Hailing from California, Jared Lintner was faced with a variety of bodies of water as he rose through the ranks to become a national touring pro. His bass fishing experiences in California ranged from shallow water meccas like Clear Lake and the Delta to the deeper, clearer impoundments the West is known for. “Out here in California, we use football jigs a lot and will fish them pretty much all year long and all the way down to 60 feet deep,” shares Lintner. His experiences with a football head jig, especially when bass are deeper in the water column have given him utmost confidence in these jigs as he travels the country competing on the Bassmaster Elite Series trail.
Lintner relies on a variety of skirt colors, but a black and blue as well as any version of green pumpkin will cover most of his fishing needs. He chooses the skirt colors based on the water clarity and will adjust them as needed. “I do have a few custom skirt colors I have used for years. If I want to use something a little different, one of my favorites is PB&J, which works really well if the water is clear,” says Lintner.
No football head jig would be complete without a matching trailer and Lintner believes in using a variety of different colors, styles and materials for his trailer. A double tail grub is his best all-around choice and he will use this anytime the water is warm. If the water is cold, he will go with an Uncle Josh No. 11 pork trailer. In addition, he will use the NetBait Paca Chunk and Berkley Chigger Craw and adjust them to how the fish are reacting as well as what type of forage they are eating.
His rule of thumb is to use exact matches of skirt and trailer colors and when the water is dirty he will contrast the colors. “I catch fish all the time with a black and blue jig with a green pumpkin trailer. I started doing that in a team tournament once and my partner thought I was crazy, but it worked and I have done it ever since,” shares Lintner. He feels that the contrasting colors are an additional way to make the jig stand out in stained to dirty water.
When to change Sizes
The most popular size of football head jigs are 3/8oz or 1/2oz. They work well in a variety of depths and cast well, but Lintner does go up to ¾oz and even 1oz if he is fishing deeper water. He wants the jig to not only reach the bottom fast but also stay on the bottom regardless of how deep he is fishing.
What makes a Good Jig?
According to Lintner there are several key components that make up a good jig. The hook itself is crucial. “One thing I see is that some jigs have a hook that is either too heavy or too light. If it’s too light it will bend anytime you catch a big one or get hung up, and if it’s too heavy the hook will affect the action of the bait and trailer,” shares Lintner. He advises to select a jig with a hook that is somewhere in between so you can get the necessary strength as well as not being a burden on the jig.
Besides the hook, the line tie is a key factor. “I like the line tie to be perpendicular to the football head. It really drives the hook in better,” adds the California pro. The skirt is also important and having a good material can make all of the difference in how the bait looks and acts underwater.
Jared talked about his new signature series football head from Eco Pro Tungsten, the Heavyweight Football jig. “I designed this with tungsten because it has such a better feel. A lot of guys are now using tungsten worm weights and know what I mean when I say you can feel everything down there,” says Lintner. He went on to describe the design process and how all of the components he wanted are included in the design, including the skirt colors. “I had all of the favorites but also added a few that I had been making myself for years, like the PB&J,” mentions the California pro.
Lintner prefers to use a 7’6” G.Loomis GLX rod paired with a Shimano Core and 16-20lb test Sunline Shooter or Sniper fluorocarbon. “That longer rod is key to getting a good hookset, especially when the fish are deeper. I’ll switch between the Shooter and Sniper based on the size of the jig, 3/8oz and ½oz I will use the 16lb Sniper and for the ¾ oz I will use 20lb Shooter,” says Lintner.
During this time of year the bass have completed their annual ritual and are now relocating to somewhat deeper water. Since some bass may have used the same routes and structures to move up to spawn as they will to move out, good locations for pre and post spawn can be the same places. “A good place to start is secondary points that have rock and gravel. I like to use a ½ jig for this situation and focus on depths that are between 8-15ft,” adds Lintner.
During the summer months, you need to be offshore if you are planning to use the football head. “I look for deeper water, say 8-20 feet deep. Later in the summer, they start to key more on wood than rock. I seem to do best on offshore stumps, laydowns and deeper coves,” says Lintner.
As the shad begin to move to the backs of the creeks, so do the bass. Just because the bass are keying on shad, Lintner still believes there is a place for a football head in your arsenal. “I head back into the creeks and find the last deeper water I can see. If you are fishing near the last bend of the creek and the water is 12ft or so, you should be able to catch them on a football head,” shares Lintner.
As long as the jig is making good contact with the bottom you will catch your fair share of bass. Lintner feels that this is the most important thing when fishing these jigs. He varies his retrieve based on how active the fish are and speeds up or slows down as needed.
A football head jig is one of the most versatile lures available to bass anglers today. They can be fished in virtually all depths and throughout each of the four seasons. Pros like Jared Lintner have found a way to use them to their advantage and refine their use to fit virtually any situation they are faced with.