Building & Tweaking Bladed Jigs

Mornings on the Water (MOtW April 2024)

Building & Tweaking Bladed Jigs

A DIY Guide for Building Lures that Catch Fish!

Creating your own bladed jig can be a lot of fun. But more importantly, it’s a surefire way to optimize your angling success. Here’s everything you need to know about making your own bladed jigs. Plus, included are some tricks & tips to fine-tune your lures to make them even more effective!

What is a Bladed Jig?

Before we delve into the specifics of component selection, let’s discuss what a bladed jig is. In essence, a bladed jig (also commonly known as a Chatterbait), is a versatile fishing lure that combines the best qualities of a spinnerbait and a jig. The defining feature of a bladed jig is its vibrating blade that mimics the motion of small fish, making it an effective tool to attract predatory species. The blade is attached to the front of the jig and wobbles back and forth as you pull the lure through the water.

Why You Should Start Making Your Own Bladed Jigs

Bladed Jigs can be an angler’s secret weapon. They’ve gained widespread popularity due to their versatility and effectiveness in a variety of fishing conditions. These lures imitate the motion and vibration of small baitfish, making them irresistible to fish seeking a quick meal. They are often used in windy conditions or when visibility is impaired. When fish can’t locate a lure by sight, they key in on the vibration the lure emits.

Bladed jigs can be spendy, often topping $10 in the stores. But the good news is that you can assemble your own at a fraction of the cost of a store bought one. And that’s not all. You can also choose your own colors and create a lethal lure you know will catch fish in your local fishery. Fish in heavily fished areas can become accustomed to common baits. Your unique bladed jig might just be the key to getting those fish to bite. The best news is that it’s very easy to assemble your own! Anyone can do it.

How to assemble your own Bladed Jig

Step 1: Grab the necessary tools. All you need is a pair of standard Long Nose Pliers and a pair of Split Ring Pliers. The Split Ring Pliers will help you load the split ring onto your blade and jig eyelet during the assembly process.

Step 2: Gather Your Materials

Here are the components you will need:

  1. Bladed Swim Jig Head: Choose the style, color, weight and hook that works best for you.
  2. Jig Dancer Shaker Blade: There are several styles and colors to choose from.
  3. Split Ring: Size 3 or Size 4 – Connects your blade to the jig head eyelet. (see tip below)
  4. Duo-Lock Snap: Size 3 – This connects to the front of the blade, where you tie your line.
  5. Silicone Skirt: A Skirt helps hide the hook, flares out in the water, and brings lure to life.
  6. Trailer: *Optional* – These enhance the action of your lure. Use 3½” to 4½” baits.

Step 3: Assemble Your Bladed Jig (See Figures 1 – 6)

  1. Add the Duo-Lock Snap to the front of the Blade: This is where you will tie your line. Fig 1-2
  2. Attach the Blade to the Jig: Use a split ring to attach the blade to the jig head’s eyelet. Ensure the convex side of the blade (if using a bent blade) faces away from the jig head to create the bladed jig’s distinctive action in the water. Fig 3-4
  3. Add the Skirt: Push the skirt over the hook and up onto the jig head collar. Make sure it flares out to mimic natural bait. Fig 5
  4. Add your Trailer: Thread your chosen soft bait trailer (craw or minnow) onto the hook. Fig 6

And voila! You have created your very own bladed jig.

 Optimizing your Bladed Jig for peak performance

Choosing the right components can significantly impact your success rate. If you’re interested in upping your game with a bladed jig, consider the following key factors when building your Bladed Jig:

BladeThe blade is the heartbeat of the bladed jig. It’s responsible for creating the vibration and flash that attracts fish. Many bladed jigs have hex-shaped blades, but they can also be oval or round. In clear water, consider a silver or gold blade. In darker, murkier water, a black or painted blade could be more effective. Flat blades can give off more vibration, whereas bent blades are a great choice for an all-around effective lure in multiple fishing conditions.

SkirtThe skirt provides the bulk of the bait’s visual appeal. Choose a color that matches the natural prey of the fish you’re targeting. For example, if you’re fishing in an area with a lot of bluegills, opt for a skirt featuring bluegill colors, like green, blue and orange. Choose a skirt that naturally flares out to give your lure a more natural profile.

Jig Head and HookThe jig head’s weight is crucial to consider, as it affects the depth and speed at which the bladed jig can be fished. Lighter weights (1/4 oz – 3/8 oz) are good for shallow water, while heavier weights (1/2 oz or more) are better for deeper waters. The hook should be sharp and strong enough to handle the fish you’re targeting.

Soft Plastic TrailerAdding a trailer, such as a crawfish or swimbait, can increase the lure’s effectiveness. The trailer adds additional movement and mimics a fish’s natural prey more accurately. Consider the color, size, and action of the trailer to match the conditions and target species. See tip below on adding trailers.

