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Fishing the Jika Rig: A Compact, Weed-Busting, Finesse Technique

Written by: Pete D
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Bass anglers never get tired of finesse techniques for a reason: on a pressured lake where the big ones have seen everything over the years, something new and subtle will get bites when nothing else will.

And when precise casting is the name of the game, say, when you’re trying to hit a small puddle of open water in the middle of a sea of lily pads, or when you need to punch hydrilla or milfoil, a Jika rig is just the ticket.

The latest in a long series of imports from Japan, this finesse rig is deadly on pressured lakes and hard bottoms.

Want to know more about the Jika Rig?

Keep reading!

What is a Jika Rig?

what is the jika rig

At the heart of the Jika rig, you’ll find a simple split ring.

It serves as the connection uniting the hook, weight, and line, providing some unique capabilities.

That indirect link between the weight and hook/trailer leaves your soft plastic free to wriggle unencumbered, offering killer action even as you load up larger sinkers. It also keeps the rig compact, allowing super accurate casts and a dense body that punches vegetation like a bullet.

The position of the weight and compact structure of the rig create a nearly vertical fall that leaves the soft plastic trailer wriggling its way down. That’s a real advantage when you’re working a precise location.

As the legendary bass pro Stacey King explains, “One of the great advantages to the Jika rig is it has a very vertical fall… It falls straight down, whereas a Texas rig or something like that has a tendency to pendulum back to you more. It really fishes well in cover because you can vertical fish it down through any kind of aquatic vegetation or brush or anything like that.”

And once on the bottom, it’s forced into that all-important head-down posture, where a twitch or two of your rod tip will drive bass wild. 

In open water on a hard bottom, you can go light, opting for a ⅛-ounce Reaction Tackle Lead Drop Shot Weight. That’s more than enough weight to keep your trailer nailed to the bottom in most circumstances, and in this situation, less is definitely more when it comes to short hops, bounces, and fluttering descents.

But for punching grass mats, lily pads, and other thick vegetation, I like to step up to a ⅜- or ½-ounce weight. That compact body lets you throw a lighter weight than you would with a Texas rig and still penetrate.

Reaction Tackle- Lead Drop Shot Weights - dropshot sinkers, 1/2 oz, 20pk

Amazon 

EWG hooks in sizes ranging from 2/0 to 5/0 to match your trailer are essential. Berkley’s Fusion hooks are dynamite, as are the always-reliable offerings from Gamakatsu.

Gamakatsu 25 Pack EWG Offset Worm Hook (Black, 3/0) (58413-25)

Amazon 

Pick up a pack of Owner 5196-021 Hyper Wire Split Rings and a good pair of fishing pliers, and you’re ready to go!

How to Set Up a Jika Rig

Basics

Set up is pretty easy, but if you want to skip all that and buy a pre-rigged Jika, Gamakatsu offers a “Gika” rig in weights and hook sizes ranging from 2/0 and ⅛ ounce to 4/0 and ⅜ ounce.

Gamakatsu Gika Rig

Available at Bass Pro

If you want to make your own, it’s as easy as attaching your split ring to a hook and weight!

Keep in mind that split ring is the center of this rig, the point of attachment for the hook, weight, and line.

jika rig

In the Jika rig, you tie your line to the split ring rather than the hook.

Rod, reel, and line

Jika rigs typically run much lighter weights than a Texas rig, and like all finesse techniques, they’re much easier to cast well with spinning tackle.

For my finesse fishing, I prefer a 6 ½- to 7-foot rod in medium light to medium power, like the St. Croix Premier. I’m looking for a fast action to provide extra sensitivity, and of course, that rod will be wearing a high-quality spinning reel like a Shimano Ultegra or Pflueger President.

20-pound braid will typically be my line of choice, with a 6- to 10-pound fluorocarbon or mono leader. On my finesse rod and reel combo, you’ll find Sufix 832 tied to a Seaguar InvizX leader.

That combo is going to provide the best feel for finesse fishing while still allowing great abrasion resistance if a bass decides to tie me up around a stump or downed tree. And that InvizX is going to be very, very hard to see for any spooky bass.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t pitch a Jika with casting tackle, but you’ll want a heavier weight - ½ ounce to 1 ounce. And it’s simply deadly in this role.

My favorite rod to use with a Jika for flipping and pitching is Dobyns Rods Champion XP Series. The 7’6'' heavy power, fast action rod is murder on bass, and pretty much any good casting reel will work.

Speed is just not important given the distances we’re talking about, and the fights may be hard, but they’ll be short!

