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What Is A Jig Trailer for Bass?

How To Choose A Jig Trailer | How To Pick A Jig Trailer

Jig fishing is an art in itself, but are you getting everything you can out of this finesse fishing technique?  Many times, the jig trailer gets overlooked when it comes to rigging up, but there are several factors that can impact what type of jig trailer you should use.  Selecting the proper trailer for your jig fishing setup can lead to not only an increase in bite percentage, but it may be the key to putting that next personal best in the boat!

As with most anything related to fishing, there is some science behind choosing the right jig trailer for bass, but it can be easily understood if broken down into individual factors.  First, understanding which type of jig fishing you will be doing will help narrow down the selection of jig trailers.  Second, you need to take into account what time of year and what stage of spawning the bass may be at.  Lastly, evaluating the water quality coupled with the color of your jig will help finalize the proper selection of a jig trailer.  If you follow these three steps, you should have no problem learning how to choose a jig trailer for your next fishing trip.  With a little practice and knowing what questions to ask, choosing the right jig trailer for bass will become second nature and you will be well on your way to catching more fish!

Now you can see that choosing the right jig trailer can be a critical step in learning how to fish a jig.  It may be overwhelming at first, but broken down into these steps can help to evaluate each selection criteria individually so you can make the most educated decision possible.  Ensuring that your trailer is compatible with the jig style you are using greatly impacts the fish’s decision to hit or watch it go by. 

Likewise, seasonal bass behavior can determine what type of food they may be interested in.  Identifying what the fish want at any given time can be a bit of a crap shoot, but understanding the details behind each jig trailer’s purpose can up your potential for more and bigger bites.  

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What is a jig trailer?

Jig Trailers 101: How To Pair Your Bass Jigs With The Right Trailers!

Originally referred to as the jig and pig, the pork frog was the first marketed jig trailer that was available for the masses.  A leathery slice of pork skin die cut into a shape that mimics the action of a frog’s legs or a crawfish’s pinchers. 

Many anglers still swear by the effectiveness of an authentic jig and pig, but today’s options go well beyond anything that could have been imagined when that first piece of experimental pork chunk was threaded onto a hook.

A jig trailer offers several different advantages over fishing just a skirted jig alone.  The first and likely most important aspect of using a jig trailer is that it adds bulk to the bait.  This can mean adding size for visual enticement, or it can add buoyancy to the bait to better control the rate of fall.

Bass typically hit a jig as it is falling, so slowing the rate of fall can keep it in the strike zone longer, but it’s still best to experiment to see what the fish may want on any given day.

The second advantage to using a jig trailer is that it creates additional action and vibration as it moves through the water.  Action can trigger strikes, and varying actions can appeal to different fish’s preferences.  

Some jig trailer designs are meant to maximize vibration helping a fish to locate your bait in murkier waters and just draw more attention in clear water.

Lastly, a somewhat controversial advantage of a jig trailer is offering up a multi-colored bait option.  Contrasting the color of your jig’s trailer to the skirt can increase your chances of getting a fish to react. 

jig trailer also gives you the opportunity to add additional color to your jig. 

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What Are the Different Types of Jig Trailers?

To make selection as simple as possible, I categorize jig trailers into the following three types:

  • Craw/Creature
  • Minnow/Paddle-tail Swimbait
  • Worm/Lizard

Craw/Creature baits

Craw/Creature baits are the largest and most widely used type of jig trailers. Craw style trailers are supposed to look like a real crawfish, whereas creature baits tend to look like some beetle got caught up in a Frankenstein machine and end up looking nothing like any real animal found in the wild.

Craw/ creature baits come in any size, from a standard jig 3″ or 6″ trailer sizes. and an also be thin and narrow to fat and full size.

In addition, craws and creature baits be also be classified as “high action” and “low action”. High action mean the trailer will have some movement of even at the slightest of twitches of the rod. Low action will have very little movement unless imparted with excessive movement of the rod, like hopping your jig.

High action trailers perform best in open water (so the tentacles won’t wrap around anything). The best time of year when the bass’ metabolism is at it’s peak, mainly summer and fall. A good example of high action trailer would be I would also classify single and double tail grubs.

Conversely, low action trailers like a beaver-style creature bait will work best in either tight cramped areas, for example when you are flipping or punching into matted vegetation since they are more streamline and compact. Plus, low action trailers like a chunk-style bait will typically perform the best during the winter and spring. A good illustration of a low action trailer would be a Reaction Innovations Beaver.

Read more: Top 10 Jig Trailers You Don’t Know About

Minnow and Paddle-tail Swimbait

Minnow and Paddle-tail Swimbait jig trailers may sound strange, but there’s a time and place.  Ranging from high action tail swimbaits all the way down to the original fluke or a minnow trailer can be an effective tool in your finesse fishing arsenal.  

