I’ve noticed that a lot of people are interested in finding out how to effectively fish micro jigs (especially Trout Magnets). If presented correctly, these increasingly popular lures can work very well for trout, steelhead, crappie and other species.
The most effective aspect of the Trout Magnet is the presentation used when fishing it, namely a micro-jig presented horizontally under a float.
In that, the Trout Magnet is just another option for utilizing a method that’s been around for quite a while. Before Trout Magnets appeared, the same kind of fishing was done with small marabou and hackle jigs, often tipped with a maggot or other small piece of live bait.
The best way to fish Trout Magnets and other micro-jigs is as follows.
1. Run your mainline through the smallest float you can get away with. The floats sold by Trout Magnet are good, but there are also a lot of other options, including using strike indicators designed for fly fishing.
2. Attach a length of fluorocarbon line fluorocarbon line to your mainline as a leader. The blood knot works well here. You can find out how to tie that by clicking here. For trout, I typically use 2 to 4 pound test fluorocarbon. I don’t go much larger for steelhead in the Great Lakes tributaries.
3. Tie either the Trout Magnet Jig Head or another collarless jig head (size 1/120 to 1/64 depending on the situation) to the end of your leader using a Trilene knot. Thread your Trout Magnet or other small soft plastic onto the hook.
4. Pinch 1 – 3 micro split-shot split shot onto your leader, evenly spaced about two inches apart. Don’t run these too close to either the jig or the float. These will help your jig get into the strike zone quickly, and keep it there for the duration of your drift.
5. Peg your float high enough up the line that your lure will ride in the strike zone, typically somewhere between halfway down the water column and the bottom. For example, if you’re fishing in 24 inches of water, your jig should ride about 18-20 inches down from your float in most scenarios.
6. Quarter your casts upstream, well ahead of any visible fish or suspected holding areas. Dead drift the lure and keep an eye on the float for any subtle takes. Maintaining a drag free drift is of vital importance. What this means is that your bait should float naturally with the current. Watch your float, if it drags slower than the current or shoots ahead of it, you have a problem you need to address. Sometimes it means lifting your line off the water, sometimes it means changing the length of your leader to keep it from hitting the bottom, sometimes it means changing the weight of your jig head.
7. In some cases, you will find that wiggling your lure slightly every few seconds will bring more strikes. Don’t go overboard, a light shake will do it. Long, light rods (like this) are great for imparting just enough action into micro-jigs and help you keep your line off of the water surface, helping you to maintain a drag free drift. They also work well at absorbing tension, operating like a shock absorber and allowing you to fish lighter lines than you may otherwise have been able to get away with. Additionally, long whip-like poles allow you to cast small lures much further than short rods do.
You can also fish your lure without a float, drifting or swimming it through likely locations while feeling the line for takes. In tough conditions, this will sometimes be the only thing that works.
Some colors seem to constantly outperform others. With soft plastics, pink has always been best for me, followed by white, yellow, natural, black and chartreuse. With hair jigs, white, pink, purple, yellow and brown have been best.
In my opinion and experience, Berkley trout worms are much more effective than Trout Magnets. And since they can be trimmed to the size of a Trout Magnet or fished in the larger sizes they come in, they are also more versatile.
I used to fish hair jigs of the same size, but I’ve been using the soft plastics a lot more in recent years and having as much, if not more, success.
When fishing a Berkley trout worm in the manner explained above, it’s not unusual for me to catch a dozen or two fish like this on any given outing.