Trick out jigging spoons

Updated: September 1, 2006, 4:34 PM ET
By John Neporadny Jr. | BASSMASTER Magazine, September/October 2006
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A fluttering jigging spoon triggers bass into a feeding frenzy, yet the erratic and fast fall of this heavy metal lure makes it difficult for fish to hone in on the bait.

Schooling bass tend to quickly swipe at jigging spoons, which results in either complete misses, foul hookups or a loosely hooked fish that eventually throws the spoon. When bass continue to short strike a spinnerbait or buzzbait, you can rectify the problem by adding a trailer hook, but attaching a second hook to the treble of a jigging spoon is impractical. However, some jigging spoon experts have discovered that adding a treble hook to the top of their lure increases their hook setting chances without inhibiting the spoon's action and descent.

Table Rock Lake guide Pete Wenners uses a double-hook rig that enhances the look and hook setting potential of his jigging spoons. The former Bassmaster Top 150 competitor believes his rig increases the odds of hooking a bass with a spoon by 15 to 25 percent.

The Cape Fair, Mo., angler opts for a homemade 3/4-ounce jigging spoon for his vertical presentations at Table Rock. He favors a chrome spoon on sunny days in crystal clear water, but switches to a white spoon for cloudy days or whenever he fishes stained water.

Two types of hooks are options for Wenners' rig. On one version, Wenners replaces the original hook with a No. 2 red treble and slips a No. 4 feathered treble hook above the spoon. He selects five feathers about 1 1/2 inches long in white, chartreuse and red hues and binds them on the hook with fly-tying thread and a drop of Super Glue. His second version consists of a No. 4 bare red hook above the spoon and the original No. 2 treble on the bottom.

The Missouri guide slips his line through the eye of the extra hook and then ties on the spoon. This setup allows the top hook to slide freely along the line. "The feathered hook doesn't stay right on top of the spoon after you jerk it," reveals Wenners. "It actually flutters about 2 or 3 feet above the spoon. So I think it looks like a small shad by itself."

In clear water, Wenners has noticed the feathered hook falls slower than the spoon. If he wants the stinger hook to fall in sync with the spoon, he opts for the bare red treble instead. "When you don't have feathers on the hook, I don't think you actually have fish biting at the hook," he says. "I think they are biting at the spoon and just happen to get hooked with the top hook."

Selecting the right hook is crucial to this setup. "Whatever hook you use has to be smooth inside the line tie," says Wenners. He prefers a rounded eye on the line tie which most manufacturers offer. Wenners has used feathered trebles with squared eyes that he noticed inhibited the line from sliding smoothly. Line can fray and eventually break if it catches on rough spots of rounded hook eyes or wedges into a corner of the square-eyed hook.

The double-hook jigging spoon tactic produces for Wenners from fall through late winter when spotted bass and largemouth feast on shad along extended gravel flats with dropoffs, long points or bluff ends near channel swings, or in treetops in creek arms. Most of the time, Wenners catches spotted bass suspended or hugging the bottom at depths of 35 to 45 feet, or he takes largemouth suspended in the treetops 50 to 60 feet deep in 80 to 100 feet of water.

Relying on his Pinpoint TR320 sonar unit, Wenners tracks the depth of baitfish, bass activity and the location of the treetops. Once he pinpoints the fish, Wenners has his clients drop their spoons down to the right depth and marks their lines with a Sharpie pen about a foot above their reels for a reference point. That way they can keep their spoons in the strike zone and above the trees.

"If the fish are on the bottom, I will let the bait hit the bottom and then will work it 2 to 3 feet up, letting it flutter down," says Wenners, who starts his presentation with his rod at the 8 o'clock position and pops it up to 10 or 11 o'clock. "There are times when fishing for suspended bass that I will just move the spoon 6 to 8 inches, just barely jigging my rod tip. The majority of the time, though, I am working it with a 2- to 3-foot stroke."

The veteran guide tries to drop his rod tip down faster than the descent of the spoon so his line stays semi-taut and the lure falls with a more natural flutter. Strikes usually occur before the lure reaches the bottom and on many occasions his clients hook the fish on the upstroke.

With all of the up-and-down movement of the spoon, adding a second hook seems like an invitation to double trouble, but Wenners hasn't experienced any problems. "A lot of times a spoon with a single treble hook will foul itself on the line," discloses Wenners. "I haven't had any trouble with the front hook tangling on the line or getting hooked on the other hook."

Wenners estimates he still hooks about 75 percent of his bass on the bottom treble, while the top hook latches on to the rest of his catch. "When the fish are real active I will catch a lot of doubles, especially with the feathered hook," he reveals. And that is the sort of double trouble anglers like to deal with.

Tackle tips

Heavy tackle works best for Pete Wenners' spoon tactics, even though he usually fishes in open, clear-water situations.

The guide relies on a medium-heavy action, 6 1/2-foot Falcon Expert Series rod that is stout enough to handle his jerking presentation and is effective setting the hook on bass in deep water. He combines the rod with a Shimano Chronarch reel (6.2:1 gear ratio), capable of keeping up with a fast-rising bass. "When you set the hook on a lot of those fish, their first reaction is to come to the surface, and it's all you can do just to stay up with them," warns Wenners.

The Missouri angler spools his reel with 15-pound-test clear or green monofilament, which is heavy enough to straighten out the spoon's treble hook when Wenners has to pull the snagged bait out of timber.