Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Is There an Auditory Advantage to Tungsten Jigs?

BEMIDJI, Minn.– Bait materials have different acoustical signatures underwater. Put on a mask and snorkel and you’d notice right away—if you could hear over the din of today’s sonar, that is.

In short, tungsten’s tune attracts fish—at least more than standard lead-heads and weights—which bass anglers have known for years, dragging tungsten bullet weights on Carolina rigs over hard bottoms or flipping noisy, tungsten-tipped Tokyo Rigs in and out of all kinds of cover—or the simple replacement of tungsten for lead when casting or flipping a Texas Rig. Years of bass tournament weights prove that tungsten just performs.

“It’s pretty basic,” says Northland pro and tournament walleye angler Tom Huynh. “When two tungsten jigs bounce off each other in your tackle box, a high-pitched ‘tink’ is produced, which is very different from the ‘thud’ of lead touching lead. It’s almost akin to the sound of a brass rattle, like what bass anglers slip into tubes.”

Now imagine the sound tungsten makes as it scrapes sand and bounces along rocks underwater, which 10th grade Physics tells us carries sound waves between three to four times farther than in air.

Northland pro and fishing favorite Jason Mitchell nods: “There’s a noise component to tungsten that lead just doesn’t have, and I’ve watched it attract walleyes over numerous scenarios on forward-facing sonar. They’ll come in from a far distance away to investigate what’s going on when that tungsten jig is banging hard-bottom.”

“Case in point: Last season I was on some rock structure loaded with walleyes, but couldn’t get a bite with anything I thought would work. Discouraged, I finally grabbed a slip-bobber rod and started lifting the Tungsten Short-Shank Jig 4- to 5-feet above the fish, then letting it free-fall and crash into the rocks, repeating the process until I got bit. I watched it all on the screen. The more I pounded the bottom, the more interested the fish got in eating.”

Mitchell continues his tale: “A few clanks of that jig on rock and the walleyes would slurp up the jig and leech right off the bottom. But they wouldn’t touch it on the free-fall. Their feeding seemed to kick in after they heard the tink of tungsten on rock a few times—kind of like working a rattle-chambered spoon in winter. My takeaway? What I’ve seen with forward-facing sonar really suggests that the tungsten sound triggers some kind of feeding response, whether it’s out of hunger or walleyes simply wanting the noise to go away.”

Short-Shanking Soft Plastics?

“I’m kind of going against the grain of a lot of guys, but I fish the Tungsten Short-Shank Jig with shorter soft plastics, too—basically anything 3-inches or under, typically a small paddletail or pintail bait,” says Huynh.

“The reason I fish the Tungsten Short-Shank with plastics – rather than a standard- or long-shank jig – is I believe big walleyes are wary of a lot of baits. With the Tungsten Short-Shank Jig, they see less of the jig itself and more undulating plastic. And, the Tungsten Short-Shank Jig gives 3-inch and smaller soft plastics better action because you don’t have a long hook shank running as far back on the bait. There’s more plastic body to move and do its thing,” concludes Huynh.

Power-Corking Tungsten: Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota

If you’ve fished Mille Lacs at all over the past couple of years, you’ve witnessed the phenomena of anglers driving around, Spot-Locking, and tossing out corks—everywhere from reef tops and edges to the mud flats to deep basin areas. Called “power corking”, it’s the equivalent of spot & stalk hunting.

And on your average day out of Garrison or Isle, Minnesota, you’ll find Mille Lacs Lake guide Brad Hawthorne captaining one of those boats with anglers precisely pitching corks.

“So, my main deal on Mille Lacs is locating pods of walleyes with Humminbird MEGA Live, and then having my clients cast an 1/8th or ¼-ounce Tungsten Short-Shank Jig under a simple slip-bobber right to those fish,” offers Hawthorne.

“In relatively short time we’ve figured out that tungsten excels on clear waters like Mille Lacs, Cass, Leech, etc. where you must keep your boat distanced from walleyes. If a lake has invasives—or is just naturally on the clear side—I won’t pitch a float at them if they’re 30 feet or closer to the boat. Those fish just don’t seem to bite.”

Left to his druthers, Hawthorne will tip his clients’ tungstens with leeches, making the switch over immediately after the height of the early-season shiner bite.

“But I catch plenty on ‘crawlers, too, which are always available to anglers and don’t require a lot of maintenance to keep healthy. The minimal shank length on the Short-Shank Tungsten lets you hang the nightcrawler head out to do its thing, rather than being threaded on a long-shank jig.”

