Tutorial on Tying Hair Jigs0 Comments
by Dr. Guy Jensen
Thanks to Al Linder and the staff at Angling Edge, the Hair Jig is making a resurgence. This Jig has shown its effectiveness for catching all species of game fish for many years. If you love making your own jigs like I have done for 37 years, you will enjoy making your own hair jigs. There are, however, some characteristics of deer hair that can be somewhat challenging. My experience goes back over 20 years of tying trout flies with elk and deer hair. The biggest problem with any kind of animal hair is that it tends to spin on the hook shank when you try to tie it in place. I will demonstrate the proper technique for positioning and securing the hair on the hook in the video.
I would like to address a few tips on dipping the jigs for the white coat which I have found to make my life easier over the last 37 years. I always paint the jig with an air brush which gives me ultra-fine control to create three tone jigs. I recommend using medicine measuring cups for dipping the white coat. They are disposable and you can get a couple hundred for a few bucks on Amazon. The short cup lets you position the paint perfectly, so you don’t cover the bait keeper or the tying portion of the jig. I like to thin the paint with CS Coatings thinner just slightly. I dip and hang the jigs on a threaded bar and tap the bottom after I dip about 10 jigs with unprinted raffle tickets. You can get 500 tickets for about 5$. The tickets are soft enough that they will not remove paint from the jig, just the drip. I use a threaded bar as opposed to a wood dowel because the jigs will not slide into each other when transferring a full rod to another curing rack. With this technique I can dip five dozen jigs in less than a half hour, and only one coat of white is needed. The jig is finished by dipping in CS Coatings UV Blast. This final coat is far superior to any product on the market, no mixing, no smell, fast drying, and a diamond hard finish.
Let’s get to the hair jig. I have used Do-It molds for 37 years and have accumulated over 60 of their outstanding products over time. The JT-6-A Tear Drop Jig mold is outstanding for Hair Jigs. The mold provides a jig which has all the properties that make a hair jig so effective. The jig is head heavy which gives the diving action which elicits a reaction strike. It is ideal for tying bucktail. The secret to bucktail providing the breathing action for which it is known is to have, the hair must flair away from the jig. Do-It has built in a “bump” at the back of the tying area which naturally flares the hair. I like to have a larger hook gap for big Walleyes. The mold calls for a size 1/0 hook for the 1/4oz. jig. I prefer to use a 2/0 for 1/4oz. size. The mold can easily be modified with a Dremel Tool round bur at the collar. You need to remove just enough material, so the lead surrounds the hook at the collar completely. If you plan on pouring jigs as a long-time hobby, I highly recommend the RCBS Pro-Melt Furnace for casting. It is an investment with an increase in cost, but I can assure you that you will never regret spending the additional money. Another tip which has produced a nicer looking jig is separating the sprue from the jig with pliers as opposed to cutting it. I then take a few strokes with a flat file to smooth any rough areas. Takes little time, but you wind up with a better-looking product.
There is obviously an initial purchase of supplies for tying hair which are not needed for plain jigs. A vice that can rotate is of paramount importance as you will see in the video. You can find one as cheap as $20. In addition, you will need a good pair of deer hair scissors. I recommend the Dr. Slick brand which you can purchase online from any fly shop or online fishing big box store. You also need a bobbin to hold the thread, and bobbin threaders. The best and cheapest threaders you can find at your local pharmacy in the dental care section. They are monofilament G-U-M bridge cleaners. A bodkin is not mandatory but is a nice tool for separating hair and flash material on the finished jig. If you are just getting started tying hair, I suggest thread of at least 210 denier. As you get more experience you can drop down to 140 denier, and not be breaking thread all the time. For tying off the thread you can either use a Whip Finishing Tool or a half hitch tool. There are excellent YouTube videos on how to use the whip finisher which is much faster. Go to your local fly shop to purchase all your tools and vice and they will be glad to show you how to use them. Last, but not least, I do not recommend purchasing
bucktails online. They are not all good quality. It is better to pick out the ones you can see and examine. I recently replenished my supply and went to Cabelas Fly Shop. They are some of the finest I have purchased.
There are two important principles when tying hair: 1. Less is more. This applies to the hair and flash material. It is better to have a sparse amount of deer hair than to have so much packed in that it will not pulse in the water. 2. You do not want to crowd the head of the jig with your tying thread. The jig will still work because the fish do not read fly tying books, but it just looks better. There are two ways to finish the jig thread after tying. I prefer a UV light cured resin because it is quick, and you do not need a drying wheel. You can use Sally Hansen Hard as Nails clear nail polish which gives a great finish over the thread, but you must put the jigs on a drying wheel to rotate the jigs so that the tying thread dries with an even coat.
Like anything in life there is a learning curve to achieving your goals. Tying hair jigs has a very shallow curve, and after making a few mistakes which I still do after 37 years, you learn to create your own designs with great success. You can blend color combinations not available on commercial jigs. After your initial investment in materials and a tying vice, you will have years of enjoyment and save a ton of money.