FISHING: Footballing at an Elite Level

Category: article

 Sep 7th, 2022 by Keith Worrall 

Modified Sep 7th, 2022 at 12:39 PM

Northland teams with Gamakatsu to create the ultra-sharp Elite Series Finesse Football Jig for building combos or pairing with Ned-sized plastics.

BEMIDJI, Minn. (September 7, 2022) – Whether you’re on a natural lake, river, or reservoir, it’s common knowledge that rock, gravel, wood, and hard-bottom areas attract both brown and green bass in numbers and size.

But to fish these areas takes just the right presentation. One of the top ways to snatch fish off ledges, rubble and craggy spots? Football head jigs, historically a big fish catcher on the pro tours and a go-to in boats of everyday anglers, especially early and late in the season and anytime on deep, clear bodies of water. The football head design deflects and works better over rocks than standard round heads – that’s a fact. Big down south and both coasts, Midwesterners are catching on, too.

Elite Series Finesse Football Jig (BLACK & BLUE)

The only problem with traditional football jigs is they’re a bit on the power side and typically feature a large profile. You can downsize in some brands to ¼- and 3/8-ounce, but few offer a simple, undressed football head in sizes you need to bring the bait into the finesse fishing realm—we’re talking 3/16-, ¼-, 5/16-, and 3/8-ounce.

Enter Northland, who is proud to introduce the Elite Series Finesse Football Jig in these sizes—even the in-betweeners—with a thin but tough and razor-sharp 1/0 Gamakatsu hook. The perfect size for smaller finesse soft plastics like your Ned-style baits and smaller creatures, the Finesse Football Jig can also be dressed in a skirt of your choosing and a trailer. Anglers can also pair with smaller swimbaits for a whole new presentation look and feel. The options are endless.

Available in Black, Green Pumpkin, Rusty Crawdad, and Black & Blue, there’s a color for every situation and to match the bait of your choosing. Sold three per card, they retail for $5.99. That’s two bucks a jig—and worth it.

Well-known for his guiding on big smallmouth factory Lake Mille Lacs, Northland Pro Brad Hawthorne has become a huge fan of the new Elite Series Finesse Football Jig since he started testing it last year.

Hawthorne explains, “Last year, I received about 20 samples, and it was game on from the get-go. For me, it’s a great finesse option. And I know that sounds strange saying football head jig and finesse, but it’s effective. The hook is beautiful. The largemouth guys may balk at the thin wire but it’s a Gamakatsu, so it’s strong and consistent, won’t break or straighten, and features the sharpest point in the hook market. I run the Finesse Football Jig completely inside of smaller 2-1/2-inch or 3-inch tubes, so when you’re bouncing them off the bottom, they go left and right and kind of wobble all over the place. The other thing I like is the Finesse Football Jig has a great wire hook keeper and molded-in ring to keep plastics right where they should be. When you thread plastics on, they just stay put.”

Hawthorne continues: “I also use the Finesse Football Jig with a plain, black curly-tail, which is old school. It sounds kind of crazy, but you put a plain black curly-tail on a black Elite Series Football Head Jig and bounce it off the bottom, and the bite is on. Smallies smack them! I’ve also thrown smaller creatures on them, Ned-style jig worms, and occasionally, a swimbait. You drop the swimbait to the bottom, pull it up, and keep bouncing it. It’s a productive alternative to the typical swimbait presentation.”




On Mille Lacs, Hawthorne will vary his football size depending on depth, switching from ¼- to 5/16- to 3/8-ounce. He typically dresses the jig with a subtle plastic. “If I’m working the bottom and the smallies are keying in on it, I’ll run a crawfish imitation and tick it along the bottom and then let it sit. Rinse and repeat and try to imitate how a crawfish behaves on the bottom looking for a hole in the rocks to hide.”

For the most part, Hawthorne is throwing the 3/16- to 5/16-ounce size Elite Series Football Head Jig on spinning gear. Later in the fall as he progresses deeper and uses the 3/8-ouncer, he’ll switch to a baitcaster setup. “On my standard spinning setup, I use 3- to 4-feet of 8- or 10-pound fluorocarbon leader, 10-pound braid mainline, a 7-foot rod with extra-fast tip and solid backbone, and a 3000 size reel for longer casts with the bigger spool. Sometimes in clearer waters, distance casting is key.”

Beta-testing the new Elite Series Football Head Jigs on smallies, success was found fishing the bait dressed in a green pumpkin skirt and blue craw trailer. Working rock spines that topped out to 2- or 3-feet on the top and leveled out to 8-feet on the sides, long casts were made with the boat on Spot-Lock and the bait worked down the ledges. Both shallow and deeper fish were caught as the football head was fished with slow, short hops and drags down the rock edges. To switch things up, the football head was also fished skirtless with a 4-inch Ned-style worm—also in green pumpkin—and the bite continued.

“The thing that impressed me the most was the hook-up ratio,” said Traditions Media’s Jim Edlund, who also tested the Elite Series Football Head Jig. “Even through the fluff of the skirt and the trailer the hook penetrated nicely with its thin wire and sharp point. The hook practically sets itself.”

Looking for a new way to catch finicky brown and green bass? Look no further than the Elite Series Football Head Jig from Northland. It just flat-out catches fish no matter how you dress it up…

Available early 2023.

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