Three Essentials for Killer Crappie Jigs

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Author: Adam Felder
Date: Nov 11, 2020

What’s up Do-It Mold community!?  My Name is Adam Felder, Owner/Operator of SDG Custom LureCraft and Content Creator/Influencer on the SDG Custom LureCraft YouTube channel.  I’m psyched to be a new contributor to the Do-It Mold Blog site and thought I’d kick things off with a Crappie Jig post.  

Through my partnership with Do-It I was able to get my hands on a Freestyle Jig mold (Item 3528; Model FST-6-SA) that pours the smaller size heads (1/32, 1/16, 3/32, 1/8, 5/32, & 3/16).  I wanted the ability to make small jig heads so I could introduce crappie jig builds to the SDG channel.  That launch has been a success with multiple build videos ranging from the basics to more advanced techniques and materials, so I thought I would take the opportunity with this post, to cover the basics:  Three essential parts of any good crappie jig.  If you can get these down, the world is your oyster as you swap out color combinations, materials, and add some flare to mix things up!  So… lets get started.

Divided and Conquer   

Nearly every lure on the market, in one way or another, consists of three essential parts or sections:  The head, the body, and the tail.  Maybe a stick worm is the exception, but everything from hollow body frogs, to finesse worms, to swimbaits, to football head jigs have those three basic elements.  Crappie jigs are no different, so as you approach your crappie jig build, you should be asking yourself:
  • What head size/color/design do I want to use?
  • What body material would best suit the design idea I have in mind?
  • What kind of tail would work best for the action I’m trying to achieve?

Heads Up   

So step 1 – what size, color, and design do you want for your head?  If you’re intent is to build your crappie lure as a crappie jig you need to first decide on the size and design characteristics of your jig head.  Not all crappie lures are built on jig heads, but its certainly the easiest place to start.  I personally love the Freestyle jig head as its round but flat on the sides with a small recession designed for eyes.  While you can use flat, 2-D stick on eyes to get the job done, investing a little extra in some 3-D eyes is well worth the added pocket change.  When applied to the Freestyle, the head becomes completely round as the eyes “fill in” the ball.  
Regarding size, I like to go no larger than 1/8oz unless I know I’m targeting large, 1.5-2+ lb slab crappie, the mouths of which are plenty large enough to handle the bigger size hooks.  1/32-1/8 typically use size #2-1/o hooks, depending on design and manufacturer.  1/32 and 1/16 are nice sizes if you’re trying to mimic very small minnows, but again, I personally think the 1/8oz is the best of both world… big enough to handle a surprise bigg’un, but small enough to still fit in the mouth of a respectable catch.
Below you can see a 1/8oz Freestyle head, utilizing a 1/0 Mustad 32570BZ jig hook.  The color is Watermelon Red Flake from Pro-Tec and the eyes are red 3-D with a black pupil.  The red flake and the red eye play well off each other.  I like to use 0.006 Monofilament tying thread because its strong, thin, and most importantly, clear, but a standard 140 Denier Ultra thread or flat waxed nylon would work as well.  I started the thread at the head and laid down a good thread base back to just above the barb.

Tell me a Tail

Now we’re ready to answer the second question and talk tail material.  Without a doubt, the most common crappie jig tail is marabou.  Sure, you can use soft plastics, bucktail, or even more out-there materials like ostrich herl and pheasant tail barbles, but there’s something special about marabou.  The thin, wispy fibers flow beautifully in the water and provide great action.  Marabou is hard to beat and in this build, I use a dark olive plume.  A good rule of thumb when determining the length of the tail is to gauge it by the length of the hook.  I like my tails to be at least as long as the hook, if not a bit longer, so that’s where I tie it in.  

   
3-4 wraps with the thread to secure the feather to the hook and you should be good to go.  If you’d like some added durability, you can lift the front of the feather the wrap the hook shank directly in front of the feather 3-4 wraps, then back again to lock it all in place.  Once you are satisfied with this step, you can snip off the reminder. 


Side Bar

At this point its very common to tie in some krystal flash or flashabou along the sides of the feather to add some flash.  Material like crystal flash and flashabou reflects light and gives the jig a nice “pop” in the water, so unless you’re trying to creating something very subtle (no flash at all), now is a great time to add those materials to the jig.  As you can see from the picture, I actually tied my krystal flash (gold in this case) onto the back of the hook first as I wanted a slightly different look where the flash would extend beyond the end of the tail.  This is a great example of a slight modification you can do, once you get the basics down, to make your jig design unique.  Either placement looks great and functions well in the water.

