Like most anglers, I am always looking for ways to increase the quality and quantity of fish caught – a better hook, a new spot, a spot within a spot, or, in most cases, a new lure.
Lures that revolutionize fishing are relatively rare. A few minutes online have mentioned the original Cream Wiggler, the floating Rapala, the Lunker City Slug-Go, the Buel Spoon, the Senko, the Mepps Aglia, the Rapala Jigging Rap, and the Ned Rig as players, but I don’t think I have much of a case for adding hair jiggers to that illustrious list. Like many of the above, traditional hairpins are innovative, but certainly not new.
The original marabou was developed by Bill Ward in 1957, and the first commercially produced tail marabou worked so well that it became a standard part of the survival kits of US Navy pilots during World War II.
Hairpin turn Basic information
While the use of hairpins for pivoting is also not new, it has certainly gained popularity among anglers over the past decade. But as with many other innovations in ice fishing, it seems that most anglers in the Northeast are about 10 years behind their counterparts in the Midwest (think electronics, cordless drills, setting jigs instead of points, etc.).
An Orange Zoo hair jig, hand tied.
I remember a well-received InFisherman article many years ago about the benefits of using hair clips for ice fishing for falconers in the Midwest. The article was about a Daphnia (a large and common species of zooplankton) that mimics Jeff’s Jigs and Flies, called Zoo Bug. Nowadays, these hair clips are offered by a number of small and large manufacturers.
How do you eat ice cream in the winter?
- Aquatic Insects
Photo credits: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
While snappers certainly eat small fish, many studies I’ve read show that most of their diet consists of zooplankton and aquatic insects. A study of stingray fish found that their winter diet consisted of 95% zooplankton from Daphnia. So why wouldn’t the small fly imitate these sources of prey?
I began my research last fall, first online, then on the ice, using only hair clips for each pass on the pan. I fell down a few rabbit holes, but the end result was satisfying to say the least.
Ice fishing equipment (rods and reels)
I have only used spinning reels for hair fishing, but spinning reels work great too. To prevent the line from bending, making the jig look unnatural and scaring off the fish, I used super-soft lines, a small Spro drum swivel and some fluorocarbon line leaders. I have had good results with Power Pro Ice Tec and Berkley Fireline Micro Ice Crystal Superlines from 2 to 5 lb test, and I have used fluorocarbon leaders of 4 lb test or less. It helps to stretch the ladder when you start to get crooked.
This Panfish couldn’t resist a hand held Bloodworm Hair Jig.
When I started looking for jig rods, I wanted a short, light, fast action and a very soft top that still had enough backbone for good spins and to fight big walleye. I have found that the 24 and 26 ultra light Sienna and Convergence jig rods combined with 500 series Sienna and Sugar spinning reels are the perfect combination for jig fishing. A similar Jason Mitchell meat stick from Clam also worked well, although I replaced the reel that came with it with a lighter model.
As for the actual hair clips, there are many options, and one of the great things is that you or someone you know who ties flies can make clips that match your preferences or can be found in the waters you fish. But let’s start with what’s available in stores and online.
There are several options, but I used templates from two companies:
For most of my fishing in less than 20 feet of water, I relied on 1/32 ounce jigs and smaller. I know it sounds really small, but most zooplankton are microscopic, and aquatic insects are small too. VMCs are equipped with a 90-degree hook eye, while JaJe’s hooks have a 30-degree angle.
How to tie a hairpin
Last fall I was fortunate to have a new colleague, Nick Popoff, an accomplished fly fisherman. When I showed him some of the hairstyles I had ordered, he said: I can do something like that. Let me know what patterns and colors you want.
Tie your own hair templates with basic fly tying tools to make many variations.
My message to him that night was relatively simple. Based on my research and knowledge of territorial waters, I decided that the four basic patterns should cover every day on the ice.
- The bloodworm
- Zooplankton with eyes, tungsten disk, rubber tail.
- Nymph with eyes, tungsten disk, without hackle, rubber tail.
- nymph with tungsten caterpillar, soft hackle behind the caterpillar, rubber tail
The fun and exciting thing about making your own jigs (or having a friend make them) is that as the winter progresses, fishing at different depths, with different species and in different weather conditions, you can refine the colors, styles and sizes that work best.
