Saturday, September 1, 2018
A relatively new genre of fishing lures has created a buzz on our lakes and rivers.
Generically known as bladed jigs, they have become standard equipment for many anglers, especially those who fish for largemouth and smallmouth bass. But bladed jigs also catch walleyes, pike, muskies and other species that actively chase their food.
Remember those old video clips that show a chubby person shaking under the effect of a vibrating belt meant to melt their belly fat? That’s the sensation that reaches the hands of an angler clutching a rod and reel while retrieving a bladed jig.
The angler knows the bladed jig is working when they feel the buzz through the rod handle. That same vibration alerts predator fish that something they might want to attack is buzzing through their territory.
Bladed jigs are simple in design and operation. They feature a coffin-shaped metal lip secured by a snap in front of a skirted jig. The metal lip is mounted in a manner that creates an aggressive side-to-side wobble, which results in a strong vibration that produces shock waves transmitted through the water and up the line.
Whether they intend to eat the intruder or make it go away, game fish tend to hit the lures with ferocity.
The first commercially popular bladed jig was the Chatterbait. Its effectiveness as a fish-catcher spawned a number of similar versions, and the shelves at fishing tackle stores these days offer a wide variety of bladed jigs.
I was not among the early adopters. I tinkered with Chatterbaits when they were introduced a decade ago and caught a few fish. But as with every category of lures, confidence comes when anglers throw them enough to give them a true test.
Late last summer on lakes such as Mosquito Creek Reservoir with thick growths of aquatic plants, I learned the nuances of guiding bladed jigs through the clumps and lanes and snapping them free of any coontail they encountered.
It didn’t take long to pick up on the right speed and cadence. A few 3-pound largemouths quickly instilled confidence that bladed jigs work.
Fishing this spring around emerging vegetation delivered assurance that bladed jigs would get a fair shake this year. Summertime trips to weed-infested waters such as Lake Wilhelm, Pymatuning, Mosquito and Chautauqua
solidified my confidence.
A bladed jig fills a performance niche between the standard bass-style spinnerbait and a square-bill crankbait. When fish are shallow and not reacting much to other chase baits, a bladed jig is a great choice.
My better catches this summer have been on dark colors. Green pumpkin and black and blue skirted bladed jigs have far outperformed the lighter colors. I believe the more my jig looks like a perch or bluegill, the better it will attract strikes.
Most bladed jigs are packaged with a plastic teaser, but I like to thread a bulkier bait on the hook. My two best producers have been the back half of a paddletail swimbait and a twin-tail trailer.
I dab super glue on the hook shank to hold the teasers in place and have found the set-up can withstand a dozen strikes before the plastic tears free.
With fall weather just a few weeks away, I look forward to enjoying more of the buzz from bladed jigs on my favorite waters around Youngstown.