Bass are the top game fish in the United States, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to catch. Anglers need every tool they have to hook these relatively intelligent creatures. That includes jig trailers.
The best jig trailers for bass are the ones that lure the most fish, and that will change based on location and season. In this article, I’ll walk you through the top options and when to use them.
Before you invest in jig trailers for your next bass fishing trip, it’s crucial to understand what a jig trailer is and when they’re useful. Below I’ll go over jig trailers in detail; then, I’ll give you my top five picks.
What Is a Jig Trailer?
A jig trailer is a soft plastic piece that you rig on your hook so that it trails behind your bait. As it moves through the water, it will give your bait a more life-like appearance.
If you haven’t heard the term jig trailer, you might be more familiar with the colloquial term “jig and pig.” Jig and pig’s are actually predecessors to the plastic pieces we use today.
In the 1920s, Allan Jones and Urban Schreiner were fishing bass one day when they ran out of the live frogs they were using for bait. They happened to have a bit of pork fat on hand, which they cut up to create a frog-like shape.
They added a trailing pork rind to the pork fat frog, and so the “jig and pig” was born. Jones and Schreiner had massive success with bass that day and decided to take their creation to market.
It wasn’t long before just about everyone was using a jig and pig to lure their fish. Though some anglers still use real-deal pig fat to attract picky bass, most find that plastic lures are much easier to transport.
With a modern, plastic jig trailer, fishers can better match the local prey, and they don’t have to carry smelly pork fat amongst their gear.
But the advantages of jig trailers don’t stop there; these small plastic pieces also:
- Complete the bait profile
- Create more vibration in the water
- Provide buoyancy control
- Allow anglers to make quick changes
Completing the bait profile ensures your bait actually resembles crawfish, bluegill, or whatever type of baitfish the bass in your area are biting.
By creating vibration, jig trailers help attract fish. The extra vibration is particularly helpful in murky water where bass may not see as well, but even in clear water, most anglers find a jig trailer that helps them catch more fish.
Different types of jig trailers have varying effects on your bait’s buoyancy. This allows you to control the fall rate, keeping your bait in the fish’s strike zone for an optimal period.
Maybe best of all, plastic jig trailers allow anglers to make responsive changes while fishing. Rather than retying your bait, you can simply switch out the jig trailer to better match what picky bass seem to be biting at that day.
Types of Jig Trailers
Jig trailers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and every angler has their favorites. Below, I’ll run through the most common jig trailer types so you can better understand what might work best in your favorite fishing location.
Crawfish or flappers look like real crawfish, complete with claw-like appendages. Like most jig trailers, they come in sizes from three to six inches and can be high or low action.
High-action jig trailers respond quickly to even minimal rod twitches, while low-action jig trailers won’t wiggle quite as much.
Creature baits and wigglers are supposed to resemble beetles and worms. When you look at them, though, you might disagree.
To us, they seem more like an alien species, with a mix of strange appendages, but to bass, that’s not the case. These jig trailers create very natural movements when underwater and are a favorite for many bass fishers.
Chunk trailers are compact and similar to the original “jig and pig” shape. If the bass in your area like to eat frogs, chunk trailers might be perfect.
Grubs are short and compact, like chunk trailers, but with either a ribbon or twin tail. They create a soft, flapping action when underwater.
Swimbaits are supposed to resemble live bluegills or baitfish. They create the same side-to-side thumping action a small fish would when it kicks its tail.
Swimbaits come in different types, with some creating a very tight wobble and others moving more sporadically. So, you can mimic whatever small fish the bass in your area eat.
When to Use a Jig Trailer
The best bass fishers use jig trailers with their jigs each time they fish, but which type of trailer they use will vary.
In cooler temperatures, bass are slow and sluggish. They won’t go after quick-moving prey. So, using a low-action crawfish, wiggler, or chunk trailer might work best.
When bass are more active in warmer temperatures, you might consider a high-action flapper, creature bait, or swimbait, depending on the local prey.
Grubs are ideal in those in-between times when the water temperature isn’t too warm or too cold. Their soft, whirling movements are just enough to entice bass during transition periods.
Jig Trailer Colors
Once you determine the type of jig trailer you want to use, given your specific situation, you’ll need to choose the trailer color that works best. Every angler seems to have an opinion when it comes to color choice.
Some believe that using contrasting jig and jig trailer colors gives the best results. Others believe that matching the colors is a better bet for catching bass. I say, try both and see what works in your fishing locale.
Whether you match or contrast your jig and jig trailer, you should stick to natural colors in clear waters. Look for green, brown, or olive hues that the bass in your area are used to seeing. Green pumpkin, especially, seems to work well in most areas.
