HomeFeaturesJig Modification for Effect – a Tackle Modz Feature by Mike Ferman of TackleModz Late Spring is a time of transition in the everyday life of a bass. As waters begin to warm, late season rains tend to turn even the clearest lakes to some form of stained water. When this happens, the fish tend to move away from the shallows and begin to make their way to deep water for the summer. Finding fish at this time of year generally requires covering a lot of water quickly and fishing versatile baits that can be adapted to changing situations. For those of us fishing ponds and from shore; it also means dealing with growing grass or in some areas even a bit of surface matting has already begun to take hold, and these grasses can drastically limit the amount of treble hooked baits you can use. One of my favorite ways to handle this is to not only pick some great alternatives to treble hooked presentations, but also add some flash and vibration to those baits to help them stand out from the pack of lures typically tossed and trigger strikes. Here are some great options for this time of year; both from a home modified and production stand point: Swim Jig Tailspinner Modifications – photo by Mike Ferman – Tackle Modz #1 The Bladed Swim Jig This is a phenomenal bait during the transition because it can be presented in so many ways. A simple change of retrieve will allow you to work a swim jig throughout the water column and present it correctly to a number of different types of cover. One downfall of this category is they aren’t nearly as flashy as their cousin, the spinnerbait. A quick and easy way to change this is to add a blade to your swim jig. This will allow you to fish it like a spinnerbait without sacrificing any of its jig properties. I don’t know about you, but there are simply places I will hesitate to throw a spinnerbait but not a jig. The bladed swim jig helps solve that problem. There are currently two out of box swim jigs that come with attached blades that stand out to me. Both are unique in where they position the blade. For a top blade presentation the WarBlade by WarBaits is hard to beat. They created this bait by attaching a removable blade to the bend of the hook with a ball bearing swivel and a trailer hook keeper. For an underspin style, I go for the Boom Boom Plus designed by Fred Roumbanis for Pepper Custom Baits. This bladed swim jig features a small wire that rides along the shank of the hook and extends in a dropper loop to which is attached a ball bearing swivel and blade. Either of these baits are a great option as search baits, allowing you to cover water fast and find active fish. Swim Jig Underspin Modification – photo by Mike Ferman – Tackle Modz Both the top and bottom spin versions can also be created by you. There are a number of great Pre-assembled blade attachment products from companies like Owner, EcoGear, Humdinger, Talon, & Zappu. You can also build your own using a trailer hitch or centering pin screw and ball bearing or power swivel, or by utilizing a new product from Mustad called the “Fastach Clip w/ swivel”, which is a small metal rod with a swivel attached to one end and a quick release clip on the other. I commonly use both, albeit for separate reasons. One of the biggest issues most face when using a bladed swim jig is that the trailer or skirt will foul the blade. To counteract this I tend to use two systems on each position. On the top riding design where the blade is attached to the hook I tend to prefer to use the trailer keeper method. When using the blade with a soft plastic trailer or a super long skirt, I use the Fastach clip & attach the ringed side to the hook with a keeper and attach the blade directly to the quick release. This gives the blade the length to hang beyond the plastic allowing it less chance to foul. When using the swim jig without a trailer or with a compact skirt length I simply attach the blade to a ball bearing swivel and apply a trailer keeper just like any of the retail solutions you can purchase. For the underspin version it’s the same deal with a few slight changes. Because the blade is on the bottom and will undoubtedly be coming into contact with things it can hang up on, I tend to prefer to use the centering pin attached to a ball bearing and screw it directly into the bottom of the soft plastic just outside of the skirt at an angle to keep it more weedless. Split Belly Hook Slot Rigging Step by Step – photo by Mike Ferman – Tackle Modz I reserve the Fastach for situations where the trailer has a split bodied hook slot or I need the extra length to avoid the appendages of the soft plastic. For those situations I use the threading method, where I simple run the hook point out through the bottom of the belly where I want the blade to hang and attach the clip side of the Fastach directly to the hook shank with the ball bearing facing down, before running the hook point