Tackle Tip: Bucktail Basics - The Fisherman

Tackle Tip: Bucktail Basics

Spro bucktails are a worthy option for those looking to try out one of these hair jigs.

What does a town in Nebraska, a state park in Pennsylvania and the end opposite the head of a rivet have in common?

The Bucktail is also probably one of the most versatile, all-purpose, all-species, and effective lures ever invented.  As a testament to the bucktail’s effectiveness back in WWII, the US Navy packed a bucktail jig and handline into the survival kits for sailors and pilots to catch fish in an emergency. For the most part it’s basic; a lead head with a hook and some hair of a dead animal.

It can be fished many ways in many different conditions, from shore, jetties or from boat (even though boat fish don’t count). It mimics several baitfish; therefore, it catches a wide variety of fish. It is a lure that is included in everyone’s bag and comes in a wide range of styles and sizes.

Larger bucktails weighing 1 to 3 ounces work well in deep water and fast-moving currents. They are great lookalikes to squid and are a favorite of stripers and blues. Smaller jigs from 1/4 ounce to 1 ounce are great in shallow water and imitate small bait like bay anchovies and peanut bunker.  Remember you want to try to “match the hatch.” Sometimes it pays to add on some enticers like a strip of Gulp or Otter Tail, and then you can always ask Uncle Josh what he uses.

Since it is such a popular lure and has been around for a very long time, there is a lot of research you can do on your own to familiarize yourself with the bucktail and the different methods of using it. There are tons of articles, videos, and books about fishing with them. The Fisherman Magazine’s YouTube has several videos on how to bounce a bucktail effectively. The best thing you can do is try it out; put in the time and effort and figure it out on your own. Is it better to use a slow or medium retrieve; bounce on the bottom or keep it high in the water column; what does a thick tuft of hair do versus a thin tuft; white hair with a red split tail; or chartreuse with a white tail?  Practice different types under different conditions, go to your local tackle shop and ask for their guidance. Most of all get out there and fish!

Bucktail Videos From The Fisherman

Bucktailing a Jetty

Snap-Jigging Bucktails



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