Shaky Head Rig – Everything You Need to know!

angler fishing a shaky head rig

A shaky head is a finesse bass fishing rig that excels at getting bites in tough conditions. This simple rig catches numbers as well as big fish and is a bass fishing rig that can be fished all year round. This article will go over how to rig a shaky head, the best shaky head baits, as well as some tips and tricks that will help you catch more bass on a shaky head.

What is a Shaky Head Rig?

A shaky head rig consists of a small jig head with a light wire hook paired with a soft plastic bait, typically a worm or a creature bait. The shaky head rig is an ideal finesses bass fishing technique that shines all year long in tough conditions and when bass are finicky.

When to fish a shaky head

A shaky head can work just about anytime, anywhere, but is really known for being a rig that excels at catching fish when the bite gets tough. Most anglers use the shaky head in clear water conditions when fish are inactive or in cold weather situations, but this rig can produce pretty much anywhere.

If you know there are fish in a certain area, a shaky head is a great way to catch them, especially in high pressured areas. This is not a rig where you can cover a lot of water, so it’s important to know that bass are in the area before using the shaky head. Bass are a predator fish and a bait like the shaky head can be what triggers a response and can make an inactive fish become active.

Shaky Head Jigs heads

The shaky head has evolved over the years and the jig heads now come in a variety of shapes and styles each suited for different fishing situations. Here is some good information to keep in mind about selecting the right jig head in the right situation:

Jig-head Size

The key to fishing a shaky head effectively is ensuring that you use as light of a jighead as possible while still keeping your bait in contact with bottom. A 1/16- or 1/8-ounce jighead is typically ideal for most fishing situations, but when you are faced with windy conditions or a current upgrading to a ¼-ounce head will work better.

Recommend size: 1/16- or 1/8-ounce and ¼-ounce for windy conditions

Jig-head Styles

There are several shaky head designs, brands, and types out on the market today. In my mind there are three main types of head designs for shaking soft plastic baits on a shaky head rig: a ball head, standup head, and a weedless head.

Round Jig Head

This style of shaky head jig is ideal for fishing gravel bottoms in rocks and around open banks. The round jig head give the bait a rocking action as the head rolls off cover.

Standup Jig Head

The standup jig head is designed to keep your bait standing up straight and is great at imitating small bait fish such as a bluegill feeding on the bottom. This style is best suited for fishing rocks, docks, and any type of structure.  

Weedless Jig head

A weedless jig head can really be a standup or round jig head with a slight variation, being that it is designed to be fished through grass and other types of cover. The key to a weedless shaky head jig head is the way that you rig your worm or soft plastic bait.

An exposed hook can get hung up in grass and other types of structure, that’s why they started adding a screw lock to a lot of the shaky jig-heads. This allows you to easily make your worms weedless by screwing the top of your bait near the jig head and popping your hook through the bottom end of your soft plastic.

Best shaky head jig: Dirty Jigs Scott Canterbury Shakey Jig Head

Best Shaky Head Worms and Baits

Perhaps the most popular bait anglers use on a shaky head is a finesse worm, but most any soft plastics perform well with a shaky jighead. Worms, creature baits, soft plastic jerkbaits, and other soft plastics are all solid options. Here are some of the best shaky head worms and baits on the market that have been proven fish catchers:

Best Shaky Head Worms and Baits

For more information about shaky head worms be sure to check out our article: The 7 Best Shaky Head Worms.

How to fish a shaky head

Over the years, the shaky head rig has won fishing tournaments, caught fish on tough days, and has been many anglers go-to rig. Although it’s tough to fish a shaky head wrong, here are some simple tips that will help you catch more fish on a shaky head:

Drag it

Don’t be fooled by the name “Shaky Head” there are several other effective ways to fish a shaky head rig. Dragging a shaky head along the bottom is a solid method that can offer some big results. Don’t worry too much about shaking it with this approach simply drag it on the bottom and let the bait give all the action.

Hop it

This is a great technique for imitating crawdads. While having contact on the bottom give you bait a few pops and let it sink back to the bottom. You can vary your cadence and how fast you work your bait depending the conditions and preference of the fish.

Dead Stick

When things get tough, dead sticking can be a deadly technique. What is dead sticking? It’s simply making a cast and letting your bait sit there still. It may not seem too exciting, but as a finicky bass swims by and sees your shaky head worm move subtly, it won’t be able to resist.

Shake it

This approach is where the rig gets the name from and is probably the most common. However, a lot of anglers make the mistake of over shaking. Sometimes it’s best to let the bait do its thing and give all the action depending on the mood of the fish.

Swim it

This approach often gets over looked when it comes to shaky head fishing. However, swimming a shaky head above a weed line or close to the bottom can be a great way to catch them.

For more great tips, check out Tactical Bassin video on Shaky Head Fishing.

Where to fish a shaky head

The shaky head is a versatile rig that can be fished in any season and pretty much anywhere. However, it can be more effective in certain areas. Here are a few key areas where they shaky head rig really shines:

  • Boat docks
  • Points
  • Weedlines
  • Laydowns
  • Ledges and drop-offs
  • Brush piles
  • Rip-rap
  • Rock piles

Shaky Head Rod & Reel Setup

The shaky head is a true finesse bass fishing technique and in most situations is best fished on a spinning rod. Having the proper spinning combo is key for feeling light bites. For this application, you will want a rod that is sensitive enough to feel light bites, but also has enough backbone to fight and land bigger fish. A great setup while shaky head fishing is a medium-heavy spinning rod that has a fast action tip.  

Recommended Rod & Reel: 6’8 – 7’6 with a size 30 spinning reel

Best Line for a Shaky Head

As with most finesse techniques, fishing a shaky head jig with light line is a must as finicky fish are typically line shy. Anglers typically use a shaky head in tough fishing conditions and mostly in clear water situations. For this reason, having a light line paired with a shaky head rig is key. As is true with most finesse fishing techniques, lighter line gives your bait more action as you shake it and also presents a more natural look to the fish in clearer water. Most anglers use 6-10 lb fluorocarbon or monofilament line.

Recommended line: Sunline Super FC Sniper Fluorocarbon 6-8lb test

Final Thoughts

A shaky head is a great finesse bass fishing rig that really shines in tough conditions. When water temperatures decline or bass become finicky, you can’t go wrong with throwing a shaky head. It’s a great bait that puts both numbers and big fish in the boat. We hope you have found this information about the shaky head rig useful and will use it the next time you are out on the water.

Tight Lines!

Aaron Warner

Aaron Warner is an avid angler with over 15 years of experience. He has participated and won fishing tournaments all over the country and enjoys fishing for bass, trout, walleye and other species.

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