Living on the shore of Lake Michigan my entire life, I’ve used spoons to catch trout and salmon almost as long as I’ve used a spoon to eat. It’s a year-round work horse for many species including walleyes, bass, trout, salmon, and even panfish.
The hungry, rugged shores of Lake Michigan can eat up spoons (and your pocketbook) at an alarming rate. Looking for an alternative to high priced store bought spoons, I discovered Do-It’s JS-3-A Jigging Spoon Mold. For the last fifteen years this low cost homemade creation has accounted for hundreds of trout and salmon.
Beyond that, this and other Do-It spoons are invaluable to anglers who use a lot of jigging or casting spoons. They can be used to jig for walleyes in winter or summer, jig for largemouth, smallmouth or stripers in deep water impoundments, jig for Lake Trout, work swift currents for steelhead and even jig for perch, crappies, and gills in winter or summer. Along with that, many of these make great casting lures for nearly anything that swims.
Jigging/Casting Spoon Choices
Do-It currently produces five molds to create your own spoons. Each one has it’s own personality and preferred use.
Let’s start with the most basic, the Diamond lure. This lure has been around saltwater tackle boxes forever, but doesn’t get noticed by fresh water anglers too often.Their Diamond Lure DJ-4-A mold makes four sized between one-quarter and one ounce in lead and about two-thirds of that in tin. Four other Do-It models make Diamond jigs up to a beefy six ounces. For fresh water applications, the aforementioned DJ-4-A and the DJ-2-L (1.5 and 2 oz.) cover most applications, with the larger jigs being used for deep jigging trout, salmon, and lakers.
This lure is strictly a vertical presentation jig and has no “built in” action. My favorite out of this group is the one-quartered ounce lure poured with pure tin.This little gem is deadly on perch, crappies, walleyes, and bass in summer and winter. Last season while jigging for Lake Michigan perch, I even hooked and landed a 31 inch brown on this little beauty.I like a #10 treble and two stick-on eyes placed on the hook end of the lure.
Next up is the “CC” series casting spoon lure.These too, are a very good jigging spoon as well as a cast and retrieve lure.The “CC” series has nice flat sides which can be easily decorated with self-stick eyes or prism tape.
Another spoon similar to the “CC” series is the Hammered Spoon which is available in two sizes.The HS-3-34 makes three-quarter ounce spoons and the HS-3-1 molds a one ounce lure.These lures have a hammered pattern cast into their body giving them the look of a Hopkins type spoon.The Hammered spoon has a great action whether it is jigged or cast and retrieved.By gently bending this spoon you can alter it’s action or fall rate.
One of my favorite spoons is the JS-3-A Slab spoon.This model makes three sizes of oval “slab” type spoon similar to Bomber’s Slab Spoon. One side of this spoon is flat and the other is keel shaped making it the slowest falling of all the spoons described.But this spoon isn’t only for vertical jigging. It also makes a great long distance casting lure.In fact, the Do-It Slab spoon is one of my best producers for trout along Lake Michigan’s shorelines.It casts a country mile and has a great subtle natural swimming action.
Speaking of natural, that brings us to the newest of Do-It’s jigging spoon molds, the SBL-3-M Shad Bait Lure.This new little beauty looks so real you’ll wonder if you need to keep it in water!Seriously though, the details on this new spoon are incredible and just the ticket for highly pressured waters and ultra clear conditions.I’ve been using mine for a few months now and they have preformed well on small mouth bass and Lake Michigan browns. The recessed eye socket accepts 3D stick on eyes which really top off a truly lifelike jigging and casting spoon.
All the jigging and casting spoons described require wire inserts for line and hook connections. Prebent inserts are available wherever Do-It molds are sold or you can bend your own.
As far as hooks go, Mustads 3551 treble hooks are hard to beat. Sizes #2 or #4 work well on most of the larger spoons, and I’ll go down to a #10 on my tiny Diamond jigs for perch.You will also notice that I like singles like Mustad #95170 for trout and salmon.
These spoons can be painted to look like baitfish, doctored with prism tapes or in many cases, left bare.In most cases, they represent open water baitfish like shad, alewifes, or cisco so base coats of white or pearl work well.Striper anglers rely on white and chartreuse for almost all of their action.
A little bucktail on the hook can also add action and slow drop rates.
In last month’s article, this article, and in future pieces you will see me mention lures poured with pure tin.The use of tin in making jigging spoons is more important than any other lure.The reduced weight to area ration gives all of these jigging/casting spoons additional life and action.Cast and retrieved spoons will have twice the action as it’s lead counterpart and jigged spoons will have twice the flutter on the drop.And best of all, spoons poured from pure tin will stay as shiny as the day you pour them.
Tin is about two-thirds the weight of lead (lure weight in lead x 0.6465 = weight in tin) and melt at a lower temperature. I have two furnaces, one for lead and one for tin, and the tin will work great in anything you are using to melt lead. Including a simple Palmer Hot Pot. Tin can be obtained from both scrap yards or new metal suppliers. It’s more expensive than lead but you can make quite a few spoons out of a pound. It can also make your molds more versatile. For instance, the Shad Bait mold which makes three different sizes, will actually make six different weights if you consider the additional lures cast with tin. If you have trouble finding tin locally, drop me a line or email through the magazine and I’ll try to point you in the right direction.
Fishing the Spoons
Casting these lures is a no brainer. Launch them out, count them down, and reel them in.Try adding a stop and go retrieve to simulate a dying bait or to trigger followers. One of the real advantages to these lures is their castability.These lures are real spool-drainers and allow you to cover vast expanses of water. Lures poured from tin cast well yet don’t run very deep.This is particularly important for many shore casting situations.
Jigging isn’t quite so simple. There are so many variations, I don’t know where to start. Here’s the basics. Free-spool the spoon to the desired depth. This could be the bottom in many instances, above deep timber, or slightly above fish that are spotted on the locator. Engage the reel and lift the lure from six inches to six feet.Allow the spoon to free fall back to its initial point, following the line back down with the rod tip.Most strikes will come on the fall, so keep in touch with the lure.
You’ll notice I mentioned lifting the lure from six inches to six feet, which is quite a variance.Here’s where experimentation comes in.In cold water for walleyes, bass, and panfish you will want to start out jigging the lure less than a foot.As water warms and fish are more aggressive you can increase to sharper snaps and jigging distances of one to three feet. For jigging deep water Lakers, you will want to jig from three to six feet all season long.These are just a few guidelines to get you started, but experimentation is the key to jigging success.
As far as tackle goes, outside of the panfish spoons you will want a medium to medium heavy spinning or casting outfit rigged with anywhere from eight to twenty pound test.The eight would be for walleyes or smallmouth and the twenty would be for bass in deep tree tops or for stripers. Line can also be used to manipulate the fall rate of spoons.The heavier the line, the slower the fall rate. For example, here on Lake Michigan where I use tiny Diamond jigs for perch, I use eight pound test line where most people are using two and four.But, I discovered that eight pound slows the fall significantly and the results are outstanding.
If you use a lot of spoons, you probably loose a lot of spoons.If so, there’s a Do-It mold to suit your casting or jigging spoon needs.Remember, there’s nothing more fun than catching a fish on a lure you made yourself.