Friday, December 9, 2011

Deer Hair Jigs

There are some secrets every outdoors man hates to share with others, where the animals are, what you were catching fish with, what techniques did you use, oh we could go on and on.  Today I want to share one of my secret weapons with you.  Now, this one may not be all that secret, as there are some old timers fishing with them out there, and there are many variations to this jig.  However, on most of my ice fishing trips there are people I go with that have never seen this kind of jig, and they are very skeptical using these "homemade" beauties.  It never fails that after a couple of hours I am sharing my extras with my doubters!

This jig is amazingly simple to tie, so don't be shy if you haven't had much experience in fly tying!  First, start off with an appropriate jig head, and what size you want is really up to you.  I like a 1/16 ounce for catching perch for my bait on Fish Lake.  Now for trout, I will switch over to a 1/8 ounce jig head.  You can find jig heads in about any sporting goods stores.  As far as variety, Sportsman's Warehouse is hard to beat.  They have several varieties in several different brands.  I really like the "Fresh Water Basics" brand.  They have a more rounded jig head, and are fairly cheap at a half dozen heads for a little over a dollar. 

Color is your other variable.  I have the best success with either white, orange, or chartreuse heads.  I like to carry a variety, some days there is a color the fish want over another.  Body color also is a factor.  On some lakes lighter colors are a must, on others you want the darker colors.  Choose your materials to best fit the waters you fish!

Now the steps of tying the jig:

First, put your jig in the vice, clamping it near the "bend" of the hook.  Take your thread, and make 4 or 5 wraps just behind the eye, being sure to wrap the main thread around the "tail" of the thread to secure it.  If you have head cement, you may want to run a bead on the hook to ensure the thread can't slide.  Next, wrap the thread towards the bend of the hook, and stop just before you get to the bend.

Now, find the material you want to use for the body.  Yarn or chenille work great for body materials.  You can also "dub" fur (a process of twisting fur fibers).  For this example I am using a cream colored chenille.  Make 3 or 4 wraps of thread around the tail of the chenille, then cut the excess from the tail.

Next wrap your thread forward to the head of the jig, back where you started.  Now wrap the chenille forward, using it to build the body.  Make sure wraps touch, or even do double wraps for a thicker body.  When you get to where the thread is, make a few wraps with thread to secure the chenille, then cut the excess chenille.  

Next, get out your deer hair, and pinch a chunk between your fingers.  Try to keep the amount of fibers proportionate with the size of your jig.  Clip the clump of hair with your scissors, keeping the ends of the fibers pinched between two fingers.  Now hold the butts of the fibers (the ends you clipped) just behind the jig head.  Take several loops (5 to 8) around the cut end of the deer hair with your thread to secure it to the jig.

 Now to finish of the jig by tying it down.  There are a few ways to tie it off, but I prefer throwing on about 4 "half hitch" knots.  This is really easy to do.  I use a large feather quill, but you can also use a pen.  Just make a loose wrap of thread around the pen or quill, then slide the loop over the jig head and slide it down to where you stopped tying with your thread.  Repeat this 4 or 5 times, making sure you pull the thread snug when the loop is where you have been tying around the deer hair.  When you feel confident with your knots, cut your thread off.  I then like to apply a good amount of fly tying head cement to waterproof and secure the knot.

Note that there is a little prong that is painted the color of the jig head, just before the hook comes out of the head.  I like to keep all or my thread and knots behind that prong, on the hook side, but that is really up to you.  You can wrap as far forward as you like!

The deer hair will have a "parachute" action, much like a marabou jig.  This action seems to drive trout nuts when jigging through the ice.  I catch most of my fish actively jigging, rather than letting it sit in the water.  Even the tube jigs I use have little tentacles that mimic this action.  This jig has never disappointed me!  I hope you have the success I have had with it.  Enjoy your time tying it, and good luck out there on the ice!