Here is a list of what you need to make many variations of your own hair clips, along with some basic tips.
- Thread: 6/0 or 3/0 in the desired colour.
- Micro silicone feet for tails and rubber head
- Veal tail for the tail and head on some jigs.
- Duplicate the ice behind the beads
- Mono eyes or small plastic eyes on a bead necklace
- Tungsten tips with hollow slot, sharp drop or powered tactical slot (I fished 7/32 but experimented with different sizes).
- Ahrex Fw550 Mini Jig barb, Kona USP Scud/Shrimp/Pupa hook, Ahrex Fw540
- Curved and barbed nymph hook (I fished in size 14, but I experimented with other sizes too).
- Partridge for the head of the chopper behind the pearl. Use the bottom of the feather to create the marabou effect and make 1 to 2 strokes.
- For bloodworms, use a fragile bloodworm caterpillar threaded through a bead that requires a little patience, or a Hareline Frizzle caterpillar.
- Always put a few drops of cement on the head to secure the pearls and the eyes.
- I ordered tungsten beads, hooks and rail from Trident Fly Fishing in Windham, Maine.
Flap hair holder with soft plastic
In recent years I have tried to do away with the use of tips/maggots on my tungsten jigs and line them with plastics. But mostly I relied on this live bait when the bite was slow or the fish were fickle. Everything changed when a single hairpin was used last winter. I sometimes used plastic tips, but not once spikes/mags, and I easily caught as many fish as my partners.
Northlands Impulse Bloodworm
If you decide to dip your hair jig with plastics, some good options are J and S Ice Mite Junior and Jr’s Jig Tails, Clam’s Maki Plastics Spiki and Polli, Little Atomic Wedges, Custom Jigs and Wedgie Backs, Northlands Pulse Bloodworms and Water Fleas, and Trigger X Mustache Worms (if you can find them).
Technique of hair jigging
- Fine cramps
- Slow down or raise, and another pause.
- The random movements make your jig behave like a water insect.
The hairs fish easily and fall off slowly, which is what makes them so deadly in pans. Aside from the fact that they greatly mimic their prey, their slow decline is the opposite of what most snowfish are experiencing these days, given the popularity of tungsten lighters. This characteristic makes them perfect for catching big pots in shallow water and can be the key to catching hard-to-catch fish. But it also means carefully putting together your gear for slow casts, being patient when releasing the line, and rethinking your jig technique.
All panfish, bluegill, crappie, perch and pumpkinseed can be caught with hair jigs.
The best gear, fishing line and hair jigs aren’t much use if you don’t fish them properly, as I did years ago. Remember, you’re trying to mimic the movements of tiny plankton and insects. Forget the standard jig break or the constant movement of the rod tip, because zooplankton don’t swim all the time. Think subtle shaking, no movement, a slow descent or ascent, and another pause. The random movements and pauses make your jig behave like a water bug. I highly recommend watching the online video to see the zooplankton and aquatic insects in action.
Hair care tips
If you don’t see any fish on your sonar, hit the bottom with a heavy jig to stir up the sediment and then insert a hairy jig. Try different depths and if you see fish on the detector, hold a jig above it and let them hook up. Once the fish inspects the jig, others often follow and their competitive nature will take over.
The natural materials of a hair jig minimize the need for fish movement. The dead stick occasionally lets the fly’s natural materials do their job. The slightest current, the slightest wind on the rod tip or the slightest movement of the hand will make the jig work and trigger the snapper to bite.
Soft plastic used in a hair jig is just as effective as a pick (made).
Finally, do not place hair on the unit, as the material will quickly adhere to ice and snow and destroy the unit.
Tie your own or buy some, but either way, try these winter hair jigs on your favorite stove. Chances are you will increase the catch and quality of the fish you freeze.
Article: 5 steps to find a good icefishing spot
Article : The best places to ice fish in New Jersey.
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frequently asked questions
How to fish a Hair Jig on the Crappie ?
What is the best peur for ice fishing on crappie?
10 Best bait for ice fishing in 2021 ⋆ Tackle Scout
Is the color of the jighead important for crappies?
and the pioneer of bass jigging in the 1970s, agrees that color is important when jigging for target fish. … When the water is clear and the light is bright, he switches to white, silver and shad baits. Another popular color combination is a white minnow with a pink head.
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