Tag Archives: Custom Jigs and Spins

Rigging Plastics

We have had several requests on how to rig plastics for both hard and soft water conditions. I took some time today to quantify my plastics stock and snap some photos of presentations possibilities. Just because this is how we do it doesn’t mean it is right. There are times when fish will eat a bare hook and others when the presentation has to be tweaked just right or else they won’t even touch it. The best strategy is never to settle in a groove. By constantly adjusting color, angle, and size you can keep the fish guessing and possibly find a better option.

One of my biggest problems with jigs is the length of the hook shank. The shorter the shank is the easier the plastic will fall(or rip) off. I began fishing plastics on Diamond Jigs and Gill pills. Both are made by Custom Jigs and Spins. These hooks offer long hook shanks and come in various sizes and colors. I prefer using size 10 and 12 but have both 8 and 14 in my boxes. I like smaller presentations for hardwater because in general the search image for a fish is locked in on small bites. During the spring, summer, and fall months a slightly larger bait is nice because the baits are a bit larger.

I begin the majority of my days on the water using a presentation that allows my plastic to be as straight as possible.

To set up your bait straight, you run the hook through the tip of the bait and then thread it through the center of the body. I like to go a length equal to the length of the straight hook shank. It may take a few tries but I like to snug the plastic right up to the base of the jig. Many micro ice fishing plastics are thin and require hooks with a slim shank.

The bait style below provides the fisherman with several options on how to fish it. Because the body on the plastic is so small it important to hook it right through the middle to prevent it from being easily ripped off.

When the fish bite is very light, I like to rig this bait with the middle tail facing upward. The tail is just long enough to fold over under the water pressure when jigged. Drives the fish nuts!

As with any other bait, it can also be rigged horizontally and is normally equally effective.

A good option for rigging plastics is on sickle hooks. Some companies are starting to sell jigs equipped with these hooks. You can find some on Sportsmans Direct. Because of the multiple angles on these hooks, you are able to adjust how your plastic is set. At times, you can entice more fish to bite by setting the plastic in a slightly more vertical mode than plain horizontal. Another benefit to these hooks is they are less likely to be spit as you are reeling the fish in because of the angle. It wedges in better because of its sharper bend.

Another good option for fishing plastics through the ice is on a dropper chain below a Hali or some other kind of flasher. If you don’t like using a chain, you could tie up your own mono leader. The plastic below is the equivalent to a “senko” but for perch.

Many times during the summer months I find that bass get accustomed to a weedless rigged straight worm. So what do I do under these conditions? Well I rig it “whacky” of course. This method means simply to hook the bait directly through the center. When in action, the bait flaps and creates quite a disturbance.

It is still possible, even with a larger bait, to rig it horizontally. The bite will determine which strategy I use for the day. When running a larger bait below the Hali, I will often tie on my own hook in larger size for a better hook up percentage.

Sometimes I fish baits that are much larger than what I can match up with any hook size I have. In these cases I will still rig the bait in a horizontal position but I will hook more towards the center than through the head like I normally would. This method comes in handy when the fish are biting the tail of a bait as it puts the hook closer to their mouth. Below, is a good example of the options on rigging a larger bait.

This is a plain horizontal rigging. Works well when the fish are committed to biting. I have had luck using this bait during the summer months for trout in streams as it resembles a stonefly.

By hooking the bait more towards the center, you bulk up the head of the bait and put the hook closer to the fish. This has been a very effective method in deep water situations such as the glory hole.

Probably my most productive bait this winter was anything vertical by Caty Jigs. I used willows, tears, rodents, and rockers with great success. I went through phases where I like using maggots but the majority of the time I was running plastics.

I did find that the fish were more picky as to how the bait was positioned on the hook when rigged on a vertical jig. It needed to be perfectly horizontal or else the bite was slower and only the really aggressive fish bit.

Lately, through the open water, the two baits below have been the most productive options in my box. Rigged just how you see, they have caught just about every fish within the past two weeks. Quite possibly the best colors as well.

When I open up my tackle box for plastics, the majority of what I own is made by Maki Plastics. The selection below offer just about every option you could need for both hard and soft water. Although I have just about every bait pictured below, I find myself using mainly a few. As a starter kit, I would suggest purchasing: Maki, Jamei, Spiini, Guppi, Spiiki, and Mini Draggi.

Don’t be afraid to tip your baits with a maggot! Sometimes the fish want a combo of both.

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Jigs – An Addiction

For the type of fishing that we generally do, a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors of jigs are a necessity. Panfish tend to be very picky with even the slightest abnormality in a presentation. In many cases, you can catch at least a few fish on any jig but I am confident that everyday there is one specific bait that will drive the fish crazy somewhere on your selected body of water.

Fish develop a search image for whatever food source is their primary diet at the time being. If you can piece together a bait that resembles their desired prey you will be successful. There is more to catching fish than just using right bait though… You need to give the bait the correct action, speed, and put it at the right depth. Once you figure this out, stick with it and stay mobile. There are always fish that are active and some will not bite regardless of what you do. By continuously moving, you are able to catch the active fish in each hole and not waste much time beyond that. Panfish usually are on the move so make sure you keep track of holes that have produced and be sure to return to check for fish again as these holes will likely be replenished.

As you will see below I have more jigs than I will ever use in one day. I’m not ashamed to admit these are just the ones that I have in my pocket for every trip. I have boxes of extras for when I break off and need to refill my pocket boxes. It’s a bad feeling when you are on a good bite and you lose your last jig that the fish are pounding on.

