While most anglers think fall fishing when the discussion turns to the use of hair jigs for walleye fishing, down on Lake it’s a spring thing. Hair jigs are popular in the fall because the bulked-up presentation appeals to eyes putting on the winter feedbag. On Lake Erie, in the spring the staging males and post-spawn females are hungry after a long winter doing what nature has prepared them for. I wanted to gain a “sonic” edge over other presentations.
In order to accomplish this I used two of my favorite jigs from Northland Tackle. Often the most used method used on Erie involves deploying drift bags to slow down while going over a flat or reef. To best fish this approach I chose the heavier Whistler Jig with its spinning prop-shaped blade.
The advantage Whistler provides is threefold. In all conditions, the blade as it spins produces a sonic vibration that can be felt by walleye in the area. In clear water, the blade’s rotation produces a flash that makes fish strike out. The prop blade also slows down the fall of the Whistler hair jig while both provoking bites and neutral eyes enticed long enough to give the jig a second look.
When conditions allow and either the bags slow the boat down enough, or while employing an electric trolling motor, then I prefer tying hair onto a Thumper Jig. Although smaller sizes seem to work when fishing for crappie or smallmouth bass, the 3/8-ounce size works best on the big water. Smaller sizes have not worked, and the larger ones continue to catch fish.
The enticing belly Indiana blade does everything the Whistler Jig does but on a smaller scale. A little less sound and flash and the jig falls faster on the drop. The difference is the belly blade which gives this hair jig a “throat flash” that gets walleye to bite.
In order to make your own Northland Sonic Hair Jigs you will need some basic tools and materials. The tools are pretty inexpensive. My flying tying vise was less than twelve dollars, and then you just need a thread bobbin and a good pair of scissors. The materials used include head cement, thread, and artificial craft fur.
In the case of the Thumper Jig, in order to match the size of the jig head, you need to add some bulk behind the jig’s head. This can be done by using inexpensive thread or thin-diameter yarn while securing with the head cement. With the Whistler Jig, you have to start wrapping the thread on the plastic sleeve behind the prop. This step will help keep the fur from getting tangled up in the blade while in the water. With the gold and silver metallic jigs, I matched up the colors with tinsel flash instead of artificial fur.
The whole process of tying the hair on the jigs is pretty easy. If you have never tied a fly or made your own hair jigs, I was in the same boat at one time too. You don’t have to attend a class, or by buying or renting a DVD. Search the World Wide Web for instructional videos about tying Lake Erie-style hair jigs to learn everything you need to tie your own Northland Sonic Hair Jig.
By Chuck Mason, Northland Pro Staff