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This week's Feature Blog

What I Know About Hair Jigs

By: Mark Romanack

The timeless hair (aka bucktail) jig is a simple but effective way to catch a pile of walleye.

Hair jigs (aka bucktails) have been around the fishing scene longer than I have. That’s one heck of a long time! I’m happy to report that is timeless lure is catching walleye and other species like never before. In part, the resurgence of the hair jig is due to a whole new generation of anglers who have been discovering the power of hair for the first time. It’s also true that modern hair jigs are a little more sophisticated than the ones our fathers and grand fathers fished. These days a hair jig is likely tied on a jighead that features a ultra premium hook, a mixture of colorful bucktail, natural marabou and synthetic fibers to add action, flash and sparkle. The end result are jigs that not only look great in the water, they do an excellent job of sticking the fish that bite. It’s the natural pulsating action of a hair jig that makes these baits so deadly. The slightest movement causes the fibers to come to life creating a bait imitator that is so realistic, fish have a very hard time resisting the urge to strike. Those subtle, but effective pulsations make a hair jig look like the real McCoy something that other jig dressings struggle to accomplish.

Jigs have a natural plusating action you can’t duplicate with plastics.

The hair jigs we feel work best on walleye are sized to be about three inches long. Typically a 1/8, 1/4 or 3/8 ounce jighead is ideal, but in some cases the jighead can be as large as 1/2, 5/8 or even 3/4 ounce in size. The larger jigs are handy for fishing deeper water, faster current and off color water where a larger profile is easier for fish to see. The smaller jigs are ideal for casting applications when targeting fish in water less than 20 feet deep. Color matters, but a surprisingly small assort of hair jig colors will have anglers catching fish almost anywhere walleye are found. Hands down the most popular colors are black, purple, black/purple, white, white/purple and fire tiger. Keeping a few of these colors handy almost guarantees success. One of the refinements to fishing hair jigs is understanding how scent makes a difference. Because hair jigs are routinely fished very slowly, adding scent makes these jigs even more enticing. The problem with scent products is that many are made from oily or greasy bases that will mat down the hair and hackle on a quality hair jig. The result is a jig that has little or no natural pulsating action.

The author with a nice Erie walleye caught using a hair jig.

Water soluble scent products like Yakima Bait Company Roostertail Spray Scent is ideal for adding natural scent to hair jigs. A couple squirts will create an enticing scent stream in the water for several casts.This easy to apply fishing scent gives the attraction of live bait without the hassle of using minnows, leeches or night crawlers. The perfect rod/reel/line for fishing hair jigs is a seven foot medium or medium/light graphite rod with a 20 or 25 size spinning reel. The reel should be loaded with 10 pound test super braid and a three foot leader of 10-12 pound test fluorocarbon added to the terminal end. This set up allows the jig to be presented with an invisible line to lure connection, without sacrificing the sensitivity of using a low stretch super braid. To anyone who doubts the effectiveness of hair jigs, I challenge you to buy a few and fish them in place of soft plastics or even live bait. I’m confident that anyone who gives the hair jig a fair shot, will come away wondering how can something so simple, be so deadly effective at catching walleye.


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