Like many popular bass fishing rigs today the Jika Rig (pronounced zee-ka) has its origins across the pond in Japan. Jika actually translates to direct which I can only speculate that it has something to do with the weight being directly attached to the hook. This rig has been used in the states for over a decade and has proven itself time and time again on the pro circuit. Stacey King is a professional angler out of Reeds Spring, Mo, and has become one of the biggest advocates for the finesse style Jika Rig.
What is a Jika Rig?
As I am sure you noticed from the above picture, the Jika Rig is somewhat of a hybrid largemouth rig. It has the same basic function as a Dropshot Rig and it looks a lot like the Tokyo Rig but the weight is connected directly to the hook rather than a lead line or a wire.
The Jika Rig is far more versatile than a drop shot when it comes to finesse fishing, making it easier to get your lure exactly where you want it. Another benefit in which the Jika has over the drop shot is the fact that it keeps the lure off of the bottom longer. This allows for a realistic presentation where the bait hovers above the bottom for a couple of seconds before laying down horizontally.
If you want to learn more about the Jika Rig then keep reading because in my comprehensive guide I cover everything you need to know about setting one up and catching big fish with it.
Recommended Best Jika Rig Gear
Best Jika Rig Setup
Much like any other fishing technique out there, there is more than one way to set up a Jika Rig. At its core, a Jika is relatively simple to rig and consists of a wide-gap hook, drop shot weight, split ring, and your choice of plastic bait. All of these components are versatile and should be selected depending on your particular fishing conditions. Below I am going to go over my favorite components to use when fishing a Jika and other options you can try to better fit your particular needs.
Another testament to the versatility of this rig is the fact that it works splendidly with casting and spin reels. I prefer to fish a Jika on a casting reel but it works great with a spin reel as well.
Jika Rig Hooks
When fishing a Jika Rig you are going to want to use a wide gap offset hook. This style of hook is pictured above and is one of the most important parts of successful Jika Rig fishing. Wide gap hooks come in different sizes so you should go with a size that is best suited to fit whatever plastic bait you are throwing.
Using a wide gap offset hook allows for weedless rigging which is a necessary component when finesse fishing with a Jika Rig. I generally use a 4 or 5/0 Gamakatsu EWG offset hook when fishing a Jika Rig but you can use whatever brand and size best fit your needs.
Jika Rig Weights
Weights are the second most important part of this rig and can be attached directly to the eye of the hook but ideally, you want a split ring connecting the weight and the hook. You can use either a lead bell weight or a tungsten drop shot weight for a Jika Rig. I have found that a drop shot weight generally works better but either one will do.
Drop shot weights are longer and provide increased sensitivity when bouncing off the bottom cover giving you a better sense of where your bait is on the retrieve. When it comes to the size of the weight this is going to be dependent on the fishing conditions wherever you are. I throw two different size Jika Rigs – one with a ¼ ounce weight and one with a ½ ounce weight. I use an ¼ ounce Jika when fishing rocky areas and I throw the heavier ½ ounce rig when I need it to penetrate heavy weed beds and vegetation.
Jika Rig Split Ring
Although it is the smallest part, and therefore easy to overlook, the split ring is what holds the entire Jika Rig together. As a result, it is arguably the most important component of the entire rig. Split rings are small steel rings used to connect hooks to lures, lures to line, and in this case, a weight to a hook. Think of it as a much smaller version of a key ring used to hold your keychain together.
Split rings are not a one size fits all and in fact, come in different strength ratings. While they are all generally made from stainless steel you can find split rings ranging from 10 to over 400-pound test. Heavier rings are good for big game fish or high-stress situations when you are using the ring to make a connection between the hook and the lure. The split ring in a Jika Rig is used to connect the weight and the hook and as a result, is not going to experience a large amount of stress. This means that you can use lower test split rings when rigging up a Jika.
Although the practice of using two split rings isn’t very common, some anglers prefer to do it for additional bait movement. I prefer to save the extra minute or so that it takes to install the additional ring and just opt for a single split ring between the weight and the hook.
Split rings can be incredibly hard to use without a pair of split ring pliers to help you along. If you have struggled with a keyring as I have in the past then you are definitely going to struggle with a split ring, because it is substantially more difficult to open. Split ring pliers are used by lining them up with the center of the ring and squeezing the pliers closed. When you do this it separates the rings giving you the opening you need to connect the hook and weight together.
How to Fish a Jika Rig
Once I had been introduced to the Jika Rig I knew I had to try it out. Being a long-time drop shot fan I was ecstatic because the Jika looked like it was going to have a similar action underwater, but even better than that was the fact that it looked much simpler to put together. I have been called a lazy angler by some but I like to think of it as being efficient. I have always preferred to spend more time fishing and less time setting up rigs, and the Jika Rig makes that possible. If you want to take it a step further you can even purchase premade Jika Rigs like these by Hunting and Fishing Depot.
Another advantage the Jika has is its weedless properties which allow you to let it drop in and out of heavy cover. The exposed hook on a drop shot makes it more difficult to fish snag-free. I find that I have the most luck when fishing a Jika Rig in deeper cover. I let the lure sink to the bottom and I hop it along occasionally swimming it up a few feet before letting it return to cover. My favorite Jika Rig scenario is swimming it in and out of deepwater grass beds.
When to Fish a Jika Rig
You can fish a Jika Rig year-round as long as you adapt the components to the changing seasons. This means changing to a heavier weight during the winter months for deeper water fishing and lighter weights when the bass start moving into shallower water during the warmer spring and summer months. As with any other rig you are going to have to try out different setups until you find the one that works best for you and your fishing style.
Best Jika Rig Trailers
You use plastic baits on a Jika Rig so the possibilities are truly near endless. You have everything to choose from:
As always the first place you are going to want to start is by attempting to match whatever the bass seem to be eating on at the time. I like to throw a tube or a worm when fishing grassy areas and seem to have better luck with creatures, craws, and beavers when bouncing the Jika between rocks. If I am fishing for Smallmouth I always have a tube on the Jika rig – I don’t know what it is, but they can’t seem to resist a Jika Rigged tube. The color of your plastic lure is going to vary depending on the time of the year as well as the clarity of the water.
Although the Jika has only recently broken into the fishing scene in America it has all of the qualities required for a new fishing rig to stick around. It can be fished any time of year, it’s versatile and easy to set up, and most importantly it catches big fish. If you haven’t tried a Jika Rig yet you have got to get one in the water.