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The Versatile Bladed Jig

In the judgement of many walleye anglers, a leadhead jig that sports a shiny metal blade is good only for fishing dirty water or vertical jigging a river. It’s an opinion with which tournament ace and Team Northland member Mark Martin strongly disagrees.

In fact, the hard-fishing Michigan angler has used Northland’s venerable Whistler® Jig, with its iconic propeller blade, for many years in various situations, and says both it and the Thumper® Jig, which features an ’eye-catching belly blade, are useful in more ways than fishermen realize.

“Without a doubt, the Thumper and Whistler create more vibration that draws a fish’s attention in dirty or deep water,” he says. “But I’ll also use a bladed jig in early emerging weeds, even in shallower, clearer water, if I think it will attract a walleye from several feet away.”

Here are a few more ideas:

  • Split Tail Rigging: After losing minnows to short-striking walleyes on Lake Erie’s rock reefs, Martin began tipping his Whistler® Jig with two baitfish rather than one. “If a walleye gets away with the first one, I think it gets more confident and comes back to engulf the second one, jig and all.”
  • Bulking Up: Adding bulk to the jig in the form of a soft plastic bait like an Impulse® Smelt Minnow or Ringworm boosts its auditory and visual appeal. Use live bait with the plastic for even more bulk.
  • Snap Jigging: This technique is used to entice reaction strikes from walleyes holding in shallow weeds or rocks, and the Thumper® or Whistler® often make it even more deadly.
  • Trolling: Use a jig head heavy enough to swim no more than a foot from bottom at trolling speed. Martin discovered the technique’s effectiveness after placing a rod in a holder while snap jigging. Now, where fishing two rods is legal, he puts a trolling rod out every time.
  • High-Vis Line: In many situations a subtle clear or camo line is the way to go, but when jigging a Thumper® in deep water, Martin opts for a neon braid. “You need to be able to see the line move on a light strike,” he says.

Bladed jigs deserve more attention than you probably give them. Tie one on next time and see what happens.

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