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Jig Flies – Why Are They Beneficial?

Jig flies or jigged flies have taken the fly fishing world by storm. Many anglers are switching over to jig flies due to their benefits and ease of use. However, some people are confused as to what they actually are. Why would you fish a jigged fly when you can stick with your regular flies?

Since jig flies ride hook point up, you will get snagged way less often. They can also fit a larger tungsten bead on them, which gets them down faster.

This article will cover the benefits of jig flies, and why you may want to incorporate them into your nymphing techniques. I will go over how they originated, why we use them, and why they catch more fish.

Why Were Jig Flies Invented?

Jigged flies originated with Czech nymphing techniques. With this style of fishing, fly anglers use a tight line system to bounce their nymphs off the bottom. This provides a great “dead drift” and you actually feel it when a trout bites your fly. Czech nymphing techniques spread across Europe and is now just referred to as “Euro Nymphing”. Different countries compete with one another during tight line nymphing competitions. All of the anglers use Euro nymphing/tight line nymphing to catch the most fish. When you’re trying to put as many fish in the net as possible, Euro nymphing with jigs is the #1 method.

With this tight line system, fly anglers don’t use split shot or extra weights. They rely on the weight of their flies to get down to the fish. Because of this, larger tungsten beads were needed to get the flies down in the current.

Since Euro nymphers fish so close to the bottom, they tended to lose lots of flies on snags. They needed a fly that could avoid snags while remaining close to the bottom. Thus, the jig fly was invented.

How Do Jig Flies Work?

Jig flies have a sharp angle at the end of the hook, near the eye. When paired with a slotted tungsten bead, jig flies ride upside down or “hook point up”. This allows the fly to slide over rocks and other river debris without getting snagged. With jig flies, anglers can fish close to the bottom without worrying about losing their fly.

Slotted tungsten beads keep most of the weight above the hook. This inverts the fly and allows it to ride upside down. Euro nymphers like to fish oversized tungsten beads that sink very quickly.

Most jigged hooks come with a 50 or 60 degree angled bend. This pairs well with slotted tungsten beads to provide the inverted position of the fly.

When trout are holding near the bottom of the river, a jigged fly can be extremely effective to get down to their level.

 

The jigged Rainbow Warrior is probably my #1 choice for jigged flies. The original Rainbow Warrior is already an over performer, catching trout on just about any North American stream. This Lance Egan fly has proved just how effective a flashy mayfly nymph pattern can be.

The jigged version offers a slimmer profile which is really effective for trout. “Slim to win” is a saying with fly tyers, which highlights that thinner nymphs tend to catch more fish. Thick nymphs are not very realistic of the actual bug, and can cause refusals from trout.

This slim, jigged Rainbow Warrior is my #1 choice when fishing new trout water. It gets down fast, and trout love to eat it year round.

How Do You Use Jigged Flies?

With a tight line Euro system, you’ll use two or 3 jigged flies in a row with a long leader. As part of the leader build, you’ll include a “sighter” or colored tippet which allows you to see it. When a trout eats the jig fly, the sighter will move upstream, which indicates that you have a fish. Not only will you see the sighter move, but you will also feel the trout bite.

Keep in mind, you don’t have to be a Euro nympher to enjoy using jigged flies. I like to fish them with an indicator system/bobber system. Even if you’re not tight line nymphing, jig flies still offer benefits. They will still ride inverted which means you’ll lose less flies! Also, they are so heavy that you won’t need much split shot.

What Types Of Jig Fly Patterns Are There?

There a so many jig fly patterns, it is hard to keep track of them. However, Perdigon jigged flies are the most popular. These are very simple flies that are tied in tons of colors – you can choose any color you want. Thread and tinsel are the most popular body materials. They are usually tied with a Coq De Leon tail which is a very durable fiber.

UV resin is the most popular product to coat your jigged flies. Apply some resin, and then shine a UV light on it to harden it. This will make the Perdigon sink even faster than normal. The UV resin also makes jig flies way more durable.

Although Perdigons are very popular, there are many other jig flies available. Jigged Frenchies, Rainbow Warriors, Pheasant Tails, Princes, worms, etc. Most flies nowadays are also available in a jigged style.

How To Build A Jig Fly Box

The key with this is to have different weights and different sizes of jig flies. You often select a jig fly based on weight rather than the actual pattern itself. If you’re fishing a deep, fast run, select a large jig fly with a big tungsten bead. This will often be a size #8 or #10. For shallower runs, a small jig fly is best. #16 and #18 sizes work great for shallower spots.

Not only are you selecting the right fly, but you are choosing which weight to use. Basically, a jigged fly is both a splitshot and a fly combined.

When building a jig box, I like to have sizes #10-#20. By having 6 sizes of your favorite patterns, you’ll be covered for most nymphing scenarios. If you live near a tailwater where there are educated trout, you may want to focus on smaller jig sizes. Wary trout often want smaller flies. If you live near a freestone river with dumber trout, you can get away with bigger jig flies. In this case, I may select larger stone jigs or worm jigs.

Conclusion

Whether or not you choose to use jigged flies, they are a great option for nymphers all over the world. They provide the necessary weight we need, and trout love to eat them. Hook technology has improved so much in recent years, and jig hooks are only getting better every year. Tungsten slotted beads are high quality nowadays, as well.

Whether you buy them or tie them, I highly recommend giving jigged flies a try!