These style of trailers give the same thumping action a live shad, bluegill, or anyother bait fish would have.


The Worm/Lizard category is exactly as it sounds.  Break off the front half of a standard plastic worm or lizard and slide it on your jig hook. 

Read more: Best Jig Trailers For The Money

Matching The Trailer With The Jig

Of the four main types of jigs, each has its own purpose and fishing style which will need to be considered when selecting a trailer. 

Read more: Top 10 Best Jigs For Bass Fishing [Insiders Only]

Flipping & Pitching Jigs

Flipping and pitching are all different names for the same style of jig.  These are target-based jigs.  Intended to flip, pitch, or cast into heavy cover with a compact head that can punch through floating scum or weeds and then come through obstacles without getting hung up.

Trailers for flipping and pitching jigs are typically bulky and may have other appendages (like tentacles) aside from the common pincers are common choices of the trailers mentioned above are a good choice for this style jig with the exception of minnows.

Punching Jigs

Punching jigs are heavy pointed jigs that are meant break through a floating canopy of vegiation. Standare jigs are eatiher not heavy enough or lack the head shape to properly fall through the matted weeds.

This style of jig requires a large, streamline, low action trailer.

Read more: Best Jigs Pros Don’t Want You To Know About

Skipping Jigs

Skipping jigs are usually on the lighter end of the spectrum.  Design is an important aspect as the flattened head helps to maximize the skip factor, but as you can imagine, choosing the wrong trailer can completely ruin a skipping jig’s effectiveness.

It’s less about the actual presentation or action of the trailer on a skipping jig.  The point is to make the most compact bait possible that can still provide some strike triggering dance moves once in the water.

Chunks and smaller bodied trailers are a must with skipping jigs.  Too many appendages can greatly reduce your skipping distance as one of those arms flails around and catches the water prematurely.

Remember that a skipping technique is used to get your bait in front of a fish that has not been heavily pressured.  Presenting a bait in areas other anglers aren’t able to get to means the bass may react more favorably with just a simple smooth action jig setup.

Football Jigs

When it comes to jig trailers, a football jig is wide open and anything goes.  Literally, any of the jig trailers mentioned above are fair game to be paired with a football jig.

Deep water, rocky areas, and open water transitions can all be fished well with football jigs.  The only factors to consider here will be fall rate and size to keep the bait proportionate. 

Even minnows are effective options if you decide to experiment with swimming a football jig in open water.

Finesse Jigs

Most anglers fish a finesse jig as they would any other normal size jig. The only thing that really sets it apart is the finesse jig is meant to be fished in clear water or pressured water.

After doing some additional research, I found that the majority of professional anglers say that they have to back away from the target about double the distance from your boat and have to be more accurate with their casting.

Finesse jigs can take paired with high and low action trailer depending on the water temperature and how clear it is.

Read more: This Report Tells You The Finesse Jig You Need To Be Fishing

Swim Jigs

Any jig can be used in a swimming technique, but now the market has provided specific jigs made specifically for this fishing method.  Rounder shaped heads with painted eyes to mimic shad and minnows, these jigs are extremely effective when coupled with the right plastic trailer.

Obviously, a minnow trailer sounds like the best bet, but don’t rule out other options you may already have in your tackle box.  Any flapping style trailer can work effectively with a swim jig.

Boot tail swimbaits and any type of plastic minnow can be used to give a natural baitfish effect.  If you choose to use a flapping style chunk bait, try rigging it sideways to provide the same action as a minnow would have as it also helps to imitate the correct vibration and head movement in the jig as it moves through the water.

How do you rig a jig trailer?

For trailers that are made specifically for jigs, just thread the thicker meaty portion of the plastic or pork chunk onto the hook of your jig and then seat it firmly against the jig underneath the skirt.  For soft plastics that are being altered for use as jig trailers, you will likely need to break off the head or a portion of the body and then thread onto the jig hook.  You should target covering about ¾ of the hook with the trailer body before it exits the trailer.

Different season need different trailers

Time of year is a rather broad dynamic when learning to choose the right jig trailer, but it’s just a factor in the selection.  As you will start to see, there is no singular consideration that will point you to the perfect trailer.

Bass preferences can change day by day or even by the hour depending on factors like cloud cover, barometric pressure, or even their own dinner cycle.  However, the time of year can point you to a range of jig trailer options that can get you started as you experiment with what the fish desire most.

Cold water means the fish are sluggish and somewhat dormant.  In these scenarios, less is more.

A craw or chunk style trailer is ideal here.  You want something subtle and compact.  A smaller profile bait that falls slowly and gives a minimalist flapping action as it falls.

Time of year is a general narrowing point, but water temperature will help you better finalize your selection.

As water temps approach 50 degrees, you can start to increase the size of your jig and trailer.  Additional action trailers will also become more effective as the bass become more active in warmer water.

