Fishermen love to talk fishing. Most are opinionated people so it really didn’t surprise me that when the topic of the ultimate lure came up the other day, everyone had a different answer. From cranks to jerkbaits, tubes to swimbaits everyone had a favorite and I listened intently to the reasoning behind each one. None of them I could disagree with, everything mentioned had, at one point or another, caught me fish. It kind of surprised me though, as the conversation rolled around to me, that my answer hadn’t already been given by someone else. I mean, it seemed like an obvious choice. Clearly not as obvious as I thought. Basing it on the one thing that was the most versatile as far as catching multiple species (and I suspect that’s exactly how everyone based their decision) then a hair jig was the only way to go. Oddly enough, everyone seemed a little surprised. No one had even considered hair jigs. Everyone was convinced that if it came down to it and they could only fish one thing for the rest of their lives, their choice was the right one. They also agreed that the other choices would be suitable back ups. Except for mine. I had a little more convincing to do.
My love for hair jigs goes back to when I was a kid, walleye fishing with my dad. We each had our own boxes, filled with anything we thought might catch us fish. We also carried with us a third box; our jig box. That jig box was full of jig heads in various colors and sizes that we used to present minnows, leaches or big fat dew worms. A small portion of that box however, was comprised of hair jigs, primarily marabou or buck tail. Typically these were the jigs we threw first, and they caught everything. Walleye; bass; panfish; pike; muskie, at one point or another they all fell for a hair jig.
Fast forward to the early days of my steelhead obsession, when an old man schooled me on the art of floating a hair jig for big chrome. Not only has a marabou jig become one of my favorite ways to catch steelhead, but that fateful day only reinforced my idea that hair jigs really could catch everything. From steelhead it progressed to salmon, resident rainbows, browns and brook trout. Anything in a river or stream ate them up like they were candy.
The steady decline in the use of hair jigs is without a doubt a result in advancements in modern plastics. Although it seems a shame that not enough people take advantage of hair, there is an added bonus in using them because of it. Fish rarely see hair jigs these days, and we all know that if it’s something they’re rarely pressured with, then there’s a good chance they’ll be more likely to strike it. They become conditioned to things they see on a regular basis. For the most part, hair jigs are not one of those things.
Hair mimics everything and nothing all at once, so why it works so well is beyond me. Or maybe that is precisely why they do work so well. Whatever the reason, hair jigs have and will continue to produce both numbers as well as quality fish of any species. Based on that fact alone, it’s easy to see why I would consider hair jigs the ultimate fish catcher, and if it was the only thing I was able to fish for the rest of my life I could sleep easy knowing that my fishing success would not suffer because of it.