In muddy water, you’ll want to use either a bright color or pure black. The bright colors are easier for fish to see in murky areas, but they risk looking unnatural to bass.
Black jig trailers create a defined silhouette that many anglers believe the bass are more likely to bite. However, in extra muddy spots with little light, even the silhouette may be hazy.
In certain areas, off-beat colors seem to work. For example, I’ve had decent success with watermelon-red trailers when fishing for spotted bass in Florida.
I can’t tell you why, exactly, but I can say that “local colors” sometimes work better than natural hues. So, if a local angler suggests you try a different shade, I suggest you listen to them!
The Five Best Jig Trailers for Bass
Now that you understand jig trailers, let’s talk about the best ones available.
Small, soft, and ridiculously life-like, if the bass in your preferred fishing hole have a fancy for crawfish, this trailer could be your new favorite. The green pumpkin color is a winner in my experience, and the small size can work wonders with smallmouth bass.
This particular trailer does well with a vertical presentation. If you’re fishing off of docks or someplace with a steep bank, especially if you’re using a finesse fishing technique, this crawfish works great.
That said, it’s not going to work as well with largemouth bass, and its extra-soft nature means it won’t last long. Fish can quickly destroy this one, but that might be part of why they love it. The soft body truly resembles living prey, making this one of my favorite jig trailers.
- True to life
- Works exceptionally well with smallmouth bass
- Pumpkin green color attracts
- So soft that fish quickly destroy it
- Will not work with larger fish
Strike King is well-known amongst competitive anglers, and they don’t disappoint with this twin tail grub bait. It’s definitely stiffer than the Z-Man craw trailer above, but the tail still moves in a life-like way.
At 4-inches long, it’s a good size for catching most bass. The dark color is also ideal for most water conditions. It will stand out in murky areas but also looks natural in clear water.
Though I like to use this one as a trailer, it’s also versatile. You could use it by itself on a worm hook and still get decent results.
That said, its stiffer nature isn’t as great in warmer temperatures when bass are extra active. Some choose to clip off a bit of plastic at the tail’s base to give it more movement, but I say you’re better off using a different trailer in warm environments.
- Perfect size for catching most bass
- Dark color with light flecks works well in most water conditions
- Dependable brand with high-quality construction
- Too low-action for warmer days
What makes this jig trailer special is its scent. Its aroma-spiked material lures bass in like nothing else. The ribbed body seems to push the smell through the water like an irresistible fish perfume.
That, along with its pumpkin green color, seems to attract fish in just about every area. It is a little heavier than many other jig trailers and does best in deeper water. This creature hawg also does well in covered areas.
Though it can withstand a few fish bites, it’s not as durable as some other jig trailers, and you may find it doesn’t last more than a few casts. I still love them, though; they’re incredibly effective in my experience.
- Fish-attracting scent
- Does well on deep flats
- Great in covered areas
- Not as durable as other options
If you’re searching for a chunk jig trailer, I’m partial to the Zoom Bait Super Chunk. There’s not much to these trailers, but they get the job done.
The four-inch size is ideal for catching most bass, and the flapping appendages do well to attract attention.
Zoom Bait claims they infuse a salt mixture into these trailers that keep fish holding on longer. Whether it’s the salt or the actual design, I’ve found that to be true. Bass do seem to bite long enough on these to ensure a hook-up.
The only downside to these trailers is their scent. Fish don’t seem to mind it, but you might notice an oily aroma when you take them out of the package. That said, since it only seems offensive to humans and myself, I can get over the smell.
- Flappy bits are perfectly responsive
- Ideal size
- Very durable
- Petroleum-like odor
For a realistic swimbait that produces quick vibrations, the Strike King Rage Swimmer is the best option, in my opinion. Strike King nailed the movement pattern of baitfish with this jig trailer, and I know many anglers who swear by these.
The ribbed sides seem to create water vibrations that call to bass, and the broad offerings of colors and sizes mean that you can pick the perfect trailer for your situation. I personally like the 3.75″ in green pumpkin, but you should choose a size and color that works with the bass in your environment.
Like most swimmers, though, the tails on these are pretty fragile. Sometimes they break off. Still, you’ll probably catch a few bass before that happens, with any luck!
- Realistic movements
- Ribbed sides create perfect vibrations
- Available in a broad range of colors and sizes
- Tails tend to break off
Jig trailers are exceptionally helpful when catching intelligent fish like bass complete your bait profile and give you the option of creating custom lures that attract more fish.
The one that works best for you, though, will depend greatly on location and season. So, finding the best jig trailer for bass might take some experimentation.