Well, summer’s gone and ’tis the season to sit back and watch some football or baseball playoffs. When I’m doing that, I’m usually tying up some jigs at the same time, because these baits are very potent in the fall (and you can never have enough). Of course, there are both positives and negatives to making your own jigs. In the long run it’s often cheaper than buying a bunch over the counter, but it takes time, and time is money. That said, I wouldn’t waste the effort making a bunch of run-of-the-mill jigs if a similar store-bought model will work just as well. I tie my own jigs because it allows me to fine-tune them to specs I believe make them more effective than those I find on tackle shop shelves.
For starters, making my own jigs allows me to use premium hooks, which in my opinion is one of the most important parts of a good jig. Many of the hooks used in mass-produced jigs are decent, but rarely the best of the best. That’s because manufacturers are trying to meet the price point of their competitors, and the bulk purchase of standard-quality hooks is one way to do so. Making my own jigs also lets me create colors perfectly calibrated to my specifications, which could relate to anything from specific forage in the body of water I plan to fish, to the overall color of the bottom in a particular area, to a known change in water clarity where a creek enters the lake.
When it comes to skirts, not only do I like to mix and match materials, but I’ll also layer the materials in different ways that alter the overall profile and how the colors flash. As an example, rubber skirts often come in muted or bland colors, so rather than try to create contrast with rubber on rubber, I’ll pair rubber for bulk and thin synthetic Crystal Flash for vibrant, shiny highlights. Mixing and layering skirt materials like rubber, silicone, and marabou not only alters the look of the jig at rest, but the changes the skirt’s “flow” when it’s swimming or free falling. I’ve also noticed that it’s harder to find a hair jig with a weed guard, or a rubber-skirted jig without one. It’s one more example of how tying your own jigs let’s you play Dr. Frankenstein and create exactly the bait you want for any situation. Finally, hand tying just produces a sexier jig. Wrapping materials in with fine thread allows you to hide your work smoothly instead of having to use a bulky, off-color collar with a skirt haphazardly jammed under it on the hook shank.