Friday, February 8, 2013

Is It Worth The Effort To Tie Your Own Bucktails?

I have mentioned before that I do not tie my own flies. With the money I would use to purchase the materials and learn how to do it well enough to catch fish, I could buy a decade worth of flies that perform much better than anything I could tie.

This summer I began to use bucktails. A lot of bucktails. I just assumed that like flies it would be too difficult and costly to tie my own.

After loosing $20 of bucktails in an afternoon, I revisited this assumption.

My favorite bucktail is the Hurricane 3D Eye Bucktail Jig. Size: 1/2 OZ Color: Bunker. It costs $3.79.

I also like to use Spro Bucktail Jigs in various sizes and colors. They cost $3.53.

Both of these jigs are very high quality and consistently catch fish. So the question is, can I tie a bucktail for less than $3.53 and will it perform as well. If my jigs do not perform as well as purchased ones, I don't want to bother. I'm not putting anything but the best at the end of my line.

I'm not going to get into how to tie a bucktail. There are tons of resources for this on the web. It is easy. If you want to learn, you can go here or here.

What we do need to know is what materials are needed to tie a bucktail. The basic requirements are as follows:

  • Vice
  • Jig head
  • Bucktail
  • Flash
  • Bobbin
  • Thread
  • Cement

How much does each of these cost? It depends on where you buy them.

A vice and bobbin are one time purchases. Bobbins are cheap. E-bay is a good source. Expect to pay $4.00 to get one delivered to your door. Vices are more expensive, but I bet you already have something that will work. I (no joke) use a pair of vice grips clamped to my table. It worked fine for the 100 or so bucktails I tied this winter.

I painted this jig. It is unnecessary, but pretty.

Next we need jig heads. If you purchase these at a big box outdoors store, plan to pay about $1.00 a jig head. E-bay is a better alternative. You can get 25 nice jig heads from a reputable seller for $12.60 delivered. That comes to $.50 a jig head, and they are a higher quality than the mass produced ones.

Left: Hurricane Jig | Right: two of my jigs.
Next comes the bucktail itself, flash, and thread. You are probably better off finding this locally. Bass Pro Shops has a good selection at a reasonable price. Expect to pay $5.00 for a bucktail, and you will probably want two colors. The all importatnt flash is going to run about $6.00. A spool of high quality thread will be around $3.00. This should give you plenty of material for about 50 bucktail jigs, depending on how much material you use.

Flash is important
The only thing left is glue. Super glue works great and $5.00 of it will last you forever.

So, to get started and to tie 25 bucktails you will need to spend:

  • Vice - $0 (if you have a vice grip)
  • Jig heads - $12.60
  • Two Bucktails - $10
  • Flash - $6
  • Bobbin - $4
  • Thread - $3
  • Cement - $5
This comes to $40.60 or $1.62 a jig. So, a hand tied jig costs less than half of a store bought one.

Now, do they work?


My experience is that they work as well or better than store bought. I have fished them side by side for quite a while. I always seem to get more and bigger fish on my jigs. My jigs are ugly, I rarely paint the heads, but they work. 

So should you tie you own jigs? If you have time, go for it! It takes about 5 minutes a jig and is easy to do. You will save money and might catch more fish!

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