Fishing Hair Jigs for Smallmouths

By Marc Shea

I love fishing unfamiliar waters because I almost always learn something new.

Take, for example, a trip to western Connecticut’s Candlewood Lake that I made in spring 2015 with my buddy Matt Razey. We wanted to fish the lake’s pre-spawn period before tournament season kicked into high gear, but doing so presented some challenges, chief among them the fickle New England weather. Think cold and windy!

In the days leading up to the trip, Matt and I discussed using a lure I had never fished before: a hair jig. By “hair jig,” I don’t mean the kind they use on the Tennessee River impoundments. Rather, I’m talking about finesse hair jigs—1/8-ounce jigs fished on light line and spinning tackle. Would such a small lure interest these big Candlewood bass? “Elephants eat peanuts,” Matt explained.  “Just let the jig do its thing and don’t horse them.”

On Matt’s advice, I went with an all-black hair jig fished on 10-pound Pline TCBX-8 braid and a long 4-pound-test Pline Tactical fluorocarbon leader. My gear was a Denali Lithium Series Finesse spinning rod and a Team Lew’s Speed Spin 1000 Series reel. I figured the long rod and light line would allow me to make long casts with the light jig. The line would also help the jig perform better.

The first spot we fished was a big boulder point with a stiff north wind blowing around it. On my third cast with the hair jig, my rod loaded up. It was a subtle strike, but the fish turned out to be a good one: a solid 3-pounder. A few minutes later, Matt threw his rig on the wind-swept side of the point and connected with another solid smallmouth.

Over the next 8 hours I experienced some of the best smallmouth fishing in my life. Even though we only had 14 bites all day, they were all solid fish in the 3- to 4-pound class. The trick was putting that hair jig in front of the fish and slow rolling it with little flares of the reel handle to get the jig to jump.

It turns out that elephants do indeed eat peanuts.


Freak Finder Fishing is the brainchild of avid anglers Matt Razey and Marc Shea. The pair first started filming videos to share their love of bass fishing and the outdoors with their families and friends, but soon realized that sharing this information through the web and on social media was a great way to disperse knowledge and make connections within the fishing industry. To learn more, visit the Freak Finder website, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.