I have four main boxes of jigs and they are sorted for different applications and locations. The jig boxes that I use are made by Rose Creek. They hold even the heaviest jigs very well. The categories the jigs are sorted by are lead horizontals, Lindy, non-lead verticals, and tungsten. New Hampshire put a ban on the use of lead jigs under 1″ or 1 ounce starting this year so I can’t even bring it on the ice. Its definitely not worth getting a ticket just because I want to fish with a lead jig when there are many just as good options to use!

So onto the boxes…  The first one here is my tungsten box. Tungsten has the largest size to weight ratio of all metals. It is good for situations when you want to downsize your presentation and still be able to fish deep water, fast. It is also very useful in thick weeds because you can punch through them to get to the fish. Jigs in this box come from several distributors. On the left side of the box, the top three rows are from Sportsmens Direct. The next three rows are a new option this season. They are “hard rock” jigs by Northland Tackle. The remainder of that side are Fiskas. The right side of the box is filled with jigs from Bentley Fishing USA.

This is my non-lead vertical box. I have been using these jigs more and more lately and am finding that I get a better hookup percentage! The entire left side of this of this box are  Caty jigs. The right side of the box is mostly random jigs and proven flies that I have picked up at bait shops through the years.

This is my Lindy box. Unfortunately, all these jigs are lead and I cannot use them on the river. I used them quite a bit last year with great success! It is stocked with only three styles of jigs but they are good ones! These fish very heavy and show up on the flasher very well even in deeper water! On the left side at the top you see the Genz Bug, below that is the Fatboy, and on the right side is the Worm.

This is my final box. All these jigs are made of lead so they don’t get too much action anymore. All the jigs on the left side excepts for the last row are made by Custom Jigs & Spins. These are a very good option for beginners because they are cheap and have a big selection of colors and sizes. The top three rows are gill pills. They have a flat bottom and when jigged have a very good flutter action. The next four rows are diamond jigs. They fish very precise and work better than tungsten at times because they sink a bit slower because they weigh less. The last row on the left side is composed of Northland gill getters. The right side of the box the top row is he CJ&S mini mert. The next two rows are primarily Northland forage minnow fry. The remainder of the right side is made up for “shad dart” style jigs from CMT Tackle.

These have been my go to jigs this season. From top to bottom and left to right they are: CMT super glow butt silver/orange size 12, Bentley black  size 4, Custom Jigs & Spins diamond jig pink size 12, Bentley chartreuse size 3, Fiskas gold/glow bead 4mm, Custom Jigs & Spins gill pill red glow size 12, Caty jig teardrop orange/chartreuse size 8, Caty jig willow pink/glow size 6, Custom Jigs & Spins demon gold size 6, and finally a tiny no name glow jig I picked up at Classic Outfitters.

I hope this helps you be more confident with your future jig purchases. There are a lot of choices out there and its hard to know where to start. I am still learning every day and am always trying to find better options. Stay tuned for future posts on the topic of jigs. There will be one in the soon by Bobby taking you through the steps of jig making and how anyone can do it!

Tools Of The Trade

Tools Of The Trade
(The Modern Pan-Fishermen)

The first jig rod I ever caught a fish on was hand-made, nothing more than a crafted piece of wood. Today, 15 years later my rods are custom built from the finest graphite blanks and designed to catch specific fish and detect the lightest of bites. Ice fishing has gone through a major revolution in recent years. By all means, what you’ve got will work, but if you are willing to adapt to these new methods and tools then you will see more success on the ice.
The modern age of ice fishing has created the finesse ice fishermen. It has become common practice to put down the large wooden jigs sticks with 10lb test and pick up a lighter graphite jig stick spooled with 2-4lb test, have boxes full of jigs, and carrying a Vexilar from hole to hole. All of these things are an essential tool for me while chasing panfish in the lakes and rivers of the Northeast.
I have three rods that I use. The first is a True Blue made by Clam, the second is a custom built “Meatstick” by Jason Mitchell, and the last (which I use the most) is a Riversider. Each rod has it’s own productive qualities that help me detect bites in different situations. All of these rods are in my rod case because they are durable and they get the job done. These rods are also very affordable for the average “weekend warrior”, they are all pretty much under forty dollars.
More important than the rod, is the jig. I mostly fish for bluegill, perch and crappie, having a variety of jigs is a huge advantage for me in catching fish. Believe it or not, I have found that smaller is usually better. There are two types of ice jigs on the market today, vertical and horizontal. Vertical jigs are soldered jigs and are for most fishermen their “go to jigs”. My favorite vertical jig is an orange and chartreuse teardrop Caty jig tipped with 3-4 spikes. These jigs are small, but the teardrop shaped blade gives it a deadly downward flutter, often times triggering the fish to bite. This action allows the fishermen to fish the entire water column, targeting the most active and aggressive fish. The second type of ice jig is a horizontal jig. These are somewhat new to the market and these jigs consist of molded metals in all shapes and sizes, and now metals, including tungsten which is heavier than lead. These jigs offer the fish a different presentation. Unlike the vertical jig, these jigs swim. They have a sudden side to side up and down movement that mimics small bait fish or a small insect. Teamed with a micro plastic, this bait can be very productive. My go to horizontal jigs are Custom Jigs and Spins Diamond Jigs, and their Gill Pill. One of these jigs tipped with a micro plastic, say by Maki Plactics, will surely put more fish on the ice.
Out with the old and in with the new, well only if you want to. The old techniques will always work to a certain extent, but I encourage you to finesse more fish on the ice this season and try some of the tactics of the Modern Ice-Fishermen.

This Article can be found in The New Hampshire Vermont Outdoor Gazette