A Mighty Mite: The Marabou Jig - The Fisherman

A Mighty Mite: The Marabou Jig

The author has landed over 150 species on these simple jigs including a 30-pound carp and a 13-pound largemouth bass!

A simple lure that does it all.

In today’s world, we’re bombarded with ad after ad of products proclaiming to be the best or last one you will ever need. In the fishing world, it’s no different. I have a myriad of lures and baits to choose from, and most carry a hefty price tag. These lures don’t hold a candle to my favorite and most productive bait when it comes to freshwater fishing, the black Marabou Jig.

Small Yet Mighty

It doesn’t look like much, weighing in at a meager 1/32 ounces and less than 2 inches long. Despite its size, this jig has caught the vast majority of my freshwater fish by a ratio of 10:1 compared to other lures. The movement and action have yet to be duplicated even with all the new synthetic materials used in today’s latest and greatest offerings.

During the cold months, largemouth bass can become very lethargic and will not respond to most offerings. The marabou jig is one that will get their attention.

I have fished marabou jigs for over 45 years and have tallied up more than 150 species on them. Some of the weights I have thrown ranged from 1/100 to 1/8-ounce and in a full spectrum of colors. This article is about one in particular – the black 1/32-ounce jig. It will surely catch almost all of the species in your local waters. The American eel is the one fish I haven’t yet caught on one, but I have hooked everything from pumpkinseed and bluegills to carp and almost everything in between. It also deadly effective for steelhead and Atlantic salmon in the rivers, consistently out-fishing other methods and baits.

Some of my more impressive catches on this mighty mite include a 13-pound largemouth, 30-pound carp, 10-pound walleye, 16-pound steelhead, 17-pound brown trout, and a 3.5-pound yellow perch. All these fish except the largemouth were caught in Northeast waters. I firmly believe if fish don’t hit this jig, they won’t hit any artificial.

Most of my freshwater fishing is done during the colder months. I think that this jig represents many different food sources for your average fish – leeches, hellgrammites, other large nymphs, and fish fry. The size also makes it seem safe to eat to the predator. I’ve always believed that the bigger a lure, the more a fish might be able to find wrong with it. The size also allows me to fish it extremely slowly, which is vital during the winter when the fish tend to be more lethargic and unwilling to chase down their food.

Having a rod rated to throw lures as light as 1/32-ounce is key for casting, feeling the jig and detecting those subtle bites

Tackle To Tote

Ultra-light fishing tackle is needed for light jig fishing. Luckily, many quality rods and reels do not cost an arm or leg. Rods from 4-1/2 to 7 feet long rated for 1 to 4 or 2 to 6-pound lines are usually ideal. I would recommend staying away from very fast action rods because the more moderate ones offer more of a cushion when fighting a fish. This results in fewer pulled hooks. I will also use a long noodle or steelhead rod when long casts are necessary. These rods are also ideal for fighting large fish on ultralight lines. St Croix has always been my rod company of choice for ultra-light fishing along with G. Loomis.

Two to 4-pound test NanoBraid is an excellent choice when fishing with marabou jigs.

Reels should be small enough to match the rod – usually about a 2000 size. The most important characteristic is to have a smooth drag when choosing a reel. Pair the reel with a braided line in the 1 to 4-pound test range. Several companies make “nano braids” suited for this type of fishing. Remember to replace your line often as the micro diameter braid doesn’t hold up as well the heavier braids do.

I use light-colored lines so that I can see the subtle signs of fishing a jig along the bottom. Most of our fish stay low in the water column, so consistently keeping your lure there is extremely important. The light-colored lines help show when the jig hits bottom or when you get a subtle hit. I also use fluorocarbon leader from 2 to 6-pound test for additional advantage in cold, clear waters.

Finding quality marabou jigs can be frustrating. The good news is that they’re straightforward to tie and extremely inexpensive. One can usually make four to five jigs for a dollar and 10 minutes of time; not a bad investment.

Keep It Subtle

As mentioned earlier, I do most of this fishing in the winter and spring when plant growth is nearly nonexistent, so I don’t have to worry about many snags. In the warmer months, one will have to fish areas that allow fish to run and fight without breaking off on plants like lily pads or other structure.  I will guarantee that if you fish these jigs during the “Indian summers” of winter or early spring at your local lake, pond, or golf course, you will catch.

Keep the retrieve on the slow side and keep the jigging action at 1-foot lifts or less. Remember you’re fishing a tiny lure that’s imitating small prey – impart motion to mimic that. In my opinion, there is no better way to fish for our freshwater species than with a 1/32-ounce jig. This is a far cry from the Bass Pro guys fighting 5-pound fish on 60 to 80-pound test. Yes, you will lose a few fish due to the light tackle, but you’ll also hook many more than if you weren’t using it. Plus, the fight is unmatched by heavier tackle. Try the little mighty mite on your next trip.

These jigs are deadly on trout species from steelhead on the Great Lakes tributaries to stocked brookies at your local trout pond.


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