the rest of the way through the body and out the top. #2 The Scrounger Spin Over 10 years ago word broke about a new lure being utilized by some Western anglers called a Scrounger. Commonly fished with a fluke style trailer, it’s a jig head with a soft rubber vertical bill which causes the trailer to vibrate on the retrieve. Aaron Martens help popularize it nationally by using it to help catch less active fish on the national tours, basically “Scrounging up” the finicky fish who couldn’t be caught another way. The Scrounger is a great bait this time of year because of its lack of bells and whistles; it simply works. Falling somewhere between the vibration of a boot tail swimbait and a vibrating jig, it’s a combination of sexy movement and slight vibration that can really trigger strikes when nothing else will work. In the shallows, along break lines, ledges, and even out deep around schooling fish, the Scrounger is a simple yet effective tool. However, using a Fluke style trailer and thinking finesse isn’t the only way to utilize this awesome technique. In the situation that the water is cloudy and/or fish want more flash or vibration I do not hesitate to upsize my trailer to a boot tail swimbait and add a blade. Scrounger Head and Trailer with Scrounger Had Modifications – photo by Mike Ferman – Tackle Modz When adding a blade to a Scrounger, I exclusively use the underspin system of attachment. Again choosing to either screw a hitch and swivel directly into the plastic on a solid body bait or by the threading method to attach the clip of the Fastach to the hook shank as previously described. The resulting rig provides that extra flash and thump to stand out in cloudy water without sacrificing any of the bait’s other features. #3 The Vibration Jig on Steroids It’s no secret that vibrating jigs catch fish year round. A number of years ago a company called Rad Lures came out with the “Chatterbait;” The first design for a jig with a front mounted blade attached to the line tie specifically to change the action. The design caused the jig to shake and vibrate, or as you might say “chatter.” Since that time a number of companies have come out with vibrating jigs which include a multitude of different solutions for mounting the front blade to the jig head. Although different, they all do basically the same thing which is to impart vibration to the lure. Although there are a number of blade and color options to help effect both thump and flashiness, one of the least utilized ways to make your vibrating jig stand out from the pack is with the addition of a trailing blade. Vibrating Jig Underspins – photo by Mike Ferman – Tackle Modz Vibrating baits already pack A LOT of thump, so I tend to choose blades more for their visibilty or flashiness than vibration… So choosing a willow blade here is a great choice, however on a rare occasion the fish do want more thump an Indiana or Colorado blade may be called for as well. As a vibrating jig is a skirted bait, I tend to stay away from the screw in attachment here opting for the extra length of the Fastach Clip with the ball bearing facing down. This bait tends to get two reactions from a fish, they either engulf it in motion making it feel like a strong crank bait bite, or they follow it closely appearing interested but unwilling to commit. This is where the addition of the trailing blade really shines. When they follow it in simply try killing the bait, thus allowing the blade to spin freely as it falls through the water column, and you will usually get the strike you are looking for. #4 Secret Agent Man A long time ago I learned about the ease, simplicity, and fishability of tail spin style lures. Effective year round and throughout the country; this simple presentation is a multi-species killer that can be used to target fish at almost any depth. They do however, have one down fall and that is they are very easy to hang up on hard objects and anything but weedless. However this next rig can help erase those issues as well allow you to upsize your presentation to target the largest fish in the lake. His name; “Secret Agent Man,” because he sneaks in and out of hard to reach places without getting hung up. Swimbait Tailspinner – photo by Mike Ferman – Tackle Modz This rig consists of a boot tail swimbait rigged weedless on a shank weighted hook with the boot of the boot tail removed. After removing the boot tail, I attach a centering pin spring with blade and swivel to the soft plastic on the end of the remaining tail in place of the boot or paddle. Be sure to choose a swimbait with enough plastic and wall thickness to screw into otherwise the blade will generally rip out pretty quickly. A great option for this is the Streaker swimbait by Riot Baits. The tail is segmented down to the boot which provides flexibility and has a thick enough plastic core at the tail to firmly screw into. But feel free to choose