Custom hair jigs- Combining fly and spinning materials
Blog by: rk hancock 4/12/2020
For the past few months, I have been trying to create ways of mixing the uniqueness of fly fishing patterns and the effectiveness of spinning gear. In many scenarios, I envisioned that a pattern, such as a wooly bugger or craft fur streamer, would be very effective if I could fish it at depths more efficiently. This is when I started thinking about throwing them on spinning gear, with the reason being that I can cover a lot more water in a shorter amount of time compared to the fly rod.
I then began experimenting with ways of adding weight to the streamers to make them fishable on the spinning gear. My spinning set up is primarily a 7’0 light weight rod rigged with 8 lb test. This is an easy beginner set up and one that is good for throwing a variety of baits in different sizes. My first prototypes were just small craft fur streamers fished behind a large split shot for casting distance and sinkability. I did not have a ton of confidence in this as I thought it inhibited the action of the fly.
This is when I began working with creating my own hair jigs. Instead of using a jig head like a typical hair jig, I use a screw from the hardware store as my weight. This gives the fly weight and allows it to swim completely horizontally. For tying material I use yarn for the tail and body then use craft fur for the hair section of the jig. I have had the most success tying my hair jigs with a yarn tail that matches the hair color. For example, if I use white craft fur as my hair material, I will then add a white, cream, or beige section of yarn as the tail. Then I tie two beads on the end to hold the yarn together and help that tail swim better in the water. This could imitate a minnow, crawfish, larvae, sculpin, leech, etc. I have found matching the screw size to your hook size is important for ease of tying. I typically use size 2 bait hooks paired with size #8 screws that are ¾ inches in length.
The reason I have put a lot of time and effort into creating this jig is that I think there is a lot of untouched potential for crossover between the fly world and the spinning tackle world. Combining these two worlds gives the angler an opportunity to present the fish with something they’ve never seen before which can be especially effective on highly pressured bodies of water. I believe this combination also makes matching the hatch easier because you can mix many different materials to match the size, profile, and color of the forage in your local watersheds. For bass, a primary food source on the front range is bullheads and young carp. A combo of browns, yellows, and reds are not standard in most baits designed for spinning gear but with fly materials you can easily create this. Creating your own jigs, and giving the fish something they have never seen, is what can make this technique so effective on our pressured waters here in Colorado.
Goosehunter82, CO 4/12/2020 5:50:52 PM
Good idea RK. Good read also!
bron, CO 4/12/2020 6:18:18 PM
The screws for weight is a very cool concept RK! That gives you an unlimited amount of different weights, lengths, and alloys to expirement with.
Kenny Rukspin, CO 4/12/2020 7:22:42 PM
Hey RK, I like the idea. I'd be curious how they work. If you ever need someone to help test them, give me a holler. I'd be glad to go throw some of your experimental baits at the bass, as soon as we make it through the current snaflu.
Digginjiggin, CO 4/12/2020 7:29:15 PM
Nice article. I’ve been using a crawdad jig and a leech jig on Grand Mesa for many years, both are adapted versions of the fly versions. Your idea of the screw for a weight is a cool idea. They have tungsten nail weights in Cabelas you could use the same way. Thanks for sharing.
rk hancock (rkhancock), CO 4/13/2020 11:53:21 AM
Thank you all! I am still experimenting but have a great liking for this concept.
@Bron, that's a huge part about why I love the screw concept! The combinations are endless in terms of presentations and profile.
@kenny I have had luck with these type of jigs on bass and lake trout. I would love to send some baits your way for testing, I may also have some more concepts to try out soon...
@digginjiggin small crawfish and leech jigs, in a similar presentation, have done wonders for me on smallmouth and walleye along the front range! I've thought about using tungsten nail weights but the screws seem to be a lil more cost effective.
fishthumpre, CO 4/16/2020 2:00:16 PM
Wish I wasn’t all thumbs, I’d jump right on this, RK. Closest I come is using tiniest possible jig heads and whittling down soft plastics like z-man. I like the idea of lashing screws to hook I’ve scoured the internet for ultralight jig heads. These days you can find those but they’re invariable tiny, and short shank, I want tiny but longer shank, mostly for trout. I’ve got time on my hands, I should make my own.
rk hancock (rkhancock), CO 4/19/2020 6:23:15 PM
fishthumpre, making your own is nice for sure as you can make what ever size and weight you want. I think of screws as the same way, many different lengths and diameters to work with to find the match that you need!