For years we have trumpeted the manifold virtues of Gopher Tackle's 1/16-ounce Mushroom Head Jig. In our minds, it is finest finesse jig in the world.
But Midwest finesse anglers who like to ply brush piles, laydowns, flooded timber and stump fields say that they need a jig with a hook guard, and since Gopher Tackle doesn't make one with a hook guard, these anglers say they can't use this jewel of a jig.
So, here is a solution to their woes. It is called Bass Pro Shops' Hook Guard.
Years ago, when we used to probe brush plies, boat docks, laydowns, flooded brush and timber with our finesse tackle, we used to attach a Bass Pro Shops' Hook Guard to our 1/16-ounce Gopher jigs. And they were virtually snag-proof, and we caught largemouth bass when used them.
Nowadays, we very rarely probe brush piles, boat docks, laydowns, flooded brush and timber. When we do, we do it carefully and daintily without using a Bass Pro Shops' Hook Guard. Because we rarely fish snag-filled environments, we prefer to use an exposed hook in all of our Midwest finesse applications, and we catch a lot more largemouth bass than we used to catch when we spent a lot of our hours afloat fishing brush piles and other snaggy objects.
Across the past several weeks some Midwest finesse anglers who fish reservoirs that are filled with flooded timber, such as Table Rock Lake, Missouri, or reservoirs that are cluttered with thousands of boat docks and man-made brush piles, such as the Lake of the Ozarks, said that they need a 1/16-ounce finesse jig with a hook guard. Those comments provoked us to take a photograph of a red 1/16-ounce Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jig dressed with a Z-Man Fishing Products' 2 1/2-inch green-pumpkin-red ZinkerZ, and this combo is embellished with a Bass Pro Shops' Hook Guard.
The Hook Guard in the photograph below was seven-eights of an inch long until we shortened it, making it about three-quarters of an inch long.
The Hook Guard was designed to be affixed to the collar of the jig, but when we used to use it, we preferred to attach it to the eye of the hook before we attached the jig to our lines.
Another nifty attribute about the Hook Guard is that anglers can easily alter its color with a permanent ink marker, and in the photograph below, a red permanent-ink marker changed the color of the Hook Guard in the photograph above.
A package of 25 three-quarter-inch Bass Pro Shops' Hook Guards retails for $2.19. Here is a link to the Bass Pro Shops' catalog entry for the Hook Guard: http://www.basspro.com/Bass-Pro-Shops-Hook-Guard-for-Weedless-Lures/product/1997/
(1) David Reeves of Lansing, Kansas, spends a lot time plying the brush-filled waters of Table Rock Lake with Midwest finesse tactics. And his finesse jigs sport a wire hook guard. Reeves wrote an e-mail on May 2 in which he said he used to use the Bass Pro Shops' Hook Guard on his swimbait jigs and tube jigs. He says they work, but it takes some force to get the hook set. Nowadays, he prefers a jig with a wire guard -- especially a cable one. Reeves also noted the Bass Pro Shops' Hook Guard is made out of plastisol, which will melt Z-Man's ElaZtech baits, such as the ZinkerZ in the photograph above, if they are left in contact with each other, which is one reason why the Hook Guard in the photograph is rigged on the eye of the hook rather than on the collar of the jig.
Reeves says "a sparse guard of one type or another allows the bait to be presented to more fish and in more areas. An open hook may hold an advantage on days when the bite is touchy, for suspended fish, or for fish feeding up from below the bait."
(2) To solve the hook-setting problem that might occur with the Hook Guard, several Midwest finesse anglers suggested that it could be rigged with a Tex-posed motif rather than sticking the point of the hook into the heart of the Hook Guard. Another tactic is to shorten the Hook Guard, which will allow it to barely cover the point of the hook.