Not too long ago, I found the BassGeek on Twitter. I followed the links to his YouTube channel and was immediately impressed with the BassGeek’s knowledge of fishing. The BassGeek is Virginia’s Hank Rogers. Out of the topics Hank covers on his YouTube channel, I wanted to talk about jig fishing, particularly his use of the Arkie style jig. Hank provides a tutorial about Arkie jig fishing that the best of us bass geeks will love.
I can tell you love jig fishing. One of your videos is if you could only pick one jig you mention that you would fish the Arkie jig. Why is that?
The Arkie jig, known to some as a casting jig, others as a skipping jig, and still others as a pitching jig can be used in many different situations as you can tell by its many names. This head type is very versatile. It comes through and over many different kinds of structure and/or cover well. Now other jig types may swim better through grass or come over rock more efficiently but generally those jig are only designed to accomplish that single task.
The Arkie head on the other hand is able to do most all of those things to a certain extent. It’s the Jack of all trades master of none jig which makes it great for when you’re covering water and don’t want to constantly change cut and retie or have 4 jig rods out on your deck during practice. If however I had to pick one technique where an Arkie is master it would be skipping. The wide contoured head with a bulky flat trailer skips like no other.
Does that apply only to largemouth or do you include the Arkie jig as your top choice for smallies as well?
The Arkie does work for both smallmouth and largemouth. Like I said the Arkie is a search jig. I may change to another jig more suited for what the fish are doing once I get a pattern honed in. But to start if I’m just covering water with a lot of different structure or cover I have an Arkie style jig head on the end of my line.
I am a black/blue or brown/orange or green pumpkin guy. How particular are you when it comes to color on your Arkie jigs?
I keep things simple with my jig color selection. I use 5 core colors for ALL my jig types green pumpkin, watermelon, black & blue, white, and my favorite color black-brown-amber. The black-brown-amber is perfect for the Arkie jig because it works in several levels of water clarity from clear to dingy due to the combination of colors.
Do you ever add some highlight colors to these patterns?
I do like to keep a box of skirt material in some common highlight colors, orange, Red, Blue, etc. This way I can make some adjustments to my jig’s highlight colors while on the water. Skirt material is light so it’s easy to keep a few colors in a baggy or a small box.
What is the most outlandish color jig you have ever thrown and did you have success?
I really can’t take credit for this but years ago I was at a Bass University seminar with the Jig master Mr. Denny Brauer. He told us that he would use an electric blue jig paired with a zoom big salty chunk in the same color in muddy water during blue bird sky conditions. It wasn’t 2 weeks after me and my bother where on a small lake throwing black and blue jigs with some limited success when my brother picked up a pack of the zoom trailers in the electric blue color and just started lighting up 4 and 5 pounders. I’ve been sold ever since.
What is your favorite rod/reel combo for throwing the Arkie jig?
I like a medium heavy 7ft to a 7ft 3in rod. Something I can throw the 1/4-3/4 ounce jigs on. It needs a stiff backbone and a fast tip. I’ll go with a heavier setup if I’m skipping docks but this is the 7’3”MH is always on my deck and ready to go. The reel has to be the fastest I can get. I cast this jig most of the time so I want to take up slack as fast as I can so a reel with an 8 or 9 to 1 gear ratio. Again however if I’m flip’n it into heavy wood or brush I don’t go over 7 to 1 because you begin to loose torque or reeling power once you move out of the 7 to 1 reels. I’m always tweaking my setup so I can’t really recommend on brand over any other. You just have to find what works best for you.
What are your favorite trailers to attach on the back end of the Arkie jig?
Zoom Big Salty Chunk when the water is cold 54 and below or even when the bite gets tough in warm water because it has very little action. As the water warms I will go back and forth between a Strike King Rodent, Rage Bug, and a Rage Craw. I change those out depending on the activity level of the fish. Rage craw or bug if they are actively feeding if not I’ll back it down to a rodent. If it’s even tougher the big salty chunk.
What are some of the cardinal rules for fishing jigs for beginners?
1) Keep it simple 2 sizes 2 colors 2 trailers.
2) Buy the cheapest Arkie jigs you can find because you’re going to lose them!
3) At first anyway pay more attention to what you feel on the bottom and worry less about catching fish. You’re going to lose jigs period. If you don’t you’re not throwing them in the right places. You need to develop a feel for what rock, sand, mud, brush, or wood feels like as you cross it. Over time you’ll learn how to fish it more effectively and not get snagged as much.
4) If you’re fishing from shore and not from a boat hop it up hill. I love to drag a jig but from the bank hop it up the bank you’ll get snagged much less.
What are some mistakes that you see even experienced anglers make when fishing a jig?
Rod position! They keep the rod to low or bring it up to high. You never want to lose touch with your jig if you’re rod is to low you’re not allowing the rod tip to do it’s job and transmit any subtle vibrations to your hand. If you bring the rod past 11:00 position you’ve just lost all hook setting capability. I like heavy hooks on a jig so you need to be able to drive the hook into the fish. Bring that rod above 11 and you’ll lose more than you boat.
What are your favorite Virginia waters to fish jigs and what makes each suited to jig fishing?
I’m actually lucky enough to live right on the Virginia and Tennessee state line so I actually fish a jig in Tennessee more than Virginia. However the lake I love a jig on the most is a very small lake in Wise Va. called Bear Creek Reservoir or Wise Reservoir. It’s where I first started fishing jigs and the bass love it year round up there. I can go and cath’em on a 3/8oz with a zoom big salty all year. They won’t be giants but they will be fun.
What has been your best tournament finish that the Arkie jig played a big role in? How did the jig help you be successful?
Honestly, not very high. Most of the time if I’ve pulled the Arkie out it’s when things are going poorly. It’s my panic bait. It’s saved some days when I would have zeroed but unfortunately it’s not magic. If you’re not around fish no bait in the world is going to catch them. I haven’t been lucky enough to have had a tournament where a dock skipping bite has been the deal but I will eventually I hope.
Do you have any sponsors or companies that you like representing?
I have 2 prostaff positions who I love working with. Opticast who makes a truly superior marker buoy system among other things. Great people to work with and a great product.
The other is Ledgehead Lures who makes the best swimbait heads you’ll ever find. Other than a jig, a swimbait is always on the deck of my boat. If I can’t catch’em on those two baits then they simply ain’t there.
What can we expect in 2017 from your fantastic YouTube channel?
Thanks for the compliment I hope to bring the subscribers along with me as I fish my second season as a Co-angler on the TH Marine BFL’s. The ultimate goal is to fish as a boater in 2018 on the BFL’s series. I want to share with everyone how I prepare and practice both for the tournament as a co-angler this season and how that will translate to being a boater in 2018.
I also have some people I want to do some shows with if we can get the scheduling worked out including 1 FLW Tour pro and 1 B.A.S.S Elite tour pro. We also have several great local sticks from the BFL’s and owners of some awesome companies who we hope to just get out on the lake and wet a line with.
Most of all I want to help my subscribers learn, save money, and catch more and bigger bass.
Thank you Hank for bringing us your BassGeek channel. I have found it educational and look forward to following along this year.