By Capt. Mel Berman, 970-WFLA

After eons of fishing, I have come to the conclusion that my all-time favorite lure type is the common jig. They are inexpensive, come in an appealing (to fishers and fish) assortment of colors, sizes and shapes, and the darned things really catch the heck out of fish.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing more thrilling than watching a big fish “wake” after a topwater plug. And I can’t count the many times that a spoon proved to be my best fish finder. Yet, when the chips are down, I tie on one of my favorite jigs and invariably begin catching fish.

Jigs are not only gentile on the wallet, they are infinitely easier on the fish. Most have single hook configuration, which makes releasing any species a quick and simple procedure. In addition, when the one takes the extra step of crimping the barb, it’s only a matter of allowing a slight bit of line slack to release the fish.

Its also fun trying to figure out just which color or shape will produce on any given day. There are several variations, but the three main configurations are shad/minnow, worm or grub.

Most prefer the shad tails, primarily because they look like a small baitfish. Yet, in recent years, the worm tails have morphed over from the freshwater scene to become a staple in the arsenal of many saltwater anglers.

The one shape that is quite productive, yet not as popular is the grub tail. Perhaps it’s a matter of aesthetics. The grub tail to the fisher’s eye is far less attractive than the worm and shad shapes. Yet, in my experience grub tails can have a great appeal to many of our favorite species One major variation is the so-called curly tails. This is usually a wavy piece of plastic molded to the grub or shad tail. As an angler slurps the curly tail through the water, the wiggle of that tail is difficult for fish to resist. The only down side is that smaller species such a pinfish, puffers, etc. take great pleasure in nipping the curls off these jig tails.

Now lets talks about colors. Most of the time a color that really appeals to the fishing enthusiast is the polar opposite of what really attracts fish. Oftentimes, drab dull grays, rootbeer, dark greens and purples seem to be what most species desire. Yet, having said that, there are occasions when the bright yellows, whites and orange colors can be effective – particularly on clear bright days.

Then there is the “red-head-white-body” bunch. Some jiggers swear that no matter the conditions, their “red-head-white-body” combo is what gets the job done for them. And one can’t argue as many of my friends stick to that color combination with really excellent results

Finally, there are those jig tails with glitter in them. I must confess to being an aficionado of these sparkling beauties. Though I have seen many fish caught with dull drab colors, I instinctively gravitate to anything that looks like a shiny, reflective baitfish. As a matter of fact, there are several species of fish that are suckers for these sparkle tails. Some jig manufacturers actually pump into these tails as much glitter as they can hold. And those tails are excellent substitutes for other ultra-shiny baits, like spoons. If you cast these sparkle-tails out and simply reel them in, much as you would a spoon, they will often yield similar results.

That’s if for our jig tail shape and color section. In a later issue, we’ll describe the varied and many ways to actually work these inexpensive yet highly productive baits.