As much as I like fishing, I seldom venture out ice fishing. Too much trouble cutting a hole in the ice long and wide enough to cast a fly! Besides, in our part of the country, below zero temperatures usually are encountered in any winter outdoor outing, therefore reading a fly fishing book in front of a warm fire is much more appealing! I do have good friends in the prairie provinces who go ice fishing on a regular basis but when you consider the lakes out there are barely ice free past summer, who can blame them? In fact, I recall one cold January when Ed, a friend living in Edmonton took us out ice fishing to lakes in the Athabaska area even though the morning temperatures greeted us at minus sixteen degrees Celcius! I have to admit that Albertans are well equipped for such excursions including black fabric ice fishing tents that do a great job of keeping out flesh freezing winds! They also feature another delightful advantage in that with clear lake water, you can see deep into the ice hole at the fish action below! This creates much more excitement when you can see a large walleye or whitefish swirl near your hook to inspect your offering. Another thing I learned was that the four species of fish we caught in those cold January Athabaska lakes; pike, white fish, perch and pickerel, all tasted excellent! Many die hard prairie folk claim walleye or pickerel make the best table fare but all four species we caught through the ice were absolutely delicious with very little difference, at least to my palate! Well, enough of this, it's time to move on to our January fly tying topic, which as you may guess, will be a jig fly!Last January, no, I wasn't ice fishing because I was in Phoenix, I purchased among other fly tying components, a package of Cabella's Jig Head ball style gold plated hooks. These hooks have a ball weight with the hook eye above the ball in line with the hook point, an excellent design for jigging! You are right in that the main use is for ice fishing but they can also be dressed up with fur and feather for river steelhead fishing! Our application will be a traditional jig fly made the easy way with Creme mini tails, a soft small plastic hollow body bug with flowing plastic legs, similar to the larger octopus type lures used for ocean salmon fishing. These mini tails down south are used to cover a hook for crappy fishing but they also make a great body for a northern ice fishing fly as follows!
Again, if you have the right materials, the tying instructions are extremely simple! Just force the mini tail body up the jig hook shank. If you have the correct size of minitail (or jig hook to match) the soft plastic body and tail will stay on the hook without any tying thread! If you have trouble finding the mini tails that I have described, a suitable jig hook fly can be made with marabou or similar, more traditional fly materials!
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