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March 22, 2013

Get the Lead Out

An inside look into the world of the lead-head jig

Creating Your Own

The beautiful thing about lead-head jigs is that you can actually make them yourself. With the right tools, it’s possible to simply buy jig hooks, lead ingots, and various tying materials, paints and ­coatings, and craft your own lures.





“We offer several varieties of jig hooks for salt water that guys will buy in bulk and then tinker with their own jig designs,” says Jeff Pierce, sales director at Mustad.

Pierce himself is such a tinkerer, noting that the Do-It Corporation offers dozens of different molds for the various makes and models of hooks.

“Once you get the mold — and they’re pretty inexpensive — you buy a lead pot and the lead ingots, and you melt the lead down and pour it into the mold,” he says, adding that it’s important to exercise extreme caution when working with the lead.

Pierce likes to powder-coat his heads once the lead is set, applying heat with a gun, then dipping the heads in the powder-coat and baking them for 20 minutes at 325 degrees F. He generally finishes off his creations by tying in rabbit hair, which he’s found to be durable and incredibly seductive to fish.

“The neat thing is that once you discover something that works, it’s yours,” Pierce says. “Sometimes, it’s totally unique to the fish and will generate many more strikes than anything else in your box.”
Consider it yet another terrific quality of the lead-head jig.


Jigging Connections
Spirit Lake, Iowa
Do-It Molds
Denver, Iowa
Normark Corporation (Williamson/VMC)
Minnetonka, Minnesota
Bomber Lure
Fort Smith, Arkansas
Eagle Claw
Fishing Tackle
Denver, Colorado
Mustad Hooks
Doral, Florida


Lead Free Jig Heads

Lead has been used in fishing lures forever, but it is poisonous when ingested. Mortality among some water-going birds in recent decades was linked to lead ingestion, which forced a ban on lead tackle in some states, as well as a national push from ­conservation groups for an outright ban by the Environmental Protection Agency.

While ongoing and far from over, the controversy led some companies, such as Berkley, to design lead-free jigs, using either different casting ­metals or, as in Berkley’s case, composites in its jig heads.

“It’s a revolutionary new composite that allows us to control the density of the material,” Brad Danbom, Berkley’s product manager, says of the company’s Gulp! Heads!

Gulp! Heads! — pictured here — are offered in three models and won an award for Best Terminal Tackle at the 2012 ICAST fishing-tackle trade show.