Brandon Lester’s Most Versatile Lure – a Jig

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Brandon Lester at Takeoff - photo courtesy Pro Fishing Management

Brandon Lester at Takeoff – photo courtesy Pro Fishing Management

by Dan O’Sullivan

Sometimes when an angler is new to the sport, or they are new to a level of competition, it helps to be able to focus solely on one aspect of the game. When an angler is seeking to build a career on a stage as tough as the Bassmaster Elite Series, being able to say that you have one main bait that can produce in a variety of conditions can allow you to concentrate on locating bass.

For 2014 Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie Brandon Lester, that lure in the prespawn through postspawn is a jig. “A jig is a lure that I can use in a variety of different ways depending on the season,” said Lester. “Most folks think of it only as a bottom bouncing lure, but you can do so much with it that is can be the one lure you need.”

Lester said that he can use jigs in so many ways that he can almost get away with only carrying jigs and trailers for much of the spring. “I use jigs for Flipping, Swimming, sightfishing and fishing on the bottom,” he said. “From April to June, it is my number one lure.”

The Fayetteville, Tenn. pro said that he lets what he sees going on in the water tell him how he needs to fish these lures.

Brandon Lester Battles a Bass - photo courtesy Pro Fishing Management

Brandon Lester Battles a Bass – photo courtesy Pro Fishing Management

Jig Types
While using the word ‘jig’ can sound like he picks up one lure and goes fishing, Lester is quick to say that he uses a couple of different jig styles to accomplish filling his arsenal, he also carries a selection if sizes and colors too.

“No one jig is going to get it all done,” he said. “I make sure to have at least a Flipping head and a swimming head jig with me all the time,” he said. “I have different sizes and different colors so that I can tailor my jig to the conditions I’m facing.”

In Flipping jigs, Lester carries jigs in 3/8 and 1/2-ounce sizes, and he usually carries swimming jigs that weigh-in at 3/8-ounce. He uses natural colors in Flipping jigs unless the water is dirty, then he turns to black and blue. For the spawn, he likes to keep white Flipping jigs handy so that he can see the lure when fishing bedded bass. He said that he tries to match the prevalent forage when he is swimming jigs.

Brandon Lester at Lake Seminole Weigh-in - photo courtesy Pro Fishing Management

Brandon Lester at Lake Seminole Weigh-in – photo courtesy Pro Fishing Management

Jig Gear
Because of his relationship with Mud Hole, Lester can produce his rods to exactly the specifications he desires. After learning how to build fishing rods, Lester then tested different rod actions to come up with exactly the rod to fit all of his techniques.

For Flipping and sightfishing Lester builds a Mud Hole MHX MB904 and matches it with 7.1:1 reel and 20-pund-test Vicious Pro Elite Fluorocarbon line. “The 904 has the perfect combination of power and finesse,” he said. “It is a heavy power rod with a fast tip that is perfect for 3/8 to 1/2 oz jigs, with enough tip action for making precise casts.”

His swim jig rod is also a Mud Hole product, but he prefers a shorter rod that allows him to make casts around cover. He opts for an MHX MB873, a 7’3″ medium-heavy action rod with light tip for casting and allowing the fish to take the bait deeply. he matches that with a 7.1:1 high speed reel and 50-pound-test Vicious Braid.

Where to Look
In the prespawn period, Lester likes to find cover near spawning pockets. He said it is best to begin his search on bluff walls or the steeper side of creeks leading into spawning flats. When he finds additional cover such as docks or laydown logs, he knows he has found the right kind of water.

During the spawn, he is obviously searching the spawning coves and pockets for bedding bass, then turns to the first bit of cover outside of spawning areas once the bass turn to postspawn.

Brandon Lester with a Nice One Caught in a Tournament - photo courtesy Pro Fishing Management

Brandon Lester with a Nice one Caught in a Tournament – photo courtesy Pro Fishing Management

In the prespawn period, Lester works to pick the cover apart as thoroughly as possible. He targets complex areas of laydowns like crotches of tree limbs and the truck, where the canopy of the tree is over deeper water or the root ball provides additional hiding spots. Around docks, he makes multiple presentations to the dock posts, corners of docks or where there are brushpiles around the docks. Once the lure is in the cover, he hops and shakes it, but tries to keep it in the strike zone around that main piece of cover.

With the swim jig, Lester not only looks for isolated targets that may hold bass when they are in recovery from their spawn period, he also searches the shallows looking for bluegill nesting areas for the bass that may be holding outside of it. Once he finds that, he makes casts into the shallows, then slowly swims the jig out to the cover and tries to bump the cover to make fish react to the lure.

Final Tip
Lester cautions anglers to be observant during the spring. His experience shows him that this is a dynamic time of the year. I really try to pay attention to the water temperature this time of the year, along with trying to get some visual clues as to what stage the bass are in,” he said. “Things can change so quickly that you can fish yourself into trouble by not paying attention to what part of the cycle they are in.

“A jig can really produce in a lot of ways this time of the year,” he said. “Just see what’s happening and present the right retrieve and you can really catch a lot of bass through this period on a jig.