a salmon jig with the title overlay "Salmon Jigs: How To Make Your Own Twitching Jigs"

Salmon Jigs: How To Make Your Own Twitching Jigs

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What if you could catch salmon using a jig you made yourself? What if you could make these jigs for less than $2 apiece?

Sound far-fetched?

Good news – it’s not 😉.

Welcome back to Jig Is Up Lurecraft! Today we will be talking about salmon jigs! In particular, I will be unveiling how you can totally make your own super effective, super affordable jigs for catching bruiser salmon.

Salmon anglers lose a lot of twitching jigs to snaggy rivers and coves while on the hunt for kings and cohos.

Rather than pay $5 for each of these jigs, consider making your own salmon jigs for a fraction of the cost!

Not only does making your own jigs save you money, but it also allows you to build jigs with the exact sizes and colors you want.

Here’s how to do it.

Getting Started

Materials Needed

(Click each item to go to its product page.)
Lead ➡️ Pure soft lead from Barlow’s Tackle.
Lead Pot ➡️ For melting down lead for pouring.
Jig Mold ➡️ Weedless Ballhead Jig Mold by Do It Molds.
Jig Hook ➡️ Owner 5313 1X Strong 2/0 hook.
Powder Paint ➡️ Protec Chartreuse Pepper by CS Coatings.
Heat Gun ➡️ To heat up jig heads for painting.
Body Material ➡️ 3 tabs Purple Crystal Silicone Material
Collar ➡️ 26 gauge black wire

I can hear your questions already.

“Is it honestly possible to build salmon jigs for less than $2 apiece?”

Absolutely!!

Once you have the necessary equipment, you’re looking at a few basic materials for building jigs.

Lead ➡️ roughly 19 cents-worth for a ⅜ oz jig.

Owner 5313 Jig Hook ➡️ 39 cents per 2/0 hook.

Skirt Material ➡️93 cents for 3 tabs.

26 Gauge Wire ➡️ 4 cents per jig.

That comes out to $1.55 a jig!

About This Jig Design

You might notice a few of my favorite materials in the mix here.

I could have easily chosen the Salmon Jig Mold by Do It Molds for this design. That mold turns out simple ballhead jigs armed with super strong Mustad 32833 jig hooks. Many jig builders use this mold to make salmon and steelhead jigs!

But I took my jig design a little off the beaten path… instead of the salmon jig mold, I have used my trusty Weedless Ballhead Jig Mold by Do It Molds!

Ballhead Jig Mold Slots
Weedless Ballhead Jig Mold

Armed with a high quality Owner 5313 jig hook, the ballhead jigs that come from this mold are ready to take on any salmon or steelhead that bites.

How To Make A Salmon Jig

The process of building a salmon jig can be broken down into three main steps ➡️ Pour the jig, paint the jig, and then tie the jig!

1. Pour the jig

⚠️ Safety First ⚠️

When pouring lead jig heads, always follow proper safety procedures.

Wear eye protection ➡️ To shield your eyes from any unexpected hot lead splatters.

Wear gloves ➡️ To protect your hands from getting burned by the lead pot or hot lead. I use welder’s gloves anytime I pour jigs.

Wear a respirator ➡️ To protect your lungs from any potential lead fumes. Lead doesn’t turn into fumes for most lead pourers, but in case it does you will want to protect your lungs! Alternately, many jig makers take care of this by running a fan to circulate air out of their working area.

Armed with the proper safety equipment, pouring a jig is an extremely simple process.

I’ve written about this jig making process numerous times before, so I’ll keep these instructions short and sweet. If you care to read about the jig making process in more depth, please check out this article about making ballhead jigs!

Start by heating up the lead via a lead pot.

Pop the 2/0 jig hook into the ¼ or ⅜ oz jig slot. 1/4 and 3/8 oz jigs are well suited for salmon fishing, as these sizes allow the angler to snap the jig hard and fast off the bottom in river current.

Mold slot with jig hook
Put the hook in the slot, similar to what is shown here.

Then use the lead pot to pour hot lead into the hole for the jig slot.

Once the jig cools, you may pull it free from the mold. It will look similar to the image shown below.

unpainted jig with sprue
Lead jig with sprue attached

Trim the sprue off the top of the jig head and you now have a jig ready for painting!

unpainted ballhead salmon jigs
Line ’em up and move ’em out!

2. Paint the jig

Painting jigs is a similarly simple process.

Begin by heating up your jig head using a heat gun. For my ⅜ oz jigs, I find that 20-25 seconds over a heat gun is enough for powder paint to adequately stick. Your mileage may vary.

Once the jighead is heated up, quickly swish it in the open jar of Protec Powder Paint.

a painted ballhead jig with a jar of powder paint behind

Painting Tip #1: Proper Heat

If powder paint is not sticking to the jig ➡️ that typically means your jighead is not hot enough and needs several seconds more over the heat gun.

If too much powder paint is sticking to the jig ➡️ that typically means your jighead is too hot. Heat the jig for less time over the heat gun before applying powder paint.

Use an extra hook or a hook eye tool to clean any excess paint out of the hook eye. Give the jig an extra blast over the heat gun, and now you have a painted jig!

