Chuck Thompson (AKA the Legend) once told me that he employs 16 different jigging motions until he finds the hot one for the exact time on the lake he is ice fishing, but at any given moment, that could change. So if you are using jigging motion #4, you better be ready to switch to motion #9 or you will miss the bite window. Unfortunately, I couldn't even remember jigging motion #1. Sigh..the challenges of jig fishing!
Jig fishing way back when
Back when Chuck was in his prime, there were no tungsten jigs available, he relied on lead jigs and copper spoons. He believed that jigging motion, size and shape were the key to success... color was insignificant. His favorite color was lead. He scraped the paint off of most of the jigs he used to prove his point. Then, he would whoop me like a diaper baby while I used my latest fancy glow colored jigs.
Poppee, on the other hand, really believed in color, whether he was walleye, crappie or bluegill fishing, rather than jigging differently, he would tie on a different color and style until he started to catch fish again.
Poppee loves color
In most fish-to-fish battles on the ice, Chuck usually won. That was mostly because Chuck was a hole drilling machine, while Poppee was a sit-and-catch guy. But one time Poppee was really slamming the big bluegill, driving Chuck absolutely crazy! Chuck kept coming over asking Poppee what he was doing. Poppee made him even more crazy by stating that he wasn't jigging at all, just holding his rod perfectly still and it was the ORANGE RatFinkee that was making all the difference.
Finally, Chuck broke down and grabbed an orange RatFinkee from Poppee's jig box. He caught a few nice ones, but the bite had stopped and we ambled off the ice. Chuck added jigging motion #17 to his arsenal that day...the no jigging movement!
Fishing today is all about tech
Nowadays with the advances in fish finding technology; flashers, underwater cameras, livescope and 360 degree viewing, every angler with money to blow on technology can be a fish catcher in short order. Electronics allows one to find the fish and then see how they react to your jig or spoon. That's when a good selection of fishing lures comes into play.
Fishing in the trees
During open water season last year I focused on panfish a lot more than I have in the past. I mostly fished rivers, Flowages and small lakes. They all had one thing in common, trees were the main form of structure and cover that these bluegill and perch used. Sometimes they would be hiding in the thickest portions, other times they moved out a ways to feed, but on the ready to retreat, should the predator arrive.
My most effective jigs were made of tungsten. They got down quickly, I was able to keep a tight line and baited up with redworm...fish gobbled them up. The jigs I used were Custom Jigs & Spins 5mm and 7mm Chekai and the size 8 Glazba. The downside of this fishing came when the boat would blow around (even with spotlock) and I would either snag up on the tree or move slightly out of the strike zone.
Right now in those same spots, I am pounding fish, but using much lighter jigs...4mm Chekai and size 12 Glazba. If I used those heavier jigs like I used in the summer those bluegill wouldn't be able to suck them in so easily! Plus, I don't have to worry about the boat blowing me out of the fish zone. I can drill a series of holes around the sunken trees and fine tune my presentation.
Tungsten vs lead
A tiny tungsten jig will drop quicker than the same sized lead version allowing you to work the water column more efficiently. Drop speed is a key attraction factor to feeding fish. Too fast and you spook them. Too slow and they swallow it and you have gut hooked fish. Size, shape, color and motion needs to be perfected.
Some of the greatest ice jigs of all time are made from spoons hand soldered with lead to a hook and then hand painted. They have caught tons of panfish over the years. These jigs have one big advantage over tungsten...a natural fluttering action on the fall. With just a flick of the wrist or a constant bobbing motion you can attract fish in from a distance and get them to strike.
Choose the right size Demon.
Tungsten is productive when you are fishing shallow bluegill on a windy day out in the open, the wind gusts and your line is blown all over the place when using a tiny lead ice jig. Switch to a similar size in tungsten and your line will straighten right out, making it easy to detect strikes.
When difficult conditions arise and the panfish are burrowed in the weeds, a 4mm or 4.5mm tungsten jig will pound through the weeds and get to the bottom where the big gills and perch are hiding. When panfish are deep, a 5mm 1/12th ounce tungsten jig will get you down to 20, 30 and 40 foot depths very quickly and back to the aggressive school.
Custom Jigs & Spins is your tungsten headquarters with four different jig styles and 178 color and size choices! The Chekai jig sets the tungsten bar high and comes in sizes from 3mm on up to 7mm...96 different size/color options including unique colors like pink clown, wonder glow and lemonade glow.
The Majmun has a round ball head and a long shank hook, making it great for adding plastic like the Wedgee. The new JaJe is a tungsten fly whose hackles are always in motion. And the new Glazba is a diamond jig with a diamond chip on the nose! All of these jigs have high gloss finishes, paint free eyes and super sharp Japanese hooks that ride at a 30 degree angle for instant hook sets.
Lead jigs should still be in your box!
But don't give up on lead! These jigs still have a place in your tackle box. In many cases they will outperform tungsten, especially in shallow water. A big bluegill will try to suck in the bait from two to three inches away. If there is any resistance at all, it will spook and dash away. If this happens to you, it’s best to drop your rod tip a few inches and then set the hook.
A size and shape for every fishing need
Custom Jigs & Spins still makes five different old-school, hand soldered, hand-painted jig styles with 255 color and size choices. Jigs like the Demon, 2-Spot, Rocker, Striper Special and Purest each have unique actions, high gloss paint, paint free eye and Mustad gold hooks.
This is what our jig box used to look like.
So this winter, mix things up and try some old school lead and new school tungsten jigs to put more fish on the ice and use your electronics to see the action in real time down below the ice. Watching the movement of the jig and the reaction of the fish to me is priceless!
And today's stocked jig box.
For more information on ice fishing and to see all of Custom Jigs & Spins tackle Click here to download a FREE ALL NEW 2022 ice catalog.