UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Clear Lake

How to Catch Winter Bass on Hair Jigs

How to Catch Winter Bass on Hair Jigs
AJ Slegona

There are a lot of good winter lures, from umbrella rigs to swimbaits and blade baits, but one old-school standard is a hair jig. Recently, big bucktail jigs on ledges have gotten a lot of press, as have little marabou jigs for shallow smallmouths. However, FLW pro AJ Slegona keeps another type of hair jig handy. His is a small, bottom-oriented morsel for deep and cold smallmouths.

 

AJ Slegona

Technique basics

Though fishing hair jigs for chilly bass isn’t specifically a Northeast deal, the technique seems to have taken a bigger foothold there than in some other smallmouth areas. As such, it’s no wonder that Slegona, who hails from Pine Bush, N.Y., would be pretty adept at the finesse technique.

“I usually start throwing a hair jig when the water temperature drops below 50 degrees. The fish start congregating out deep offshore on hard structure, and they like that real finesse approach,” says Slegona. “Their metabolism slows down in the wintertime, and a hair jig is so subtle and you work it so slow that it triggers them to bite it. Compared to a crankbait or something like that it’s such a subtle approach, and it looks like a baitfish or crawfish or whatever they eat down there.”

AJ Slegona

Slegona typically slings hair on any sort of hard offshore winter spots he finds with his Lowrance StructureScan. Usually scanning from 15 to 35 feet deep, his spots might be a rubble pile, a patch of boulders or the end of an old stone wall.

“I don’t usually see a lot of bass on the actual sonar,” says Slegona. “But if you see a lot of baitfish overtop, that’s a good indication that there are probably smallmouths there.”

A cast-and-drag approach is Slegona’s go-to technique, but he emphasizes that it’s almost impossible to fish the bait too slow.

“What took time to learn is how finesse you’ve got to be about it,” details Slegona. “You can’t have too heavy of a rod or heavy line. It’s an ultra-finesse technique. You’ve got to be super slow and super sensitive, because you’re fishing real deep water. I almost let the line drag it toward me. You can’t ever fish it too slow.”

 

AJ Slegona

Tackle specifics

Slegona uses 6-pound-test Vicious Pro Elite Fluorocarbon and a medium- or medium-light-action spinning rod with a soft tip to present the jig. He likes the fluorocarbon because it sinks, and he feels like the extra stretch compared to a braid-and-leader setup is actually advantageous when playing the fish.

Slegona relies mostly on a 3/16-ounce ball-head jig with synthetic fibers made by Crafty Rabbit Jigs.

“They have all different types of hair, but I go toward the full synthetic,” says Slegona. “It has a more natural movement I think, and it is a little more buoyant under the water. I just stick with black. If they don’t eat a black one then I won’t catch them. And I put just a little piece of worm on the hook to bulk it up and make it cast a little farther.”

The Crafty Rabbit jigs he uses have a light-wire sickle hook, and Slegona thinks that is very key.

“The fish almost hook themselves; it’s such a laser-sharp hook,” says Slegona. “The light wire is important. Their mouths are a lot harder this time of year. Whenever you use 6-pound-test line and a soft rod in 30 feet of water you need that light-wire hook to penetrate their mouths.”

Though hair jigs are very available in football-head models, Slegona prefers a ball head because he thinks it casts better. He also almost always sticks with a 3/16-ounce bait, only going to an even more finesse 1/8-ounce model if it’s very calm and he’s fishing shallower than 20 feet. Finally, Slegona will occasionally mix in a bulkier jig for largemouths that is a combination of rabbit hair and synthetic fibers, but that’s only on the rare occasion when he expects green fish.

 

AJ Slegona

Go until the freeze

Slegona pulls out his box of hair jigs in the fall and says they’re a key part of his game plan until ice covers the lakes and it’s time to roll south.

“It’s hard to pass up smallmouths in the winter,” he says. “When they get bunched up out there you can have a lights-out day. So, when that water temp drops below 50, I break out the hair jig box, and I put it away again in the spring when the water gets warm.”

Tags: pro tips weekly  hair jig  smallmouth  candlewood  new york  jody-white  article 

Annual Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Auction Goes Digital

Annual Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Auction Goes Digital

The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame is excited to announce its first Digital Hall of Fame Week, which will be anchored by a massive online auction offering up an incredible selection of fishing-related items not available elsewhere. READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from the Detroit River

Top Patterns and Baits from the Detroit River

With the whole field boxed into the Detroit River for the first two days of the final Toyota Series Northern Division event, it’s natural that the main player was the river itself. But, on the final day, when folks could branch out, Scott Dobson actually ran to St. Clair and many of the other pros ventured into Lake Erie. READ MORE »

2021 All-American Heads to Douglas

2021 All-American Heads to Douglas

FLW announced Tuesday that the 38th annual Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American will be held on Tennessee’s Douglas Lake in 2021. READ MORE »

2021 National Championship set for Grand

2021 National Championship set for Grand

FLW announced Monday that the 12th annual Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship will be held on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in 2021. The tournament, slated for March 3-5, showcases the nation’s best collegiate anglers and awards the winners a $33,500 prize package, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard and automatic entry into the 2021 Toyota Series Championship where they will compete for a top prize of up to $235,000. READ MORE »