any swimbait with a tail section thick enough to keep the screw in place or you’ll just be donating blades to short strikers and the lakebed. I fish this like I would any swimbait and choose blade types and sizes based on the technique and retrieve style and speed the fish are looking for. This bait is great because I can literally throw it anywhere. By simply changing the hook weight or swimbait size you can fish it at any depth, through any type of cover or weed mass. The versatility of this bait is unmatched as it can be fished weedlessly with a multitude of retrieves and presentations… Whether waking it unweighted on the surface, walking it over a mat and letting it fall between holes, swimming it in open water, weaving it through thick standing grass or timber at 20 feet deep, or hopping it on the bottom… The “Secret Agent Man” is a killer bait for finding fish in cover without finding cover with your treble hooks! Swimbait Tailspinner up close – photo by Mike Ferman – Tackle Modz #TackleModZAdvancedTip – If you by chance start experiencing alot of short strikes specifically at the blade of the bait rather than the body, try slowing your retrieve speed a hair or adding in a few pauses or twitches every couple rotations of the reel handle. They may be keying in on the blade more than the swimbait. If you find this to be true for certain and are unable to stop the short strikes after modifying your speed; try adding a stringer hook to the blade. Attach a straight shank single point siwash hook like you’d find on a spoon directly to the split ring holding the blade. Try using one that fits the blade almost exactly and you should have any issues with weedlessness or fouling of the blade by the hook. Final Notes As we wrap this up, I want to share with you some tips and factors to consider when choosing what blades to use with each application. First, let me make this clear, these are guidelines only, and are not set in stone. Take the time to play with different combinations and you might find some work better for you and the fish you target than others. Color: Don’t hesitate to use both metallic and colored blades that either match or contrast the colors of the lure you are attaching them too. Remember this is about having that little extra that helps you stand out from the pack… So don’t hesitate try blades that do as well. Blade Shape / Size: Different blade shapes and sizes have different purposes and have different requirements to meet there full capacity… Blade shape and size has a direct effect on the flash, vibration, speed, and action of the blade and it’s important to know some of the basics. I generally suggest choosing the smallest blade possible for each application. The bigger you go the more lift the blades will supply, so be sure to check the affect the size is having on your depth control or speed There are three common blade shapes used in bass fishing, here’s how I would apply them to each of the above mentioned rigs: Colorado: Has the most thump of the blades and will work at the slowest retrieve speed. I use Colorados almost exclusively when using any of the above baits as a lift/drop bait or if I am going to be crawling a bait like the bladed swim jig at super slow speed. Indiana: Some people call the Indiana blade the happy medium. Part willow blade on top with the shape, edge, and cup of a Colorado on the bottom. They can’t be fished as slow as a Colorado blade or as fast as a willow, however they are a wonderful mix of the two and probably the blade shape I choose most often even beyond the above rigs. Willow: These blades are the flashiest of the bunch, I use them whenever I’m more concerned with flash than vibration. These are the one blade type I would suggest for all of the above rigs unless you are only adding the blade for its vibration transmission properties. They have stability at high speed and are also the most weedless of the spinnerbait blades. Blade choices for each lure (remember these are just baseline suggestions – play around with it): Bladed Swim Jig: -For Flash: Willow (size 1-5) -For Thump: Indiana (size 3-4.5) -As a drop bait: Colorado (size 2-5) or Indiana (Size 4) Scrounger Swim: -For Flash: Willow (choose size based on trailer) – Thump: Indiana (size 4 MAX – less if you an get away with it) Vibration Jig on Steroids: -For Flash: Willow (size 2-4) -For Thump: Indiana (Size 2-4) Secret Agent Man: -For Flash: Willow (Based on size of swimbait and overall profile wanted) -For Thump – Horizantal Retrieve : Indiana (Again match to the bait size – or amount of thump desired) -For Thump – Drop Bait / Vertical Retrieve: Colorado (Match to bait size – or amount of thump desired) Feel free to drop us a line on at @TackleModZ on social media and let us know how they work for you, share your tips to these and other baits, and post any fish catches you might get while using any of these out of the box ideas.