by 3-time Basmaster Classic Qualifier Lee Bailey Jr

Shakey Head Fishing

Shakey Head Fishing

The popularity of shakey head fishing has prompted tackle manufacturers to create a wide array of jig-head sizes and styles. The key to shakey head fishing is using as light of a jig-head as possible. You must still keep the bait in contact with the bottom. A 1/16- or 1/8 ounce jig-head works best for shakey head tactics with a finesse worm. But you might have to upgrade to a 1/4 ounce head on windy days. As well as in current to prevent your line from bowing and losing the feel of the bait.

Anglers around the world have been consistently winning tournaments with it for years. It works great For those days when the bass prefer a small appetizer instead of a full course meal. Knowing how-to fish a shakey head well can improve that day’s fishing.

Shaky Head Fishing has several different presentations for all conditions

The shakey head presentation excels when certain criteria are met. Clear water is one such case. The clearer the water, the greater the chance of bass becoming extremely finicky or spooked. During these tough times, regular baits often won’t cut it.

The shakey head can be thrown to a wide variety of places. They definitely excel when tossed alongside weed-lines and clumps, rip rap and humps, beaches, docks and lay-downs. Depending on the severity of vegetation will play a part on whether to go weedless or not.

A shakey head and finesse worm, subtlety twitched and quivered on the bottom can illicit strikes. These non-takers get switched on and into biters. If you can see the fish clearly in the water below, or if you have frequent follows and short strikes, then a shakey head needs to be next out of the box.

Over the years, I’ve experimented with several different shakey head presentations. It is difficult to fish a shaky head wrong. With a few intricacies will improve your ability to catch more fish during those tough days on the water.

Drag it:

The name “shakey head” fools many anglers. Although the name implies that you should shake your arm out of socket, don’t fall into the “one-retrieve” trap. Dragging a shakey head along the bottom often yields better results.

If you don’t get a bite in the first ten casts, simply leave and continue the search elsewhere. When implementing the dragging technique, you can hit dozens of areas while making mental notes and way points on your GPS device. This allows you the opportunity to hone-in on the most productive areas. This also makes dragging a shaky head an outstanding technique to use when practicing for that big weekend tournament.

Hop it:

Although it sounds as if we’re splitting hairs with this. There is a huge difference in shaking a shakey head and hopping a shakey head. Differentiating your presentation from what the bass see every day usually leads to more bites. You will also have the opportunity at catching those bigger, more educated and conditioned fish.

When implementing this presentation, it isn’t necessary to rip the shakey head. Beginning with your rod tip at a 3 o’clock angle, twitch upward to a 1 o’clock position to trigger reaction strikes. Craw-fish aren’t Olympic high jumpers, so hopping the bait too aggressively can appear unnatural to surrounding bass.

Anglers must watch their line with this presentation. There isn’t a quicker way to lose a fish. Twitching your rod tip upwards when a bass already has your shaky head in its mouth. To combat this, be sure to let your bait fall on a semi-slack line. Do this while watching for any jump in the line. If you notice any movement whatsoever on a slack line, it is important to set the hook immediately.

Shake it:

We know it sounds fairly obvious, but shaking a shakey head along the bottom of your favorite fishery is an outstanding way to catch a lot of fish. Knowing when and where to do so will yield the best results. Let’s draw a quick parallel to human behavior for a better understanding of this presentation:

When bass are in large concentrations on ledges, in ditches or off the end of a main lake point, this presentation will catch them. When you feel bass are roaming up and down a stretch, shaking a worm in place will give the bass time to wander in and find your offering before you move it out of their feeding zone. If you’re having trouble getting bites, don’t be afraid to switch your color or weight size—sometimes the small things make a huge difference. Just remember to use small, subtle twitches of your rod tip while letting the bait do the rest of the work, as over-doing it can spook larger fish.

Swim it:

This is a presentation in which I’ve had recent success. Reel this bait across chunk rock and other hard bottom compositions, swimming a shakey head can be a deadly approach around active fish especially spotted bass.

Maintain bottom contact when swimming a shakey head. If you are unable to feel the bottom, simply changing to a heavier shakey head or a slower retrieve should help. Keeping your rod tip down and to the side will aid in the detection of bites, while also keeping you in position for a strong, sweeping hook-set. While it will take a little practice to get a good feel for the bite with this presentation, it is important to stay vigilant and observant. During the hook-set, make sure to reel until you feel the fish and sweep your rod to the side, just like a Carolina rig hook-set. If possible, avoid any slack in your line.

Shakey head fishing can be one of the most versatile techniques in an angler’s arsenal. Thinking outside the box and trying different things can lead to some really fun fishing throughout the entire year. Whether you’re dragging, hopping, shaking or swimming a shaky head, it is an extremely effective technique for anglers of all skill levels.