Rattlin’ Hair Jigs? YES PLEASE

Yesterday I was doing a podcast for the Mike Avery’s Outdoor Magazine for Lure Lipstick live from Jeff’s Bait and Tackle by Sterling State Park.  After we taped everything, I started talking to the owner Eric about an idea I had. On the counter there are a couple of trays of these jigs with built-in skids for lack of a better description, in which Eric had attached twin rattle chambers.  He had given me two jigs to try out, and while I was busy this spring tying hair jigs, I started looking at those really loud rattle chambers a little closer.

You might see where this is going already, but just in case, it’s going to provide me with a nice article to share with you.

That’s right, rattling hair jigs!  These things are just as loud as any crankbait in my arsenal and they have a slip on collar that will go over your jig’s hook and can be slid up the shank. The only drawback is that the collar on the ultra minnow jigs was already filled while tying the hair on.  But not to worry, when used with a split tail minnow like those Jeff’s has in the shop from Lure Lipstick, the plastic forces the chambers far enough forward to stay clear of interfering with the hook.  If you must and this is fine by the way, you can even secure the collar by placing just a dab of crazy glue to hold it in place.

You need to push the hair back over the head of the jig before slipping on the rattle’s collar and then it just flows back over chambers.

Eric liked the idea so much that the rattle chambers are now going to be available for sale in the store, with three in each package.  These will definitely enhance your catch rates while dragging hair along the bottom!  Best part is they are REALLY LOUD and you can reuse them over and over again, unless you did the crazy glue trick.

Copyright, 2018


Posted in Detroit River, Do-It-Yourself, Lake Erie, Lure Making, Product Reviews, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Layering Hair Jigs

When the weather outside is frightful, which translated means after three days of east winds all the docks on the west side of Lake Erie are flooded out and as I look outside, Mother Nature has turned the landscape into a snow globe once again, you find something fishy to keep yourself busy.  I pulled out some jigs that I had already painted for a tourney coming up and broke out the vices and fly materials and got back into tying some hair jigs. The next tip, is something that I have developed over the last few months that will add body to the traditional walleye hair jig.

I have explained in the past that many of my walleye ideas for lures and approaches are often taken from other realms in the fishing world, but like the old BASF commercials, I just made them better.  As in this case,  better by adapting them with my own twist and applying the concept to walleye fishing.  If imitation is the oldest form of flattery, the picture above is a twist on a Detroit River favorite for handlining, the fluorescent red and gold floater. In this case I took some Disco Gold powder paint from TJ’s Tackle and painted the body of the jig, then applied some Blaze Orange paint over the back of the jig.

Never mind the black and tan blob in the background for a minute, will get to my “helper” in a bit. Last month I was talking to a bass guy who said he was doing something similar with the walleye hair jigs, but was using marabou for his bass lures.  The problem was that once the feathers get wet, there wasn’t too much body left and the material wasn’t pulsating with the applied rod action in the water anymore.

While doing this Disco Copper and Candy Green crawfish jig for another bass fishing friend in Illinois, I stumbled on an idea that seems to work pretty well, even if it was unintended. My issue at hand was how to incorporate the two colors on the jig into the body of the bait.  It would have looked silly to make up the belly of section of the hair with one type of synthetic material and then make the back out of another. To solve the cosmetic issue, I created a collar with the copper material, which is Krystal Flash, and then layered the outer ring with Medium Olive craft fur.  In doing so, the problem of having a limp, wet fur body was solved.


Fur and feathers soak up water, but synthetics like Krystal Flash and Flashabou do not. Case in point, this Black with Blue Flake jig head.  I made my first collared layer with Rainbow Flashabou.

Then to incorporate the blue from the jig’s paint,  the next layer was made with a thin veil of blue craft fur.

Lastly, one more layer of black craft fur is tied on to give it that continuity with the paint on the jig.  Each layer starting with the synthetic flashabou, or if you like the krystal flash, gives body to the overall appearance of the jig and more importantly does not soak up the water.  Also, each layer will stiffen up the presentation while giving the illusion that there is something alive swimming through the water to the fish you are trying to catch.

