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Good Jig Heads Start with the Right Collar

By Russ Bassdozer

Put a good head on it. Many guys pour a beer by tilting their glass to the side and pouring slowly. In this way, they get no head on it. Not me. I just pour it in straight and fast - and let that foamy head bubble up! I like a good head on my beer AND on my bass jigs both! You can use this article as a guide to help you get good jig heads. I will go into a lot of detail as to three different styles of LEAD COLLARS. One style is best for soft plastics, a second for rubber/silicone skirts, and a third type of collas that's best for tying hair or other materials.

For soft plastics. What this often means is that the LEAD COLLAR either has a very big BARB intended to hold a soft plastic - or the lead collar is an elongated bayonet-style collar design (such as on Yamamoto jig heads). In my experience, the barbed style will "hog out the hole" by stretching or tearing the plastic internally as you slide a bait on. To me, the bayonet style will securely hold soft plastics and hula grubs better than any other collar style. It's thin enough not to stretch/split thin soft plastics, your baits will not slip down off your jig collar every time you cast or swing 'n miss on a hookset. Droopy drawer grubs are a real hassle for you, and a real turn-off for the fish in my opinion. However, any thin collar (or even no collar) will work with soft plastics merely by using a tiny bit of superglue before pulling the bait's head up behind the jig head!

For rubber/silicone skirts: The proper leadheads will have the following three properties to effectively hold the bait down on lures that wear skirts:

1) A wide-stem lead collar. To me, jigs that wear skirts require a fat, cylindrical lead collar for skirt. The stem of the lead collar should be fat enough so that the neoprene rubber band (on the skirt) is always slightly stretched. So, first thing to make sure of is that you have the correct "girth" in your lead collar - that it is wide enough to stretch the neoprene band slightly, thereby providing gripping tension at all times.

2) A rear bumper. Well, this is just a raised ridge or "bump" at the very end of the lead collar stem. The best bumpers will be rounded behind (so you can slip a skirt on easily) but with a more formidable, raised ridge - often a squared-off lip - on the business edge of the bumper that prevents anything (usually a bass) from pulling your skirt down easily.

3) Collar length. Finally, I like the wide stem of the collar to be, oh let's say, up to 1 1/2, max two times as long as the neoprene skirt band is wide. This gives me room to arrange the skirt properly, so it is not smooshed up against neither the back of the leadhead nor the front of the bumper. In this way, the skirt gets good water flow and therefore movement all around, not being impinged by the head or the bumper. It also gives a little margin of protection against a bass tugging at your skirt. At least the skirt will have a little somewhere to go when pulled, instead of just "off".

For tying hair jigs and other natural materials. First, I do not suggest using thin, bayonet style collars designed for soft plastics. By tying hair onto such a collar, the result will be a very thin, densely-packed hair body with no "hollow core" (see below). I also do not recommend the squared-off "rear bumper" styles that are most effective with silicone/rubber dressings. Why? Because the bucktail hairs will flare out when wrapped down against a squared-off lip, resulting in a hair jig dressing that looks very much like an open umbrella. BUT...if what you want are thin, dense ties or widely-flared ties on your jigs, so be it.

As for me, I often prefer to use a special type of lead collar designed strictly for tying hair. The correct style is fading into obscurity in today's modern age of rubber, silicone and you may have to hunt them out to find the right styles for tying. Why go to through the effort? Because the proper style of lead collar enables the hair fibers to flare out just a create a bulge right behind where they are wrapped...but you only want the "shoulder" to flare out. You do not want the entire length of the fibers to flare out widely...the overall effect of the hair tips and body shape is that the fibers should have a nicely puffed out appearance right behind where they are wrapped, and it should bulge out to its widest point about mid-way down the overall length of the dressing. Beyond mid-way, you you want the very tips to naturally come to a point like an artist's paint brush. THAT IS JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED! The overall effect forms what I will refer to as a "thin, elongated football" shape. You will be able to see through this shape, as will a fish. This gives the hair body a certain measure of living translucence.

So, here are the design features to look for in a lead collar for wrapping hair jigs:

1) A wide-stem lead collar. To me, hair jigs require a fat, cylindrical lead collar for tying. It makes it easier to manage and wrap the tying material on a fatter collar. Also, a fatter collar results in the finished product having a hollow "tube" underneath the outer coating of hair - not at all unlike the concept of a hollow-bodied soft plastic tubebait. You should envision trying to make that hollow-bodied hair jig as you tie it.

2) A round ball bumper. Well, this is just a spherical ball at the end of the collar. The diameter of the ball should not be much wider than the diameter of the tying stem. The ball causes a gradual rise, and if you do not bear down with too much tying pressure, it will form the highly-desirable shape and hollowness described in the prior paragraphs.

3) Collar length. Obviously, the longer the collar length, the easier it is for a novice to tie on it. However, a moderately-expereinced tyer should strive for the shortest possible collar length that can be comfortably tied. To me, there are only two parts to a jig. It's a yin/yang sorta deal where the solid lead head imparts action, and the flexible dressing receives this action. The wrapping in between is merely the part that marries them together. So, as long as you can comfortably tie, spread your hairs evenly, wrap and and get your scissors in there - shorter length collars are better - and the least amount of thread is better in my opinion too - no more thread than just enough to barely cover the hairs.

As you may have come to realize by reading the section above, I love fishing hair jigs, and I have a few more tips about about tying them. Are you interested? You can click here to read my article on How to Tie Hair Jigs. It's early December as I write this, and it's gonna be a long winter you know...and hair jigs are especailly deadly in cold or cool water come early spring! Why not wrap up a few? say that I have written an in-depth article

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