Ike: Breaking down hair jigs, part 1

A couple of weeks ago I got a question from Ethan Vivian about hair jigs. The techniques are pretty simple. We’ll talk about that but the real deal is to think about them in groups, each group designed for a specific application.

I put them into three groups — micro or mini, standard sizes, and big, ledge-buster types.

Here goes…

The micro or mini models are designed for light, finesse type applications, techniques like the float-and-fly and the black hair technique I talked about back when we were going to Sturgeon Bay.

They usually weigh anywhere between 1/32 of an ounce and 3/16 of an ounce. They have much less hackle than most hair jigs, and they rarely exceed 2 inches in length. If they’re tied with synthetic hair, they tend to be really buoyant and they’ll have a slow, wavy look to them. The natural hair models are usually a little stiffer with less movement.

The hook is critical on a micro or a mini jig. By nature it’ll be small and with a light rod and line you can only set the hook so hard. Thin wire, ultra-sharp hooks are a must.   

This group of hair jigs is at its best when the water’s cold and clear, when the fish are suspended or when the bite’s especially tough. Fish them slow and easy on lighter spinning tackle.

Although these jigs are popular with smallmouth anglers, don’t be fooled into thinking that’s all they’ll catch. Largemouth and spotted bass will often take them when nothing else works.

The next group is what I call the standard models. They’re more like the traditional jigs we’re all used to fishing with.

These jigs are bigger — usually between 1/8 of an ounce and 1/4 of an ounce — and they typically are somewhere between 3 and 4 inches long. They’re at their best in natural baitfish colors if they’re tied with enough hackle to create a realistic looking profile in the water.

There’s a bunch of ways to fish them effectively. My favorite is to feather them down.

The best way I know to describe that technique is that I let the jig “float” down, towards the bottom by using my index finger on the bail of my spinning reel to control the fall. Every so often I like to stroke my jig lightly so that it has a little horizontal movement.

Fish it like you would a suspending jerkbait and you’ll have the feathering technique about right. This style of jig can be tied with almost anything. But, more buoyant materials will make a better feathering jig.

My standard size spinning tackle is heavier than what I use for micro or mini jigs, but it’s still light when compared to casting tackle. You need natural movement to be successful with this technique. It’s hard to get that with heavy rods and line. The jigs are just too light.

Next time we’ll finish up with a discussion of big, ledge-buster hair jigs, along with more specifics on tackle. 

Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website, mikeiaconelli.com.

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