If you want to recreate this concept, you will have to do it yourself.  With the time involved and if you were ever to see something like this hand tied in a bait shop, it would probably cost at least six dollars retail or $3.00 more than the standard walleye hair jig.  All the materials, including the fly tying tools can be purchased at either Cabela’s, Janns Netcraft or your favorite websites like TJ’s Tackle. Is it worth it, by all means yes! Besides half the fun of catching walleye is with something you created yourself!  If you must, you can also apply the concept to catching more bass also.  I would insert the smiley face here, but might offend some family and friends who chase large and smallmouth.

Finally my helper during this whole project, Kit Kat.  Of all the pets roaming the shop, she is the most affectionate and wants to be a part of everything.  This means literally getting in my face while I am wrapping the thread around the material.  She probably has a couple drops of Loon cement on her back this morning, and if during the process I could not find the synthetics I was looking for, she was keeping them warm for me like a mother hen.  That is the personal touch which comes with writing a blog, the end.

Posted in Bass, Do-It-Yourself, Lure Making, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Gearing Up for the Detroit River: Handlining Tip

Handlining a river system is a learned skill, but it can be done with a small amount of practice to get the basics down pat. Handlining without a reel, that makes things a little more difficult.

A&S Reel mounted on a Traxstech Universal Mount


One way to make sure your reel stays secure, hardwire the reel to the mount. With a short piece of coated wire, and two crimps and a few tools, you gurantee, no matter what, your reels stay with the mount. In this case, using an Universal Mount for my Traxtech system and A&S handline reels.

Now, for example’s sake, you are out fishing and your partner on the opposite side of the boat has got a monster on the line. What do you do? He or she needs help, it is the fish that just might cash a check! One idea is to feed your reel enough line to clear your weight from getting snagged and the wrap it around something while you help out.  Works great, but you run the risk if kinking your main line.

Traxtech Planner Board Caddy with Church Tackle Lock Jaw Clip


Even while handlining, I will leave my Planer Board Caddy’s from Traxtech mounted on the boat. One reason is that having all my tools and fish towels right at hand is, well handy and accessable. The second, because I use a loop made with a zip tie, where attached is a Lock Jaw Clip from Church Tackle. Now jump back to the previously mentioned scenario. This time you feed your wire  into the reel, clear the obstructions below, and clamp the wire down with the clip, and help your partner catch that fisk!

Copyright, 2018

Posted in Detroit River, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Gearing Up for the Detroit River: Jigs and Plastics

All my 3/4 and 1 oz jigs have been poured, powder painted and cured.  There are still some colors that are unique to my arsenal, so there are times when I will still break out the roundballs, even during tourneys.  Just think that three or four years ago the round-headed jig was still the most commonly used shape on the river when it came to dropping lead down on the walleye.   Walleye anglers across the Midwest, who flocked to the Detroit River each spring begged mold companies to make a wedge-shaped, current cutting jig to no avail.  They lost tens of thousands in potential sales, and I am glad they didn’t because local anglers with enough gumption do what they always do, adapt and overcome.

Wal-e-Gat-r Jigs

Captain Paul Doute of Angler’s Quest Charters and Tackle, is one of those guys who saw the need and filled the wants of walleye anglers who flock to the Detroit River each spring.  The Wal-e-Gat-r Jigs from Angler’s Quest, have the perfect shape for slicing through currents that can rip down the river up to ten plus miles per hour.  Plus, he has so many colors available that you can match them up to your favorite plastics. In addition to last year’s lineup, there are new colors for this year.

Boy Girl Ice


Mahi Mahi

Flash Top

And then some colors I would dub the Outhouse Collection which should be perfect for the often muddy or stained waters in the river.

