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With A Point
By DOUG NEWHOFF
Editor's note: Doug Newhoff is a seven-time World Walleye Championship
qualifier during eight years of fishing on the Masters Walleye Circuit.
He is an
outdoor columnist for the Waterloo-Cedar Falls (Iowa) Courier and an
occasional free-lance contributor and seminar speaker.
Any angler worth his lead will tell you that there's no better sensation
walleye fishing than the "tunk" of an aggressive 'eye smacking a jig.
For many of us who place the walleye at the top of our most-wanted
a moment for which there is no substitute because it's a reaction we,
anglers, have provoked.
Jig fishing is interactive. We can make a jig do almost anything. It
might be the best all-around tool ever invented to catch walleyes,
or any number of other species, for that matter. Some of the best anglers
I know insist that given a pocketful of jigs, they'll hold their
own against anyone, anywhere, anytime. However, not just any jig
goes into their tackle boxes. There's a thought process behind the creation
or purchase of every jig that factors in everything from a walleye's feeding
characteristics to the way a jig will be used and the water in which it
will be fished.
Before you tie on that next jig, ask yourself this question: Is it
tool for the job at hand? In some cases, finding the right jig is as
simple as a trip to the local bait shop or department store. In some cases,
it's just a matter of adapting the mass-produced jigs made by major manufacturers
to the situation at hand. However, there are a number of us who enjoy the
past-time of creating at least some of our own tackle and the satisfaction
of catching fish with it.
It's cost-effective. For an initial investment of under $100, we can
hundreds of jigs for dozens of different applications. It's practical.
When we need a specific jig for a specific application, we can't always
find it when we want it on the store shelves.It's about fishing exactly
the way we want to fish. When every bite counts, as it does on the tournament
trail, tackle-crafting provides the means to tailor every jig precisely
to our personal specifications.
The process begins with top-quality materials. It continues with decisions
and modifications made in the basements and garages where we pour,
paint and tie our own leadheads. It ends with that heart-pounding "tunk"
of a walleye
falling head over tail fin for what we have created.
Any jig is only as good as the mold and hooks with which it is made,
three most important considerations are the size of the gap between
and the point, the size of the hook and the ability of the hook to
Walleyes feed by opening their mouths and creating a vaccuum of water
rushes through their mouths and out their gills, bringing their prey
That means most of a jig is usually inside its mouth when we feel the
a result, we can use larger hooks with wider gaps, and we'll hook more
because of it. My Do-It Corporation jig molds are machined to specific
tolerances. They call for a certain size and style of hook. A few years
ago, the only way to upsize and still get consistent, quality castings
with no flash was to modify the mold with a bit of filing handiwork.
Today, hook manufacturers have given us some options with larger sizes
maintain the diameter of smaller hooks without sacrificing strength.
words, it's possible to find a 3/0 hook that will fit perfectly in
a cavity designed for a 1/0 size. Of course, if you are fishing in extremely
woody cover, you don't want to be constantly tying on new jigs. Then it
makes sense to have a selection with softer gold hooks or light-wire hooks
that will pull out of many snags and keep your bait in the water.
That can result in short strikes or jigs that tend to spin in current and
||No jig is ideal for every situation. Some are best-suited for slack-water
fishing, others for pitching and still others for working current. Some
are better casted, others fished vertically.
It's all about aquadynamics. Let's say your quarter-ounce round-head
mold calls for a 1/0 Aberdeen-style hook. While that's a good combination
for casting slack water where a walleye
has an oportunity to totally inhale the jig, it won't be as effective
when used to cast to a wingdam with current flowing across it or to vertical
jig along a current break. Because of the current factor and the
extra resistance caused by the shape of
the round head, the jig is always moving when a fish attempts to eat
line twist that drives anglers crazy.A larger hook will help when the
current isn't the dominant factor. When it is, it pays to have alternative
head styles on hand, such as a pancake, arrowhead or banana head that is
center-balanced to keep the business end in the fish's face and will cut
the current and help the angler remain vertical rather than dragging his
or her jigs. There are times when dragging jigs is the best presentation,
and that calls for a stand-up head style.
Ask four different jig-makers about their favorite tying material and
likely to get four different responses. Bucktail, craft fur and maribou
have their places, but it also pays to have a box of plain jig heads
collars for use with plastics.
The most important factor to consider with body materials is how the
be used and how important the rate of fall will be. If you are casting
to shallow water, you want to slow down the jig's fall as much as possible.
That means bulkier, more buoyant material such as craft fur or plastic.
If you are vertical jigging in current and dirty water, bucktail or craft
fur are good choices. If you're in fairly clean water, the enticing action
provided by maribou can be the ticket.
Part of the fun in making jigs is innovation. In the dead of summer
on the major river systems in the Midwest, willow cats are deadly on wingdam
So, why not create some willow-cat jigs by drilling a small hole through
jig head and securing some "whiskers" in place with a few drops of
Other anglers try to match specific food sources on their home bodies
water by the size, color and materials they use to make their jigs.
Tackle-crafting isn't for everyone, but it's something that can serve every
For the occasional fisherman, it's an inexpensive way of stocking the
box with a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. For the serious walleye
fisherman, it's a way of loading up with jigs that cover the gammut
uses. Sometimes, you just have to do it yourself. And therein lies
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