Painting Tip #2: Bake Your Jigs

For an extra durable paint finish, consider baking your jigs in a dedicated toaster oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes!

This process cures your jighead paint, making it rock solid!

3. Tie the jig

Once the jig is painted, next comes the final part of the process – tying the body material onto the jig!

In many ways, the body material is what breathes life into a salmon jig. Using different colors or materials, you can create various jig presentations that induce salmon to bite!

For this build, I chose a simple silicone body material.

Chartreuse ballhead jig with purple silicone laying underneath

Many twitching jigs for salmon are made with rabbit fur or marabou. 

But once again, I went off the beaten path and chose to build this jig with a thick, flowy silicone skirt.

Tying this skirt onto the jig is very easy!

To begin, layer 3 tabs of silicone skirt material on top of each other.

For this build, I’ve chosen solid purple skirt material. Salmon notoriously love to bite lures with wild purple and pink colors, so I’ve incorporated plenty of purple into this color pattern!

Then snip off a 2” piece of wire and slide it under the skirt material.

At this point, I carefully lay the painted jig on top of the skirt material so that the wire lays underneath the jig’s baitkeeper.

Carefully wrap the wire around the neck of the jig. At this time, feel free to adjust the skirt material so it lays how you want.

Now pull the wire tight with a pair of pliers. Then twist and trim it to finish up the collar!

Cut off the ends of the skirt tabs with a pair of scissors.

Now you have a finished, fishable salmon jig!!

a chartreuse and purple salmon jig
My “Sour Grape” color pattern

How To Fish A Salmon Jig

If you are making your own twitching jigs for salmon fishing, odds are you already know how to catch salmon with them.

For those of you still learning how to catch this magnificent fish using jigs, here are some guidelines!

king salmon

👉 Strong Tackle Is Critical

Salmon are strong, mighty fish. It’s nothing for a King Salmon to reach every bit of 15 pounds!

To adequately battle these muscle-bound bruisers, strong tackle and heavy line is very, very necessary.

In fact, most salmon anglers will tell you to use an 8’ Medium-Heavy rod, minimum. Some salmon and steelhead rods even reach over 10’ long!

But for my own salmon jigging, I have settled on a 7’ Medium-Heavy spinning rod, spooled with 20 pound braided line.

spinning rod setup with braided line

The shorter rod definitely has less leverage, but it makes it much easier to snap heavy jigs up and down for long periods of time.

Why am I using 20 pound braid for my line?

Because we’re talking about some seriously strong fish here! I could even use 30 pound braided line to catch salmon, and have no problem at all.

In fact, I’ve talked with one or two salmon fishing guides who use 30 pound braid every day to catch big King Salmon.

👉 Jig Twitching Catches Fish

Once you have your tackle setup dialed in, all that remains is learning the jig twitching techniques that catch these Kings and Cohos.

a pink salmon jig

Snapping a jig is not a hard technique to begin learning. With that said, it takes years of experience to hone this technique and catch fish to its full potential!

To start with, cast a ⅜ oz twitching jig upstream in the river you’re fishing. Let it rocket towards the bottom and then swiftly snap it upward!

This upward snapping action, followed by a fast fall, is what triggers moody salmon to bite.

3/8 oz is a great overall size to start with. As you fish twitching jigs more, you will learn what sizes and colors work best.

For instance, in slow moving tail sections of river a 1/4 oz jig may work better, as this size will fall more slowly in the waning current. On the flip side, you may find that a 1/2 oz jig or even a 3/4 oz jig is what catches fish on river sections containing very strong current!

Similarly, experiment often with jig colors to find the common colors salmon love to bite. Although bright pinks and purples are known to catch salmon, sometimes they fall prey to more natural colors such as brown or black.

With experience, you’ll narrow down all the sizes and colors that catch salmon in your local waters. Then you will begin to fully enjoy the effective technique that is jig twitching!

“Wow that’s a lot of info, Blaine! Where do I go from here?”

We’ve covered a lot of ground today.

Not only have we looked at building a salmon jig, but we’ve also briefly discussed how you can fish these jigs to catch fish!

Here is a quick recap of what you can do to start making (and catching fish with) your own salmon jigs!

Get your materials ➡️ Get all the tools and materials you will need to make your own jigs – Barlow’s Tackle, here we come!

Pour the lead jig ➡️ Safety first! Once the poured lead cools, trim the sprue and you have a jig ready to paint!

Paint the jig ➡️ Heat each jig up and dip in powder paint. Throw it in a dedicated toaster oven for a super durable paint finish.

Tie the jig ➡️ Use wire to tie the silicone skirt material onto the neck of the jig. Feel free to get wild, salmon love bright colors!

Fish the jig ➡️ Now you’re ready to catch fish! Start with a Medium-Heavy setup. Cast the jig upstream, let it fall, and then snap it up in the water column to induce a salmon to bite. There’s much more to learn about this technique, but this is a basic start for anyone looking to catch their first salmon with a twitching jig!

Using this guide, you have everything you need to start affordably making your own twitching jigs.

Interested in making other baits for salmon and trout fishing?

Then check out my Lightning Spinner Making guide! This free guide shows how you can make a spinner in less than five minutes!

A Spinner tied onto a rod with the title overlay "How To Make A Spinner In Less Than 5 Minutes"

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