I’ll pair this heavy tackle with 50-pound braid like Power Pro or Sufix 832 and never look back.

Knots

If you need a leader, braid to fluorocarbon connections can be tricky, as neither of them accepts a knot as well as mono.

We’ve covered this topic at length before, and if you want the complete run down, take a look at this article:

Connecting Braided Main Line to Leader: Best Knots for Bass Fishing

My pick for the leader connection is the 5-Turn Surgeon’s Knot because it’s faster, easier, and typically stronger than the Alberto.

For my terminal connection on a Jika rig, I’m running an improved Palomar 100% of the time.

Soft plastics

The Jika rig is as versatile as they come in your choice of soft plastics, but it’s probably at its best with creature baits like beavers, craws, and lizards. Other proven options include magnum-sized worms.

Beavers

Nothing beats a fat beaver trailer with the Jika rig, especially if you’re punching salad and hunting brush piles or rocks.

Strike King KVD Perfect Plastics Rodent offers 4 inches of fat body and trailing appendages, and just a twitch or two will set this softbait fluttering.

Strike King KVD Perfect Plastics Rodent

Available at Bass Pro

Zoom’s Z-Hog is no joke, either.

Available at Bass Pro

But when size matters and I want to maximize wiggle and flutter, I reach for Zoom’s 6'' Brush Hog.

Zooms 6 Brush Hog

Available at Bass Pro

Craws

Maybe my favorite time to fish a Jika is during the pre-spawn, when the females are gearing up for egg-laying and feeding heavily on crawfish.

Nothing I’ve seen comes close to matching the effectiveness of a Jika paired with a craw. No surprise, then, that you’ll find me loaded up with Strike King Rage Tail Craws. They’ve got the look, action, and color combinations that drive bass wild.

Strike King Rage Tail Craws

Worms

The Jika is great at keeping a worm head nailed to the bottom, and as I’ll discuss more below, it can also be used to swim a magnum worm just above the bottom.

My pick for that technique is Zoom’s Magnum II, 9 inches of wiggling, dinner-bell ringing soft plastic.

Zoom’s Magnum II

Available at Bass Pro

How to Fish a Jika Rig

The Jika is rare in that it can be fished as a flipping and pitching rig on a heavy baitcasting setup or run as a finesse rig on open, rocky bottoms.

Flipping

For hitting tight spots and precise casts, nothing beats flipping.

It’s not a particularly hard casting technique, but a little practice will help. I recommend setting a bucket up at about 15 feet and perfecting your form.

Holding the rod in your right hand, pull out a length of line in your left. Lower your rod tip, levering your rig forward in a pendulous arc. If you release the line in your left hand at the perfect moment, you’ll flip your rig forward with amazing accuracy.

As your Jika rig hits the water, let it flutter to the bottom. Many bass will hit it on the fall, but if they don’t, give your rig a few gentle pops with your wrist.

Don’t be too quick to lift it back out of the water - slow down, and more bass will hit your rig.

Pitching

Pitching is similar to flipping, just minus the left-handed action. By lowering your rod tip, you pitch the rig forward with your rod, giving you more distance than a flip.

Again, this is a technique that you’ll want to practice a bit, and that time will pay off quickly.

Bouncing

The Jika rig stays nailed to the bottom, and the head-down posture of your soft plastic is just ideal for luring a hungry bass in.

Very gentle twitches of your rod tip, much like with a shaky head, will get your trailer moving excitedly, and especially with craws, this is more than enough to attract attention as it mimics their natural behavior.

Dragging

The Jika rig is also amazing when dragged along the bottom and run into structure or cover like branches, boulders, rocks, and stumps.

Much like a crankbait, you’re looking for contact and trying to get an erratic bounce every time you hit something.

You can do this by using a side-sweeping motion with the rod, retrieving slack as you go. Or you can use a steady retrieve and very subtle movements of the rod tip to keep your Jika rig moving.

Swimming

The Jika can also be deadly with a magnum worm when retrieved, much like a swim bait.

A fast retrieve just over the bottom or above a weed bed can trigger an explosive strike, and you’ll want a lighter weight and a longer worm to really get the most from this technique.

Final Thoughts

The Jika is my go-to finesse technique because of its versatility and strike-provoking finesse. And whether I want to flip and pitch into tight spots, punch grass mats, or work a hard bottom, it’s very, very hard to beat.

We hope this article has taught you something new, and as always, we’d love to hear from you.

Please leave a comment below!

About The Author
Pete D
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.
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