This article was adapted from the “Tinkering with Trailers” article in the August/Sept 2011 issue of In-Fisherman by Doug Stange. Watch Doug and the crew of In-Fisherman TV Saturdays at 8 pm & 11 pm ET and THIS Sunday during “Attack of the Bass” at 7 am ET.
The addition of trailers to tip leadhead jib designs, ranging from hair jigs to rubber-legged jigs, has been around since each option hit the scene. In the case of hair jigs like the Cap’s Rock-A-Roos that I began fishing in the late 1960s, most early trailers were portions of pork rind. One favorite for smallmouths was a 1 to 1.5 inch portion of individual tail from a split-tailed U-3 Uncle Josh porkbait. The result gave the jig package a little more bulk, which meant a slightly slower fall and bolder profile, along with a bit more tail action to enhance the motion of the flowing hair. This was – and remains – a high-percentage option during the late summer and fall, especially now that anglers are discovering the versatility and productivity of hair.
These days I tip with softbaits like Berkley PowerBait or Berkley Gulp!. One favorite is a 1 to 1.5 inch portion of the tail end of a 3-inch PowerBait Minnow. Slip the hook up through the trimmed end of the softbait so the split trail rides up and down.
Many different trailer designs are specifically tailored for tipping rubber-legged bass jigs. Most, like the PowerBait Chigger Craw, add vibration and bulk to the package. Don’t forget to add to your experiment at times just bulk, without much vibration. One favorite bulk-tipper is either a 3 or 4-inch Gulp! Shrimp, with the tail and underside of the shrimp laying flat. This adds a nice glide to the jig as it falls. It’s a deadly combination that no one uses.
More often than not, though, vibration is a vital part of the package. Beyond the flapper-like appendages offered by the Chigger Craw and others, I’ve tinkered successfully by adding swimbait tails to jigs. They have to trim down to fit the package, and only a few do that well. One is the 3.25 inch Lunker City Shaker, a swimmer with a thin body. Use about a 2.5 to 3-inch end portion of the tail and thread it on the hook so it rides flat. This adds bulk and glide but the tail still adds attractive swimming vibration to the overall package.
Another deadly tipping option for largemouths is a 7-inch Berkley PowerBait Thump Worm trimmed just ahead of the ring on the worm. Thread the ring onto the hook and it’s the perfect length to allow the tail to “buzz” on a straight retrieve – a unique sort of jig-crankbait hybrid. Fish take on the straight retrieve, but are more likely to be attracted by the intense vibration and then eat the jig once you kill it and let it fall. I usually rig the flapper tail so it rides flat, but it works just as well up and down. Again, this is an option no one else is using. you can be the first to trigger bass with it in your area.
In the end, catching fish is a matter of getting down to details in the presentation process, with the final delineator being getting the lure part of the package just right for the situation at hand. Good fishing to you!