February 14, 2018
Midwest finesse anglers' fascination with a marabou jig reaches back to 1957.
It began after Bill Ward created the world's first marabou jig for his father, Virgil Ward. His father was going trout fishing on the White River in Arkansas below Bull Shoals Lake with Harold Ensley to create a segment for Ensley's TV show, which was called "The Sportsman's Friend." Virgil wanted a jig that was similar to the marabou streamers that Missouri fly fishermen used to catch trout. So, Bill tied several 1/16-ounce white marabou jigs for his father, and these jigs waylaid the trout and helped make a stellar TV show.
Back in those days, Bill and Virgil Ward lived in Amsterdam, Missouri, and were proprietors of Bass Buster Lure Company. Ensley lived in Overland Park, Kansas. And after Ensley's television show aired, Bass Buster Lure Company's marabou jig and copycat versions of it became a standard-bearer for scores of early practitioners of Midwest finesse tactics.
As the word spread about the effectiveness of the marabou jig, it became extremely popular with all kinds of anglers across the United States and Canada. For instance, Bass Buster Lure Company made a 1/2-ounce marabou jig that became the favorite lure of many Midwesterners who ventured to Canada to pursue lake trout. And in the hearts, minds, and hands of untold numbers of anglers, it gradually replaced Thompson Fishing Tackle Company's Doll Fly, which was made from polar bear hair.
Ultimately, the angling world's love affair with the marabou jig waned, and it was replaced by a plethora of soft-plastic baits.
But our infatuation with it was not a passing fancy. Consequently, the marabou jig is staging a renaissance, and during the winter of 2016-17, we celebrated this rebirth by publishing four Midwest Finesse columns about how Jeff Gustafson of Kenora, Ontario, Canada; Seth Feider of Bloomington, Minnesota; Josh Douglas of Mound, Minnesota; and Keith Thompson of Wiconisco, Pennsylvania, use a marabou jig.
Another indicator of the marabou-jig revival appeared at the 2017 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show in Orlando, Florida, with the introduction of the Kalin's Hand-Tied Marabou Jig to the angling world. And the 1/16- and 1/8-ounce models have caught the eye of the old-time Midwest finesse anglers, as well as some of the newcomers.
The 1/16-ouncer sports a No. 4 Eagle Claw jig hook with a 90-degree bend, and the 1/8-ounce one has a No. 1 Eagle Claw jig hook with a 90-degree bend. Their lead heads are double-coated with a chip-resistant epoxy finish.
They are available in the following colors: Black, Brown/Orange, Chartreuse, Pink/White, White, and Yellow.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s, some Midwest finesse anglers added a trailer, such as a small pork-rind eel, to their marabou jigs. Nowadays, some Midwest finesse anglers add a trailer, such as a small soft-plastic finesse worm, to their marabou jigs, and others affix a short segment of a soft-plastic stickbait to the shank of the hook and inside or under the skirt of marabou. As it was years ago, many of today's anglers will employ it without a trailer, relying on the subtle quivers and trembles of the marabou skirt to inveigle their various quarries.
A package of four 1/16-ouncers costs $3.29, and a package of four 1/8-ouncers costs $3.39.
(1) For more information about the marabou jig, Bill Ward, Virgil Ward, and Harold Ensley, here are two links to Midwest Finesse columns about them: http://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/legends-of-the-heartland/#ixzz53tpSpcxO; http://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/the-marabou-jig/.
(2) Here are the links to the Midwest finesse columns about Jeff Gustafson, Josh Douglas, Seth Feider, and Keith Thompson: http://www.in-fisherman.com/gear-accessories/the-marabou-jig-according-to-jeff-gustafson/; http://www.in-fisherman.com/gear-accessories/the-marabou-jig-according-to-josh-douglas; http://www.in-fisherman.com/gear-accessories/the-marabou-jig-according-to-seth-feider; and http://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/the-marabou-jig-according-to-keith-thompson/#ixzz53v9Ifqmu.
(3) When Midwest finesse anglers wield a marabou jig, they will use all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves. Of course, there will be spells when just one of the six is effective, and there will be spells, when two or three of them are effective. Thus, Midwest finesse anglers have found that it is necessary to experiment with all six of the retrieves throughout an outing. Here is the link to the Midwest Finesse column that describes how to employ the six retrieves: http://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/six-midwest-finesse-retrieves/.