Adding Sophistication

Adding Sophistication to your Presentation 

When I travel to different parts of our country, I find many levels of sophistication or lack there of when discussing the topic of fishing. Most notably, the areas traveled with the most fish resources, often utilizes the least sophisticated method to catch the quarry.

When I traveled through Manitoba, I found the majority of the anglers used jigs or pickerel rigs with salted minnows or a red and white Daredevle spoon

In Saskatchewan the favourite joke revolves around a lead head jig and a yellow double twister tail. I think the line I heard had a reference to 100,000 farmers can’t all be wrong. Barring that, I heard everyone who fishes has a box full of yellow Len Thompson Five o Diamonds.

In Alberta, the predominant lure will be spoons,  jigs and rigs.

As much as the jig, the Daredevle, Five o Diamonds, rigs and the bottom bouncer have made their mark in the fishing industry, the angler who does not look beyond the norm will only have limited success in waters outside their comfort zone.

The surprising part is how difficult it is to convince those who were born to the jig, the spoon and the rig to move forward and try something different.

Moving Forward

For those who are in a certain groove or mindset; change has to come in small steps. Here are some ways to remove the barriers to more fishing success. The offerings are as simple as researching a new lure and adding what the angler expectations are.

The term jig should conjure up a number of thoughts to an angler. To fish with a jig can be very simple or an art form.  You might be somewhere in between.  Adding sophistication to master the jig will allow you to increase the catch as well as improve the quality of the catch.

To make the changes, we can look at jig design, colour and weight.  The round ball head jig is the most common yet can be fished in multiple ways just by adjusting weight, adding colour, bait and attractors.  A flat faced jig will allow the angler to adjust his retrieve and allow for a longer glide in the retrieve.  A stand up jig design allows the business end of the jig to remain upright, allowing for easier hook ups when the jig is at rest. Adding bulk, colour and scent will add to the versatility of the jig and allow you to sort through small fish and catch the biggest fish in the lake.

There is more to jigging

Jig fishing encompasses an amazing array of designs, shapes and sizes.  Companies like Johnson Fishing carry multiple lead head jigs in multiple designs plus the Beetle Spin with an added spinner blade above the hook, the  Spin R Grubs with an attractor blade beneath the hook, the Snare spoon for perch, the Thin Fisher blade bait, the Johnny Darter jigging minnow to name a few.

Anglers who do their research recognize this array of jigging lures will certainly change their outlook when jig fishing.  Anglers will soon understand the different cadences and attractions these lures can provide. This is adding sophistication to the angler’s next adventure because each jig design offers the angler multiple different presentations.

Add the multitude of available colours, plastic bodies or bait and an angler has truly added sophistication to the lowly ball jig and has become a force to be reckoned with.


Here is a favourite add-on to a jig.

Jig fishing is usually a slow methodical way to fish.  Sometimes we add speed to cover more ground or almost sit at anchor if the fish are off the bite.  In either case, we can add a trailer hook and bait to add sophistication and improve catching.

I make two types of trailers for jig fishing and run them off a three-way swivel or off the jig itself.  In the case of rigging a leech behind a jig, I often tie the trailer directly to the hook and often run a tiny float in front of a single #6 or #8 octopus hook.  The lead is usually short (1′-0 to 2′-0) so the bait does not rise too far off bottom.  This is a set up I use where the fish are lock jawed and lying belly to the bottom.  The jig might have a minnow followed by a small leech which gives me two opportunities to entice a bite from the same fish.

In this scenario, I am hesitating or moving very slowly to match the float buoyancy with the weight of the bait and try to make the trailer neutrally buoyant without having the leech run on bottom.  If you have too much buoyancy, the trailer will ride too high because it follows the jig and will hang up at the highest point of the jig lift and then rise some more, never getting a chance for the bait to drop down to eye level of your quarry.  Unless you are dragging the jig on purpose, we normally lift the jig slightly and let it settle down before repeating.

My second trailer is used when I am rip jigging.  Rip jigging is presenting the bait at speed by hopping / sweeping it across the bottom rapidly.  This method utilizes heavier jigs than normal,  like a 5/8 to 1 ounce to entice a reaction bite.  With speed, the added weight doesn’t allow the jig to float up, but rise off bottom in an arc and then suddenly drop as the fishing rod is set back for the next sweep.  The commotion of this jig travelling across the bottom and creating dust clouds as it hits bottom can often entice strikes.

Because I am using a heavy jig, I can overcome the buoyancy and drag of a crankbait.  I will add a  three-way swivel a foot or two above the jig and run a three to five foot trailer.  On the business end I will select a shallow diving crankbait.

