that do need a trailer to be used most effectively.
How can I fish a jig without a trailer?
If you do decide to fish a jig without a trailer, just remember that your bait will have almost no action in the water. It will look very bulky and have some natural movement from the jig skirt fibers. But no trailer will be flapping to imitate realistic movement.
So the best way to fish a trailer-less jig is to fish it really slow and tight to any area you think a bass is sitting.
You wont’ be able to cover large areas of water because your bait has no natural movement to entice a bite. Instead, you’ll need to fish right on their heads and make them more interested in the big lump on the bottom than anything else.
The best way to do this is pick a piece of cover that could be holding a bass. This could be a dock piling, a downed tree, or large boulder.
Then throw your jig into that area. Move it slowly cross the bottom of the water, so slowly that it just crawls across. If your bait is a few feet away from the cover and you haven’t gotten a bite, cast again.
It’s a style of fishing that requires a lot of patience but can pay off with great fish. You’re targeting those less active fish that other anglers will just pass by. And they are often the big ones.
It’s worth noting you can do the above method with a trailer as well. Which is why always putting on a trailer is advisable. It gives you more flexibility.
What are good jig trailers?
So if you want to add that benefit of a trailer, there are many options that you can look for.
A chunk trailer is the most popular because it’s a good cheap option made specifically for jigs. While you’re probably used to seeing soft plastics that look like worms, crawdads, or have full bodies – a chunk does not. It just mimics the claw end of a crawdad.
This is because it is purposefully designed to be put on the back of a jig. So anything besides the claws is covered by the jig skirt. The fish sees the jig itself and as it moves in the water, it sees the claw ends shimmy and move in the water to mimic a crawdad.
But since you aren’t buying the whole body with the soft plastic, chunk trailers come in much cheaper. You can buy these Zoom Super Chunks, my personal favorite, for just $3 a bag whereas a full bodied crawdad imitation is likely double that. So if you want to start jig fishing, a bad of chunk trailers is a necessity.
If you don’t mind spending extra for full bodied craw soft plastics though they will work just as good. The Rage Craw is always my favorite option for this but you can also try any imitation and find what works best for you.
Beaver style or grub style baits can also work well if you have them available, like the Missile Baits D-bomb.
If you’re looking for something a little different, you can also try fishing a ribbontail or speed type worm on the back of a trailer. They are something different that can get a bite when nothing else is working that most fisherman won’t even try. I have caught several bass with a Zoom ultravibe speed worm on a finesse jig.
What color should I pick for a jig trailer?
I will keep this very simple as there are hundreds of color options you can use. Generally, try to match the trailer color with the jig color. That means if you have a jig that has green and brown in it, pick a trailer that is green or brown. It should look like it matches.
This is to trick the bass into thinking the whole jig is one creature. Bas aren’t the smartest fish, but even they know that something with a black head and pink tail doesn’t exist, so don’t get too contrasting with colors. The key for color selection is to look natural in the water.
Chances are if you are jig fishing, you do need a trailer to get the most out of your bait.
You can try the method above to fish a jig without one, but you could be leaving fish in the lake. Instead, pick one of the trailers that are discussed and if cost is a factor, go for a bag of chunk trailers in a neutral color that are really cheap.
Or try fishing with a hair jig as they do not require trailers and can catch great fish, even though they are predominantly used for smallmouth.
But most importantly, start fishing with jigs. It is the one technique that will catch big bass guaranteed.