Prespawn bass are best targeted with the larger crawfish and creature style jig trailers as more bulk means a bigger meal.

As summer time approaches and spawning bass seem uncatchable, a slimmer profile jig trailer with a lot of action can help entice a lunker as he is looking for a cooler place to lay low.

The worm and lizard category of jig trailers work well through this time of year.  Twirl tail worms and grubs are exceptional choices during the spawn, post spawn, and throughout the rest of the summer.

Crawfish profiles still work well throughout the summer season as well, especially on rocky reservoirs fishing a football jig in deeper water.

Once the water temperatures top out for the summer and nights become cooler is the time when a swim jig can become extremely successful. 

Bass relate more to baitfish in the fall than any other time of year, so swimming a jig with a minnow trailer is a great way to target their natural preference. 

Other types of jigs are still effective this time of year, but as the water temp drops, the size and action of your jig trailer should be reduced accordingly as you approach a cold water pattern again for winter time fishing.

Water Quality

Early in my fishing “career”, I only looked at water quality as a factor in deciding what color jig and trailer to use.  However, there’s more to water quality than just visual presentation.

Read More: Water Clarity Guide for Bass Fishing [Blueprint Revealed]

Stained and Murky Water

Stained and murky waters call for jig trailers with more action as you want to maximize vibration.  This can mean more arms or tentacles, but it can also be achieved with ribbed body baits.

If the fish’s vision is impaired, offering up a bait that appeals to their keen sense of feel is a great compromise.  However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that bigger is better. 

Larger baits may seem like they would cause more vibration, but simply pushing more water may not provide the desired effect.  The goal is to send vibrations in as many different directions as possible. 

For instance, I would always choose a double tail over a single tail grub in low visibility waters.  You will also want a trailer that slows the fall of your jig giving the fish more time to locate your bait.

Clear Water

Clear water can be challenging if your jig trailer selection is off.  Natural is the key.  If it doesn’t look like something familiar, the bass may be a bit shy.

Craws and worms are great in clear water. High action appendages can be good at triggering activity, but I would avoid anything with more than two arms.

My go-to option in clear water would be flapper style chunk craw trailers or single tail worms and grubs.

If you want to learn more about water clarity and how it can impact your entire day of fishing then you need to read the report, on how to determine water clarity for fishing, where I show you what you are missing when you try to determine water clarity.

Read more: Bass Fishing Water Clarity [And Mistakes You’re Making]


The number of options for different types of jig trailers is massive, but when combined with the vast color options, it can be nothing less than overwhelming.

Color is a major factor in choosing the right jig trailer, but it shouldn’t be overly complicated.

For starters, what color jig skirt have you selected?  As mentioned above, murky waters call for something to help the fish identify your bait visually and clear water calls for natural presentations.

Your jig trailer should compliment your jig skirt, but it doesn’t have to match it perfectly.  This is a human interaction that should really be ignored.  As much as I like symmetry and color matching, this was one of the hardest things for me to overcome.

Somedays, the difference between catching something and getting skunked can be the difference between motor oil and watermelon pumpkin seed.  What if you could fish both colors at the same time?

Now that I’m over my OCD color matching issues, I always reach for a different color jig trailer than the color jig I’m using.  Nothing drastic, but brown/purple into a green trailer or black/blue into a motor oil trailer are common selections. 

Giving the fish more color options has to increase the opportunity for strikes in my mind.

In addition to this multi-colored pairing, the standard protocol as mentioned above is still in effect.  Stained or colored water would point me to a chartreuse, orange, or even white tailed jig trailer.  Clear waters need to stick with more natural colors such as brown/black, green, and copper/red.

Swim jigs, almost falling into a category of their own, can follow many different color profiles.  Anything from a shad silver or white profile to a fully colored bluegill trailer can be extremely productive.   


What is the best jig rod?

It’s a little complicated… you need a rod that is sensitive enough to detect even the smallest bites, yet also have an gorilla strong backbone. The best jig rod needs to give your the peace of mind that when you hook into a monster bass that rod has the power to lift it out without breaking.

I wrote a complete report on all the best jig rods for the money. You have to read it if you’re serious about catching fish with a jig.

Read more: Best Jig Rod for Bass Fishing [Review Guide]

Do you need a trailer for a jig?

No, you do not have to use a trailer when fishing a jig.  However, a trailer can add an additional action to your jig while also offering buoyancy to balance the rate of fall with your weighted jig.

Read more: Top 10 Jig Trailers You Don’t Know About

What colors do bass see best?

Research shows that bass are able to distinguish red and green colors the best.  Other studies and demonstrations show that red colored baits lose less visibility at deeper water depths.  Water clarity also plays a large role in how well a bass can see or distinguish color.   

Do you all soft plastic baits have a smell?

Yes. The soft plastic bait has a mild chemical scent all to its own.

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