I use a lot of floating Yozuri cranks for this application because they have a wide rolling profile and rattles that add character to the presentation but the combinations to match the hatch are endless.  Once the rip jigging motion starts, the crankbait skitters on bottom but as soon as the forward motion ceases, the crank will hesitate, then float up out of harms way.  Utilizing a deep diving crankbait can be distracting to the angler as it digs along bottom.  The diving lip can interfere with the feel you need for the jig as well as pick up debris fouling that portion of the presentation.


Spoon fishing 

This also applies to my Saskatchewan and Manitoba comments.   The spoon by design is a lure that will allow anglers to down size, up size, change colours and cadence when retrieving.  Spoons are a great equalizer when it comes to adding sophistication to a presentation.

One of the most overlooked aspects of the spoon is the designed action, weight, shape and colours available.  Many anglers just remember retrieving a spinning lure and thinking all spoons are created the same.

I used to fish many natural lakes and rivers for walleye , pike and lake trout.  I found the spoon equal or better than most other lures for consistently putting fish in the boat.  I really appreciated that I could rip the spoon vertically or at any angle and let it slip slide back before ripping it again or cast it great distances.  This was great for enticing fish to chase or strike.

Manufacturer’s have stamped, moulded and pressed out thousands of different spoon configurations.  And not all spoons are the same in design so and angler can really search for the perfect lure.  Some are made for casting while others are made for trolling.  Many are a combination of the two.

Spoons can have treble hooks or a single Siwash at the business end.  All spoons can be made weedless if a weedless hook is installed but only the slow wobbling Johnson Silver Minnow has always been the leader in weedless spoons.

Anglers should research spoon action before making a purchase.  For example, the Johnson Salix spoon is curved to provide a very erratic roll and dart action.  This is a great action for trout, salmon and Northern Pike or anything that is caught on a reaction bite and far different from that straight spinning spoon retrieve many are used too.

Spoons with a built-in rattle, like the Johnson Rattlin Scout spoon utilize this feature to attract fish from greater distances and can easily be fished like a jig or cast and retrieved. Specialty spoons like Johnson Snare spoon is the ultimate for panfish like perch or stocked trout.

Then you can get into minnow shaped spoons, Salmon spoons that are painted with a glow in the dark paint and still other with added plastic attractors at the base of the hook that mimic a bleeding bait fish.

All these differences and many more will allow the angler so many more opportunities than the tried and true yellow Five O Diamonds or the red and white Daredevle.

This is where spoon sophistication comes to the angler.  Just a little research and you will have specie specific lures that will give you countless years of enjoyment when others are left fishless.


One thing I do is go online and purchase plastic attractors (flippers) that fit on the split ring above the hook.  These are commonly found on the Swedish Pimple jigging spoon but they are awesome additions to any spoon.


Rig fishing

This approach to angling is just another way to present a lure or bait but is primarily a trolling method.  It can be as simple as a baited hook on a leader following a weight or a flashy combination of spinner blades , beads and bait.

There is a common thread to adding sophistication.  The common thread is applying your knowledge with a little experimentation.  We covered lure size, colour or the absence of, addition of scent or bait as well as speed changes.  This is where the single-minded angler can add sophistication to his approach to angling with his favourite lure, improve his catch and find the quality fish he seeks.

Adding sophistication to rig fishing has few boundaries.  Looking at the simple Lindy rig, which is your shoe weight followed by a small bead and a swivel.  From the opposite end of the swivel, an angler adds on a leader and his hook or hooks with his chosen bait.  This rig is lowered into the water and the weight skips along the bottom followed by the hook.  Simple as this is, there are many ways to improve even the simplest of techniques.  We will now add sophistication to a rig keeping in mind that a rig is any hook that follows a weight.

Many anglers will find themselves in a cluster of boats as everyone is trying to catch the same fish.  How do you make your presentation stand out amongst fifty boats doing a similar fishing technique?

Here is a quick rundown of what you might consider as adding sophistication to your presentation.

You can add a small attractor bead in front of your hook to make the baited hook more visible.

Or you can add rattles so you presentation can be heard under water by your target fish.

Or you can lengthen your leader.  Pressured fish will hit a slower presentation and a long leader removes the jerkyness of a trolled bait making it appear more natural.

Or you can use lighter hooks and change baits frequently.  The list continues but the key is catching more fish!

Speed changes require more consideration and greater options.  Here you have the option of speed and now you can add flashy spinner blades of different sizes and colours and actions.  The speed will also allow you to change your hook configuration and lift baits up and out of the bottom debris.  So it goes on and on.

Adding sophistication is not something difficult to achieve.  All anglers are capable if they look beyond the norm and start experimenting. I am hoping this short story inspires you to experiment and challenge yourself to catch more fish.  I know when success is the outcome, fishing will never be the same for you and your friends.


Look through Tips and Tactics where you will find out how to catch bigger fish when rigging.