It is amazing how many old artificial baits there are that are good at catching fish and now are hardly ever used. An example is the crank bait- Lazy Ike. At one time it was one of the most popular baits in the tackle industry. Now, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who fishes with a Lazy Ike, yet, it is a lure that can still catch fish. How about the Fuzzy Grub? In the 1980’s and early 90’s it was one of the hottest artificial walleye baits in the marketplace. The Fuzzy Grub is a hair jig that can be fished plain or tipped with live bait. They can still be found in some stores, but for some reason they just fell out of popularity.
Hair jigs have been around for a long time and they have been used for every kind of fish found in fresh water. Sunfish, crappies, trout, bass, walleyes, muskies, and carp will all attack a hair jig. The challenge is to convince anglers that hair jigs can be used for every species in our lakes. The angler who uses hair jigs for crappies and sunfish often would not consider using one for walleye or bass.
Hair jigs can be very tiny like those used by fly anglers for trout or they can be very large like those used for muskie. They can be ultra-light or very heavy. They can be fished plain or tipped with live or artificial bait. The key is to match the bait and color with the forage the fish are chasing.
Bait manufacturers are producing some awesome hair jigs today that look irresistible to fish. The real challenge is to convince anglers to skip the live bait for a while and give the hair jigs a chance to catch fish. I would be willing to bet that the majority of anglers fishing for walleyes this spring and early summer are still using minnows, leeches, nightcrawlers and crankbaits. Only a small group will be fishing with hair jigs. Recent surveys have indicated that there are more walleye anglers starting to use soft plastic and hair jigs, but they still represent a small percentage of overall anglers.
Remember that the jig weight determines how deep it can be fished. Using light jigs is best in shallow water and selecting heavier jigs works in deeper water. They can also be used with weights or tipped with live bait or plastics that allow for a little faster drop in deeper water.
If you are an angler who has spent most of your time fishing with live bait- this is the summer you should try out one of the old-fashioned proven fishing techniques-hair jigs. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how good they can be!!