The Great Tungsten Ice Jig Debate…

First off, that is a waste of time, call this a size guide and when to fish them.

Secondly, not a word about the heater in the corner, it was cold that winter 🙂

Thirdly is actually a word and this has nothing to do with the latest debate about the effectiveness of lead versus tungsten ice jigs. In my opinion tungsten users cash the checks, and lead is for the fun fishing….in certain situations….OK I hardly ever use lead.

This debate is about what size of tungsten jig to use, and when.

2 mm:  The 2 mil, that hidden gem that most don’t even know exists.  It is a unique size for  calm waters and fish that have been pounded on local lakes. Perfect for rigging a single spike (maggot) or wiggler (mayfly larvae) in shallow water.  Use with 1 lb test line and let the jig drift down the water column to entice those tight-lipped bulls.  I said bulls, which is slang for bigger gills, and this jig is really more for bluegill, pumpkin seeds, redear …etc. Negative points, it is a slow falling jig and often the hook gap is pretty tight.  To remedy this, carefully take a pair of forceps and slightly open the gap up, while being careful not to pinch down on the hooks tiny barb.

2.5 mm:  The work horse of the tourney angler, fish it hard and fish it fast, or fish it slow and subtle in water 12 foot or less. Whether tipped with live bait or micro-plastics, the 2.5 mil is the jig used in most situations by anglers drilling 50 plus holes (closer to 100) through the ice each day. Tipped with a couple of spikes, a waxworm or some slightly bigger plastics, the 2.5 allows you to fish several styles or presentations.

3 mm:  The tiny jig of the “Average Joe”, that intrepid angler venturing into the sport for the first time that gets blasted by social media by only three sizes of jigs available by multiple sources.  The experienced angler uses the 3 mil for scouting or, as I look side to side to make sure no one is watching, for that honey hole you know absolutely no one else has found.  The fresh fish that just haven’t been pounded by the hoards.  The tourney angler loves to be able to fish a #3, because it usually means the weather has been stable for a few days and the fish are actively feeding up and down the water column.

4 mm:  The work horse for the “Weekend Warrior”, with its #12 hook it closely resembles those legendary lead jigs of days gone by, but with a smaller profile.  The experienced guy looks at certain situations where this size can shine above the rest.  That 12 to 15 foot depth of water, or shallower waters that might hold some current.  Pack on a few extra spikes or start fishing those larger tail type plastics.  The heavier body can be finessed in that deeper/current application, or fished aggressively with live bait and imparting a lot of action while using plastics. Careful now, there are actually two types of 4 mm on the market, and they work better with certain baits.  One 4 mil has a short shank hook and works best with live bait, and then there are some longer shanks that work really well bigger plastics.  The point here is that beware about the fact that some hooks will impede the action of smaller plastics, and you will want those bigger baits so the tail will still dance and entice those bites.

5 mm:  Hardly used by some, the experienced angler uses the 5 mil for the aggressive biting deep water crappie.  Tipped with a small minnow or just the head, three to four spikes or those bigger plastics that imitate minnows. These jigs with their #10 hook fall fast through the water column and are often met halfway up the column by hungry specs.  Another bite would involve deep water perch hugging the bottom. It should be understood that this is more of a niche application than the norm, but can be highly effective under the right circumstances.

6 mm:  The last installment of this piece, I could go even bigger, but since I have only dropped down a 6 mil three times in 14 years, I wont touch the bigger sizes.  That said, deep water, jumbo perch or big perch in a lot of current.  That’s it, are there other uses…yes, it can be a good size if you are fishing for whitefish, and rainbows in deep water…etc. Waxworms, minnows or jumbo plastics are the most commonly used baits used with the #8 hook on this jig size.

That wraps this article up, a common guide for using the different sizes available in tungsten panfish jigs.  I always say that general rules applied to anything fishing are just that, generally speaking.  You will always have exceptions, and I have even had a few…except the 6 mm, that one is pretty much written in stone for my uses.

Copyright, 2017

About Mason

Born off the Detroit River, raised in Ida and on Lake Erie. Anything fishing holds my interest from Walleye, Pike and Muskie to a 10 year run on the Ice Fishing Circuits around the MidWest.
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