Jigs are by far one of the most popular and effective ice fishing lures anglers can use for ice fishing. Their simple design and ease of use make jigs a priority for all types of ice fishing. Regardless of where you’re fishing and what you’re targeting, you’ll find that jigs are always going to work.
Some of the most common jigs are diamond jigs, demon jigs, jigging spoons, Jigging Raps, and a traditional tungsten jig. Most jigs have vertical, diagonal, and horizontal presentation options that allow anglers to vary their approach when ice fishing. Plus, the jigs have different sizes and colors.
The jig industry is constantly evolving due to anglers becoming more knowledgeable about what fish want and how to best present it to them. The more anglers understand jigs, the better anglers they become.
Diamond jigs are fairly diverse lures. Ice anglers, freshwater anglers, and saltwater anglers use them in various instances.
While they look different depending on the method of use, they are all fished in a somewhat similar way. Diamond jigs are fairly straightforward jigs.
Ice fishing diamond jig heads are made up of a small piece of metal in the shape of a diamond. It acts as a horizontal jig depending on where the eye is placed.
Companies like Skandia are well-known for their diamond jigs. They offer anglers a different look than the traditional circular ice fishing jig.
The slight difference in design is enough to attract fish that might be in the area. Many fish are used to seeing circular-shaped jigs, which can give you a small advantage in terms of a unique presentation.
Diamond jigs generally come in a variety of different bright colors and sizes. Typically, anglers find them between a size 6 and 14 hook.
Diamond jigs are a great option if you’re targeting panfish or trout. The bright colors and size of the hook are manageable for panfish and trout.
Some of the most effective colors are chartreuse and orange, as well as bright blue and purple. The more obnoxious the color pattern, the better for ice fishing.
Depending on what you’re fishing for and where you’re fishing, many anglers will fish these jigs with a wax worm, soft plastic, or minnow head.
The horizontal sitting diamond jig allows you to create a decent amount of movement in the water and expel as much of the scent from the live bait or soft plastic as possible.
But do you really need live bait for ice fishing? Find out in our guide on: Analyzing The Need Of Live Baits For Ice Fishing.
Ice fishing is all about enticing fish enough to go after your bait. In the winter, their metabolisms are slower, so their desire to pursue food isn’t as high as it would be in the summer.
Demon jigs are a personal favorite for many ice anglers because of their uniqueness to ice fishing. It’s a highly unique design that is almost always effective while you’re on the ice.
Few other fishing methods use a demon jig design, so diehard ice anglers hold close to it. The demon jig design has a similar circular “head” to a traditional ice fishing jig.
It has a very similar look to a beetle. The jig’s body is a large oval that becomes thin as it gets down toward the hook shank.
The weight of this jig is helpful if you’re fishing moving water or deeper sections of a lake. Generally, ice anglers will use demon jigs ranging from a size 4 to a size 12 hook.
These are jig sizes between 1/14 ounce and 1/100 ounce. Like many other ice fishing jigs, companies will sell them in various bright colors to attract fish in the dark and murky water.
A size four and six jig is especially effective when going after walleye or larger panfish. Many anglers tip diamond jigs with a minnow or minnow head.
You can either dead stick or work the jig with this setup. As long as it’s balanced, it’ll sit vertically and create a nice amount of action.
The size 8 and 10 demon jigs are perfect panfish jigs. Demon jigs are small enough that they won’t overwhelm panfish but heavy enough to get to that 5-20 feet of water regardless of current.
Demon jigs’ bodies are smaller and will attract even the most finicky panfish. Size 12 demon jigs are best for those small panfish in ultra-clear and shallow water.
They are small, but they continually prove that they’re one of the few jig styles that work for fish who don’t seem to be willing to eat anything.
Tip the size 12 with a wax worm or a minnow head and see what happens.
Jigging spoons are another type of jig that anglers swear by. Anglers will use jigging spoons in open water and through the ice.
The Swedish Pimple is one of those spoons that have been around for over 100 years and continually produce all different kinds of fish.
Jigging spoons are a bit larger, so they’re effective for fish like bass, pike, trout, salmon, and the occasional large panfish. They have a long, curved, slim body with a treble hook attached at the bottom.
The slender and curved body will spin and move around as it falls in the water column. As a result, a traditional ice fishing jigging motion won’t get the most out of this style of jig.
You want to raise this jig a few feet and then let it fall. The longer it can fall, the more water it will move and the more light it will reflect. If possible, fish the jigging spoon in clear water.
The more light it can reflect, the more fish it attracts to the spoon. Again, ice fishing aims to attract sluggish fish, so a bright and active spoon is one of the best ways you can do this.
Depending on the fish you’re targeting, you’ll likely want to tip this with a minnow head or wax worm.
The action and reflection of the lure will bring the fish over toward the bait, and the smell of the minnow head or wax worm will be the thing that gets the fish to strike.
Trout and walleye are the two fish that seem to respond best to the jigging spoon. They’re on the heavier end, but they will perform well in all types of water.
Many anglers will use somewhere between 1/5 ounce and 1/10 ounce spoons.
Rapala Jigs are incredibly effective for those large fish looking for a minnow representation.
