How to Fish a Bucktail Jig for Bass

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Bass; striped, or spotted are big game to anglers and are naturally tricky, so it takes more than knowing how to cast a line to make a catch worthy of your time. This is why you need to know how to fish a bucktail jig for bass.

How to Fish a Bucktail Jig for Bass

A bucktail jig is a lead head jig partly covered with deer hair or feathers. It is a simple lure design that has lasted for centuries and still continues to reign supreme amongst other lures. Bucktail jigs come in different sizes and colors depending on what you want to fish.

A close-up image of bucktail jig

The bucktail jig has a high success rate at catching bass because it can perfectly mimic a small shad or herring which is difficult for the bass to resist. Fishing a bucktail jig for bass has four major techniques which are used depending on the depth of water and temperature:

Casting and Retrieving

This technique follows the straightforward method of first casting and then retrieving:

  1. Cast your jig close to the structure and watch closely for any action
  2. Once it hits the bottom, begin to slowly drag the jig over the bottom to cause rapid motions
  3. Make many collisions on rocks, then slowly reel it up. This will mimic a shad running from a prey

You can also let your jig slowly drop down to the bottom mid-way. This motion imitates a wounded shad sinking to the bottom, which uninterested Bass loves. You should also note that most bucktail jigs don’t have keepers to hold your plastic in place, however, applying lure glue will fix this issue.

Post-cold front, Bass prefers slow crawling jig while active feeders like a more rigorous retrieve. Always watch fish movement to know how much effort you need to put in when casting and retrieving.

Light Tackle Trolling

This method works well in shallow water where the bass is suspended:

  1.  Add a rubber trail to your jig to add more movement without much effort
  2. Cast your jig and wait
  3. Once you feel a bite, start to reel up

Vertical Jigging

This technique is for those tricky moments when the bass is in lockjaw. This is common in deep water where fishes are closer to the bottom.

  1. Add a peeler crab or slip bait to make the bucktail more appealing
  2. Give it a slow jig and try to cause some collision

Wire Lining

Wire lining or bottom bouncing is a rare highly effective technique used by a few anglers.

  1. Rig a triple swivel to a wire machine and add a 40-pound 15-foot mono leader terminating with your bucktail
  2. Put a 3-foot dropper to the second eye of the swivel with a 12-ounce sinker at the end
  3. Now slowly troll shoals and humps
  4. You must work on each rod while using this technique. Swing it forward then drop it back, so the weight bounces on the bottom at the rear of the backswing. You must constantly crank out and let out the line to set the right depth
A fishing line a body of water

Another simple way to fish bass with bucktail is to cast your jig into the water and countdown till the bucktail gets to the level of the bass. When it gets to that point, begin to retrieve your line slowly. Once you get a bite, raise the rod and start reeling fast.

All four bucktail jigging techniques work great for saltwater fishing and even fishing in ice-cold waters as well.

How to Choose the Right Bucktail Jig

There are various sizes of bucktail jigs. It can weigh ¼ – 3 ounces or more depending on the size of the bait the prey hunts in that part of the river. Generally:

  • A bucktail of 1 ounce or more is necessary for hunting in deep water with a fast-moving current
  • A bucktail of less than one ounce would be great in still water
  • A bucktail of about two to three ounces produces the best results in saltwater because of its density
  • A bucktail of about three ounces is also necessary for fishing bass in winter. This is because they typically descend to the depths and you would require a heavier jig as well as a more extended line

The rule of thumb is to always match your jig size to the shad present in the water that day.

Similarly, in terms of color, Bass are simple creatures. Some fishes prefer shiny crystal-like jigs because their prey have such features, however, for bass, the best bucktail color is white. You can also use chartreuse if you can’t get your hands on a white bucktail jig.

When Do You Need Bucktail Trailers?

Trailers are like icing on a cake, they make your jig more appealing to Bass. if you’ve chosen a good spot you aren’t getting the action you want, then there’s a high chance the Bass there is lethargic. This is where trailers come in.

Bucktail trailers will increase your chances of making a catch in fast-moving water. Whether it is a plastic grub tail or triple ripple tail, trailers make jigs sink slowly, increasing the time your bucktail stays in the strike zone. If you are fishing in clear and calm water, plain jigs will do.

Similarly, bucktail jig trailers are perfect for fishing in tributaries when Bass are on their spawning runs. Spawning periods start in February and last till April. Bass don’t spawn in all lakes,  they go on pseudo spawns in many lakes. Resisting twister-tipped trailers is not in their nature, so you are guaranteed a good catch.

How to Find Best Spots to Fish Bass

If there’s baitfish, there is Bass lurking around somewhere. Observe the water closely. If you spot a school of shads then it’s only a matter of time. Deepwater is a favorite spot for bass to feed and mate. However, in colder seasons try searching up the river, you will have a better chance of catching Bass.

A person show how to fish a bucktail jig for bass

Other good spots are long, flat, gradual sloping points, red clay or muddy banks, creeks, and cloves. If fish have moved deeper into the water, find the nearest humps offshore from spots they were in early spring.

During summer, watch out for bass slashing into baitfish. Surface action in summer is rare and happens fast. Once you notice any surface action, get close enough to the spot to cast your jig, and make sure you aren’t too near to avoid scaring the fish.

Related Questions

What Is the Best Water Condition for Fishing Bass?

The best water condition for fishing bass is warm water.  Like most fish, Bass love warm water, that’s why you find schools in deep water where temperatures are warmer. This is also why the best time to go bass hunting is late winter or early spring.

These are times when the water temperature begins to rise. Once the mercury level begins to rise, the stripers will leave to deeper parts of the water to find oxygen.

What Other Fish Can I Catch With a Bucktail Jig?

In addition to striped bass, you can catch other species like bluefish, false albacore, black sea bass, flup, hickory shad, white perch, and sea robins amongst others. A bucktail jig is so effective because of its versatility and ability to imitate a range of prey items like squid, baitfish, and shrimp.


The Cast and Retrieve technique still remains one of the best methods to fish a bucktail jig for bass. Regardless of the depth, temperature, and fish movement, this method is still the most used method by professional anglers. With sufficient expertise, you can also opt to explore other techniques.