Hair, Not Rubber
Bucktail jigs and flies are time proven fish catchers. Before skirts made of rubber or vinyl were developed, jigs and spinners were dressed with bucktail, bear, fox, or some other hair. They caught fish years ago, and they can still be a highly productive offering to the often illusive bass.
My first experience with hand tying jigs was when I was just a lad in the late 1950's. Everyone called my grandfather's jigs Doll Flies, but that was really the trade name for some commercially made jigs at that time. Granddaddy spent much of his retirement time tying these 1/4 ounce jigs. Given his infinite measure of patience, he taught me his style of tying the synthetic hair he used on the pre-painted jig heads. Fishermen in the small town in southern middle Tennessee depended on Granddaddy to keep them supplied with the jigs which cost $1.00 for a card of twelve. Most of Granddaddy's customers used the jigs while fishing from the bank just below Pickwick Dam, a TVA hydro-electric generating facility on the Tennessee River. The jigs attracted sauger, stripe, crappie, bass, skip jack, drum, gar, and just about any other predator fish.
It seems that tying jigs and flies is something which is passed down through the genes. After my dad gave me Granddaddy's 1/4 ounce mold, I purchased molds to pour 1/32 through 1/8 ounce jigs. Instead of using the synthetic hair my grandfather used, I found a supplier of bucktails. A friend operates a meat processing plant processes hundreds of deer each fall. In exchange for a constant supply of bucktail jigs, I receive an equal supply of bucktails.
I have been tying bucktails for my personal use (and for friends) for some time now. As an experiment, I tied a few weightless flies. Using light or ultra-light equipment and attaching a split shot in front of one of these flies, I have had good success catching smallmouth and Kentucky bass. When fishing these flies, the biggest problem I had was hanging up in any type of cover. To remedy that, I started tying the weightless flies on weedless hooks (the ones with the snap-over-the-hook wire guard). That opened up a whole new technique for me and my bucktails.
Catching Schooling Bass
Often times, schooling bass are difficult to catch when there is a smorgasbord of shad wadded up above them. There have been times when I have emptied my tackle box in an attempt to find something the fish would hit in that situation. ENTER THE BUCKTAIL FLY!. There is something about a bucktail which is enticing to a bass. Maybe it is its buoyant characteristic. Maybe it is its scent and flavor. Only the bass can answer that. A three or four inch long bucktail fly set up on a Carolina Rig is deadly on finicky fish. As it hovers almost weightless behind the sinker, it must resemble a dying baitfish slowly drifting toward the bottom. A bass will always take the easiest meal, and the bucktail apparently looks to be just that. I have had fishing partners laugh at me when I rigged up this combination, only to beg me to share after a few fish were taken. Those are wonderful moments for bait-making fishermen like me.
Bucktail Jig Colors and Trailers
Bucktails can be dyed virtually any color, and they are especially effective when a pork dressing is added. The pork seems to nullify the weight of the hook, and the bait takes on a characteristic which is even more attractive. The added flavor, action, and bulk only increases the chances for better quality fish. These same bucktail flies and pork are also effective with a pegged slip sinker, for then they can be pitched or flipped into heavy cover. Again, the natural organic composition of the bait makes a powerful attachment to the terminal end of a fishing machine.
The technology of bass fishing has grown exponentially in the past twenty years. Dedicated fishermen now have the knowledge and equipment to find more fish than ever before. As our technology evolves, so evolves the bass. Sure, there are times when a screaming spinnerbait or a buzzbait will catch a boatload. sure, there are times when a noismaking topwater bait will be effective. Sure, there are times when cranking chunks of plastic or wood will put fish in the boat. When the above techniques do not work, a plastic version of a worm, lizard, or crawfish might do the job, but even that does not always work.
If none of these artificial imitations are productive, give the bass something NATURAL. TRY A BUCKTAIL!