Skid Mark


Golden Turd

There will be more coming out before the end of the season so stay tuned or make sure you look at your local bait shops for more product.  You can find the Wal-e-Gat-r Jigs at Jeff’s Bait and Tackle down by Sterling, Bottom Line Tackle near the Metro Park and The Bait and Tackle Box out on Jefferson by Elizabeth Park.  Up on Lake St. Clair, at their two locations,  you can stop in and see my buds at Sportsmen’s Direct.  If these locations are far from home, both Sportsmen’s Direct and Lure Lipstick have websites in which you can order them!

Lure Lipstick Split Tail Minnows and Wyandotte Worms

Plastics versus live bait, and the answer would be yes please!  This year I have gone with a product that really smells, Lure Lipstick.  They have the split tail minnows in all the best color combinations and have gotten together with Wyandotte Worm and infused that product as well. All the baits have already been infused with the special blend of oils and pheromones contained in Lure Lipstick products. With the spray Enhancer, I can also rejuvenate some of my older plastics and get them back in the water too.  The minnows work great early in the spring, but if its later in April or if I just want some extra action, I can switch up and go with the Wyandotte Worm.  If that presentation needs to get bulked up, then I will add a live minnow for some extra enticement.

Angler’s Quest Stinger Block

When the fish are on prowl for food, they try to inhale the whole presentation.  When the water is murky or you bump a fish and tick it off, then it is more of a reactionary bite.  That is when you really need to use a Sting’r Hook, really its just best to always use one.  It goes back to the old scout adage about being prepared.  I predominately use 2 and 3 inch slip-on Sting’r hooks from Northland, and mostly the 3 inch ones.  Now here is a tip that Captain Ken Clark from Fishmas Charters recently shared with me, and it makes total sense with my ice fishing background.  If you think your stinger is long enough, go longer and here is why and I will explain the ice fishing correlation.  When fish are in their moderate or neutral feeding mode, they will suck in the back side of bait by flaring their gills and often that treble hook is the first thing in its mouth. Now if you have ever sight fished or used a camera while ice fishing, you know it’s true story for all species. It depends on the hook length and the type of the plastic…etc.  Lastly, and this is only to some degree, the stinger will help lock down a live minnow on your hook while you rip it up while jigging.  To keep them separate and ease of use, I keep the hooks in their own foam blocks, also a product from Angler’s Quest.   For all these years, it’s the only product I have come across that actually addresses how to store stingers without getting a tangled mess.

And on that note, it ends the first installment on fishing the Detroit River in the spring.  A lot of this information can be applied to the Saginaw River and similar rivers across the Midwest that have a spring walleye run.  Simply adjust the size of your jig to match up with current and boat control!

Copyright, 2018


Posted in Detroit River, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Off to a Nice Start on Erie

Lake Erie delivered as promised on our first trip of the season with the boat going 9 for 12 on the hook-ups.   To get the details out of the way, 1.4 to 1.6 mph seemed to be the speed they wanted all day.  We had to keep a tight drift, which having the GPS built into the Minn-Kota Terrova made that fairly easy.  We fished two contour lines, and literally after an 1oo yard pass, picked up the gear and went back around to start the drift again.  Ran Rapala Deep Husky Jerks (DHJ-12’s) all day, and although Chrome Blue, Purple and the last of my Tennessee Shads seemed to be the best, they also tore up some white based lures from Big Eye Custom Lures.

Counted off a range of depths on the Daiwa’s, from 20 to 40 foot back before attaching the Church Tackle TX-22’s, with the best fish coming on 27, 32, and 37 foot back.  Keep in mind we were running in 11 to 14 foot of water.  I tried a new trick, took a stick of Lure Lipstick and rubbed some on the backside of the bill for some added scent.  I didn’t want it on the front because I thought it would have effected the ability for the bait to dive.  Also, sometimes too much “stink” can be a deterrent, so I didn’t apply it to the body of the cranks.  Test results would support the conclusion of having the perfect amount.

