John Murray’s Postspawn Jig System

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John Murray and his River2Sea PapaMur Jig - photo by Dan O'Sullivan

John Murray and his River2Sea PapaMur Jig – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

by Dan O’Sullivan

 

John Murray is one of the true legends when the topic of finesse fishing comes up in conversation.  His Western roots were built in large part because of his ability with light line.

However, to pigeon-hole the Phoenix, Ariz. pro with only the ability to catch bass on whippy rods and tiny worms would be to miscategorize him.  In fact, if anything can be said about many Western anglers is their true strength is their versatility.

With that in mind, Murray is one of the best anglers to ever come out of the West.  Before venturing out to a full-time job on the national tours, Murray won 31 boats on every major Western tournament waterway.  He is a true champion with a lot of skillsets.

One of those true Murray strengths is reading structure, and another ne is fishing a jig.

“I love a jig throughout the postspawn,” said Murray.  “They appeal to bigger fish, and because I can fish them shallow or deep, I can really present them to a lot of fish.  I can fish them as my primary pattern in postspawn, or as a part of a postspawn system.”

Postspawn Phases
Murray breaks down the postspawn into two separate phases.  The first is immediately after the fish have left the beds, and the second is the final part of their transition out to their summer haunts.  He believes that the period that fish are in dictate how fish respond to lures, and therefore, what lures to use and

John Murray Probing a Postspawn Point- photo by Dan O'Sullivan

John Murray Probing a Postspawn Point – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

how to use them.

“Bigger fish can be really lethargic immediately after the spawn,” said the two-time B.A.S.S. winner.  “They get more aggressive as they begin their migration to deep water summer haunts; so we have to retrieve our lures according to their moods.”

He sets his baits up with those things in mind.

Postspawn Jig Selection
His basic thought pattern is slow early, faster late.  So, he selects lighter jigs and slower models when bass are immediately coming of the nest, then opts for heavier models when he needs to speed things up to appeal to more aggressive bass.

Rigging the PapaMur with a Rattlin Crawler - photo by Dan O'Sullivan

Rigging the PapaMur with a Rattlin Crawler – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

He has two choices for the early postspawn phase.  The first is a football head jig.  He opts for 1/4 to 3/8-ounce River2Sea Touch Down Flat Rubber Jig if he is fishing for largemouth or spotted bass, if fishing for largemouth, he selects his signature River2Sea PapaMur jig; which is in the final prototype stages, he uses the same sizes in both models.  In this configuration, he often uses a trimmed down Larew Salt Craw as a trailer if the bass are lethargic, or he uses a double tailed grub.

He also likes to use the Gene Larew Lures Tommy Biffle Hardhead in 3/16 to 5/16-ounce sizes with a Gene Larew Rattlin’ Crawler as a trailer when the bass seem to respond to a more slimmed down approach.  “A traditional football jig is what I tend to use most, but when the bulk of a skirt is not getting bit, I turn to this and slowly drag it along the bottom,” he said.  “I know Tommy Biffle uses this fairly fast, but I really like this as a slow moving lure; I’ve crushed them on it at home and on tour.”

When bass get more aggressive, he turns back to the two football head jigs almost exclusively, but he goes with 3/4 to one-ounce sizes and typically throws a larger 6-inch double tailed grub, or if he thinks they are really aggressive, he’ll turn back to the Rattlin’ Crawler as an option.

He opts for a 7’6″ medium-heavy Team Lew’s casting rod paired with a 6.4:1 retrieve Team Lew’s Pro reel filled with 15-pound-test fluorocarbon line for all of his jig fishing.  “I like a longer rod for making longer casts and having more leverage for hooksetting, and this new Tam Lew’s rod does that for me,” he said.  “I know a lot of guys have gone to higher speed reels for deep water fishing, but I feel like the 6.4:1 retrieve is the best combination of speed and power for this type of fishing.  I’ve had times in the past where I hooked big fish and didn’t have

The Finished Papa Mur Package - photo by Dan O'Sullivan

The Finished Papa Mur Package – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

enough power with a high speed reel to land them; so, this is my choice.”

Colors
Like most pros, Murray lets the conditions of the water dictate which colors he ties on.  In clear water, he prefers to use a brown and purple jig, in lightly stained to stained water his first choice is green pumpkin and in dingy water he turns to a straight black jig; he color coordinates his trailers.

Where to Search
Murray said that his options this time of the year become fairly scaled down due to the nature of what he is looking for.  Bass that are looking to move to their deeper summer haunts mean that he can be most efficient and seek areas near the main lake.

“I look for secondary points in the earliest postspawn, then turn to that last point heading out into the main lake later in the process,” he said.  “This allows me to look for larger spawning pockets on the main lake, and I typically don’t have to go too deep into them to find what I’m looking for.”

John Murray with a Football Jig Smallmouth - photo by Dan O'Sullivan

John Murray with a Football Jig Smallmouth – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

He also said to be prepared to search in water as shallow as two or three feet, and to look as deep as 30 feet or more.  “They will go where the bait takes them this time of the year,” he said.

How to Retrieve
Murray said that his retrieve is based on the time of year as well.  “I keep bottom contact and move really slowly when they first leave the nests,” he said.  “But as they get closer to their summer pattern, I really hop and stoke the jig, sometimes making it hop three feet or more off the bottom with the heavy jigs.  This creates multiple falls on each cast to trigger reaction strikes.”

In Conclusion
He wanted anglers to know that the jig can be a primary weapon, or used as a follow up to more traditional postspawn lures such as topwaters or crankbaits.  “I’ve used it to catch some of the biggest fish of my day after catching a bunch of fish on other baits,” he said.  “It’s an excellent lure when bass are looking for bigger meals while recovering from the spawn.”