Hawthorne says the other cool thing about the Tungsten Short-Shank Jig is how it minimizes slip bobber rig hardware, thereby producing more bites.

“The Tungsten Short-Shank Jig is compact and dense enough to cast in the wind, it falls to the fish fast, and minimizes the entire slip-bobber rig. You don’t need to add any additional split-shots or an egg sinker. All you need is a swivel, the jig, lively bait, and your slip-bobber. It’s easy and stealthy at the same time.”

Tungsten Float Tips: Dakota ‘Eyes

Leaving the gin-like visibility of Mille Lacs and many northern Minnesota lakes, North Dakota’s waters are on the other spectrum—constantly wind churned, full of algae and microscopic life, and ultimately, not very clear.

As a result, Mitchell goes bigger (and noisier) to put Dakota ‘eyes in the box. “I use a modified slip- bobber rig out here in the Dakotas. Pretty old school except for the new Tungsten Short-Shank Jig. It’s simple and catches lots of fish,” shares Mitchell.

“I start with a big slip float like you’d use fishing muskies or pike with sucker minnows – something close to two inches in diameter and with a cigar-shaped height between six and eight inches tall. I slip on a ¼-ounce egg sinker below the float and bobber stop, tie on a swivel, then position the Tungsten Short-Shank Jig about three feet below that.”

Mitchell says the rig excels when he spots a fish on forward-facing sonar.

“Once I see walleyes on the screen, I can pinpoint my cast, and when that bobber ker-plunks, it only takes a couple seconds for the Tungsten Short-Shank Jig and leech or ‘crawler to reach the fish.”

“Even though tungsten falls fast, I don’t like to wait,” laughs Mitchell. “I want that bait to crash right into the fish I see on the screen. With our stained waters, our fish are a lot less spooky, and a lot of times, you really need to let them know your bait is there. The other thing is the added weight of the egg sinker and large, cigar-shaped slip float casts easily on a long rod into the wind.”

While Mitchell is a big fan of leeches, he will fish smaller soft plastics on the same jig and monster slip float, working them pendulum-like, similar to what you might do with a sized-down slip-float and plastic rig for crappies.

Tungsten Take-Away

So, for fishing live bait, you’re going to find that the new Tungsten Short-Shank Jig is a true wonder, what with its ability to telegraph every subtle nuance of bottom composition and the slightest fish nudge or bite. Its fall rate is quick, casts like a bullet, and allows anglers to bring stealth back into the live bait and even plastics walleye program.

Sizes & Colors

Widely available, the new Short-Shank Tungsten Jig comes in three sizes and ten colors—1/8-, ¼-, and 3/8-ounce with size 1/0, 2/0, and 3/0 hooks respectively. Proven, fish-catching patterns include Gold Shiner, Firetiger, Parrot, Bubblegum, Glo Moonlight, Sunrise, Parakeet, Glo Watermelon—and the recent addition of Black.

The jigs are available in two packs with an MSRP of $6.99.


ABOUT Northland® Fishing Tackle

In 1975, a young Northwoods fishing guide named John Peterson started pouring jigs and tying tackle for his clients in a small remote cabin in northern Minnesota. The lures were innovative, made with high quality components, and most importantly, were catching fish when no other baits were working! Word spread like wildfire, the phone started ringing… and the Northland Fishing Tackle® brand was in hot demand! For 40 years now, John and the Northland® team have been designing, testing and perfecting an exclusive line of products that catch fish like no other brand on the market today. Manufactured in the heart of Minnesota's finest fishing waters, Northland® is one of the country's leading producers of premium quality jigs, live bait rigs, spinnerbaits and spoons for crappies, bluegills, perch, walleyes, bass, trout, northern pike and muskies.

ABOUT Bagley Bait Company

The personality of any company comes from its founder. Jim Bagley was an inventive, fun-loving, passionate fisherman who became one the most respected legends in the fishing tackle industry. In late 2010, Jarmo Rapala and a group of investors bought Bagley Bait Company. As an admirer of Jim Bagley for his attention to quality and of his product ingenuity and innovation, Jarmo initiated significant changes in operations, enhanced production processes and quality control. Now in 2020, Northland® Fishing Tackle, along with Jarmo as its Chief Lure Designer, maintain the legacy of creating premium balsa crankbaits and topwater lures, as well as jigs and spoons for both freshwater and saltwater anglers.