Goofy Jigs: Are These The Best Lures For Catching Pompano On The Beach?
Many years ago, I spent the afternoon with my wife on St. Pete Beach and noticed a guy steadily catching fish after fish the entire time using a small lure of some sort.
I had also been fishing but without near the success as the stranger, so I walked over to ask if he’d share the secret of his bounty. He turned out to be a nice guy and willingly did so.
The secret lure was a small hook with a little bit of lead molded around the shank and painted yellow that he called a goofy jig.
Since then, I’ve learned that jigs of this type were originally designed for and used by ice fisherman and have heard them referred to as goofy jigs, pompano jigs, banana jigs, wigglers and silly jigs.
Call it what you want but I refer to it as a goofy jig and it has become one of my favorite lures when fishing the beach for pompano, whiting or flounder.
I’ve also landed my share of trout, redfish and snook on this little piece of painted lead and jacks, ladyfish and mackerel find the lure irresistible as well.
Choosing Your Goofy Jig
These lures are durable, cast like a bullet, catch a variety of fish and are inexpensive. They are available in a variety of versions, colors and weights and I’ve tried just about all of them over the years.
My favorite version is a Doc’s Goofy Jig but it’s produced locally and not widely sold outside of Florida. However, don’t despair if you don’t live near a tackle shop that sells them as there are similar jigs produced by other companies that are available at national retailers and through their websites.
Regardless of the brand, I prefer a 3/8 oz or ½ oz jig in solid white, solid yellow, solid pink, yellow and white or pink and white in combination with a small white, yellow or pink bucktail teaser.
The ½ oz jig allows me to reach the outside sandbars I like to target but sometimes it seems that the slightly smaller profile of the 3/8 oz version is more effective.
Like most artificial lures, there are days when one color outperforms the others. I usually start with a solid yellow jig and yellow teaser but will change colors until I start catching fish.
Rigging for Goofy Jigging
When fishing with goofy jigs, I typically use a 2500 or 3000 series reel filled with 10lb braid matched with a 7’ or 7’6” light or medium light fast action rod.
I tie on three to four feet of 20lb fluorocarbon leader using a uni to uni knot and thread the teaser and jig onto a loop knot that leaves two to three inches between the knot and end of the loop.
The large loop allows the teaser to slide up and down between the jig and the knot while retrieving the lure. It’s important that the teaser is threaded onto the loop knot first so it sits above the jig in the loop knot. I also like to have the teaser hook and jig hook pointing in opposite directions.
How to Fish with the Goofy Jig
I believe these jigs imitate sand fleas, crabs, and shrimp as well as small baitfish or bivalves that these shoreline inhabitants feed on. Therefore, I like to cast them to areas along the beach where both food and fish are likely to be.
That includes anywhere along the beaches edge and the inside and outside edges of any sandbars within casting distance. However, I may catch fish anywhere in between my longest cast and the sand so I’m on alert for a strike during the entire retrieve.
I start working a beach by casting my jig slightly up tide onto the farthest sandbar I can reach, flipping my bail just before it hits the water and reeling in any slack while the lure sinks to the bottom.
If I don’t get a hit on the initial sink, I slowly lift the rod tip to drag the jig across the sandbar towards shore until it falls off the inside of the bar into deeper water. This is what I refer to as an edge. It’s where I’m most likely to get hookups with pompano, whiting, trout and flounder as they run or stage along the edge looking for bait to be swept over the bar with the incoming waves.
If I don’t hook up at the edge, I then speed up the retrieve a little bit while hopping the jig along the bottom creating little puffs of sand.
If there’s an inside sandbar and swash, I will slow my retrieve as I drag the jig through the deeper water on the outside edge and onto the bar and again work it slowly until it reaches the inside edge and drops into the deeper water of the swash channel. This edge is another likely spot for hookups that may include redfish and snook when water temperatures are suitable.
If I don’t hook a fish along this edge I hop the lure all the way to the sand. This strategy allows me to work varying depths to determine the zones where fish are feeding and then focus on those zones.
Establishing Feeding Zones
On days when I’ve established that the feeding zones are along sandbar edges, I like to wade through the swashes onto those bars.
When I reach a sandbar, I start working my way up tide and parallel to the beach while casting my jig to the drop-offs on either side of the bar and then hopping it back with the current or tide along those drop-offs.
This keeps my lure in the feeding zone throughout the retrieve, not the small percentage of the time as when I’m casting perpendicular to the beach from the shore.
When I do get a hit, I don’t use an overpowering hookset as the hooks on these jigs are usually needle sharp out of the package.
A quick short flick of the wrist will usually set the hook or even just a steady pull back on the rod tip.
Also, I often hook the fish on the teaser and have been surprised how large a fish I can land on such a light wire hook. If I don’t horse the fish in, it’s usually capable of handling any species I’m likely to hook with this setup.
When and Where to Use the Goofy Jig
These strategies and tactics can be effective year round and throughout the day.
In the summer, I often tie on a jig and teaser during the heat of the day, when most larger game fish aren’t actively feeding.
They work best along beaches that have defined edges within casting distance of the shoreline or irregularities like points and runouts, which are cuts in a sandbar where water runs into and out of the channels created by the bars.
These are natural feeding areas for fish as are points or other structure that may divert the tides or currents along the beach. You can see an example of this in the graphic below:
For beaches with a long gradually sloping shoreline, I usually prefer fishing around the lower tide as the sandbars and edges may only be within casting distance when water levels are at their lowest.
Beaches with shorter or steeper shorelines often have near shore swashes and sandbars that are only fishable on higher tides but often have at least one bar beyond the shoreline swash to target on the lower tides. You can see an example of this kind of beach in the graphic below:
If the water isn’t clear or it’s not otherwise obvious that a swash channel or outside sandbars are present, I look for where the waves are breaking.
When they aren’t breaking until they get to the shoreline, there may not be a swash or outer sandbar and the bottom likely slopes gradually toward deeper water.
If waves are breaking further out than the shoreline, it’s usually evidence of a sandbar and often you will see that waves are breaking even further offshore as they hit the second bar.
However, I never pass up a beach with little or no obvious structure if that’s all I’ve got to work with as I’ve had some great fishing days from the most unlikely places.
Beaches to Avoid
I do, however, avoid beaches with rocks, oyster beds, downed trees and other hard, bottom structure.
As the jigs sink very quickly and I’m usually dragging or hopping them along or near the bottom, snags are inevitable. On a rocky beach, I can go through a pocketful of jigs in no time.
Goofy Jigs: More Than a Beach Lure
Goofy jigs are more than just a beach lure. I’ve used it along the sandy edges of causeways with success for flounder and redfish and have had some epic days using the heavier lures to vertical jig for pompano around bridge pilings.
I even have a friend who swears that these are the most effective bonefish jigs he’s ever used.
It’s tough to find a lure any more versatile, durable and effective, especially at a buck apiece.
But if you know of any other great lures for catching pompano, please leave a comment down below.
For a list of tackle shops that sell Doc’s Goofy Jigs that were mentioned in this post, go to their website at www.goofyjigsusa.com.
Buccaneer Bait Company Wigglers are available at Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Cabela’s.
Big Bob’s Jigs produces a quality jig that is available through their website at www.bigbobsjigs.com.
Silly Willy Jigs are available online at www.captainjoefishing.com.
If you have any questions on this post, let me know in the comments below!
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