How to Make the Perfect Tailrace Jig

A customized combo for short-striking fish

jig
Behold, the key to productive wintertime fishing.Pete Sucheski

Vertical jigging for saugers and walleyes in tailraces is a productive wintertime technique. But finicky saugers are notorious short-strikers. Stinger rigs help, but saugers can still snip that mono. Tennessee guide Jim Duckworth has an ingenious rig that replaces the mono with a snap-swivel connection.

[1] Saugers may hold in 50 feet of fast water in winter. To keep the jig vertical at that depth, it must be an appropriate weight. Most tailrace jigs are 3⁄4 to 11⁄4 ounce. Color only matters in water shallower than 30 feet—there's no sunlight penetration beyond that. A favorite combo is an orange jighead with a chartreuse grub.

[2] Snip off and save a slice from the head segment of a twist-tail grub. Slide the grub on the jig.

[3] Thread a No. 5 treble hook onto the snap of a No. 10 snap-swivel, then run the swivel end over the barb of the jig hook. Slide the saved segment over the barb and move it down the hook until it rests next to the swivel. This will keep the stinger from slipping free.

[4] Finish by tipping the jig with a big, lively minnow or shad and bury the stinger hook in its side.

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