Friday, January 20, 2012

Gill Chasing on the Ice: Volume 3 - Jig & Bait Selection

For the final installment of this blog on chasing gill on the ice, we are going to focus on jig and bait selection. Obviously each lake in each reach region on each day may change or alter what works, but for the sake of trying Im going to share with you my top three jig & Spoon selections as well as what I like to use for bait.. both live and artificial .

 In my arsenal the two main categories of lure that I use for chasing gills are "micro jigs" and  "dropper spoons". The selection of Micro jigs has grown rapidly over the past 3 years with both lead and tungsten jigs available in all shapes, sizes and colors. My go to jigs consist of the following.

Custom Jigs & Spins: Gill Pill, the gill pill is the original when it comes to micro jigs with "gill" in the name. This tiny high quality jigs has a flattened base that give the jig a slight flutter when falling in the water. With 10 color options in 5 sizes you will have not trouble finding one that works on your lake on any given day.

Bait selection when fishing a gill pill can differ. Some anglers will fish the GP naked, but I prefer to tip it with a few live wax worms or some berkley gulp waxies. Both hang off the hook well, and still leave enough of the point open to ensure a good hook-up.

For color and size dont be afraid to test out a bunch to see what works on your lakes.. but for me you cant go wrong with the black/white and a glow. As for sizes I kinda hang out in the middle and usually purchase 12's or 14's.

Fishkas Wolf Ram Jig are very similar to the look and feel of  CJ&S's collection of jigs, the wolframs have one big difference.. they are tungsten, and will allow you to use smaller jigs and still get back down to that school of gills much faster then when using lead. 

Wolfram jigs are available in hand painted, epoxy and metalic and come in way more colors then most jigs on the market today  But at over $2 a piece they are a bit pricey.Due to the extra weigh you can afford to look at using smaller jig selection, Wolframs come in 5 sizes including a size 20.. for those keeping score that jig is listed at 2mm ( a bit small for my taste)

My color preferences in the wolfram line-up are geared towards the pinks, I love the "pink face" and "glow pink". If you want to try the epoxy line out be sure to check out the "glow spot" and the "black glow spot"

the below link is only place I have ever seen wolfram jigs.. if you plan to buy some, be sure to check out the Asso line as well (see Volume 2)

The last jig on my list is the Arnold Fairy Jig also known as a flutter jig. This is a great jig to start your day off with and works great when tipped with maggots or wax worms

The flutter jig comes in a few color options but almost always has copper blades. I use the pink version the most, followed closely by the green version. The orange very rarely sees the ice, unless I lend when to a friend (yeah Im that kinda guy). The blades on these jigs really attract attention and seem to call gills in from all around. The only real down fall to the flutter jig is they have a very slow fall rate. with little weight and flutter blades, this jig will cause you fits if you are fishing in water over 20ft deep.

Ok, so that should cover you on the jig side of things, but there are times when jigs just wont cut it, and when that happens you need to give a spoon a shot. There are three spoons I will turn to when the bite gets tuff, and they are sure to do some damage.

Cj&S not only hit it out of the park on their gill jig selection, but the Slender Spoon is also one of the best all around spoons I have ever used. I buy these babies in bulk in all sizes as they are fish slaying machines for all species. (Gills, Walleye, Perch, Crappie, Splake and I've lost a few to pike as well)

Like the gill pill CJ&S makes these spoons in a variety and sizes, I find that the 1/16 and 1/8 sizes are perfect for gill fishing. The 1/16 I will fish as is, but the 1/8 i will remove the stock treble and add a dropper hook, either a hali chain style hook or small treble. These spoons like the above jigs can be tipped with waxies, maggots and/or gulp waxies and maggots. With baits like these I may also increase the bait size and try out a pinhead minnow or a minnow head (real or artificial). Color selection for gills, I like to use a silver/red or silver/blue version. 

If you like your spoons with a little more weight to them, then you are looking for a Hali  Sukkula or just Hali for short. These heavy duty spoons (I use the term loosely) will get you down into the water column fast and will really announce your presence if you bang then around on the bottom a bit. 

These are available in various colors and sizes, but I kinda like the 35mm size when gill fishing. Again in these spoons I like lighter colors and like to have a little blue in there. 

The dropper hooks are great for gill fishing but are very small, so when pairing with bait be sure to look for smaller sizes as well. Pinhead minnows are great on these hooks and so are the standard waxies. A tip to remember is that you should invest in extra hooks, the light gauge wire hooks will be bend easily with use, and even more so if you need pliers to remove them from the fishes mouth

I will also note that I hate the damn packaging, the shrink wrap gets caught up on the hooks and chains and is a pain in the ass to pull free. I have damaged more then one bait just opening the package

The last spoon on my must have Gill list is a Northland Eyedropper , these spoons are available in a couple designs, one with a single hook permanently attached (known as the eye dropper jig), and the second version has a removable treble (known as the eye dropper spoon). I prefer option 2 when gill fishing, and I remove the treble and replace it with either a Hali chain or a northland dropper. 

The small face of the eyedropper spoon gives off great flash but is not imposing. I love to fish this bait with live minnows and or minnow heads. The light weight spoon allows a live minnow to make it flutter with ease and allows you to almost deadstick it, while still getting some nice action.

Although available in a few colors I like to stick with "perch", "glo-perch" and occasionally "shiner", they are nice lite colors and give off some serious flash for various species. I will add that this is a slow falling spoon, so try to avoid using it in 20ft of water or more. I like to use this spoon in 15ft and under.

The last tip I will leave you with is in regards to bait. You heard me mention both live and artificials, I like to travel with both, as both have their place. If you want to try live wax worms, but dont know where to start, try your local pet shop. This is standard Lizzard/reptile food, and they usually have it available in bulk. If you want to lean towards the artifically side, you cant really go wrong with Gulp waxies, they look and fell like the real thing. I stick with natural colors, but will also carry a neon green as a last ditch effort. Gulp also makes a minnow head bait, this also works great on all panfish, it is the perfect bite size piece without having to rip heads off.

So thats it, now you know my secrets to success when chasing gills on the ice. Just like any other species, good gear is the key. And by no means does this cover all that is available to the gill chaser today, companies like Jammin jigs  just missed my list (although they would be on my crappie list) and Northland also has a  line of "Gill Getter", so be sure to try a few of these out the next time your on the ice in search of gills, and let me know how it works out for you

till next time, be safe and enjoy the ice


  1. Nice, thorough article! Couldn't agree more on the effectiveness of spoons at times!

  2. Thanx man, much appreciated. Spoons are a killer bait, its all about size and flash

  3. Another great post...meant to reply earlier.