Body Image

Now onto the third and final element, the body.  Much like the head and tail, there are no shortage of body options!  The most common is a material called Chenille but, you guessed it... there’s a bunch of different kinds of chenille to choose from too!  A typical “standard” chenille is a good option if you’re not looking for a lot of reflective properties.  It has an almost yarn-like texture and the colors are more toned down and flat.  On the other end of the spectrum are highly reflective chenille options like Estaz, Ice chenille, and Pearl chenille.  In the middle is an option called New Age chenille that is more reflective than standard but not as “loud” as Estaz or Pearl chenille.

In all cases, the idea is to secure the chenille to the hook at the base of the tail, then wrap the hook shank as you move towards the head.  Its an easy procedure, and I have to say, very satisfying once complete as it does a great job filling in the body.  Regardless of your chosen type of chenille, its always a good idea to remove a portion of the material from the end so you can secure just the “core” thread to the hook shank.  This isn’t a must, but it does provide a clean look, makes the body more durable, and you avoid a large “bump” by the tail (that you may have if you tie in over the chenille as is).

 
(Disregard the red crystal flash in this photo.  I added that for a different purpose on this build.  If you’re curious about that step, be sure to check out the “Zip Tie” playlist on my channel)

Wrap It Up!

With your chenille securely anchored by the tail, advance your thread to the head and start to wrap the chenille around the hook shank, moving towards the head with each wrap.  Be sure not to leave any space between wraps so the whole hook shank is covered.     

 
Once you reach the head, cross your thread over the chenille to trap it against the hook, then make a few thread wraps just behind the head to lock the chenille in place.  Once secure you can snip off the excess.  

 

Bonus Collar

At this point, you could whip finish your thread (more on that later), trim your flashabou and/or crystal flash (if needed – typically if tied in on the sides, cutting it even with the tail length is a good idea), and go fishing!  For me… I like to “complete the look” by adding a special collar to my jigs, often made from Ice Dub.  As you can see in the picture below, I’m spinning (with my thumb and finger) some “Rusty Brown” colored ice dub onto my mono thread (literally pinching and twisting the dubbing onto the mono). What this does is it effectively creates a short, colored piece of ice dub thread that I can then wrap around the hook, just behind the head, creating a collar between the head and body.  I think it looks cool, and functionally, I think of it as a “hot spot” – somewhere the fish can target as they attack the jig.  While I used a copper-brown color here, I like to use UV Pink to imitate gills on other designs.  (One item to note, if you decide to use mono thread like I am, you’ll want to dab the thread with a little dubbing wax to help the ice dub adhere to the thread) 

 

Whip It, Whip It Good

As I mentioned already, to finish and secure your jig (with or without the bonus collar) you will need to whip finish your tying thread.  You can do this using a whip finish tool or you can learn to do it by hand.  For various reasons, I decided to learn how to do it by hand, but either way works just fine, especially on a jig this size.  If you’re not familiar with the tool or interested to learn how you do it by hand, YouTube is your best friend – there are many videos available to teach you (even one on my channel where I walk through my “oversized whip finish by hand” for large jig heads with lots of material to get around.  Check out my channel if you’d like to see that tutorial).  

 

All Dressed Up and Ready to Play

And there you go!  Your finished crappie jig, ready to swim on a cast and retrieve or float under an indicator for a float-n-fly presentation!

 
I have a test tank that I use on nearly every lure build as its always nice to show how a lure moves in the water.  Below is a screen shot of that portion of this build video.  Being a still shot, the picture doesn’t do the marabou tail and crystal flash justice, but it does give you a sense of size and profile.  

Get Out There!

So that’s it for this first, of what I hope are many, contributions to the Do-It blog!  I sincerely hope you found it useful and it motivates you to try your own hand at building crappie jigs.  If you don’t have it already, I highly recommend the Do-It Freestyle mold that pours the smaller sizes.  You won’t be disappointed and I’m sure, if you follow these steps and add your own twist, you’ll be catching slabs at your favorite honey hole in no time!  
If you’re interested to see the video version of this jig build and many others, be sure to check out my channel, SDG Custom LureCraft.  On there you will find everything from silicon picthing jigs, to finesse bucktail football jigs, to rattling vibrating jigs… no to mention some ticks and tricks from the shop, a bunch more crappie jigs, and most recently SOFT PLASTICS!  I do my best to put out at least two vides a week, so swing by, check it out, if you like what you see consider subscribing.  
I guess the only thing left to say is the same thing I say at the end of every video:

Until the next time, I’ll see you… at the vise!    

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