When Fur And Feathers Win

Like an elite NFL team wearing throwback uniforms, leadheads dressed with fur or feathers provide a classic look to cold-water smallmouths and often outperform jigs adorned with a modern soft plastics.

When using jigs with a primary body ingredient of bucktail, marabou or rabbit fur, the key times are both early spring and late fall, when water temperatures range from 40 to 50 degrees. Matted balls of hair out of the water, fur jigs come to life when submerged, sparking a response from sluggish cold-water smallies.

Since the varying characteristics of deer hair, marabou and rabbit fur behave differently, which means bronzebacks may clamp down on a rabbit jig, while a day or two later display a preference for bucktail or marabou. Jigs like Jimmy D’s Scruffy Bunny- Tail incorporate semi-buoyant hair with a bunny tail for an ultra-slow decent, another factor that can generate strikes. Natural colors—brown, black and olive green—are productive. In clear water try a combination of blue head and white body.

Seek out slack-water river pools where brown bass are becoming active, yet aren’t willing to buck heavy current. Using a medium-power, fast-action spinning rod in the 6- to 6 1/2-foot range, drag or hop the jig along bottom, expecting bites to have a spongy feel. Braid of 15- or 20-pound test, finished off with an 18-inch, 10-pound fluorocarbon leader, will increase the likelihood of detecting the light bite.

During the early spring, on lakes, target sand or gravel flats adjacent to drop-offs. These shelves are often the transition zone between deep wintering areas and spawning flats. Easter isn’t the only time to be thinking about rabbits—the smallies like them, too

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