Rapala lures are commonly used in open water for bass and pike, but these types of jigs are a bit different in that they sink quickly and have the line tie on top instead of near the “mouth” of the “minnow.”
If you enjoy targeting bass through the ice, you’ll find that the Rapala jig is one of the best jig options. The noise the Rapala makes will get the bass to come and take a look at it before striking it.
The bottom of the jig has a treble hook, and there are hooks on both ends of the lure as well. Some anglers tip the treble hook with a wax worm or a minnow head to add scent to the presentation.
Anglers will also place a bead on their leader above the lure, so when they jig, it creates a noise to attract any fish in the area.
Most anglers work Rapala jigs off of the bottom. Find a rocky area with surrounding vegetation and baitfish. Bounce the jig along the rocks, and you’ll likely have success.
The more movement you can create with the jig, the better your chance. Some of the more common sizes of the Rapala Jig are 1/8 ounce, 3/16 ounce, and 5/16 ounce.
Rapala jigs are all around 1 or 2 inches long and have a reasonably fast sinking rate. When you’re fishing Rapala jigs, you’ll notice that fish like to hit them as they fall.
Similar to the spoon, you’ll want to raise Rapala jigs a few feet and let them fall. It’ll create action and cause more fish to come to investigate.
Traditional tungsten jigs are what most people imagine when they think of an ice fishing jig. These circular, teardrop jigs are heavier than lead jigs, so they sink at a far faster rate.
Anglers who primarily target panfish find themselves fishing with circular tungsten jigs on a regular basis. You’re able to position tungsten jigs to sit horizontally, vertically, as well as diagonally.
Depending on how you want your bait to sit, you can purchase them with the eye in a different place on the jig.
Bluegill, perch, and crappie anglers will often use a horizontal jig. They’ll tip the end of the hook with a wax worm or a minnow head.
Drop tungsten jigs down a few feet below the bottom in 10-20 feet of water near some structure, and you’ll give yourself a great chance to land various fish.
Unlike previously mentioned jigs, you don’t necessarily have to raise this jig a few feet before you let it fall in the water column.
Raises and drops of a few inches will do enough to attract any of those fish that are sitting in shallow water.
As long as you have a jig with enough color and it’s tipped with a wax worm or a minnow, you’ll have success landing most panfish you encounter.
Since they can land a variety of fish, your best bet is to consider the type of fish you’re targeting and purchase the proper size jig.
Some of the most common tungsten jig sizes range from 1/4 ounce to 1/64 ounce. Some jigs come with size 4, 6, 8, or 10 hooks.
Another factor to consider when choosing the right size of a tungsten jig is the length you want. Generally, traditional jigs are anywhere from 5mm to 10mm in length.
A question that rages throughout the ice fishing community is what style of jig should be used.
Vertical jigs are great to use if you happen to be fishing in heavy rock cover and want your jig to be more straight up and down.
To tell if a jig is going to sit more vertically, you’ll notice that the eye is on top of the jig head. When you attach your bait to your jighead, it’ll be the first thing to reach the bottom.
As you jig, it’ll bounce up and down, releasing the scent and moving it around. Whether you’re using a worm, minnow, or soft plastic, the vertical jigs will create plenty of movement on your bait.
Fish like bluegill, rock bass, crappie, and perch will sit near rocks as long as there are areas within those rocks for them to hide.
If you know rocks cover the bottom (your fish finder will tell you the type of bottom you’re fishing), then start with a vertical jig.
It won’t cause as much damage to your line and will operate smoothly in this type of terrain.
Horizontal jigs are generally used if anglers are fishing fallen trees and other types of vegetation. Horizontals sit on their side and don’t get hung up in the vegetation as easily as vertical jigs.
Many open-water anglers prefer to use horizontal jigs, but they also prove themselves through the ice.
All types of fish sit near vegetation. Pike, bass, panfish, and walleye will sit near timber and vegetation due to the large number of food options found within vegetation.
Smaller baitfish, insects, and crustaceans are able to survive in heavily vegetated areas throughout the winter. Plus, vegetation and fallen trees are often found in shallower portions of the fishery.
Drop your horizontal jig tipped with a minnow head, soft plastic, or worm, and let it fall through the vegetation.
You don’t have to worry about your jig getting hung up on much, so fish it as aggressively as you like.
While diagonal jigs are far more rare than vertical or horizontal jigs, they prove to be effective. They offer anglers the best of both worlds.
They can swim through weeds, timber, and heavy structure, as well as bounce along rocks and a variety of other materials on the bottom. Diagonal jigs are the perfect option for ice fishing.
Since you may move around a few times throughout your day on the ice, it’s essential to be versatile.
Plus, ice anglers like to set themselves up in areas of submerged structure and cover, so you want to ensure you’re equipped with the right type of jig.
Different ice fishing jigs serve different purposes. It takes time to know when to use a diamond jig, demon jig, spoon, Rapala jig, and a traditional tungsten jig.
Each body of water is different, and fish will have similar tendencies, but their preferences change due to the type of food available and the usual way they’re used to seeing their food.
Experiment with all different types of jigs and make sure you have a few that sit horizontally, some that can be worked vertically, and some that can be used diagonally.
Paying attention to small details can make or break your time on the water, and it’s best to be prepared for various circumstances.