Stan Fagerstrom is a member of both the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as well as the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. Stan is also known internationally for his casting skills. Stan welcomes your e-mail comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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March 02, 2012
This Jig's Gone Wacky
by Stan FagerstromSome of the best bass fishermen around this land of the free and the brave know how to dance a jig.
If that creates a mental image of a bunch of rod toting dudes making moves you might see at an Irish pub---guess again. What I'm thinking about, you see, has nothing to do with your feet. What I have in mind are the jigs anglers often use to put bass in the boat.
I have a special reason for talking about them right now. The reason is there's a brand new jig that's about to come on the scene. It's one you never seen before and it's certain to attract the attention of a whole bunch of anglers.
If you've fished bass long enough to wear a few calluses on your butt you've undoubtedly heard of fishing Wacky Style. It's not as wild as it sounds. What it boils down to is inserting your hook in the middle of a plastic worm instead of at the head end.
What this type of presentation does is let both ends of the worm wiggle and waggle as it falls. Besides having a nasty disposition, bass generally are just as curious as they are mean. Sometimes they just can't leave a worm presented Wacky Style alone.
There are a variety of ways to use some kind of a weight when you practice Wacky Style fishing. Now there's a brand new combined hook and weight coming on the scene you need to know about. I've played around with it some and it's a dandy.
This new product is called the Jig Head Wacky. It was developed by my friends at Gamakatsu. I say "my friends" because I've been fishing with Gamakatsu products ever since they first came to the American market. As a matter of fact, our relationship goes even a bit further back than that.
I was, you see, given opportunity to test these wondrous new hooks before they hit the tackle dealer shelves in the United States decades ago. I lived in the same area as the man who was planning to handle these hooks if they measured up to his high standards.
I don't have to tell experienced fishermen about the quality of Gamakatsu products. They've been on the leading edge of hook innovation and technology ever since they came on the scene. That's one of the reasons why I figure their new Jig Head Wacky hook & jig set up is certain to attract so much attention.
So exactly why is it I'm so eager to rig the new Gamakatsu product up with one of my 5-inch Yamamoto Kutail worms? It's because this brand new Jig Head Wacky combines features you've not seen before in this kind of hook and jig.
For starters, this new jig head is weedless. And if you think those weedguards are of the plastic type you've undoubtedly seen elsewhere---guess again. Gamakatsu's new Jig Head Wacky comes with a double nickel/titanium weedguard.
"If you've messed with titanium much you're aware of its strength and durability," says Jeff Roberts, an assistant sales manager for Gamaktsu who has been deeply involved in the production and testing of this new set up.
"You can throw this new rig into the submerged trees, rocks or whatever kind of obstruction you need," Roberts says, "to get your Senkos into whatever's down there along the bottom. Those dual strands of titanium that form the weedguards may be small but they'll get the job done."
The jig head of this Gamakatsu product is also of new design. The eye of its hook is recessed to better prevent its hanging up in whatever structure you are fishing.
Gamakatsu had hoped to have the new Jig Head Wacky hooks on the market by last December. That didn't happen because of production problems where they are being made.
As this is being written it appears they will be available to us by late this spring or in early summer. I'd suggest you ask the guys at your favorite tackle store to give you a call when it happens. Another good bet is to keep your eye on Gamakatsu's Internet site. You find it at www.gamakatsu.com.
Fishing Wacky Style can be a super tactic for both largemouth and smallmouth bass. You can see the Senko worm rigged Wacky Style that took this beauty on Oregon's Umpqua River.
When I first heard about the new jigs even a couple of samples were difficult to come by. Jeff sent me one to make it easier for me to know what I was talking about. Just eyeballing the darn thing, and listening to what Roberts had to say about the extensive testing and refinement that have gone into it, convince me it's a winner.
While the new Jig Head Wacky didn't reach the market as early as originally planned, its actual development and testing was been under way for more than a year. I asked Roberts where some of this testing has been done and who was involved.
One of the pros who has been deeply involved all the way is Shinichi Fukae, the tournament winning pro from Japan. Here's a guy who grew up using one finesse fishing tactic or another. The last time I checked Bass Fan had him listed at Number 10 among the world's top ranked bass pros.
You can bet your bucks that a pro with Fukae's winning record isn't going to screw around with a new Wacky Style fishing rig unless he knows it puts fish in the boat. He and others worked with different versions of the new Jig Head Wacky until they got it just right.
"The hook on this Jig is tailor made for its purpose," Roberts says. "Its angle is perfect. It looks a good bit like one of our extra wide gap worm hooks. My own experience with it proves I hook most of the bass I take on it in the roof of the mouth."
Here's a close up of Gamakatsu's new Jig Head Wacky. It was a terrific fish catcher when conditions were right during its testing process.
Jeff and other Gamakatsu pros also spent testing time with the Jig Head Wacky on Truman Lake and Stockton Lake in Missouri. Stacey King, that's another name that'll ring bells with you, was involved in the testing down there in the "Show Me State."
Obviously the new rig did a good bit of "showing" as well as "convincing" or it wouldn't have created the excitement that it has.
I mentioned using it with Senko Kut Tail worms for a reason. It's because Roberts has found Yamamoto's Kut Tails a particularly good bait to use on the new Jig Head Wacky. "It's best not to use a worm with a body that's too thick," he says. "I really liked my results with a 5-inch Yamamoto Kut Tail."
I was eager to learn what colors in the Kut Tail had been most effective. Jeff had a ready answer.
"The Kut Tail #042J was lights out some of the time," he says. "That worm is a fading watermelon color. Another hot bait was the cinnamon brown #241." Among the other Kut Tails that were effective for him were the #194, #297 and the #427. He also had excellent success some of the time with a 5-inch Thin Senko.
Roberts will tell you that the new Jig Head Wacky is at its best where the water gets to depths from 12-feet on down. "Fishing it along drop offs is one of its best applications," he says. "I also used it along the deep water off steep bluff walls. During testing at Lake Oroville in California I took fish on it all the way down to 35-feet."
Some lures demand a lot of movement on their way down to where the bass are holding. Roberts says that's usually not a requirement where the Jig Head Wacky is concerned. "You're going to get most of your hits on the drop," he says. "Don't work it too much. The jig head makes the worm do its own thing as it falls."
Anglers who've tested this new Jig Head Wacky have found it to be especially effective when used with Yamamoto Kut Tail Senkos worms.
That's about the size of it. As I've mentioned, I've had occasion to observe the Gamakatsu hook operation now a long time. I'm well aware of the detailed thought, planning and repeated testing that goes into their record setting hooks.
Whenever company officials are as excited as they are about their new Jig Head Wacky, it gives me my own near terminal case of the fishin' itch.
Pictured are some of the 5-inch Kut Tail Senkos that caught more than their share of fish when Gamakatsu pros fished with the company's new Jig Head Wacky.
I'll be watching for word of exactly when these new rigs become available. You'd be wise to do the same.