By Nick Simonson
A bag of collarless jigs presents an overwhelming array of possibilities headed into the spring fishing season, and with a simple selection of materials, it’s easy for anyone to craft fish catching lures, even those of us who once believed we were all thumbs. From use on crappies and smallies to walleyes and perch, these four offerings are easy to tie, require little to no experience and will bulk up a tacklebox with jigs that get the job done all openwater season.
The chenille-bodied jig is a classic offering for all fish. With its pulsing marabou tail and customizable chenille body, the color combinations with just a limited selection of those materials are almost endless. That’s a good thing too, as crappies are known to change their preference in hue on a daily, if not hourly basis, and having a handful of these in 1/8 to 1/4-ounce sizes in an array of confidence colors for walleye fishing is a must.
Tie in a short marabou tail that forms a triangle at the bend of the hook to prevent fish from short-striking. From there tie in a three-inch strand of chenille, advance the thread forward and wrap the chenille over the hook shank up to the head. Tie it off and secure it and the jig is ready to fish. Each one should take about two minutes to make, so you should have a section of a tacklebox filled within an hour.
Light as a Feather
Tied with the slender tips of wet hackle feathers, the feather jig is a one-material fly that provides a unique look in the water and is a proven fish-catcher through the ice and when the water softens in spring. Simply tie in two pinches of hackle feathers, the first a bit shorter tied down the shank, and a slightly longer pinch that ties in at the collar to add a bit of depth and texture to the jig’s body. In super-small sizes (1/64 to 1/100 ounce) the jig is dynamite on bluegills and perch, and a bit bigger (1/32 to 1/16 ounce) it connects with crappies.
My dad would tell me tales of pre-spawn crappie fishing on a backwater near my grandmother’s cabin, and the only jig he said he ever needed for the hundred-fish days was the one he and my uncle called the Crappie Queen, an all-marabou bodied offering sold in bright colors. I’d later show him a Bass Buster branded version of such a marabou jig, and the stories resurfaced of using them on both spinning gear and the fly rod for sensational success with spring specks.
Tying in a thick collar of marabou which extends back a bit beyond the bend of the hook with thread wraps kept close to the jighead, it’s easy to craft an all-marabou jig that has an undulating attraction in just a minute or two. Best of all it works on everything with fins, from crappies to white bass to walleyes.
In a Flash
Finally, the krystal flash jig is a model I’ve touted and relied upon in all my tying and fishing adventures. Whether it’s for crappies or white bass on a hot summer night, enticing post-frontal smallies on a float-n-fly rig, or presenting a minnow to wary walleyes, the krystal flash jig closes the deal every time, dressed with bait or offered without.
Simply tie in enough krystal flash to cover the hook on all sides, keeping the thread wraps tight against the head of the jig. When locked in and whip finished, pull the flash tight and cut it where you want the skirt to end – at the bend for live-bait presentations, or a bit longer for no bait – and the strands will spring out into a perfect triangle.
These four jigs require virtually no previous fly tying or lure making experience. And while they’ll likely save you money compared to the ones in the plastic-and-carboard display in the tackle aisle, the real benefit comes from their customizability to match forage in local flows, or your favorite confidence colors. That, and they’ll likely start catching fish when they hit the water, making for a rewarding pursuit in the off-season that will load up a tackle pack now and likely a livewell in the weeks to come.
Simonson is the Lead Writer and Editor of Dakota Edge Outdoors.
Featured Photo: Making your own jigs is easier than it seems and pays off with highly-customizable offerings that catch fish of all stripes in the colors you can rely on season-after-season. Simonson Photo.