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By Jason Brooks
Jigs are one of the top lures for a variety of anglers and species. Jigs feature a straightforward design that can be used a multitude of ways and with different techniques. Most anglers, however, do not realize how versatile the jig is or how to fish them properly for several types of fisheries.
So, let us break down the Mack’s Lure Rock Dancer Bucktail Jig, why they’re tied the way they are, and the advantages offer to make you a better angler.
When twitched, pitched, floated, or drifted, depending on which species of fish you are targeting, the aptly named Rock Dancer “dances” along the rocks where these fish live and entices the fish to bite.
Offered in four sizes, the Rock Dancer is used for many species, including bass, walleye, panfish, pike, salmon, trout, steelhead, and many other fish. Depending on which species you’re targeting and how you plan to fish the jig will determine which size of Rock Dancer to use.
Beginning with the smallest of the four sizes, the Rock Dancer 1/8 oz. is often used for float fishing for steelhead, kokanee, trout, perch and panfish. The light weight allows the current to affect the jig’s action, as well as present a smaller lure. It mimics a small baitfish, leech or insect, which is what the fish are feeding on. It is hard to beat a Rock Dancer 1/8 oz. Flame Orange tipped with a piece of prawn for winter steelhead while fishing in a boulder garden.
The Rock Dancer 1/4 oz. is also used for fishing under a float in faster water or while bottom fishing for walleye and bass. The 1/4 oz. jig is heavy enough to cast by itself when twitching in slow water with stacked Coho salmon. This is an extremely versatile weight option that has many applications.
A staple for twitching is the Rock Dancer 3/8 oz. because they can be cast from both spinning and casting reels, as well as sink into deep holes or just enough in current seams to get to the fish. The heaviest of the Rock Dancer is the 1/2 oz., which are often used in heavy currents for holding walleye in the tailraces of dams in the Columbia River, as well as faster waters for twitching.
The idea is to match the weight of the jig for the type of fishing you plan to do, then select the right color.
Sometimes a lure is made more-so for fisherman, rather than the fish, with multitudes of colors and patterns. This is not the case when it comes to the Rock Dancer, which is offered in 13 fish-catching colors — and no funny names to get the angler to buy it.
One thing that the Rock Dancer offers is contrast, which makes a significant difference when it comes to getting fish to bite. Jigs are mostly an impulse-bite-inducing lure, meaning the fish feels the need to bite it out of instinct.
Bright colors, such as chartreuse and cerise, are top Chum and Coho catching colors, especially when contrasting it with black, which is highly visible in murky waters. Red, orange, pink, and white work well for trout and kokanee.
You will not find gimmicky colors, such as watermelon, funky chicken, or candy corn. Rather, simply color descriptions, so you know exactly which jig you used to catch the fish.
When it comes to fishing jigs, you need a strong hook. Most jigs are tied with a weak hook because of the lead molding process to create the jig and a fine wire is easier to put into the mold. However, fine wire hooks lose fish when you need to set the hook hard and pull them out of lily pads or out from under a log jam.
Rock Dancers use a 2X hook, meaning they are twice as strong as a regular fine wire hook. They are also in an O’Shaughnessy design, which means they have a straight point that penetrates the fish’s jaw easily.
The hooks are also sized to the weight of the jig. The Rock Dancer 1/8 oz. is built with a size 2 hook, the 1/4 oz. uses a 1/0 hook and both the 3/8 oz. and 1/2 oz. feature a 2/0 hook.
Most anglers use a jig that is made with marabou as its lightweight feather whisps in the water. I will admit, this is a great material for finesse-looking jigs, but fish are known to attach jigs when fished properly and marabou does not stand up for the long haul. I have caught dozens of toothy Chums and kyped-jaw Coho on a single Rock Dancer and it has always held up. This is because it is made of super strong and durable bucktail.
It may not flutter in the current, but the bucktail holds up and, more importantly, it will hold scent unlike marabou, which becomes matted-down with sticky gels. Scent is made from oils, and this destroys the action of the marabou jig. So, if you want to use scent, then you better use bucktail — and if you plan to catch more than a fish or two, you’ll also want to use bucktail.
The Rock Dancer also features a few strands of mylar flashabou, which glitters in the sunlight, attracting fish and, once again, enticing them to strike.
The Rock Dancer has two unique features that really make a difference. The first is the large glow eyes painted on the head of the jig. Fish are predators and they key in on trivial things like eyes. The fact that they is painted on and part of the jig itself makes this an attractor to get fish to bite. Add in the fact that it glows makes this jig perfect for low light and murky water conditions. Walleye can’t resist the Rock Dancer for this reason, as the glow eye attracts them to the jig, which they believe is a small bait fish, and attack it.
The second unique feature took me a few years to figure out. You will notice a chenille collar on the jig right behind the head. At first, I just thought this was done for aesthetic reasons to cover up the thread used to tie the jig, making it more appealing to fisherman. Again, some lures are made more for fisherman than for fishing, but not the Rock Dancer.
It was while I was fishing a coastal river for Chum salmon one fall day. While tipping the jig with a piece of raw prawn, I wanted to add more scent to the jig, so I put it on the collar. A few casts later, the prawn had fallen off, but when I put the jig into the water, I noticed the scent leaching out of it still. It was then that I realized the chenille color was a “scent collar,” which is where you are supposed to put the scent.
Sure, the bucktail won’t be affected by gels and sauces, but bait oils don’t stick to bucktail or the lead head very well. If you like to use bait oils, such as herring oil, or even a cover scent such as anise oil, the chenille collar holds it very well. Unique to the Rock Dancer, this color adds to the fish-catching abilities of this jig in a way most anglers do not utilize. Next time, be sure to soak the collar in your favorite scent and watch it work.
The Rock Dancer is one of the most versatile fishing lures on the market. From the various weights and corresponding hook size to the fish-catching colors. The bucktail will withstand a beating from the most vicious fish, and the glow eyes make them irresistible. Whether you are twitching, pitching, jigging or floating the Rock Dancer, you will catch fish.