A 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig with a flat and thin head lies at the heart of Midwest finesse fishing, and Joey and Katrina Doza of Republic, Missouri, have begun crafting state-of-the-art ones. They call them Jade's Jigs.
In a proverbial sense, Jade's Jigs is a classic kitchen-table enterprise that Joey and his wife began on May 27. They named it after their youngest daughter, whose nickname is Jade. They sell them either on eBay or by the word of mouth, and they are contemplating creating a website on which to advertise and distribute them to the angling world. (Please see the endnotes for more information about why and how this enterprise began.)
The Jade's Jigs are crafted from bismuth and tin rather than lead. The Dozas hand-pour the bismuth-and-tin compound into a Do-It Midwest Finesse Jig Mold.
Because the Jade's Jigs are made from a bismuth-and-tin alloy, they are approximately 1/100 of an ounce lighter than a lead jig. Lighter, of course, catches the fancy of many Midwest finesse anglers. Lighter is one of the primary axioms of Midwest finesse fishing. Since the 1960s and 1970s, we have noticed that a lighter jig is almost always better than a heavier one. A lighter jig also facilitates the no-feel aspect of all of the Midwest finesse presentations.
The Dozas manufacture their 1/16-ounce jig with either a black-nickel Eagle Claw 570 hook or a black-nickel Eagle Claw 500BP — Lil' Nasty, which is a sickle-style hook. The standard size hook is a No. 2, but if a customer prefers another size, the Dozas can make a 1/16-ounce jig with a No. 4, a No. 1 and a 1/0. And if a customer has a preference for another brand or style, the Dozas' mold will accommodate a Gamakatsu 114 hook, a Mustad 32775 hook, and an Owner 5313 hook. In addition to their 1/16-ounce-size mushroom-style jig, the Dozas make a 3/32-, a 1/8-, and a 5/32-ounce-size mushroom-style jig.
A thin stainless steel wire bait keeper radiates from the back of the head of the Jade's Jig. It is parallel to the shank of the hook, and it is about 5/16 of an inch long
Currently, the 1/16-ouncer is available in nine colors: black, black with blue flake, brown, green chartreuse, green pumpkin, pearl with flake, red, root-beer with flake and white. If anglers request other colors, the Dozas will accommodate those special requests of colors.
A package of 10 painted 1/16-ounce Jade's jigs costs $11.00, and the shipping is free in the continental United States. A package to 10 unpainted 1/16-ouncers cost $10.00, and the shipping is free in the continental United States. The Dozas note that the unpainted jig does not have the pouring spur filed down.
Anglers can purchase them by emailing the Dozas at firstname.lastname@example.org, or mailing them a request to 813 E. Valley View, Republic, Missouri, or telephoning or texting them at 417-841-7997.
While we were in the early stages of working on this gear guide, Joey Doza sent us a 4,366-word epistle on Oct. 22 that details how, why, and when he created Jade's Jigs. We were so touched by it that we thought that other Midwest finesse anglers might relish his words as much as we relish them. Therefore, we elected to publish them in the endnotes of this gear guide about his jigs.
Here is an edited version of his grand epistle:
I would like to tell you a little about myself just so you can get a background of where I come from.
I am 38 years old and I have lived in the Springfield, Missouri, area my whole life. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for 17 years. My full-time job is a captain with the Springfield Fire Department. I am also a registered nurse and a paramedic. I work part time as a hospice nurse. I have two teenage daughters that are very active. My youngest daughter, however, has a congenital brain malformation and is special needs. She has seizures and other medical issues that my wife and I deal with daily. It has gotten to the point that my wife and I decided that she needed to cut back at her full-time job so one of us could always be home to take care of her. As you can tell, my life is pretty hectic. My wife and I were discussing the ways that we could make up the difference in money that she would be losing by working part-time. I thought it would be awesome if we could do something we enjoy at home with our daughter, Jaiden, and make a little extra money. I've always wanted an excuse to buy a jig mold and make my own jigs; so this seemed like a perfect opportunity. This is how the idea of Jade's Jigs got started. Please don't think I'm telling you this for sympathy or for anybody to feel sorry for me. I wouldn't change anything in the world. I just wanted you to understand my background.
