The Michigan rig.

The Michigan Rig, which is a combination of lead or tungsten jig rigged with a dry fly above it, has been used in Michigan for decades. In the early days of the internet, when fishing forums ruled the day, the rig gained some popularity across the Ice Belt. Before Twitter and Facebook, anglers learned more about ice fishing from those early posts and learned regional approaches which were adopted everywhere from local ponds to big bodies of water. Traditionally, the rig was tied using a loop knot above the weighted jig.

I had a problem with the concept because of something my father has been saying to me since I ever started to fish, knots create weak points in your line. I decided to use the back to back, or double uni knot. This particular knot actually creates strength by forcing the two knotted sides together. The second benefit is by using the upper tag end of the knot, I can get my dry fly to umbrella away from the mainline, taking away one reason the panfish might get spooked which would be by hitting the line during its approach to the fly.

Although this was a better way to rig the fly, I still had issues trying to get the right length for the tag end once I tied the fly on. You want it short so that it stays stiff instead of drooping down towards the mainline, which will create tangles between the two. The solution is to actually tie the fly on your leader first and then tie the double uni. Just carefully snug the knot tight so that the upper tag end remains short.

Ice fishing hole with a Vexilar and crappie on the ice.

Northland’s Hard-Rock Mooska Jig is perfect to be paired with the dry fly. It brings in even the tight-lipped panfish to take a look at the offering, but if the fish aren’t aggressive, the fly offers them something more subtle. Depending on the mood of the fish, you can rig the jig accordingly with either a soft plastic offering or live bait. Aggressive fish get the plastic, and for those that come into carefully investigate, a couple of spikes on the hook will be the better choice.

You can use the rig while sight-fishing or I can also use it while fishing with my Vexilar flasher in deeper water. Looking down the hole helps you to quickly understand what kind of mood the fish are in and which presentation they will prefer the most. With either approach, the Michigan Rig doubles your chances to bring a big gill or crappie up through the hole.

Chuck Mason, Northland Pro-Staff, Ida, Michigan

Posted in