Although many southern anglers have not heard much about hair jigs, let alone seen one in action, hair jigs have been a spring-time staple of bass fisherman across the northern region for years. For those of you who don’t know, the hair jig is simply hair (whether it be buck tail, bear, rabbit, or synthetic) tied on to a jig head. It takes the principles of tying a fly and combines them with the practicality of fishing with conventional tackle. The basic presentation required for fishing hair is to crawl it as slowly along the bottom as you possibly can, while popping it off of rocks and big boulders. However, a hair jig can be quite versatile in the sense that you can hop it, rip it, and even swim it like a grub. They perform best in lakes with lots of rock walls and rocky shorelines, but they have also been proven to catch those big lethargic spring largemouth out of the grass.
When it comes to fishing hair, there are many things an angler must remember. The first, and possibly the most important, is the water temperature. Hair jigs are primarily pre-spawn baits, and perform at their best in water from ice out temperatures, up to the 60 degree range. The hair gives the bait a very subtle and natural movement which does not give off any vibration or flash. The objective is to make your bait look as natural as possible, just like a small crawfish or minnow nestled up near the rocks and enjoying the Spring warmth. Therefore, as soon as the bass move into the post-spawn stage, a hair jig is simply not as effective because it does not have enough motion. Bottom line is, bass are cold blooded creatures, just like the forage they feed on. When the water is cold, the metabolisms of both bass and baitfish slow down, and their movements become slower and less aggressive. A hair jig mimics the slow movements of a spring baitfish flawlessly, and is a key to a lot of my Spring fishing success.
When choosing tackle for fishing hair, you first want to find a quality jig company. My choice for all of my hair jigs is Andy’s Custom Bass Lures. Andy himself hand ties every single jig he sells, and he makes a quality product. Many hair jig companies tie jigs too quickly, which results in the hair falling out of the jig and the loss of the natural action. I’ve found that I can actually pull on the hair of Andy’s jigs without a single strand coming loose. He ties a variety of different patterns, including the brand new silver fox jig, which you can browse through for yourself at his website, andyscustombasslures.com.
From left to right: Andy’s bear hair jig, “baby craw” pattern, and the deadly “coyote ugly” jig
(Photos courtesy of Andyscustombasslures.com)
The second thing you need to have is a very sensitive medium action spinning rod. The medium action is important because you want to have a very light and forgiving rod, but you also need some power to set the hook. I rely on G Loomis’s Bronzeback rods in a 6”10’ model. The extra length on the rod allows me to cast further to spooky fish on the banks, and the rod is super sensitive. Moreover, light fluorocarbon line is a must have when hair jig fishing. I have found through countless trials that 4 and 6 pound test Seaguar Invis-X fluorocarbon is the best choice when using hair jigs. Retailing at around $18 for a 200 yard spool, Invis-X
provides a high quality flouro at a price that will not necessarily break the bank. Moreover, the very light Seaguar boasts the perfect fall rate when tied to a 1/8 or 1/16 ounce hair jig; not to mention the fact that it is virtually invisible to the eyes of big spring bass awaiting an easy meal. Don’t forget that hair jig fishing is a finesse tactic which requires light tackle and light line. (Photo courtesy of Seaguar )
Though probing the flats with lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and jerkbaits may seem like the best way to catch spring-time bass, a hair jig is a tried and true method for putting big fish in the boat. It provides anglers with a completely new and natural presentation which power fisherman may overlook, and presents big smallies and largies with the most realistic presentation possible. Pairing the right jig with the right line and the right set-up may just result in catching the biggest limit of your life.
UConn Bass Fishing Team
English Major College fishing anglers Mark Condron (left) and Mike Iovino (right) with a 22 lb limit, all caught on hair