Making your own buck tail jigs.
Can you remember back when you were a kid and would look through fishing magazines or go to the local tackle shop to poke around at all the neat fishing stuff? When I was a kid, I would ride my bicycle about two miles to get 50 crickets when it was hard to dig worms. As I was waiting for my turn at the cricket box, I would look around at the tackle I either didn’t know how to use or had no need for during my afternoon of Bream fishing. One type of lure that always caught my interest was a lead head jig with deer hair tied to it. I wondered what kind of fish would eat that. I was sure this big hook, 2/0 to 3/0, was way too big for the Bream I was catching in the pond down the street from my house. I can remember the hair on the lure was yellow, white, and black or red and white. I never tried it myself, but they must have worked for some species as the tackle shop always had plenty of cards with empty spots where the jig used to be.
Years later when I had a boat, I purchased a few of these buck tails to add to my collection of tackle. I used them several times with little success and eventually either lost them or all of the hair fell off.
Several more years passed and I happened across an article in a fishing magazine on how to use those lures, so back I went to the store for a few more. The article talked about using them in conjunction with a soft plastic, a pork rind, or a piece of natural bait. I tried using them with shrimp or pork rind and fishing the river bottom, but still had no success. Again they either rusted or were discarded as a no-fish-catching waste of money.
Many years passed and I had a boat with a trolling motor and most of my river and backwater fishing consisted of easing down the shoreline and casting to the edges or drop offs. Once again I spent my hard-earned money on a few of those no-fish-catching buck tails. By this time, my fishing skills had greatly improved and, with the right color and right soft plastic, I was finally catching fish with them–Reds, Trout, Flounder, Jacks, Largemouth Bass, and several other species.
By now the color selection had expanded to include a rainbow of colors. My favorite was chartreuse and white, which turned out to be a good fishing catching color for me.
Now, some 40 years later, I’ve found new life in these jigs as I’ve been tying my own with colors I’ve never seen in any store or catalogue. Tying them is pretty easy with a few tools and, as my wife says, can be quite therapeutic. I think she’s right about the therapeutic part because I sure like making them and they do catch fish.
To make your own, you’ll need a few inexpensive items, including a fly-tying vice, a thread bobbin, some strong thread or Power Pro, fingernail polish, a few colors of deer hair, some 1/8th to 3/8th ounce lead head jigs (with saltwater proof hooks), a pair of small scissors, and some crystal flash or flashaboo. Aside from the therapeutic aspect of assembling them, you’ll also have the thrill of catching a fish on a lure you made yourself.
Deer hair comes a in a variety of colors and can be purchased on Ebay or just about any lure-making website. I use mainly black, white, chartreuse, gray, and brown. Crystal flash is a synthetic material that looks like thread, reflects light, and comes in several colors. I like black, pearl, gold, and pink. I use rod building or fly tying thread in black, chartreuse, and red. To paint the unpainted lead heads, I use black, white, pink, chartreuse, and gold. I prefer a metal flake fingernail polish as I think the whole idea is to get the attention of your targeted species and the metal flake reflects more light and gives the lead head more flash.
Once you have all the necessary parts, here’s how to assemble your own buck tails:
- Put the hook in the fly tying vise and, using the thread bobbin with your preferred color of thread, wrap the thread on the jig, just behind the head, for about eight wraps. Be sure it’s good and tight.
- Trim off the tag end using your scissors, then fold some deer hair back (about 25 to 30 hairs) and cut them from the hide. Now, trim the ends, so when you lay the hair on the hook, it’s straight.
- Wrap the thread tightly on these hairs about 10 to 15 wraps. Do the same about two more times, working the hair around the hook for an even covering. You should have now wrapped about five hairs to the hook.
- At this point, you can finish it off with a knot or add some flash. If you’re using the crystal flash, you only need 10 to 20 strands to get the attention of the fish. Tie a knot and trim the thread close to the knot.
- Once this is done, get out your favorite color of nail polish and paint the thread and lead head. Give it a few minutes to dry and, with another color of nail polish, paint on a couple of eyes. I like a dab of white and then either red or black for the pupil. Give this about 30 minutes to dry and apply a coat of clear polish. The clear coat gives the head a shiny look, as well as protects the polish from chipping off when the fish bite it.
- Let this dry for about two hours and you’re ready to try your new homemade lure. The first few will take about 20 minutes each to make, but after you have a few under your belt, you’ll be able to turn them out in five minutes or less.
If you enjoy making them and they’re catching fish, you can do as I’ve done and get crazy with other colors and feathers. You can usually find feathers of all colors from several kinds of birds in the same place you found your deer hair. I’ve also used rabbit fur dyed in various colors.
If you’re having trouble figuring out what you want to tie, go to Google and type in Buck Tail Jigs. Then click on Images to get ideas for different colors and patterns.
Give it a try and next time you go fishing with your buddies and catch the big one, you can say, “I made that.”
Captain Jim Hammond
Capt. Jim’s Fun Fishing Inc.
Jacksonville, FL 32226
904 757 7550
- Tags: fly fishing