 How to fish your Bladed Jig

Now that you have built your fish-catching weapon, it’s time to put it to the test. What is the best way to fish your Bladed Jig? This lure is so effective, that by simply casting it out and retrieving it you will catch fish. But you can improve your odds even more with a few simple tips on how to vary the “retrieve”. There are likely more retrieve techniques, but these are the most popular.

Steady Retrieve – Here you simply retrieve your lure in a steady, even manner. This is the simplest way to fish a Bladed Jig. However, year in and year out it consistently fools fish.

Erratic Retrieve – This technique involves adding short pauses to your retrieve. In addition to pausing the retrieve, try speeding it up and slowing it down, so that the retrieve is not steady or even. Sudden, erratic movements often trigger fish into a strike.

Burn Retrieve – Here you are retrieving your lure as fast as you can. Fast moving lures often trigger fish that won’t fall for slow moving lures. Here you are looking for “reaction” strikes. Burning your Bladed Jig also helps your lure go into “hunt mode”, creating the often irresistible, erratic movements fish can’t ignore.

Yo-Yo Retrieve – This technique is ideal for deeper water when fish are holding near the bottom. Simply put, the Yo-Yo technique involves using your bait more like a Yo-Yo, letting fall to the bottom and then quickly reeling it up, then letting it fall to the bottom again. Fish are equally as likely to hit the lure as it flutters to the bottom as they are to hammer it when you rip it up off the bottom. Try this next time you are out, when the water temp is warming up!

Pro Tweaks for better performance!

Split Ring Size – The Split Ring is the smallest component in Bladed jig assembly but might be the most influential. The size of this small part plays a big role in the movement of your lure through the water. Using a size #4 Split Ring will allow your lure to operate in a more consistent, in-line trajectory (a steady, side to side wobble). Using a size #3 Split Ring will cause your lure to “hunt” on retrieve, with a more erratic trajectory. This becomes especially noticeable as you increase your speed of the retrieve. The faster the retrieve, the more erratic the hunting action. It’s important to note that trailer length also greatly affects the hunting action of your lures.

Flat Blade vs Bent Blade – Blade shape matters. Use the flat blades to create more aggressive blade vibration. The flat blades are great when you want to fish a slower presentation in stained / dirty water. Use the bent blades when you are employing a faster retrieve and looking for a more consistent wobble motion. Rule of thumb – Flat blades in spring and fall and mirky water. Bent blades in summer in clear water conditions.

Metallic Blade vs Painted Blade – Generally speaking, use bright painted blades (red, or white, or chartreuse) in the spring and in low-visibility conditions. Black also seems to work well in dingy or dark water. Use metallic blades (nickel, gold etc) in clear water and sunlight. We have also found that natural colors like Green Pumpkin work well in clear water. Use blade decals to diffuse overly reflective blades, enhance bait patterns or to add color and pizzazz.

Trailers Affect & Enhance Lure Action – We rarely fish a Bladed Jig without a trailer. A trailer will affect the swimming movement of your bait as much as anything else. Use trailers to your advantage. Due to the movement of the jig head, trailers tend to swim behind the lure in a very natural way, turning a good bait into a great bait. You can use swimbaits, minnows, craws or just about anything else you want. Keep in mind that longer trailers could inhibit the erratic “hunting” action of your lure. Try some of your favorites and see how they perform on the back of your Bladed Jig!

Finally – Experimentation is key!

Remember, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all Bladed Jig. The “best” Bladed Jig will depend on various factors, including the fishing conditions, the species you’re fishing for, your personal preferences and maybe most importantly, the mood of the fish you are targeting. It’s essential to experiment with different Bladed Jig components and presentation methods until you find the combination that yields the best results for you. Now go have some fun!!

 About the author

Andrew Taylor has been tinkering with fishing lures for almost 40 years. Andrew, who lives in Minnesota with his wife and 4 children, founded in 1992. About 10 years ago, he sold the company to Jim and Ron Stevens of Springfield, IL. Andrew stayed on to work with the new ownership, and currently is head of Marketing and Product Development. Through his work, he gets to spend a lot of time on the water testing products.

Mornings on the Water (MOtW) is a compilation of the experiences and insight gained over the years while on the water. He prefers early mornings when the water is still, the birds are just waking up and the fish are hungry. And most people are still in bed.

A few of the author’s Bladed Jig favorite patterns.

 Spring – 3/8oz Hot Spring Craw Pattern – #4 split ring for tighter tracking – Gold Tiger Blade – Pintail trailer.

 Summer – 1/2oz Bluegill Pattern – #3 split ring for a more erratic, hunting action – Gold Blade – Turbo-Tails Craw trailer.

 Fall – 1/2oz Natural Baitfish Pattern – #4 split ring for tighter tracking – Black or G.P. Blade – Pintail trailer.


Click here to watch a How-To video on making your own Bladed Jigs by pro angler Jim Crowley.



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