July 23, 2012
The more things change, the more they stay the same--at least that's the way it seems in fishing. Walleye anglers for decades have been fond of casting jigs with plastic bodies. Early on, many such plastics were in the shape of minnows with paddle tails, like the Mister Twister Sassy Shad.
These lures were mostly cast and retrieved with a steady motion. The tail did the dancing and called the walleyes. It was a perfect system. Then, along came curlytail grubs and the advancements that continue even today.
I became interested in this tactic many years agobecause much of my fishing was on shallow, dirty water, I wanted the advantage of the jig and plastic to combine with a spinner blade, which added significantly to the success of the presentation. First, the combo could be retrieved slower and stay in the strike zone longer. Second, it could be run in much shallower water or over weed tops. Third, it had the appeal of sound and vibration, coupled with extra colors and flash. And it was also costeffective.
To me, 1/4-ounce jigs with 3- to 3 1/2-inch plastic bodies work best in shallow dirty water, over rocky reefs, near shoreline structure, and near weeds. Jigs with long-shank hooks, like the Northland Gum-Ball Jig or Mimic Minnow Jig, the Lindy Max Gap Jig, or the Matzuo Heavy Metal Jig, have the hook point positioned farther back from the head for better hooking. Also, plastic bodies are bulky, and the hook gap must provide enough space to hook and hold a walleye.
The jig-plastic combo becomes an altogether new lure with the addition of an overhead jig spinner, which clips into the eye of the jig. Match spinner size to jig weight: For example, # 1 and # 2 spinners balance well with 1/4-ounce jigs.. If the spinner blade is too small, the action of the plastic causes the lure to tip over. If in doubt about color, hammered silver and gold are good choices, although colored blades work well. Northland sells the Mimic Minnow Spin, a complete package, available in many great colors.
The popularity of this simple lure is well known among crappie ranks with the smaller versions of the Johnson's Beetle Spin. Perhaps Northland's larger walleye size will be known in two or three decades as a walleye spin that really works.
Hint: While slowly retrieving the jig-spinner, move your rod tip up or down to raise or lower the lure to bring it over weeds, logs, and rocks. This tactic moves the lure in the water column without changing the speed of the retrieve.