Hair Jigs have been around for years. These bass fishing lures are nothing new to bass anglers. The precursor, which is the bucktail jig, I can remember my Uncle and Dad tying bucktail jigs in their basement 50 years ago. They would tie these up all summer long in different colors and different sizes so that when the fall waters came, there were plenty of them to go around. Reason? Fishing with hair jigs in the fall is one of the best tactics not only for smallmouth bass fishing but for fishing for other species as well.
I can still see those tackle boxes full of yellow bucktails like it was yesterday. I have yet to figure out in all my years fishing what was so magical about the color yellow, but they caught fish then and still do today. Materials used back then were mainly dyed buck tail and some synthetic materials with jig head sizes of 1/8- and 1/4-oz.
Today a lot of things have changed when it comes to bucktails. Bucktails, or hair jigs as they are called today, are created using numerous materials including marabou, deer belly, craft hair and rabbit fur. These hair jig tying supplies come in many popular colors such as brown, black, green, chartreuse and white. The sizes of the jig heads range anywhere from 1/16- to 3/8-oz depending on the river conditions you are fishing for bass. Smaller sizes can even be tied if you are fishing for trout or tying up a crappie hair jig.
Smallmouth Bass Fishing with Hair Jigs in Pennsylvania
Hair Jigs work best when the water temperature is cold. Fall is the perfect time for fishing with hair jigs for smallmouth bass. Hair jigs are best suited for fishing eddies, current breaks, rocky flats, rocky drop-offs and transition bottom areas. Smallmouth bass are mainly sight feeders, and a properly fished hair jig, will hardly be passed up by a hungry river smallie. These baits replicate the most sought after food for smallies this time of year, crawfish. Dark colored hair jigs represent crawfish the best while light-colored jigs represent bait fish such as shad, bluegill and perch. Fish hair jigs off the bottom, lightly lifting the rod so the jig slowly glides up and down. You want your jigging action to be subtle because the hair jig needs to stay close to the bottom to mimic a crawfish. Slowly work it through the rocks and river gravel back to the boat or shore. Hair jigs work in clear to muddy waters, but shine especially in stained river waters. Often the Susquehanna River would be so muddy that fishing looked impossible, however, fishing with hair jigs would always produced quality smallmouth bass.
Tackle for Fishing with Hair Jigs in the Fall
The best tackle to use when smallmouth bass fishing with hair jigs during the fall in Pennsylvania is a 6-1/2- to 7-1/2-foot spinning rod with a sturdy, small spinning reel. Spool your reel with 10- to 20-lb braid matched with a 4- to 6-foot fluorocarbon leader. The braided fishing line gives you the strength while the fluorocarbon leader provides an abrasive resistant, near invisible line to lure presentation.
Hair Jigs Are Not Just for Smallmouth Bass Fishing
Many anglers think of hair jigs for smallmouth bass fishing primarily and as outlined above they are a great lure choice for the fall. However, hair jigs are also great for trout fishing and panfish fishing in the fall. The jig head size has to be reduced to 1/16-oz or smaller to accommodate but these can be an alternative lure for trout or panfish in the fall. The best hair jigs for trout fishing are those tied with marabou as the soft material flutters nicely in current and around structure. Panfish hair jigs can range in material but keeping them small and made with life-like colors is key.
To sum it up, I have been fishing hair jigs for a long time, and they are hard to beat in the fall for smallmouth bass. In addition, do not neglect hair jigs when fishing for trout or panfish. Tie multiple color variations and sizes to match the fish species you are targeting and the water conditions you are fishing. Finally, I want to introduce The SmallieSpin, a FISH THIS exclusive. It takes fishing with hair jigs to new levels. It combines a basic hair jig with a spinner and additional color to add flash to its presentation. It truly makes all the difference! The flash additions trigger more reaction bites with smallies leading to more hookups. Make sure you have plenty of hair jigs in your tackle box this fall as you head to rivers across Pennsylvania looking for smallmouth bass.