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The Ultimate jig

It goes without saying that there is a time and a place for everything.. Including jigs.

You know as well as I do that there are countless styles of jigheads out there covering a complete spectrum from weeds to wood, from stripers to panfish. But this is not what I am really going to focus on in this article. Rather, I want to bring up some points on using bucktails.

Bucktails? They just aren't for smallmouth boys and sometimes they can be the ultimate jig to use in a lot of situations.

Plastics don't and can't breathe the way bucktail or other hair jigs can It is this ability that not only seperates the hairjigs from plastics, but makes them the deadliest jigs for the most species of fish.

Take walleyes for example. The feed primarily on minnow type forage, or fish like shad, alewives, ciscoes or smelt. While crankbaits will take these fish in the beginning ,active stages of a bite, sooner or later that bite is going to taper off. If you have a bucktail jig handy tied in a remotely familiar minnow pattern, you should be able to score a few more.It's the appearance of forage similarity that will take these fish. As an added plus, not too many anlgers use hair jigs anymore.

That point right there should be enough in itself to start using them. You know how fish get accustomed to the same lure presentations . Then something new comes along and fish go nuts. Everyone catches fish with the new lure.For a while.

I tie my own bucktails. Usually I tie up about a dozen in assorted forage patterns and those last me, (with luck) for a few months.If you are a fly tier, then tying hair jigs will be snap. Just remember to tie the hair on in sparse layers. Bulky is bad for most situations.basic and natural colors should be the standard, but don't be afraid to add a touch of color, like chartreuse, orange, red or even a few strips of tinsel.

Basic retreives for hair jigs dictate that the retrieve should be slow and simple.Don't hop the jig. Just crawl it along the bottom or use a steady retrieve. Use fish activity as a guide also. If you are getting hits within

a second or two after the lure hits the water, use a slightly faster retrieve.If you resort to this retrieve, then use irregular twitches to mimic a minnows darting pattern.

Anglers should always use water clarity as a guide for jig size. Clearer water and an angler can get away with smaller sizes.Stained water, bigger sizes are the norm. Twister tails can be added to increase overall size appearance and slow down the jigs fall

When fished against plastics of the same size and bulk, hair jigs usually outproduce the plastics by more than two to one. Conditioning factor there. Something to think about.

Granted, there aren't too many places an angler can buy a quality hair jig. Most manufactured bucktails are stiff and unnatural acting in the water. These can be trimmed at the jig thread collar to thin the excess hair.

Trimming at the ends only results in bulkier and unnatural jigs.

Give them a try the next time you reach for a jig. The results should speak for themselves

Daniel C. Nielsen


Copyright 2000 
Reprinted with permission

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