Genz on ‘Pounding’ Ice Jigs

by Mark Strand

The name, Pounding, came up in those old heady days when breakthroughs were coming fast and furious.

Back in the 70s, the inventive mind of Dave Genz was working overtime, and the sport of ice fishing was being dragged kicking and screaming out of the Stone Age. The Fish Trap, which has been called a bass boat on ice, allowed us to bring along what we needed but keep moving until we caught fish. And a lot of presentation refinements were being developed by Genz and his cohorts. Because of Dave’s pioneering use of the Vexilar, he could see his ice jig no matter how deep or dark the water, and even see when a fish showed up to inspect it.

One of the things Genz came up with, after realizing fish can be right there in the hole with the bait but not biting it, was the idea for a tiny hook and single maggot (or something similarly small and tempting) suspended below the main jig. They called it a dropper rig, and it was deadly on finicky panfish.

-”We started thinking of the jig as our sinker,” remembers Genz. “We kept fishing the jig aggressively most of the time, and a lot of fish came on the jig. But, especially back then, we spent more time trying to make fish bite rather than looking for fish that were in the mood to bite.

“We started that whole thing about ’sniffers’ and trying to convert sniffers to biters. It got to the point that we’d hold the jig perfectly still on some fish, wait until it stopped spinning, hold the dropper hook in front of the fish and hope it would bite. If they bit our ’sinker,’ fine. But an awful lot of those (sniffers that eventually bit) came on the dropper.” Over time, they began to notice that many outings were dominated by sitting over sniffers, converting a few. But the restlessness in Genz grew.

In the evolution of his thinking, Dave, being an aggressive angler by nature, eventually drifted away from the dropper most of the time. Over the years, he has come to rely more and more on his ’sinker,’ sans dropper, fished in his signature Pounding style.

And so we come to the present day, when Genz talks about pounding every time he gives a seminar or even chats with fellow anglers out on the ice.

“People ask me all the time,” he says, “‘What is this pounding?’ It might not be the best word for what we do, but that’s what we named it.

“You’re trying to get a good ‘kicking’ motion when you jig, so the eye of the jig is the pivot point and that tail portion (often holding maggots or wax worms) kicks up and down like a horse’s legs bucking. You don’t want the entire jig to bounce up and down in high hops. The pivot point is just that; it doesn’t move up and down much. “It’s almost like a very rapid rocking motion, from a horizontal position.”

When you watch Genz do it, it’s hard at first to even see that his wrist is moving up and down, but it is, very rapidly, without raising or lowering very far. The whole key is to watch the jig.

“It’s important to practice where you can see the jig and see what it’s doing,” says Dave. “My favorite jigs for this style of presentation are horizontal, like the Fat Boys and Genz Worms. To learn how they behave in the water, you can just let it down below the ice, where you can still see it. Sight fishing (in clear, shallow water) is a great teacher. And using an Aqua-Vu lets you sight-fish at any depth, lets you see what the jig does when you have more line out.”

When Pounding?

There are times when a smoother, more rhythmic motion is more effective than pounding. That’s why you should be paying close attention to what the fish seem to want on any given day, and even hour to hour.

“But especially in dirty and deeper water,” says Genz, “it usually works better if you add vibration and scent. Scent comes from maggots, wax worms, wigglers, whatever you tip the jig with. Vibration comes from pounding it.”

This is not to suggest that you should abandon pounding in shallow water. Not at all, in fact. In many sight-fishing situations, that rapid vibration and kicking motion really trips the trigger of the fish.

Nor should you think that pounding is only for panfish, or only for sunfish. That rapid kicking motion suggests the natural movement of many items that all fish eat, at least at certain stages of their lives. You’ll tempt crappies, sunfish, perch, pike, walleyes, bass, and even lakers and muskies by pounding jigs of appropriate size.

When it comes to bluegills, especially, pounding can be the difference between a nice catch and nothing during the daylight hours. At prime time, “when the sun is hitting the trees,” as Dave likes to say, they’ll rip the rod out of your hand if you not hanging on tight. But when it’s a battle of finesse against fish that aren’t in the mood to cooperate, you have to pay attention to detail to succeed, and that often means fresh bait and a horizontal jig, kept kicking with a pounding motion, as you raise and lower it.

Winter Fishing Systems, Inc 2019