How to Fish a Shaky Head

Fishing is all about preparing properly and coming equipped with only the best tools for the job. The job can change quite rapidly and greatly depends upon the type of fish you’re searching for as well as the locations you’re scouting.

One line setup might work wonders in one location but falter in another. Experience will be the best teacher you can have for deciding which tools to bring along.

One of the most divisive jigs at an angler’s disposal is a shaky head. The soft plastic lures will either be your biggest asset or your greatest nightmare. Many anglers tend to stay away from them as they leave much to be desired in terms of big fishing. However, if you know how to fish a shaky head – and there are many ways to fish a shaky head correctly – you can use this little plastic worm to your advantage.

It’s important to go over the basics first and to fully understand what you’re getting yourself into when using a shaky head jig. Using a shaky head is all about employing it in the right moments and at the right times. If you’re going to use a shaky head, you’ll need to utilize the proper techniques as well. By the end of this article, you will know how to fish a shaky head properly.

What is a Shaky Head?

The shaky head is a lightweight lead head that allows anglers to drop their lures down to the bottom wherever they’re fishing. They come in multiple sizes and weights in order to combat windy days or stronger currents. The most common shaky head jigs will be about 1/16th or 1/8th-ounce though sometimes you might have to go up to a 1/4-ounce shaky head.

The ball, which is where the weight comes from, is coupled with a bass-style fishhook to bring in some larger species of fish. This bass-style hook allows you to hook on plastic baits for fishing which are a fantastic way to grab the attention of any nearby fish. The retainer system which is featured on every shaky head jig allows you to keep your plastic bait stuck on and secure for even the most wild bass. You won’t have to worry about losing your bait with your fish while fishing a shaky head.

When to Use a Shaky Head?

Luckily, shaky heads can be used year-round as long as the bass are out and about. The shaky head jig is best used to catch bass – as can be seen by the bass-style hook they use – and will be effective whenever bass are active. This general success with the shaky head can be gained from both shallows fishing as well as spawn bead fishing. If you can find a bass, the shaky head will be useful.

One of the best times to use a shaky head is in the spring when the bass are spawning. Both spawn and post spawn will net you quite the gain with a shaky head jig as you’ll be able to drop your line down to the bottom where their beads are located giving you an advantage over most other types of jigs. The bass are active and hungry and your shaky head offers them an exciting new meal during spawn and post spawn in the spring.

Early fall is another great time to bring out the shaky head jig as this is when the bass will be coming up from the lower depths. The water is beginning to cool and the bass are looking for more sunlight, so they will begin to locate themselves around docks and shallow brush placing them within distance of your line. Cast the shaky head right in front of their noses and reel them in. Winter and summer are less effective times to fish with the shaky head, but it’s still quite possible.

The Two Different Types of Shaky Heads

The recommended type of shaky head that you use will change based on when and where you’re fishing. There are two different types of shaky head jigs and both of them have their pros and cons when in use. The two types of shaky heads are the ball head and the standup head. Their names are based on the look of the weight at the base of the hook – ball head is a ball and standup head has a flat surface.

Ball Head

This is probably the most common type of shaky head as your main focus of the lead head is the ability to drop your line to the bottom of the area you’re fishing. The ball head is great at this as it’s simply a ball of lead designed to put the necessary weight on your line to reach the fish you’re going after. Having a round head also allows you to do more once you’ve reached the bottom.

The round design of the ball head allows the angler to roll their shaky head along the bottom which creates more natural movement and helps catch the eye of the fish better. Fishing a ball head shaky is best done on gravel bottoms or in the open water banks. You may find that this head plays better with the current and can be more effective when strolling the bottom.

Standup Head

Less common but just as effective, the standup head provides similar benefits as the ball head. For one, it’s also a lead clump at the end of the hook which allows you to drop your line to the bottom. Some might say the flat surface takes away from the overall weight and more is needed to drop your line, but we’ve found it to be just as useful for reaching the bottom.

The real difference between this and a ball head lies in what you can do with it once you’ve reached the bottom. As the name implies, this head has the ability to stand up straight and works well for slow, minimal shaking fishing. The best surfaces to use this head on will be rocky bottoms as it can easily glide through the obstructions – better than the ball head.

Best Shaky Head Fishing Techniques

Below we have listed the four most common fishing techniques for a shaky head jig. If you’re hoping to bring in the bass with a shaky head, using any of the following methods will increase your chances and make the most out of your setup.


This might be the most effective technique for fishing a shaky head. It can be a little alarming that shaking the shaky head isn’t the number one choice for anglers, but hear us out. The real benefit of a shaky head is its access to the bottom. When using a shaky head, the weight will take you right down to the bottom of the spot for easy dragging.

Once your line reaches the bottom, it’s time to start slowly dragging it across. Trolling or drifting are some of the best ways to catch a bass, let along using a shaky head with those methods. If you want to make the most use out of your shaky head, dragging it across the bottom will provide the shake that catches the eyes of the fish and places it right in front of their nose.


This is a nice and necessary variation on shaking the head. Hopping allows the bait to bounce and jump along the bottom which will provide a new-look to what the bass see every day. Many bass may be used to the shaking method as it is most common, but hopping provides a new flair for the fish to become interested in.

Whilst hopping, you’re receiving a shaking bait anyways which combines this method with the next one. The more movement you can provide, the more likely you are to catch the attention of the bass. Hopping also used the bottom to bounce it up more for more movement.


The namesake of the jig, this method might be the most common for anglers using a shaky head. The head is designed to provide plenty for the fish to see when shaking it and will yield fantastic results. Keeping your bait alive and active – even if it’s just a plastic worm – is the goal of this method and will require some effort on your part.

We will say that this method might be the most mundane of the ones listed above. Both hopping and dragging provide shaking in their own sense while this method only focuses on the shaking aspect. Some fish could be conditioned to this and won’t necessarily find your line as attractive as someone utilizing dragging.


This is essentially dragging but raised above the bottom. Swimming your shaky head offers you a wider range of coverage and will be the best way to attract a more active bass like the spotted bass. Swimming utilizes the current and provides plenty of movement to draw in bass while they’re more spread apart.

Fishing a shaky head doesn’t have to be so polarizing and can be quite simple when done in the right time with the right methods.

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