I can't take any credit for the style of jigs that I make. Do-It Molds, Finesse News Network and In-Fisherman's Midwest Finesse column should be getting all the credit for sharing this style of fishing with the whole world.
I initially started doing research on using lead to make jigs. I was terrified after reading about how toxic it is and the dangers of pouring it. I was concerned about using lead because of all of the bad things that I see as a fire captain and as a hospice nurse. I did not want to turn my house into a hazmat site. Ultimately, I discovered an alloy made of bismuth and tin. The hazards appeared to be much less than lead and more environmentally friendly. The drawbacks include a much higher cost than lead, it is harder to pour than lead, and it has a low melting temperature. I temper the powder paint on my jigs; so I had to do a lot of experimenting to get the paint to cure without melting the jigs. In my opinion, it's not worth painting a finesse jig if you don't cure it. The curing process makes such a difference in the durability of the paint. I've used other jigs before that were not cured. The paint chipped off of them after a couple of casts. I temper my jigs in an upright position so they don't get a cone head. I also file the rough areas on top of the jig where the spur was cut off in order to leave a smooth finish. I make sure the eyes are clean on my jigs. I find it really annoying when I'm fishing and I have to waste time trying to clean the paint out of the eye of a hook.
I believe there are a lot of advantages to using the bismuth-tin alloy versus lead. They are environmentally friendly and safer to handle. There are certain waters that are lead-free where my jigs can be used and lead jigs cannot be used. There are also factors that I believe make my jigs perfect for the finesse style of fishing. The bismuth-tin alloy is approximately 20 percent lighter than lead. Therefore, you can fish a slightly larger jig head and maintain the lighter weight that is optimal for finesse fishing. I think the larger head helps to create a flush fit and a more natural look with the bait you are using. It helps to prevent gaps between your jig head and worm. This can also help prevent snags. I believe the larger, lighter head displaces more water which can attract and help fish to find your jig. A lot of my strikes occur while my jigs are slowly falling or gliding through the water column. This lighter weight, along with the flat head of the jig, decreases the sink rate. This gives the fish a greater opportunity to pick it up during the fall. I think these factors really facilitate the Midwest finesse swim-glide-and-shake retrieve.
There are some great qualities to the Do-It Midwest Finesse Mold: It makes a head that is flat with rounded edges. A customer told me that he thought the rounded edges and shape of the jig really helped it to skitter on the bottom, giving the jig a natural-looking movement. Moreover, the flat head and rounded edges help the jig to stand upright, and they prevent snags. The flat profile of the jig contributes to the slower sink rate. This summer I took a round-head crappie jig that was slightly lighter than a heavier jig that I had made with the finesse mold. I dropped both of the jigs at the same time into six feet of water at a swimming pool, and the slightly heavier Midwest finesse jig was always the last one to hit the bottom of the pool. In essence, the flat head displaces more water than the round head, which slows the sink rate. There is a stainless steel wire keeper that helps hold a soft-plastic bait on the hook. I like a thin-wire keeper because I think it is easier to slide Z-Man Fishing Products' ElaZtech baits over them. A soft-plastic bait, such as a 2 1/2-inch Z-Man's ZinkerZ, is locked in place by the angled part of the keeper. I also think this style of wire keeper helps to keep the soft-plastic bait from flaring towards the top of the jig like they do with some of the jigs that possess a bait keeper with larger barbed collars. Because ElaZtech baits are so flexible and stretchy, I have a difficult time getting them onto the barbed collars of a regular jig, and therefore, they will not stay affixed to them very well. I like to use a drop of superglue to hold the soft-plastic baits securely to the head of the jig.
I make 1/16-, 3/32-, 1/8-, 5/32-, 3/16-, and 1/4-ounce size jigs, and because they are made with a bismuth-tin alloy, they are 20-percent lighter than a lead jig, and in other words, the 1/16-ounce size one is about a 1/20-ounce jig.