Even though I run Scotty’s for my rod holders, have to mention the Planer Board Caddy from Traxtech.  It doesn’t matter if I am using my TX-12’s, Walleye Boards or the TX-22’s I used yesterday, the boards stay locked in place while traveling on the water at any speed. Also a handy way to store my pliers, and you will noticed I zip tied my fish towel into place.  Which, when I go to wash them, will have to be cut, maybe I didn’t think that one entirely through, but at least it stays in place.  When I take the boards off the line, they go right into the caddy because I placed them in the business end of the boat!

Copyright, 2018


Posted in Lake Erie, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

How to catch walleye in the Night Time

Even though I am talking about an accessory for Church Tackle’s planer boards that will help you fish for walleye at night,  cannot help but think of the song, “Night Time” by the J. Geils Band.

One of my favorite bands while growing up, it seems like I could paraphrase just about every line in the song and make it about catching walleye in the “Night Time.”

TX-22’s with Lighted Flag Kit

Church Tackle offers a nice accessory for their popular Walleye Boards and TX-22 planer boards to help anglers stay on the water even after the sun goes down, their Lighted Flag Kit.  The kit itself comes in two styles, one for keeping your flag stationary and another one for boards equipped with Church’s Double Action Flag System.  Each kit comes with a left (port) and starboard (right) flag, with each side getting it’s own color.

With a simple turn clockwise on the backside of the flag, you can turn the lights on for getting set up, and when you are done for the night, do the old “Lefty Lucy” to turn the lights off.  I did a search on some of the best websites, and they can be found on FishUSA‘s site.

Since I have been putting this together, the best songs from Geils have been playing in the background on YouTube. With it being the end of the article and guys are chirping in over on Facebook about the Michigan Walleye Tour event on the Detroit River, it seems fitting that, “Detroit Breakdown” is the last song. The late 1970’s and early ’80’s are calling me back to my glory days.

Copyright, 2018

Posted in Do-It-Yourself, Fishing Websites/Stores, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

How to lose ZERO jigs in the Detroit River

I take this….

Vexilar Flasher

…and put it on this!

Somebody was asking this morning on one of the walleye group pages on Facebook, just how many jigs people typically lose in a day while fishing the Detroit River.  My answer was zero, specifically because since I hooked up my Vexilar to the Minn-Kota  equipped with US2, I can see the bottom, and see the jig at the same time, just like ice fishing!  Vexilar sells the Adapter-Universal US2 that fits right into the existing connection wired on the Minn-Kota!

Trenton Channel/Detroit River

With your Vexilar rigged up on the boat, you can literally fish anywhere on the Detroit River, including the Trenton Channel without fear of losing any jigs. Think of all the time and even some money you will save by converting something you already have from ice fishing to something you already have on the boat for less than $25.00.  Just in the time spent trying to work the snag out, going to the box to get another jig, then threading on another minnow, putting on the stinger hook, getting set back up in the water, that’s a good 8-10 minutes, it really is an easy decision.

Copyright, 2018


Posted in Detroit River, Ice Products, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Gearing Up for the Hair Jig Bite

Been in the lab the last few days, getting some of the basic colors tied up, and playing with some combinations to get a few new wrinkles added into the mix.  First I poured a new batch of 3/4 ounce Ultra Minnow head jigs, using the mold from Do-It.  Then it was time to haul the powder paints down from TJ’s Tackle. 

If you haven’t looked into painting your own jigs, TJ’s is a great place to get started.  They have the best selection of fluid beds and cups, and one of, if not the best selection of powder paints and custom mixes to be found on any website.  Literally one stop shopping, and if you made it out to any of the Ultimate Fishing Shows, you saw the guys in action demonstrating the products in their booth.

TJ’s Tackle Powder Paint

I started off playing around with some jigs already painted up from the year before.  Purple is great, but I think I have caught more fish the past few years while using a combination of white’s. So the next two pictures are your basic white jighead and hair combination, but with some glow lateral lines added for some extra attraction.

