The "shaky head" phenomenon has walloped the bass angling
community by storm, garnering this finesse-style of fishing plenty of water
time. Although the technique is still in its infancy, the doors it can open
(especially when targeting those hard-to-catch bass,) make the application a
must-have for this upcoming season.
The Lowdown On The Shaky
A "shaky head" is the term given to a new style of jig, with a few
refinements that put it in a separate class from the good 'ol lead head jig.
Most shaky's consist of a lightweight (1/16-ounce to 1/4-ounce), ball-headed
jig, coupled with a light-wire bass-style hook. A retainer system is standard
with most, allowing your plastics to be affixed to the jig snug and securely,
giving a weedless rigging option for when dealing with cover.
Shaky head fishing is meant to be a finesse presentation. And with that
comes the use of the plastic finesse worm. These 3- to 5-inch worms, with their
thin profile and subtle appearance, are the main reason why this technique can
be so deadly. They offer an unobtrusive and natural offering, guaranteed to
whet the appetite of any finicky bass they are strutted in front of in the water.
Since we are dealing with an ultra-finesse presentation, spinning gear and
light line are the standard choices for equipment. Monofilament in six- or
eight-pound-test often get the nod, as does fine-diameter braid coupled with a
fluorocarbon leader. If conditions are clear, fish are finicky, or your
presentation is streamlined in terms of weight, err on the side of the lightest
When To Shake
Chasing bass is predominantly done in the form of power-style fishing. Big
baits, quick speeds, and over-the-head hooksets are often the norm. There are
times, however, when a subtle and finesse approach will reap better
rewards. Don't get me wrong -- if burning spinnerbaits or erratically snapping
cranks is bringing in the fish, don't sway from that winning technique. But if
fish are few and far between, then switching gears to the shaky may be your
best bet that day.
The shaky head presentation excels during certain conditions, and clear
water is one of those. The clearer the water, the greater the chance of fish
being overly finicky or spooked when working them over. Regular baits just
won't cut it most of the time. A shaky head and finesse worm, subtlely twitched
and quivered on the bottom, can often be the one lure of redemption that can be
pulled from your box.
Cold fronts are another scenario where shaky's can shine. When the bluebird
skies come out after the passing of a front, fish can literally shut
down. We've all experienced this before. Finesse is key during this
less-than-ideal condition, and a finesse worm and jig combo is a good place to
Shaky heads also make an excellent tool for sight fishing, as its appearance
looks good enough to eat to Mr. Bass, and it won't spook fish like more
conventional baits might.
They also are a great presentation when dealing with high angling pressure,
especially when working "community" fishing holes. In fact, some
tournament co-anglers have had phenomenal success when fishing shaky's from the
back of the boat, while the pros worked larger, power presentations from the
front. (Kind of like choosing to take the mint and pass on the
How To Shake
The beauty of the shaky head is in its ease of use. Although there are a few
ways to fish this rig, a light, quivering motion with the rod tip or slack line
is often all that is needed. In fact, the finesse worm will sway and undulate
even when left to its own accord. Slowly dragging the bait along the bottom,
especially if working an expanded area, will also attract attention.
Simply put -- it's a tough bait to work wrong! As long as movements are subtle
and in line with the finesse presentation you are projecting, the fish will
definitely take notice.
Hook sets should be in the form of a "sweep" motion. No need for
the overpowering overheads with these guys. I also find it useful to start
reeling on the initial sweep, in order to pick up line and help in burying the
The shaky head can be thrown pretty much everywhere, but some key areas
would be alongside weedlines and clumps, beaches and points, deep humps, docks,
and laydowns. And in terms of fish -- smallies and largemouth both love this
bait! I throw it as much to one as I do the other.
I also really like the 3.5-inch Tiki-Drop plastics from Wave Worms. The flat
tail design provides a greater shaking and quivering action, and the colors and
body profile really work well for this application. The 4.5-inch Tiki-Finesse
is also another great bait.
See what the Shaky Head fuss is all about this coming season. When
conditions are favorable, it might just be the one bait that can bring home the
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