Grubb Wins Co-Angler Side at the Detroit River

Grubb Wins Co-Angler Side at the Detroit River

Taking the co-angler win in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River, Tony Grubb weighed four bass for 14 pounds, 1 ounce on the final day for a 46-5 total. For the win, his second as a co-angler with FLW, Grubb takes home a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat worth over $35,000. READ MORE »

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 3

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 3

Championship Saturday of the Toyota Series Plains Division opener at Lake Dardanelle presented by Fish-Intel followed its pattern of the week with anglers failing to capitalize on sparse opportunities. READ MORE »

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 3

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 3

With the wind laying down a bit, the top 10 anglers in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River have been able to go wherever they pleased today. With crisp morning temperatures, plenty of sun and a north wind, the conditions have largely been quite good, with mixed results from the anglers. READ MORE »

Dobson Grabs Second Toyota Series W

Dobson Grabs Second Toyota Series W

Weighing 18 pounds and 9 ounces on day three for a 59-3 total, Scott Dobson moved from second to first to win the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River. The win is Dobson’s second in Toyota Series competition and his eighth overall with FLW. For the win, Dobson takes home $27,534 and further burnishes his record as one of the best smallmouth anglers on the planet.   READ MORE »

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 2

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 2

Anglers said Thursday that current didn’t matter during the first round of the Toyota Series Plains Division opener presented by Fish-Intel at Lake Dardanelle, but apparently it matters more than they thought. READ MORE »

Burton Edges Ahead at the Detroit River

Burton Edges Ahead at the Detroit River

Day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River saw the pros stuck in the river itself again due to the wind. Moving up from fourth place into the lead, Wilson Burton weighed 20 pounds, 4 ounces to get up to a 40-11 total. With the only 20-pound bag of the day, Burton slipped past Scott Dobson by just one ounce, who weighed 19-12 and sits behind him with a 40-10 total. READ MORE »

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 2

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 2

With strong wind from the north again, the Toyota Series Northern Division field was again confined to the actual Detroit River. On day one, the fishing was quite good, and several pros crossed the 20-pound mark and plenty of limits hit the scales. Today, things seem a little tougher. READ MORE »

Stokes Leads on the Detroit River

Stokes Leads on the Detroit River

Strong winds kept the pros in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River pinned to the actual river, but the fishing was still very good. Plenty of anglers brought in 17 pounds or more, and the leaders are all concentrated around the 20-pound mark. In first, Troy Stokes of Brownstown, Mich., weighed 21 pounds, 4 ounces to kick things off. READ MORE »

Tommy Skarlis, 1965-2020

Tommy Skarlis, 1965-2020

FLW learned today that former FLW Walleye pro Tommy Skarlis of Denver, Iowa, passed away after a battle with brain cancer. He was 55. READ MORE »

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 1

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 1

Right off the bat, the anglers in the field at the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River were thrown a curveball by the weather. This morning, with increasing wind forecasts, tournament officials made Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair off-limits, thereby penning up the 87 pros and co-anglers on the American side of the Detroit River. READ MORE »

Smith Wins Southeastern AOY

Smith Wins Southeastern AOY

Originally from Wisconsin and sometimes wearing a Green Bay Packers hoodie on stage, Dustin Smith doesn’t fit the mold of Toyota Series Southeastern Division Strike King Angler of the Year. Still, Smith hammered out a pair of top 10s and a 27th-place showing en route to the title, and his style of fishing was simply perfect for this season in the Southeastern Division. READ MORE »

Northern Division Finishes at Detroit River

Northern Division Finishes at Detroit River

The 2020 Toyota Series Northern Division will wrap up in Trenton, Mich., Sept. 17-19, at the Detroit River. Hosted by the Detroit Sports Commission, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »

Potomac Midday Update – Day 3

Potomac Midday Update – Day 3

Clouds have lingered throughout the morning, which most of the top 10 were thankful for as the bite has been better than it was during practice when conditions were calm and sunny. READ MORE »

Potomac Midday Update – Day 2

Potomac Midday Update – Day 2

Clouds once again greeted the field for day two of the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on the Potomac River and the fish were biting this morning. With low tide this morning around 8:40 a.m. ET – about an hour and a half later than yesterday – more anglers had time to capitalize on the strong bite revolving around that window today. READ MORE »

Potomac Midday Update – Day 1

Potomac Midday Update – Day 1

It was a gloomy start to the first day of competition for the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on the Potomac River, and though it seems like a fishy day, so far the fish don’t seem to think so. READ MORE »

2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Schedule

2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Schedule

The 26th season of FLW’s top professional circuit will feature six regular-season tournaments showcasing the best 150 anglers in the world competing for as much as $135,000 in a five-biggest-fish format on top bass fisheries at peak times. The 2020 season culminates in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit TITLE presented by Toyota, where the top 50 pros will compete for as much as $235,000 in a catch, weigh, immediate-release format. READ MORE »