Keith Thompson of Wiconisco, Pennsylvania, introduced us to Hollywood Hairjigs in March when we were writing about the many virtues of marabou and hair jigs. Since then, we have crossed paths with Josh Hartman of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who is the proprietor of Hollywood Hairjigs. And we think that other Midwest finesse anglers would like to become acquainted with Hartman and his wares, too.
Thompson described himself as a jig-tying devotee, who has been interested in and intrigued by other jig tiers for a number of years. But he is only 26 years old, and most of the jig tiers with whom he has crossed paths with are considerably older than he is. And he has found that the age differentiation has been an obstacle for him to surmount, and the reason that is an obstacle is because these older gentlemen are tying old-school hair jigs, which are devoid of the creative flair that he has a hankering to create. Thompson said it was different with Hartman, who is seven years older than Thompson. "It was neat to meet someone that was close to my age who is trying to bring back a rather outdated way of fishing," said Thompson. We enjoyed "mixing ideas and making jigs that were completely off the wall just to see if €¦ we could be on to something new."
When Ken Miller of Halifax, Pennsylvania, introduced Thompson to the manifold virues of hair jigs, no anglers in the Susquehanna River region were talking about them. Now, Thompson proclaims: "The secret is out." And since Hartman began his Hollywood Hairjigs undertakings in 2014, this endeavor has helped untold numbers of anglers to catch more fish. And Thompson has caught a goodly number of those fish, and he catches them on Hollywood Hairjigs throughout the calendar year. Thompson ended his email by saying that Hartman's jigs are so effective that they "speak for themselves."
In a June 11 email, Hartman provided us with a brief history about his passion for catching smallmouth bass. He said that he is 33 years old, and it all began when he was seven years old and his father and brother took him fishing for smallmouth bass on the Susquehanna River, which they call "The Susky." Ultimately, he learned the many ins and outs of smallmouth bass fishing from his father and brother.
Throughout Hartman's late teens and early 20s, he and Justin Hollis of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, became almost daily fishing buddies. Hollis' grandfather introduced jig tying to Justin. Then Hollis introduced it to Hartman. After that introduction, Hartman purchased a Bass Pro Shops' jig-tying kit that had a video recording about how to tie bass jigs. From that point on, Hartman said he was tying one jig at a time, trying to make a better jig than the last one. And he said: "I had a lot of failed experimental ideas. In fact, I have boxes full of them."
Nowadays, Hartman spends his early morning hours working as a forklift operator for Costco Wholesale. He says jig tying is a nice relief from the tedium of manipulating a forklift. He relishes all the fishing interactions he gets from his Hollywood Hairjig endeavors, proclaiming that it is well "worth the time."
On June 9, our mailman delivered a package from Hollywood Hairjigs. Enclosed in that package were two of Hartman's newest creations. One is called the Little Miss Sungill, which is an 1/8-ounce hair jig that sports a three-tone bucktail skirt that is olive-green, tan, and gold, and its head and collar are black. The second jig is called The Susky, and Hartman said that Thompson's hands played a significant role in creating this 1/8-ounce hair jig. The Susky possesses a black, blue, and brown bucktail skirt, and its head and collar are black. Anglers will be able to purchase them in the near future. He anticipates that the Little Miss Sungill will be for sale sometime in July.
In addition to those two hair jigs, there were four BedHead Ned rigs and three Junk Trunk Trailers. One of the BedHead Ned rigs was made around a Gamakatsu 114 Aberdeen jig hook with a 90-degree bend, and the other three were made around a VMC 9147 Aberdeen jig hook with a 90-degree bend. The Gamakatsu hook is an option for anglers who want a customized version of the original BedHead Ned.
Hartman adds a soft-plastic trailer, which he calls the Micro Bub Floating Wasp Tail, to the BedHead Ned. It is similar to the classic Sting Ray Grub, which was created in the early 1970s by the late Tom Mann of Eufaula, Alabama.
Hartman also hooked us up with Jacob Santos of Tiverton, Rhode Island, who became an avid devotee of the BedHead Ned rig in August of 2016. And recently Santos and Hartman have been working on a project that they call "@Jake_OnTheLake Signature Series Barber Shop." It is a waterproof case with 18 jigs and 18 trailers. He anticipates that anglers will be able to purchase his signature series in a few months.
At heart, Santos is a finesse angler, but he is also a versatile angler who will wield power tools when it is necessary — such as in tournament situations.
Until he discovered the BedHead Ned rig, Santos said his favorite finesse tool was a concoction he calls a Webster rig. It is a rig that he and Mike Capaldi of Cranston, Rhode Island, developed while fishing Webster Lake, which lies on the borders of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. In essence, it is a split-shot rig that is adorned with a three-inch Gary Yamamoto Custom Bait Company's black Fat Senko. The Senko is affixed Texas style onto a No. 1 Gamakatsu extra-wide-gap worm hook, and a split-shot is attached to the line immediately above the hook. The depth of the water that he is probing determines the size of the split shot.