I have been experimenting with several different styles of hooks. I really like the light-wire hooks for Midwest finesse tactics and gear. The sharp, light-wire hook seems to help with hook penetration when using lighter fishing line and gear. Most of my hook sets are more of a pressure set compared to a power set. I also think a little flex in the hook is beneficial with this gear. It goes along with the same principle of using a lighter and more flexible rod. I've caught some very nice black bass in current, and I have had customers send me pictures of very large fish that they've caught with these hooks. I can use this to disprove people who say that you need a very stiff hook to land big fish. I think that defeats the purpose of the finesse-style of fishing. If you can't get good hook penetration, it doesn't matter how stiff of a hook you have. Most of the hooks I use have the black-nickel finish. This seems to help with corrosion and is a very natural color. Some of the bronze and colored hooks I have seen seem to corrode a little after time. This is especially true if using a soft-plastic bait that is impregnated with salt.
I can use several different styles and sizes of hooks in the Do-It Mold. I've been having a lot of success with the sickle-style hooks. These hooks are super sharp and have excellent penetration. The points of these hooks are slightly curved inward. I think this helps the hooks to stay sharper for longer periods as well.
Now to the good stuff by explaining how I learned about these jigs and how I fish them. I love to read local forums about fishing. So many people unselfishly provide valuable information about fishing. And about four years ago, I kept reading about guys using a Midwest finesse rig on the Ozark Anglers Forum (see http://forums.ozarkanglers.com/topic/60811-ned-jig-heads/). I always liked the idea of using finesse-style gear for bass fishing. So on a beautiful spring day in the Ozarks, I decided to head to the river and give the Midwest finesse thing a try. I took a 1/16-ounce crappie jig, cut a soft-plastic worm in half, and threaded it on the jig. I got to the river and paddled my kayak near a group of submerged trees. The trees were located just where the water starts to get deep at the end of a run. There was a slow eddy on the downstream side of the trees. I made multiple cast near the trees and tried to glide the jig to the bottom with a little shake of my rod tip to the fishing line. There was only one problem. I couldn't get the jig to the bottom of the river. The smallmouth bass and rock bass would bite the jig on just about every cast during the initial fall, which is an excellent problem to have. I couldn't believe this little jig was working so well. I initially attributed the success to the excellent fishing hole. I was running out of time and was forced to head down river and leave fish that were still biting. And I quickly discovered this rig caught fish galore everywhere as I headed downstream — even around places where I had never caught fish before. It was one of the best fishing trips I ever had. That fishing trip turned me into a Midwest finesse rig maniac.
I'm the perfect example of how you don't need to invest your precious savings account into a bunch of fancy gear to be successful with Midwest finesse rigs. As I mentioned earlier, my life is very hectic, and I have to take advantage of any opportunities that I have to go fishing. I am blessed to have some wonderful Ozarks rivers and streams filled with quality smallmouth bass, spotted bass, largemouth bass, and rock bass near where I live. I mainly fish the rivers out of a very simple kayak. I don't have much room for tackle and gear, but I never leave home without a variety of Midwest finesse rigs. If I can't catch a fish on these jigs, then I know that the fish are just not biting. I use a medium-light-power spinning rod with a medium-sized spinning reel. I like to use a seven- foot rod to assist with the high sticking technique used for fishing in current. I use 10-pound braided line with either a six- or eight-pound fluorocarbon leader. I would like to emphasize that I am a catch-and-release fisherman.
My style of finesse fishing may be a little different from people who fish in lakes or larger bodies of water. However, the same principals apply. The main difference is that I have current working on my side. In my opinion, there is nothing better than fishing in current. I started to become more successful at finesse fishing when I learned how to read current and understand how the fish relate to the current. Finding the right structure in relation to the current, whether it be wood or rock, is also a key component.
