Tying A Custom Bass Jig
This time of year is the perfect time to do some tackle maintenance. Like catching up on some boat maintenance before spring. This is also a great time to create a custom bass jig for the upcoming season. There are several reasons to make your own bass jig. One advantage is the ability to create jigs that the bass are not familiar with. Whether it be the materials used or the profile created bass do get conditioned to the off the shelf products that most anglers throw at them. This is an important aspect of creating your own bass jigs. However, my favorite reason is that it’s so much fun and rewarding.
I spent nearly 15 years fly fishing almost exclusively. I not only tied my own flies but also sold flies throughout Alaska. When I finally settled down in Indiana and started bass fishing again I found it hard to give up fly tying. I built a fly tying desk. I set up all my tools and books. It all just gathered dust until one cold winter day I decided to dust it all off and work on creating a bass jig. A bass jig that was different. Hopefully I could catch more bass come spring. It felt good to put those tools, my long lost friends, back to work.
Since that day, several years ago, more and more companies have recognized that anglers like to create their own jigs. With this recognition came products that allow a nearly endless array of skirt materials, jigheads, rattles, paint or powder coatings. It’s amazing what flexibility these products allow for the angler to design a jig that not only helps them through the winter but also catches fish. The following is tips on how to build and enjoy your personally created bass jig this spring.
A custom designed bass jig starts with the jighead. There are many choices for sure but the jighead you use will be determined by the type of fishing you do. Do you fish for smallies when the water is still a bit chilly? If so you might choose a ball style jighead which is great fishing vertically for suspended fish or in a float-n-fly presentation that is so effective for those cold water smallmouth. You might want a football head for rocky points or an Arkie style head for heavy cover. I like to fish a football head jig in heavy cover for just the reason you’re not supposed to. That’s because the head sticks to wood easily.
I flip my jig into very heavy cover and actually use this fact to my advantage. I pull the jig through the brush until it gets stuck then yo-yo the jig in that spot. You can hear the knocks as the jig bangs into the wood cover over and over. I’ve watched many bass come from out of nowhere to hammer the jig even right on the surface. This is just one example of coming up with a custom bass jig that relates best to your fishing style and I have only talked about the head so far.
Making The Jig Skirt
Jig skirts come in so many colors you could never use all the color combinations available. There are many types of materials as well. The old deer tail hair, squirrel tail hair or calf hair are all great skirt materials. They probably always will be. Other materials that have been around the fly tying world a long time consist of tinsel, flashabou, marabou and other synthetic materials. They can lend the angler an endless array of possibilities. There are silicone skirts that are your standard skirt material. Living rubber adds bulk and action that silicone can’t. The downside to rubber is they can breakdown when stored in a box for very long so I always just build a few living rubber jigs when I think they might be needed. This way I don’t have too many stored away.
A new skirt material, new to me anyway, is frog hair. Frog hair skirts are fine cut silicone that maintains a small profile on the fall. They gives you a larger but more sparse profile than standard silicone when it hits the bottom and opens up. Frog Hair moves easily with the current or light movement of the line. Frog Hair is a great skirt for cool water or anytime a more finesse type presentation is needed. Such as highly pressured waters. You see the options are almost endless. I learned about skirts with built-in trailers and trailers with built-in bands. You can add these by sliding over the head’s flare band or collar.
Many skirts come with bands for easy install. These work great, but you can also get strands and make your own skirts. There are tools for building skirts. Another option is to mix the strands and tie them onto the jighead just like fly tying. This is more time consuming as well as complicated but allows for a more durable skirt.
Thread or even wire used to attach the skirt to the jighead will prove to handle abuse of serious fishing. These will help to keep the skirt from coming apart or sliding down the hook shank. Skirt attachment depends on how much you use your jig or how rough you fish it. Standard skirt bands are fine for the casual angler. However, for a serious tournament angler, that might make three times more flips in a day, thread and/or wire is the way to go for your custom bass jig.
Rattle Jig Or Silent Jig
There are plenty of rattles to choose from as well. I don’t throw a jig without a rattle but it is definitely personal preference. If you fish really clear water then you might want to throw a silent jig. Most of the waters I fish are at least considered murky. If the lake is clear I look for dirty water because that suits my fishing. In those cases I want a rattle on my jig. If I don’t find the dirty water anywhere I change baits. I’ll be throwing something more visual like a jerkbait or a swimbait.
Rattles come in all shapes and sizes. For a jig there’s a few standard rattles you can add to your jig a few different ways. One such rattle has a band just like the skirt band. It slides over the flare collar and is retained there with the band. This is a great way to fix a rattle to your jig. However, they do tend to slide down after a few hours of hard fishing. Another type rattle has a recess in the end. It fits into a smaller band on the skirt band. They are specifically made for these rattles. There are two of these rattle bands and you can add one or two rattles to the jig.
I tie my skirts on so I have no rattle bands. The little rubber bands would not hold up to my fishing style. I quit using them long ago after losing so many rattles. Someone else could fish a jig multiple trips without a problem. But, even when I tried to glue the rattle into the band they still came out. The bad thing was I would stop getting bites. Eventually I would realize my rattle was gone. Yes I believe it makes that much of a difference.
The Buck Shot Strap Rattle by Northland Tackle is my favorite rattle for custom bass jigs. The strap has a knob on the end and allows you to tie the rattle in on your jig. You can either tie it in as you tie in your skirt or wait until the skirt is secure. Then go over the thread wraps to secure the rattle. This not only ensures that your rattle will last the life of the jig. The wire wrap only adds to the durability of the skirt tie.
As you can see there are so many options and products to make your own bass jigs. These are just a few examples of your options but many more exist. There are swim jigs, punch skirts and flare bands to name a few. This article was to familiarize you with the options that exist and get you thinking about building your own. There are a few tools you will need to build custom bass jigs. The list is short and can be very inexpensive.