There are many different ways that you can work a Big Joshy bait, but in most situations the more simple the retrieve the better.
Straight Retrieve - The standard way to work the bait is to cast it out and slowly and steadily reel it back in.
This is the best retrieve 95 percent of the time or more. I can't
stress this enough. DO NOT OVERWORK THE BAIT. The action is built in
to Big Joshy Baits, so jerky retrieves with a lot of jigging and
stops and starts aren't usually needed and will catch you less fish in
the long run. These are called swimbaits for a reason. A slow injured
baitfish moving at a predictable steady pace triggers fish to bite, and
bite very well. The exception of course is a Big Joshy Craw fished on bottom, where a skipping motion will mimic an escaping Crawfish.
Wrist "Rolling" - Once again there are exceptions to the tried and true steady retrieve where some slight lift and drops worked in will get more bites. Some people call this a rolling action. Because while you are reeling the bait you roll your wrist to gradually lift and drop the rod tip. This causes the bait to speed up and slow down and it also imparts a slight lift and fall.
Lift and Fall - This is a method that seems to work best when fish are very aggressive or are in a negative mood and need to be provoked into striking. The best way to execute this motion is with your rod held at 9 o'clock. While steadily reeling hop the swimbait up in a one to two foot lift, then let the bait fall back down on a semi taught line by dropping your rod tip back down to 9 o'clock. The faster you let your rod tip back down the quicker the Big Joshy Minnow will fall back towards bottom. All the while you need to be reeling up the slack line as you continue to work the bait back to you. The key to perfecting this technique is learning how to change the speed of the drop until you find what speed the fish want that day. Most all hits will happen while the bait is falling or just before you lift it.
Working different depths:
Fish Near Bottom - Let the bait fall almost all the way to the bottom or close to the bottom on a tight line. (If you let it sink with slack line you will lose more baits to snags in rocky areas.) With your rod tip at a 10 o'clock position begin a slow, steady retrieve. If you contact bottom, just slightly increase your retrieve speed and lightly lift your rod tip to work the bait over and around rocks and snags. The idea is to keep the bait swimming within 1 ft or less of the bottom. For fish like Saugeye this is very crucial if you want to get regular bites since Saugeye are almost always within 1 ft of the bottom. Bass normally hold near bottom but sometimes they will suspend.
Suspended Fish - If you are fishing for fish that are not holding on bottom, cast the bait out and when the bait hits the water begin to count, while watching your line. You want to find out how many seconds it takes for the swimbait to sink to the bottom. If it takes 10 seconds for your bait to hit bottom, then if you begin a slow steady retrieve after letting the bait sink for just 5 seconds, you will be fishing halfway down the water column. This is a good way to fish for crappie since they are notorious for suspending at this halfway point in the water. More active fish will usually be higher up and Less active fish will be deeper. Experiment with different depths until you catch some fish, then repeat!
Stick in the Mud for Saugeye - (Contributed by Troy "Fishslim" Becker, Master Saugeye Angler)
Sometimes fish are just in a mood where they don't want to hit a bait that is swimming at all. You would not think that a swimbait would be a good choice as a bait to fish on the bottom, but some nice stringers of saugeye have been caught with this technique when nothing else was working. This will only work when you are fishing an area of the lake with a relatively clean bottom to avoid snags. To start, with this technique you will want to use a slightly heavier jig than normal. In shallow water a 1/4 oz jig on the 2.75" size is a good combination. The goal is to try to stick the head of the jig into the silt on the bottom of the lake and allow the floating swimbait to flap and wiggle with its nose down and tail straight up . Cast out and allow the bait to plummet all the way to the bottom with enough speed that the head of the jig will slightly punch into the soft bottom. Then you want to reel down and keep a relatively tight line as you work the bait always watching your line for strikes. From here you can very gently wiggle the bait in place, or you can slowly drag the bait a few inches. After you have moved the bait a little ways you might want to do another small hop to re-stick the jig in the muck again. You want the buoyant plastic of the swimbait to stick up into the fishes face like a feeding, or dying minnow with its tail wiggling around. The fish will simply suck the bait right off the bottom and you will either feel a slight tick when the fish bites or you will see your line jump or move off to the side.
This is an advanced technique that takes time to develop a feel for. To get an idea of how the bait acts on while on the bottom practice this in shallow water and see how the bait acts with different jig weights and different rod movements.
An especially good time to employ this technique is on lakes with man made channels when a hard wind or a wind from a certain direction will create water currents in certain channels . When there is current present the fish will position themselves in the channel like it is a flowing river, laying in slight depressions and depth changes along the bottom, or pinch points where the channel narrows to increase the effects of the current. In this situation the Saugeye will hold very tight to the bottom out of the current. Standard retrieves will quickly move over the fish and might catch a few, but sticking a Big Joshy Minnow in their face and shaking it a bit can be an excellent option.
Using Underspin Jigs -
There are times when a Big Joshy Minnow as a trailer on an underspin
jig is very hard to beat. Crappie and bass can really key in on this
combo. From my experience this works better when fish are a little more
active so any time the water is above 50 degrees is a good time to use
it. The flash and wobble created from the blade helps call the fish in
and at times this rigging will out-fish a plain swimbait. Just like
with a swimbait on a plain jig the retrieve is fairly simple. Just go
slow and steady and mix in an occasional pause with the line held tight
to let the bait pendulum down slowly before restarting the retrieve.
The blade makes the bait fall slower than normal and many hits will
happen on the fall. This presentation is excellent for use in open
water when fish are holding along a depth break, point, or rockpile. It
is also very effective to pitch the combo beside brush and allow the
bait to swing down past the branches, even going through the branches
There are many types of underspin jigs on the market and many bass and crappie bait manufactures offer a variety of shapes and sizes.
When pairing an underspin jig with a Big Joshy Swimbait there are a few tips that will maximize your fish catching.
Always try to match the jig weight and hook size of the jig to the size of the Big Joshy minnow. Some underspins have relatively small hooks that will work well with the 2.3 inch minnow. The larger Bass sized underspin jigs pair well with the 3.25 inch minnow.
Remember that the blade will slow the baits fall quite a bit, so its good to use at least one size heavier jig than you would normally use if you were using a plain jig. So a 3/16 or 1/4 oz underspin jig will sink about as fast as a 1/8 oz plain jig.
Don't be afraid to experiment with how you rig the Swimbait. One of my favorite pairings is a 1/8 oz underspin with a #1 size hook, and a 2.3" Big Joshy Minnow. I rig the Swimbait upside down with boot tail pointing upward. The reason is that the resistance of the blade under the jig changes the angle of the swimbait as it moves through the water, pointing the nose down and the tail up. With the tail pointed upward the paddle of the bait catches lots of water and creates lots of wobble and action at very slow speeds. This is an excellent crappie catching combo that always seems to get lots of bonus Saugeye and Bass too.
If you are going for crappie or saugeye try mixing in some contrasting head and body color combos like, Pink, Orange, or Black underspin jigs with, Chartreuse, Purple Flash, or Lemon Shad Big Joshy Minnows.