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.
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.
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.
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!