"U POUR EM SPECIALS" A Jig Making Guide
As most savvy anglers know, there are few things in fishing that are as reliable and effective for both numbers and quality of bass, and many other game fish, as a leadhead jig and some form of plastic trailer. And, as many of those same savvy anglers know, Yamamoto plastics lend themselves very effectively to this form of fishing. However, the real problem, in many cases, is not finding effective trailers for the leadheads, but rather finding quality leadheads with sharp, tournament grade hooks, in the style that is most effective for what you are fishing. To that end, I want to share some jig-making concepts and suggestions that will allow an angler to "pour your own" easily, safely and in a style that will fit the lures you want to fish. And, I'll also share a website that will provide all the leadhead combinations that you could ever want, should you decide to "leave the pouring to us."
Getting Started—The Basics
Molding your own leadheads will require an initial investment in certain tools and equipment to allow for safely melting and pouring what can be a dangerous and potentially toxic metal. First, you must have a well ventilated workspace in which to melt and cast the lead. Fumes given off by melting lead in a poorly ventilated area can lead to serious health consequences. My "U-POUR-EM" adventures are pursued in a well ventilated open carport, with plenty of flow through breezes to move the lead fumes away from the work area. You must also be sure to wash hands thoroughly after handling lead products, since lead can be ingested by mouth by eating, smoking or otherwise putting your hands inside your mouth after handling lead. For safety's sake, I also wear light leather work gloves to protect my hands from the hot metal and mold, and to keep lead away from my hands.
Basic equipment will include a melting/pour pot—I prefer the 20 pound z Melter, since it will easily handle larger chunks of lead, has an accurate temperature guide, and a very effective mold guide, that allows for precise positioning of the lure mold. Next, you'll need a small ladle for scooping impurities from the lead out of the pouring pot, and some containers for the lures you create. I find that small metal coffee cans work as well as anything I've tried. They allow hot lures to cool quickly, and do not melt upon contact as will various plastic containers. A pair of side cutters for trimming mold sprues(excess lead), safety glasses, needlenose pliers and a screwdriver will complete your "U POUR EM" tool kit.
Lead can be obtained from a variety of sources, including tire shops, fire departments that service fire hydrants, scrap metal yards, and metal supply companies. It can also be purchased in ready to use, 1 pound ingots from tackle supply companies like Stamina and NetCraft. My personal favorite is a local pe shop, where I purchase 3 pound pe weights, which I then melt down in my Lee production pot. I should point out that some scrap lead, like tire weights, often contain a fair amount of other metals like tin and antimony, which will not work as well as pure lead.
Now the real fun (and potential expense) starts. Pouring your own leadhead lures, at least for a hopelessly die-hard fisherman like me, is fun. In a way, it is like walking through a tackle shop of your own making. You can create literally dozen of different sizes and styles of lures with relative ease, so the challenge is to figure out what you need to fish effectively before you start ordering molds. Leadhead molds are offered by two companies, Do-It Molds and Hilt's Molds. My choice, with no disrespect to Hilt's, is the Do-It line of mold products. They offer all the styles and sizes that I want in a quality mold. For my needs, it allows me to follow the KISS ( Keep It Simple, Stupid) rule of tackle selection.
The Do-It Molds that I primarily use are:
Each of these molds will pour the same style head in a range of sizes, depending upon the mold design. For example, the football head, which I use primarily for twin tail grubs and Hula Grubs, can be pour in seven sizes ranging from 1/16 ounce ( a great crappie head) all the way to a full 1 oz., which I most often use for sauger fishing in winter below TVA dams. The ¼, 3/8, and ½ ounce are my standard Hula Grub heads.
The Minnow Head is another versatile and effective head style, one that I will use in current applications with grubs and Cut Tail worms, in places most anglers will throw a round head jig.
With these four molds, I can pour leadheads that will effectively fish grubs, Hula Grubs, tubes, Cut tail Worms in 4, 5 and 5 ¾ sizes, as well as the various sizes of Senkos, up through the 6" size, the largest I personally rig on a jighead.
Certainly there are other styles, sizes and types of molds that will work. These are the ones that I have found over several years of experimentation that all me to create jig/hook combinations that cover all of my normal fishing needs.
One of the biggest single advantages to pouring your own jig heads is the ability to upgrade an oversize hooks. In my opinion and experience, most jig heads that are available commercially have hooks that are both too small and too dull to be really effective for light line/deepwater passive lure fishing. For example, most commercially manufactured minnow head jigs are made with gold wire hooks, in 1/0, in head sizes 3/16 to ¼. By comparison, when I make a minnow head jig for use with Kahuna cuttail worms in the 5 to 5 5 ¾ sizes, I will pour this head with a 4/0 premium hook. The combination of a much larger hook with a much sharper point that can be found on most hooks is tremendous advantage in getting a solid hook set on quality fish.
The hooks I prefer to use in my jigs are the Mustad UltraPoint series #32746 BLN, a chemically sharpened black nickel 90 degree hook. I have experimented with every 90 degree jig hook on the market, and I've settled on these hooks as the best combination of strength, point sharpness and durability for the price. The beauty of the UltraPoint hook is that they do not easily lose their sharpness when coming in contact with rock and wood cover. Other premium hooks tend to dull more easily than the UltraPoint. Having said that, other premium hooks that work well in these molds include the Gamakatsu 604, the Owner 90 degree jig hook, and a really unique hook for tube applications, the VMC Vanadium Barbarian Jig Hook. The Barbarian is a black finish hook that has a unique bend that allows the hook to lay in line with a tube body when the head is inserted in the tube. This is one of my favorite hooks for pouring the tube jig heads in ¼ and 3/8 ounce sizes, the most often used sizes in current applications. As far as my fishing needs, there are only 2 sizes of jig hooks made, a 3/0 and a 4/0. Nothing smaller adds any advantage in reliable hookups, and a 5/0 won't fit properly in the molds I use.
Pouring your own jigs can add a new level of customized perfection to your jig/plastics fishing techniques. I know for a fact that the jigs I pour give me a clear advantage over most store-bought jigs. I KNOW my hooks are strong and sharp. But, I also know that it takes some time and equipment to create these special tools. Some anglers don't have the time, patience or inclination to "U-Pour". For these folks, I strongly and without reservation recommend the services of Joe Rummelt, at Laketownmfg.com. Joe offers a complete line of all type of jig heads, including heads for grubs, tubes, tube heads with rattles, weedguards—well, you get the idea! Best of all, Joe is the only guy I know that pours all of these different head options with the premium quality hook of your choice. It is, or can be a totally custom operation, where you pick the style of head you want, and the hook you want in it. Any of the hooks I've listed above can be ordered from Joe.
Whether you pour your own, or order your own, you'll experience an improvement in your fishing from these customized creations.