Jim Looney is an artificial bait kind of guy. Except when he is targeting bream in the heat of the summer, live bait is never on his hook.
His lure of choice for sac-a-lait is usually a solid-head tube jig tail or a Triple-Ripple grub mounted on a 1/16-ounce jighead set about 2 feet under a small pear-shaped foam cork.
Looney uses solid heads instead of hollow tubes because they are more durable and he spends less time putting new tails on the hook.
As for colors, he keeps that simple.
“You don’t need a lot of colors,” he said in a no-nonsense tone. “Blue-and-white for murkier water, black-and-chartreuse for clearer water.”
Blue-and-chartreuse is an all-around color choice.
“Those colors are pretty well standard.” Looney said.
He does have some tricks up his sleeve. For one thing, he always snips off about a quarter of an inch of the skirt on tube jigs. Bream, he says, will often bite short, and sac-a-lait don’t seem to mind the shortened tail at all.
Another wrinkle that he adds is tipping his jig hook with a small piece of plastic soaked in a jar of chartreuse Berkley Powerbait Crappie Nibbles. The plastic comes from small plastic worms that he has cut up.
“They get all that smell,” he explained.
Interestingly, he doesn’t use the nibbles themselves, and as usual he has an explanation.
“They don’t stay on the hook,” Looney said. “I spend all my time rebaiting.”
As far as his jigheads go, he marches to his own drummer here, too. He melts lead solder and pours his own in homemade hardwood molds.
“Don’t use pine,” he cautions. “The heat draws the sap to the jig and gives it a dull look. I want my jigheads shiny.”
He makes his own molds using a power router.
Reels are inexpensive and simple. Zebco 33 spincasts rule. They are spooled with 10- or 12-pound-test line.
“I can straighten my hook and get the jig back,” he said of the line strength. “I see people with ultralight rods and 4-pound line; they are always breaking off.”
His rods are short — typically 5-footers.
“You don’t need long rods; you don’t make long casts,” he said tersely.
The rods are nondescript and of mixed brands. All are well-used, with repairs and patches on them.
He prefers using rods and reels over jig poles because he “can stay out from the fish.”
He does admit that a jig pole has the advantage of being able to be worked straight down in a small spot in heavy cover.
“Try that with a rod and reel, and you will hang up,” he said. “But I just like to stay out from the fish.”
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