White hair jig with glow pink lateral lines.

White hair jig with glow green lateral lines.

These glow fibers from Hareline gave off a great glow that lasted over 10 minutes with the lights off.

John Deere Green with bright green and flo. yellow hair.

Sometimes you must have what the walleye want in your tackle arsenal and on Lake Erie, they love them some John Deere green hair jigs.  I have found that this color combination really shines in clear water, but can be used also in that transition zone.  It is kind of perchy looking!

Black with Blue Flake jig heads with flash lateral lines.

With these two jigs, I used the classic Black with Blue Flake from TJ’s.  Then while tying in the black Hareline craft fur,  I infused some purple and rainbow flash in to come up with some lateral lines that highlight the dark material.  This might have been my one mistake, because when I posted these pictures on Facebook, the bass folk went nuts.  I had five private messages asking on how or where to get them!  But, to get back to reality, I have found that black works just as good as purple hair combinations in most situations.  Dark water, muddy water or that coffee with cream stained  soup we sometimes have to fish in.

Flo. Yellow heads with flo. yellow and white bodies.

Sometimes you just have to have the classics tied on, but look past the yellow and white for a moment and let me share this tip with you that will save you so much time while tying up your rigs.  What you will need is one extra vise, one extra bobbin and one extra spool of thread. For the less than the price of a fancy fly tying vise, you can double your production.  I am using two Super AA Vise’s from Cabela’s for the whopping cost of $12.99 each.  The bobbin’s are under $4 each and the thread is another $2 a spool.  If you clicked on the highlighted word “thread”, you will see I am the using, for lack of a better word,  210 thickness.  Its bigger than the 140 and doesn’t break off like the smaller diameters will. One helpful hint, take a sewing needle, slip the thread through the eye and drop it down the barrel of the bobbin, you might have to tap it to help it poke out the bottom.  This method is so much easier than trying to eyeball the thread through the barrel.

Pink with pink and white hair

You can tie each one up and they will look great, but then you have to wait while the head cement dries before snipping off the thread.  If you have two vises rigged and ready to go, you can start your next hair jig while the cement takes a set.  By time your finish wrapping your second jig, the first one is rock solid and you can snip off your thread.  Why do I have the vises set up on pieces of 3/4 inch plywood?  It’s just a matter of mobility and ease, I can put them on the table out in the shop after a I get all the materials  laid out and basically, it just works for my setup.  It also makes it a breeze to rotate the jigs as I tie them up.

There you go, my hair tying method through each step of the process.  Start off with jig head that was painted with TJ’s Tackle powder paint, and cured in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  The cure process is critical and can be done in a toaster oven.  Then it is fun time, get some craft fur and come up with your fish catching combinations.

Copyright, 2018



Posted in Do-It-Yourself, Fishing Websites/Stores, Lake Erie, Product Reviews, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Spring Jigging on Erie is around the Corner

With the current monsoon taking place in lower Michigan, I cannot help but think about jigging on the lake come springtime. Don’t get me wrong, trolling his highly effective and I will still get that rush of anticipation when the double action flag on my Church Tackle planer board gets pulled back. When it comes the spring season though, jigging on the lake is just a different ballgame, it’s going back to the basics and just a whole different type of thrill.


Whether you are a ripping a blade bait or thumping the bottom with a hair jig, the weight of a fish makes your heart skip a beat with anticipation of what will be at the other end of the line.  Each type of lure has a time and place, and generally speaking they can be used in all conditions, but I narrow them down to water clarity. In the muddy soup the blade baits really come through and they work well in that transition into cleaner water.  The hair jigs work for me during that transition area too, but really shine when fishing in clean water.  The muddier the water, the darker the presentation, transition zones are when I like a white based lure and then in clean water give me something natural or off the wall color pattern like those on the crankbaits when trolling.