Santos is also a devotee of one of the standard Midwest finesse rigs, which is a small mushroom-style jig adorned with a 2 1/2- to 2 3/4-inch stickbait, and he describes the BedHead Ned as a fuzzy rendition of that traditional Midwest finesse rig. In other words, it possesses a mushroom-style jig with a skirt of deer hair that is tied on the collar of the jig. And a small soft-plastic lure, such as the Micro Bub Floating Wasp Tail, is threaded onto the shank of the hook.
Nowadays, the 1/8-ounce BedHead Ned with the Gamakatsu 114 Aberdeen jig hook is Santos' finesse mainstay. He says the BedHead Ned is "something special." Since August of 2016, Santos has worked with Hartman to create 10-customized colors of the BedHead Ned rig. Santos does not use the Micro Bub Floating Wasp Tail as a trailer. Instead, he uses a Junk Trunk Trailer. (Some of Santos' power tactics with the BedHead Ned are explained in endnote No. 4.)
To keep the Junk Trunk Trailer firmly attached to the BedHead Ned, Santos applies a drop of super glue to the end or tip of the jig's collar and around the shank of the hook near the end of the jig's collar.
Santos says that many anglers have the mistaken notion that the BedHead Ned is useful only for anglers who ply rivers and streams for smallmouth bass. Santos resolutely declares that it is a stellar rig for alluring largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass that abide in reservoirs and natural lakes.
According to Santos, many anglers also possess the mistaken notion that hair jigs should be reserved for cold-water situations. Santos has found it to be a potent piscatorial tool every season of the year.
He works with the 1/8-ouncer and Junk Trunk Trailer in water as shallow as six inches and as deep as 10 feet.
His favorite rod for wielding the 1/8-ounce BedHead Ned and Junk Trailer is a seven-foot-and-two-inch, medium-light-power, and moderate-fast taper 13 Fishing Muse Gold spinning rod. Another effective rod is a seven-foot-and-two-inch, light-power, and fast-action Phenix Bass Recon 2 spinning rod. His spinning reel is a size-30 Pflueger Patriarch XT spinning reel with a 6.2:1 gear ratio. The reel is spooled with 10-pound-test Power Pro Super 8 Slick hi-viz-yellow braided line. He uses a blood knot to attach a six- to 12-foot fluorocarbon leader to the braided line, and the size of the leader ranges from six- to 10-pound-test.
Santos utilizes four retrieves with the 1/8-ounce BedHead Ned.
He has found that it is a very effective rig for inveigling suspended black bass. He catches them by employing a pendulum presentation. He executes it by casting his BedHead Rig far enough past the suspended black bass that it will be a few inches above them as it swings in an arc towards the boat.
When the black bass are abiding along or near the bottom, Santos will work with what he calls a dragging or a crawling retrieve. There are times when he will punctuate the drag or crawl with a deadstick presentation. He will drag or crawl it from the water's edge into 10 feet of water.
Another effective presentation for bottom-oriented black bass with the BedHead Ned is accomplished by using a tactic that is called stroking. It is achieved by using the rod to snap the BedHead Ned about three feet off of the bottom. The rod is quickly or vigorously raised from the three o'clock position to the noon position. As the BedHead Ned plummets back to the bottom, the rod drops back to the three o'clock position. Once it reaches the bottom again, it is snapped off of the bottom again. This stroking tactic can be employed in a variety of depths and for many feet along the underwater terrain.
Santos likes to work with a d0-nothing swimming retrieve over patches of submerged aquatic vegetation — such as coontail.
His favorite colors are black, black and green pumpkin, bluebird, burnt orange, green pumpkin, green pumpkin and black, green pumpkin and chartreuse, money, and rose. For more information about these colors and where Santos uses them, see the photographs at endnote No. 5.
When a black bass engulfs a BedHead Ned, Santos does not employ a vigorous hook set. His rods have a fast action and a soft tip, and he sets the hook by reeling and lifting the rod up to about the noon position.
(1) Here is the link to Hollywood Hairjigs' website: https://hollywoodhairjigs.com/.
(2) Here is the link to the gear guide about Thompson's ways with a marabou jig: https://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/the-marabou-jig-according-to-keith-thompson/.
(3) Here is the link to the gear guide about Thompson's ways with a hair jig: https://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/the-hair-jig-according-to-keith-thompson/.
(4) When Santos is employing his power tactics with a BedHead Ned rig, he opts for a 5/16-ouncer. He wields it on a seven-foot, medium-power, medium-fast-action Lew's Custom Speed Stick Crankbait Rod Wart Special with a 6.4.1 casting reel that is spooled with 10-pound-test Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon line. When he uses the 5/16-ounce BedHead Ned, it is usually a black one. And he uses it in 15 and more feet of water.
(5) Santos says when the water exhibits one to 12 inches of visibility; he rarely uses a BedHead Ned. But if he does, he uses a black one with a twin-tail grub as a trailer or some kind of trailer that exhibits a significant amount of action. Here are Santos' photographs of favorite jigs and his handwritten notes about where and when he uses them:
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