How to Fish Hair Jigs for Smallmouth Bass

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Hair jigs have slid under the radar as a super-effective lure option for smallmouth bass, but the cat is finally out of the bag. Canadian bass pro Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson grew up fishing smallmouth with finesse marabou hair jigs and shares a wealth of information about where and how to fish them using lightweight spinning setups.


As Gussy notes, hair jigs have long been reserved as throwback lures for smallies chasing boat-side hooked fish but are now mainstay lures throughout the Great Lakes states and Canada. Hair jigs shine when bass are cruising shallow flats, in clear water, or in general, are spooky, whatever the reason. Their effectiveness stems from a natural and stealthy appearance in the water.

Long casts and a sensitive rod setup improve success. Gussy adds a chunk of stickball for added weight (improves casting distance), scent, and body bulk, while a light line and a longer rod help launch baits further. And when it comes to rod action, a slower rod loads progressively for forgiving hook sets and keeping big fish buttoned.

Gussy notes that color can be a factor. While black is his all-around go-to, he’ll use brown around bug hatches and even play with non-natural bright colors to move and trigger curious smallmouth.