Meet pro walleye angler Steve Baylor, a guy, one would think, who would rely on a box full of every kind of lure ever made, tools of the trade they might be called. After all, he like all pro fishermen, wears a shirt with more sponsors on it than cloth.
That and few fishing boxes, each the size of a mechanic’s roll-around tool chest, fancy boats with dozens of built-in tackle shelve slots and TV producers screaming for close ups of every sponsor’s product.
But when it comes to lures, Baylor could carry all that he needs in his shirt pocket. Sure, he’ll dabble in this and that, he’ll troll a spinner, cast a crank, wiggle a stick, but when push comes to shove, he’ll reach in his pocket for a jig. Yep, a plain old jig, just a hook with a glob of lead melted on it. And why not, said Baylor, who puts results ahead of glitz and hype.
A jig, Baylor explains, is a powerful tool, a simple tool, a cheap tool, a really effective tool. Even now, with a 15-year history of fishing for money fish, three tournament wins and a bunch of top 10 finishes, all but a couple credited to jigs, it’s the same story, “I’ll reach for a jig every time,” he said.
Baylor said his fishing career started when he was fishing with bobber and hook, simple stuff, the way most of us started. A few zillion bluegills later, a teenage Baylor started targeting walleyes.
Sometime between then and now, he started using then depending on jigs to produce when all else failed. And he came to believe in jigging for fish, a simple method of fishing, a technique as basic as fishing can be, and now as a proven winner, with something to say, he loves to talk about jigs, walleyes, more jigs, and more walleyes.
Baylor said there are countless ways to fish jigs, making them the most versatile of all artificial lures.
“You can troll them, cast them, swim them, crank them, and snap them. You can fish them slowly or fish them fast. You can fish them vertically or drift them with the current and wind. You can fish them in weeds or open water, in the shallows or down deep,” he said, adding that his favorite presentation is snapping his jig, making sudden upward sweeps that trigger fish to bite.
When Baylor does seminars he goes into the right rods, reels and lines, subjects that have about as many variables as jigs themselves. So do the ways fishermen dress there jigs by adding plastic tails, minnows or other attractors. Colors? Take your pick, said Baylor as he explained that if a fish is hungry and the jig is fished properly, something will happen.
What about jig design?
According to Baylor, there is a design or shape for every taste. Basic jigs are round in shape and cheap. But there are more. Stand up jigs keep the hook above the lead head, wobble head jigs impart vibration, tube head jigs feature gizmos that hold tubes and plastic worms, and the list goes on.
The moral of the story? When you head out to fish, be sure to take a pocket full of jigs, it’s like catch insurance, according to Baylor.