Welcome to the creative mind that is me. I love to take existing ideas and making them better, or at least adapt them to walleye fishing. I played with Alabama Rigs a couple of years ago, that same year I started tying up my own Lake Erie style hair jigs. I jazzed them up by adding different layers of colors and caught some nice fish.
Last year I looked at two of Northland Tackle’s signature jigs, the Whistler and Thumper Jigs. I love these two jigs because they are not just your typical walleye jig, but they add another dimension to the presentation….flash and vibration. The Whistler has a prop behind the lead head that spins on the drop, and the Thumper has a small Indiana blade that flashes on a small swivel under the jig.
I chose two sizes in the Whistler, the 1/2 and 3/4 ounce, and then on the Thumper Jig I went with the biggest size, the 3/8th oz. The Whistler has more drag because of the prop, and although you want a slow drifting action while fishing, you still want to keep the jig at a roughly 45′ angle, much like you achieve by adjusting the weights on bottom bouncers while driving live bait rigs. Now because of that I didn’t want to go any lighter with the Whistler’s, but because the Thumper has less drag I could use the heaviest jig in the series when the wind is barely moving the boat along on a drift.
The trick with tying the craft fur (hair) onto the Whistler is the bead behind the prop. You need to secure it tightly to the plastic sleeve that is placed on the hook shank by Northland. You do this because you want to leave a space to allow the prop to continue to spin freely. It is easy to do, just do some wraps on the sleeve, secure it with some head cement, and then do some double wraps around the bead, pull back tight against the plastic and put another series of wraps on the shank to secure the bead. This also allows you to form a barrier or stopping point for your wraps once you start applying the hair. If the plastic sleeve does not allow you enough space to do it correctly, carefully take a sharp knife or utility knife and go around the shank and trim a piece off.
If you want to get fancy like my pink and white one, you can take a silver Whistler Jig, and some jig lacquer. Dip the head into the paint, then hang and let it dry until no longer tacky. The silver base allows the lacquer paint to really pick up a shine when the light hits it. Not that it is necessary, but you can go a step further by applying some stick-on 3D eyes to the head. It dresses it up, but that is up to the individual. I think the fish strike at the baits mostly as a reactionary impulse to the vibration created by the prop, or the Indiana blade on the Thumpers.
I love these spinnerbait style storage boxes from Plano for all my hair jigs for two reasons. The first because they have a locking rack top that snaps down and secures the jigs so they don’t become a hairy tangled mess. Secondly is because the jigs are actually hanging, it allows any water from a wet jig to drip down off the jig and preventing the hooks from rusting. Also inside the box I keep some of the silica packs that absorb moisture out of the air to add another layer of rust prevention.
Now I have two things to suggest that you can do to preserve and increase the effectiveness of these new hair jigs. First off, Lake Erie is full of zebra mussels which can destroy a jig’s paint job, so I apply two coats of CS Seal-Coat to provide a hard protective layer for the paint. I suggest you let them dry between coats for the best results. The waiting is the hard part, because once I get started on a project, I don’t want to stop until I have completed it.
To increase the effectiveness on the jigs, have a good supply of Northland Tackle’s Sting’r Hooks on hand. You will need the slip on style and the length will depend on your presentation. If you are one of those fisherman who prefer to fish a hair jig without a live minnow or plastic minnow, I suggest the two inch variety. If you are fishing with a live bait presentation, or the plastic minnows available to buy, then definitely go with the 3-inch ones.
On a non-walleye topic, I also had some smaller Thumper Jigs laying around the shop last night, so I tied some hair on them as well and am thinking crappie all the way. Either jigging, drifting or trolling along under a float. Sounds like a good time to try them out will be when my brother and I take my niece out panfishing in Irish Hills this spring.