I've been doing tackle shows for the last couple of weeks, and I've been asked the same question over and over: "Why do you like hair more than rubber for your smallmouth fishing?" The answer is simple, because hair catches more fish!
Back in the old days, everyone used bucktail on their jigs. It was OK, but only because we didn't know any better or have anything better to use. The truth is it was, and is, stiff, wiry, and I doubt it helped catch very many fish.
In the late 1970s and early '80s, rubber-skirted jigs came along. Rubber had lots of advantages. It was softer, had more movement and was cheaper. It costs a lot less money to snap a rubber skirt on a jig than it does to pay someone to tie hair. Take it from me; I know.
Later on, I found a synthetic type of hair commonly called "craft hair." It's great! It floats, doesn't absorb water and is reasonably cheap. It's the best stuff I've ever used, and I've tried everything at one time or another. (Everything means squirrel, rabbit, deer and all sorts of other wild animals I could get my hands on. I've tried some other stuff, too, but I'll never admit what it was!)
I think the reason that the craft hair works so well is because it's soft and keeps moving in the water. You'll understand what I'm talking about if you'll do a little experiment at home. You can do it in 2 minutes. Take one of my craft hair jigs and drop it in a quart jar full of water. There's no current or anything to mess with it, but it keeps moving for about 30 seconds or so after it hits the bottom. That's important. If you do the same thing with a rubber skirt, it stops moving within 5 seconds. That extra time makes a big difference.
I think when a bass sees a jig, she moves up real close to it and looks it over before she decides to eat it. That little bit of movement convinces her that it's alive, and she grabs it. That's why craft hair works so well — it moves.
It's true that my company, Punisher Lures makes some jigs with rubber skirts. They're called the Smalljaw Shaky Jigs. We make them with living rubber and are careful to make sure the strands are thin and light so they move as much as possible. But remember, we move and shake our Smalljaw Shaky Jig in heavy brush. That makes a big difference.
That's enough on hair and rubber for now. When I leave here, I'm in Cincinnati for the Hart Show through this weekend, and get back home, I'll get out on the water and give you a current update on where the fish are and what they're biting.
Until next time, if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you. Please e-mail me at Stephen@thesmallmouthguru.com.