My family has a cabin in northern Wisconsin, and this is where it all began. The lakes we fish are deep, clear, natural lakes with populations of smallmouth and largemouth bass. Initially we didn’t have any electronics and usually fished from a pontoon or a 14 foot johnboat. This meant that I had to learn quickly as to where the fish moved throughout the year instead of depending on electronics to find them. I spent a lot of time snorkeling and diving these lakes to find where the fish were. I also read every article that the Linder’s and In-Fisherman had on seasonal movements of fish.
I have always been a very particular and detail oriented person, and this is the way I am with my tackle. I never could find the exact weight of jig head to match the size of hook that I wanted, but then I found Do-It Molds.
One of my favorite times to catch smallies was when they started moving a little deeper. They start doing this right away when the days get shorter, and we have that first week of nights that are consistently a little colder.
During time of year, and into the fall I keep bait selection very simple, and break it into two categories; crawfish imitators and baitfish/perch imitators. I have multiple different techniques that I use, but I am going to talk about three of them.
The first technique is a finesse paddle tail swimbait. This does a very good job imitating shad or perch depending of the main forage in that body of water. This one was the most troubling to me before I started pouring my own jig heads. I am very particular about this one because the bait has to swim just right or your number of bites will go down drastically. I wanted jig heads from 1/16th oz for when they are still pretty shallow (8 ft or less) all the way up to 1/4 oz when they go deeper (20 ft or more). I needed a jig that had a hook that would fit a finesse swimbait perfectly. My favorite mold for a finesse swimbait jig head is the Round Head Jig with Wire Barb
. I like the way this jig pairs with paddle tail swimbaits and the way swims in the water. The combination I will use most of the time is 3/16 oz with a size 1 light wire hook. I pair this with a 2.8 inch swimbait. If the bait I am trying to imitate are smaller then I will go to a size 2 hook and a 2.5 inch swimbait. If the bait are bigger I will go to a 1/0 hook and a 3.5 inch swimbait. I throw these on a 7-7.5 ft medium or medium-light spinning rod depending on the weight of jig head. I use 4-6 lb Suffix nano-braid to a 6 lb Suffix Advance fluorocarbon leader.
The second technique is the ned rig or Midwest finesse rig. If I had to pick a favorite, this would be it. It is probably the hottest finesse technique out there right now. I had been using this before it became very popular in the last few years. It can imitate almost any forage in freshwater. I fish it different ways depending on what the fish are feeding on. The key to this bait is its simplicity. It’s a jig head with some sort of small plastic bait. My favorite mold for this is the Midwest Finesse Jig Mold
. Its special (mushroom) shaped head pairs with plastics perfectly. I use 1/16th oz up to 5/32nd oz. Most of the time I will use 3/32nd oz with a size 1 light wire hook. I really try to keep this simple. I try to get away with the lightest weight I can for the conditions. I also try to keep my bait selection simple. I like a floating stick-bait 2.5-3 inch long. I like the bait to float so it stands up straight when it hits the bottom. I throw these on a 7-7.5 ft medium light spinning rod rigged with 4-6 lb Suffix nano-braid to a 4-6 lb Suffix Advance fluorocarbon leader.
The final technique I will share is the football head. When the fish are keyed in on crawfish, this is my go-to. I use the Football Jig Mold
. I use a football head because with this technique I drag the bait on the bottom and the (football) shape works really well being dragged in rocks. I pair it with some sort of a creature/craw/beaver bait
. When the water is warmer and the fish are more active I use a creature/craw style bait
with more action. When the water is cooler and the fish are less active I use a beaver style bait
with almost no action at all. I use 1/4 oz up to 1/2 oz. I use the lightest I can, but still have good bottom contact. Most of the time I use a 3/0 hook. I throw this on a 7 ft medium or medium heavy casting rod with 12-20 lb Suffix Advance fluorocarbon.
Custom jigs get results!