When it comes to rods, I have tried a lot of the rods from St. Croix and really like the somewhat longer ones that have an extra fast action for the jigs. Some are medium light, but most are medium and they vary from 6’8″ to 6’9″ inches in length. The shorter 6’3″ MXF can be used specifically for the blade baits, but the longer medium action rods also excel with this method.  The one thing I do not want is a wimpy soft action rod, but want to feel the weight of the fish and drive the hook home on the set.

Whether you are fishing the reefs in Ohio, or dumping grounds in Michigan, jigging gives the angler the chance to get back to the basics.  The feel of the fish on lure, fighting it all the way to the surface and finally getting it into the boat. So, with the current monsoon weather currently in our area, its time to break out the gear, spool some reels and get ready for the fantastic fishing we have ahead of us!

Copyright, 2018

Posted in Lake Erie, Product Reviews, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Hair Jig Nation: Jigging on Lake Erie

I am still in total ice mode, but things are starting to creep into my thoughts, like catching walleye on Lake Erie in the spring.  First thing I want to do is check the line on the reels that will go back on my longer jigging rods from St. Croix, and then getting back into the lab and coming up with new color patterns for the hair jigs I will be using.  Blade baits are great, and they have their time and place, but when the bite is on, hair jigs are what will be used most of the time on my rods.


What rods may be the next question, and truth be told, I have several rigged up in order to match the mood of the fish and depths of water I am fishing.  You can fish with one rod at a time, but I started using two rods through the ice decades ago, so I became pretty adapt at reeling in fish with either hand.  That said I also match up rods to my own strengths, a prime example would be when I break out the Avids, one casting for my left hand, and one spinning for my right hand.  These combinations include the models (2) AVC 69 MLXF, AVS 68 MXF and AVS 70 MLF.  These give me the hook set strength of an extra fast tip and for those light biting fish where I might have to finesse fish a bit, the slightly softer tip with the fast action.  When fishing deep water or really aggressive walleye, then I use my Legend Tournament Walleye Series rods in MXF action with the 6′ 8″ rods.  I use 10 lb braid on the reels, and if you are asking me why, my answer will be because I can!  I don’t see the benefit of dropping down to a lower rated line and from the action over the years, the walleye don’t seem to mind either.

Legend Walleye

Avid Spin

Now comes the part I enjoy the most, making the lures that will actually put walleye in the boat.

I enjoy making my own hair jigs, and creating new size and color combinations or kind of like that old cooking show “Almost Homemade”, taking an existing product and coming up with something new.  Two of my favorite examples are from Northland Tackle, the Whistler Jig and Thumper Jig.  I will use the Whistlers on a faster drift, and the lighter Thumpers when the boat is barely moving.

When I actually get up into the lab and pour my own jigs, I like using the Ultra Minnow Jig molds from Do-It.  I have both sizes because the first mold only goes up to 5/8 of an ounce, while the other will cover my 3/4 and 1 ounce needs.  Once this step is done, the fun begins and I break out the powder paint equipment from TJ’s Tackle, which is one reason I refer to all the work being done in a lab. Like a chemist creating new solutions, the new patterns being thought of are a result of my own experiments.

TJ’s Tackle Powder Paint

One of the paint schemes actually required some mixing and experimentation until the color came out just right and John Deere Green was created.  It was a combination of Bright Green and Dark Watermelon.  The JD Green combination works well in dirty water because it is a darker color, but also shines in clean water because of its resemblance to the perch the walleye are feeding on.

John Deere Green


There are so many combinations and with a little experimentation on your part, you will find the ones that work the best for you.

Give your jig some body by mixing the colors of the faux hair for some Eye catching patterns, or build them up while using a single color.  Think of this general rule; dark colors in really dirty water, white patterns in the transition water and in clear water more natural colors seem to work best.  Purples, blacks and browns work in really dirty water, combinations of whites with either white or lighter color jigheads, and then drop the greens, yellow and oranges in clean water.  Follow these guidelines and then create your own rules to follow!

Copyright, 2018



Posted in Lake Erie, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment