Getting Jiggy For Crappie

Do you make your own crappie jig?

I make all of my own lures, jigs and flies.

To start with, there are two basic types of crappie jigs. One with feathers/fur, and one with soft plastic bodies. There are advantages, and disadvantages to both types. Then, you need to decide if you want to mold your own jig heads, or buy them already molded. A major concern here is that the EPA is considering a total ban on all lead fishing gear, which would put you out of business for making your own lead head jigs. So buying alloy jig heads may be the best option. There is still the option of buying them unpainted, and coloring them yourself. You can get alloy jig heads in lots of 100 or more from places like Cabelas, Janns Netcraft, Bass Pro Shops, etc…They are still dirt-cheap. There are many shapes and sizes, so pick the ones that suit you best.
The first type of jig is my favorite. This is merely a jig head dressed with marabou (the soft under -feathers of turkeys), buck tails, chenille, or any combination of exotic feathers and materials. You are limited only by your imagination. The advantage to these is that they are beautiful when finished, and are usually better fish-catchers than their plastic-bodied cousins.
To craft jigs and flies, you need a fly-tying vise. You can start out with a modest vise, such as the Thompson-style, which can be purchased for less than $20.00. After a time, you may find you want to move up to a pro-style Rotary vise like the one I use…the Griffin Montana Mongoose, or one of the excellent models by Danvise, Nor-Vise and HMH. These can set you back $100.00 or more, but they are more than worth it. Next, you will need a supply of fly-tying threads (sewing thread will not work) in several colors and sizes. They are inexpensive and are made by companies like Unithread, Danville and Gudebrod. Then, all you need are jig heads and feathers, and/or fur, and Head Cement. I use Sally Hansen’s Hard-As-Nails for Head cement. It works as good as it gets, is cheap, and you can get it at Walmart 24/7. Marabou and chenille are the most common materials for crappie jigs. If you are going to mold plastic bodies, you will need molds, and liquid plastic.
To make the first type of jig, place the jig in the vice, make a few wraps to anchor the thread, then tie on a short piece of chenille. Advance the thread towards the hook bend a bit, then follow it with a few wraps of chenille. Tie down the end of the chenille, clip it off even, then tie on a clump of marabou. Finish the jig with two whip-finish wraps (easy, once you learn them), and coat the wraps with head cement. Now your done.
To make the second type, there is no tying involved. You need molds, liquid plastic in several grades (different hardness), glitter and liquid pigment in several colors, a spatula, an electric burner, and a pan you don’t mid getting messy. You can mix the different plastics to achieve your desired consistency. Heat the plastic on the burner in the pan. When it gets clear, add glitter and pigment. Then, you simply pour liquid plastic into the appropriate molds and allow it to set. Then, remove the bodies, drop them in a pan of cold water and let them set overnight. After that, you can thread them onto your jigs and fish with them. You can easily add spinners to both types of jigs.
Crafting your own fishing tackle is a very rewarding endeavor. In time, you may find yourself wanting to design your own lures. There is no limit to what you can do when you make your own gear. And, you might find that it is more economical to craft your own. Some people even progress to the point of making custom lures for others, or selling them on Ebay.
There is nothing like the thrill of having a slab-sided crappie bust into a lure you made yourself. It can give you an incredible sense of empowerment. Give it a try, and see where it takes you.
Happy Fishing.

Dan Eggertsen is a fellow crappie fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on crappie fishing since 2004.

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