Black bass are smart predators and stage in certain locations to ambush their prey. I typically use a 2 1/2- to three-inch soft-plastic worm in natural or crayfish colors, such as green pumpkin, watermelon, and peanut butter and jelly. I use a jig that is heavy enough to keep my jig bouncing off of the bottom in the current without it stalling or getting hung up. I usually use a 1/16-ounce size jig, and I might use a 3/32-ounce size if the current is heavier. I use the swim-glide-and-shake presentation, but I let the current do most of the work for me. I typically make my casts at a 45-degree angle upstream or downstream, trying to prevent from spooking fish by casting directly over them. I'll let the rig slowly glide to the bottom, and many of the bites occur as the rig is sinking or bouncing along the bottom. I try to keep the slack out of the line by reeling, but not too much to move the jig. Remember, the more natural the bait is with the current, the better. I'll often shake the rod tip to give the jig a little extra action and momentum. This also helps to keep the rig from hanging on the bottom. A lot of bites will also come when the rig is near the end of its drift. At this point a little tension is put on the line and the rig may swing or slightly lift in the current. This slight change in momentum seems to provoke a fish to strike. I usually don't feel a bite, and because of that I leave just enough slack in my line that the rig is not directly affected by my rod tip. I try to move the line, not the rig. Most of the bites are detected from a pressure sensation. When my line starts to feel heavy, I reel into the pressure and let the pressure from my medium-light rod set the hook. I'm always careful not to release the pressure once the fish is hooked. This is where a good quality jig and hook make a huge difference. Sometimes a strike can be detected if the line unexpectedly stops moving, or if the line does something different than what the natural flow of current would do to it.
I love fishing the tail ends of riffles and runs. There is usually good structure and eddies in these areas. River bends and any place where there is a current break are ideal locations to fish. A large rock or island may provide a good current break. Drop offs are great areas to cast a Midwest finesse rig along the shallow side of a drop off and allow the rig to glide off into the deep water, and if your line stops or you feel pressure, then the fight is on. Current seams are another great locale to find and catch black bass in rivers. If you look closely at an eddy, you will see an area where the fast and slow water meet. A lot of times there will be turbulence, bubbling water, or swirling water right at the current seam. The trick here is to keep your line out of the fast water and over the current seam as much as possible. Black bass abide in these seams, and they forage there, too. If the line gets caught up in the fast water, it will move the rig at an unnatural speed, and not entice a black bass to engulf it. At these seams, I like to use my seven-foot rod. I try to cast my rig to the top of the current seam. I then raise my rod tip up and high stick it enough to keep my line directly over the current seam. This prevents the line from being swept away by the fast water and allows it to flow into the black bass' domain, provoking them to engulf it. Most anglers, however, pass right by these golden spots because the water is usually fast and hard to hold a boat in. But if you can place your boat on the current seam, or in the slower eddy water, then it is relatively easy to hold position. Hold on though, because once a giant smallmouth bass realizes he's hooked, he's going to use every fighting muscle he has to get into the fast current and take you for a ride. There are usually good opportunities to bank fish around these locations as well. I have discovered that I catch a lot more fish with my finesse tactics when I slow down and focus on these ideal locations.
Another great quality about these jigs and Midwest finesse rigs is that they will catch numerous species of fish, and the action is often non-stop. Besides black bass, these jigs will regularly catch bluegill, crappie, walleye, catfish, and rock bass. I haven't read about many people using Midwest finesse rigs to catch rock bass, but this is my go to bait for them. One of my favorite rock bass locales is around a depression in the river's gravel bottom, which is formed from the undercut current where a small creek enters the river. I have caught a lot of fish where a smaller body of water, such as a creek or spring, enters a larger body of water. Around these areas, I cast my Midwest finesse rig upstream and onto the shallow part of the depression and allow the rig to glide into the depression. Most of the time, the rock bass engulf the rig as it glides into the deep part of the depression. If they fail to engulf it while it is gliding to the bottom, I let it get to the bottom, and then I reel in the slack line and lift my rod tip, and often a rock bass engulf the rig on the lift. On one outing, I caught 16 rock bass in 20 casts.
When the riverine black bass are abiding in their wintering holes, the Midwest finesse rig is an excellent tool for catching them. During the cold months of the year, I focus on deep-water holes with structure. Springs are also good locations to fish during the coldest spells of the winter, and that is because the spring water is warmer than the river's water. The catch rate may be slower, but most of the fish that I catch during this season are good-size ones.
I am sorry that this email is so lengthy. I just wanted Midwest finesse anglers to know that I have a true passion for their style of fishing. I take pride in every jig that is made, and it shows in the quality of my jigs. The best part about selling these jigs is getting to meet people who have a common love and respect for nature.
In this email, I have explained why I think my jigs are more effective when they are affixed to a Midwest finesse rig than other jigs. But I must confess that my observations have not been tested by any sort of scientific method. There a lot of individuals and tackle companies who make barbed and lead jigs, and I don't want to offend them or make false claims.