Traditionally, there has been a clear divide been coarse, lure and fly fishing; Until recently, where the line has started to blur. With such a growing variety of angling styles and techniques, it was inevitable that lines would be crossed and boundaries pushed.
The first clear crossover was a few years ago when carp anglers, noticing fish feeding on the aquatic life in the diferent water layers, introduced the ‘Zig Bug’ which in certain conditions is unbeatable. The bucktail lure has been been around for years, being a popular lure especially stateside. A few years ago Fox made the crossover introducing the much underrated ‘fly fry’. Then over recent years, the lure anglers decided they wanted to fish flies but on their regular spinning and casting rods. This is where the ‘Jig Fly’ was born.
What is a Jig Fly?
It is exactly what it says on the tin, essentially a fly with a slight bit extra material than its counterpart, tied onto a jig head or weighted with a ‘Cheb’. This extra weight allows it to be cast be lure anglers on their setups. With many versions popping up featuring articulated bodies, trailing stingers, and endless patterns with some also utilising the new fly tails that have arose recently, you can be certain there’s a Jig Fly out there for you.
How to fish a Jig Fly
A jig fly is essentially retrieved in the same style as a lure, the usual ones being a constant or varied retrieve, twitch and jerk, stop and go and bumped along the bottom. The retrive is more to do, like lure angling, to do with the conditons. There is little point fishing a jig fly quickly on a frosty winters morning as the pike will unlikely be active, such like fishing too slowly on a warm day when they are hunting can pose the threat of deep hooking a fish. I could talk all day about variations of retrieves, but just try what you know already and you will soon find your stride. For those beginners, just stick to the ‘usual ones’ to start and ask others for help. The lure angling community is very welcoming, just don’t expect them to tell you where to fish!
One Life Fish It
Tom Hatton of ‘One Life Fish It’ is one of the many anglers utilizing this fusion technique. He skillfully ties pike and perch jig flies, using them to great effect, catching fish after fish along the way. Only being in the jig fly world for a year, lets see what he has to say…
Everyone knows the days where you get down to the bank, pop the lid off the lure box and decide which hard, soft, hybrid or spinner bait would do the job today?
Well recently there’s been a new weapon creeping into a number of arsenals around the world, the ‘Jig Fly’.
Whilst lure fishing and fly fishing have been around for a long time individually, this crossover has only happened recently in comparison, yet is starting to gain traction in the lure fishing scene.
Being both a lure and fly angler amongst other disciplines, this new creation seriously tweaked my interest and soon enough I had a couple to try out.
With the style of the retrieve being pretty similar to most lures it wasn’t long before I found which retrive suited which fly and the fish started coming!
My setup is made of 2 different approaches, for the lighter end I’ll use a rod around the 10-30g range twinned with either a 2500 spinning reel or a 131 baitcaster. Then when I need more backbone to keep the larger fish away from trouble I use a 20-
80g baitcaster twinned with a 131 which throws a wet 5g fly no problem.
As with all styles of fishing there are pros and cons, the Jig Fly being no exception. In my opinion, the pros have to be the movement, variation of styles/colours, easy to make yourself if you learn, and very effective. As for the cons, you cant load a jig fly with too much weight as the majority will quickly hit the floor as soon as your stop retireving and look anything but natural. This means you cant cast them as far as hard or soft baits without usually dropping line diameter and setup weight, potentially ending up snapping a lot and risking leaving a fish with some unwanted souveniors. Another con is that, like the normal fly, they tend not to push as much water as lures, therefore not creating as many vibrations and disturbance for the fish to zone in to, there are advances being made to try and make this leap, with a few ideas already out there.
Now on to the most diverse area of the Jig Fly; colours. These are only limited by the tyers ability and imagination, but have only one real end consumer to make the final judgement. The main colours I tie and use are ‘green and gold’, ‘copper and orange’, ‘red heads’ and ‘white and gold’. The two styles I prefer in my box are either an articulated fly or one with a titanium stinger and tail attachment. My choice of tails at the moment are the pacchiarini dragon tails as they have proved themselves time and time again, not just for myself.
My best moment since coming over to this side of fishing was one morning. Myself and two good mates headed down to the banks of a mist covered River Severn to be greeted by an emerging sunrise and waking birds. This twinned with a falling and clearing river, gave us the feeling that everyone knows, that moment when everything just feels right. With only a quick session before work, we soon finished the morning brews and started fishing. We all started on soft and hybrid baits looking to get a quick fish to start things off. After an hour of trying different spots with no luck, I decided on a change. Off came the soft bait and on went my jig fly, fresh off the vice the night before. Within 15 minutes the first pike was in the net. Two swims on and in came the second. In the next half hour I managed two more pike on the same fly, with the best being a 97cm female around the 12lb mark. Whilst not a massive fish, it’s a pretty good stamp from the section and to top it off, it came to a Jig Fly of my own creation. It’s a feeling you just can’t beat.
The thing that pulls me towards a jig fly as my go-to in most situations is the movement, not just as a whole, but each indivdual strand or fibre of material moving and glistening individually within that silhouette. It’s almost mesmerizing, watching it dance back through the water until you’re snapped backed to reality by a flash of green and a swirl of water above where your fly was. Fish on!
So get out there, grab a few Jig Flies and gain your own opinion. I never looked back.
DROP SHOT FLY
Another fusion of the lure and fly world is the use of flies on a drop shot set up. Set up exactly the same but adding a small fry fly instead of the softbait.
Again the flowing movement of the lure supassses anything you can get from a softbait and the hang time is extended, often the time when the hit comes. The most successful patterns are the small (approx 25mm) silver fish shapes with dolls heads or added eyes.
The downside is that market bought flies often have barbed hooks, which I have to crush down. Also changing flies when the fly is getting ragged by multipe catches is more time consuming than a quick softbait change, as you need to re-tie the rig. However, that said, the durability of a fly is much better than a softbait. I can often go an entire session on one fly.
The other preferred colours aside from silver is anything with a red flash or black back, obvious lure colours that also work well with softbaits. Last season on my local canal, I nearly exclusively fished the drop shot fusion fly towards the end of the season. I found fishing under bridges and near sunken trees, these lures produced more results than any other lure and often filtered out the wasps and tempting the bigger fish.
Try these killer jig fry patterns for pike and perch. The jig head and feathery bodies make a very durable and life like lure. They catch lots of fish and its lots of fun.