While many walleye anglers might have forgotten the appeal of bucktail jigs, walleyes have not. For aggressive bites, fish a VMC® Bucktail Jig in six to 12 feet of water. Start by jigging it fast and unadorned. Slow down and dress the hook with live bait to entice finicky fish.
“We just filmed a show fishing VMC Bucktails and really smoked ‘em,” recalls legendary angler Al Lindner, a Rapala® Pro and co-founder of In-Fisherman and host of the influential Angling Edge and Fishing Edge TV shows. “In all kinds of conditions and on different kinds of waters, the reaction bite we are getting is amazing.”
Cooler water temps allow you to fish Bucktail Jigs faster, shallower and without a trailer bait on the hook. Warmer water temps often necessitate a slower, deeper presentation and a live-bait or soft-plastic trailer.
“You could put a minnow on there, put a piece of nightcrawler on there, you can put a leech on there, you can fish it with any type of soft plastic you want on the back of it,” Lindner says. “You can combine it and you can fish it alone. When the fish are in cool to cold water and fairly active, numerous times you don’t need anything but [the jig itself].”
When fishing Bucktial Jigs, Linder starts in six to 12 feet of water, fishing fast, without live bait.
“I’ll always start in shallow water, fishing it without anything on it,” he says. “When you’re fishing it alone, you’re fishing it fast, just like a Jigging Rap®. You’re snap-jigging it. You want the bait to jump and fall quickly. It’s a reaction bite.”
When walleyes don’t react to that presentation, Linder adds a small- to medium-size minnow or leech and slows his jigging.
“The more you bulk it up, you’ve got to fish it slower,” he instructs. “If you’ve got to put any kind of live bait on … you can’t really rip it.”
When fishing a Bucktail Jig dressed with live bait, Linder often slides deeper than where he started with aggressive jigging.
“If they get really touchy and you have to put bait on the back of it, you can long-line and drag it along deeper structures,” he says. “I’ve fished them already this year catching them as deep as 32 feet of water with a small leech.”
In shallower water, Linder jigs 1/8 to 1/4 oz. Bucktail Jigs. In deeper water, he upsizes to a 3/8th oz. model.
Bucktail Comeback Underway
Following the onset of the soft-plastic era, many walleye anglers likely can’t recall the last time they tied on a bucktail bait. Even Linder acknowledges setting aside his for several years. But that was a mistake. “I started fishing them again and I was astounded,” he says. “I believe we are really going to see a resurgence with this for walleyes.”
Linder collaborated with VMC, a Rapala® Respected Brand, to design and engineer the new Bucktail Jig.
“The head on it is shaped like a pear, so it’s heavily weight-forward,” he explains. “So when you jump it off the bottom and then slack-line it on the fall, it crashes straight down, really fast. It doesn’t jump and glide forward, like you see with some other jigs. You snap it, you drop it and it crashes. And that’s what’s triggering the fish.”
Bucktail hair maintains its shape in water, presenting gamefish a larger target to attack. Tinsel fibers complement Bucktail Jigs’ skirts to enhance visual appeal. They are available in eight color patterns: Black, Chartreuse White, Fathead, Green Fire UV, Orange Fire UV, Firetiger, Pink Fire UV and White. “The color mix for walleyes is perfect,” Lindner says.
The Bucktail Jig’s head design provides added control and balance for a variety of jigging techniques. The jigs are armed with a premium high-carbon steel, chemically sharpened needle-point VMC hook. They come two per-pack in three sizes: 1/8 oz. (1/0 hook), 1/4 oz. (2/0 hook) and 3/8 oz. (2/0 hook).