Focus On Finesse

Focus on Finesse


Finesse plastics and tungsten jigs make an incredible panfish-catching combination. Plastics come in an array of sizes and profiles, have irresistible, lifelike actions and are scent-loaded. Tungsten jigs are compact and the perfect delivery system for soft-baits. Put them together and they become one of the most potent panfish presentations. Period. Here’s why.


Finesse Plastics Look Like Real Food

Nymphs, larvae, freshwater shrimp and other invertebrates dominate the diet for many panfish in winter. Finesse plastics and tungsten jigs do a great job mimicking these dainty delectables. For instance, when panfish are munching on bloodworms or other skinny snacks, a wispy tailed 13 Fishing Jeffrey or VMC Wax Tail Jig will catch ‘em. When nymphs are for breakfast, rig-up a 13 Fishing Coconut Crab, Bernie, B.A.M.F. or Paralyzer. The VMC Nymph Jig is another, slightly larger, option.


VMC Nymph Jig


Then there are craws, a favourite food for yellow perch in winter. Here a pre-rigged VMC Crayfish Jig is the ideal bait.


VMC Crayfish Jig


Plastics Are Perfect For Downsizing

Soft-baits come in small sizes, making them a natural choice for downsizing and teasing bites from fussy panfish. Think of it this way, a large lure can be off-putting to an uninterested panfish. But, a snack-sized finesse plastic on a tungsten jig danced in front of its nose is hard for a panfish to resist.


Tungsten Teamwork

Pairing a finesse plastic with a VMC tungsten jig keeps the package small. More dense than lead, tungsten lets an angler fish a smaller profiled jig compared to a lead version of the same weight.


Alternatively, anglers can fish a heavier tungsten jig while still keeping a compact profile. This is a common strategy when fishing deep for roaming panfish.


A heavy tungsten jig can also enhance an angler’s “feel” of the presentation. This improves sensitivity and strike detection.


Soft-Baits Sweet-Talk Bites

Finesse plastics produce stunningly subtle actions, which help trigger panfish bites. One need look no further than the quivering action of the two, tapered appendages on a VMC Tungsten Mustache Jig to understand why it’s one of the hottest panfish baits on the ice.


Tungsten Mustache Jig


Scent certainly helps. VMC’s panfish soft-baits are made from innovative Trigger X material, which attracts fish and maximizes taste and texture to ensure when fish bite they hold on tight. Donkey Sauce is 13 Fishing’s proprietary formulation of amino acids and proteins that triggers feeding and aggression.


In addition to being infused with Donkey Sauce, 13’s baits are 10 times tougher and last longer than the competition. Likewise, Trigger X is durable.


Do-It-All Package

A jig and finesse plastic catch panfish in virtually any ice-fishing scenario. The presentation hooks ‘em whether fish are shallow, deep, or suspended; in weeds, around wood, on mud flats or cruising rocky bottoms…. the list goes on. Finesse plastics and tungsten jigs are that good, folks.


Looking The Part

Use hops and hard shakes to dance a finesse plastic and attract panfish. Raising the arm while quivering the rod tip mixed with pauses is a good way to work the water column. This maneuver also replicates the pulsating, swimming movements of many creatures panfish eat.


For bottom-oriented panfish, pound the bait several times on the floor. This creates a silt cloud curious panfish can’t help but investigate. Hop a bait to scurry it across the floor to evoke strikes. Otherwise, raise the plastic off bottom, jiggling and pausing it to tempt hits.


Finesse Jig Rod Combos


Properly fishing a finesse plastic and jig demands the right gear. This begins with a sensitive, ultra-light rod. The 13 Fishing Tickle Stick, Omen or Wicked rods are excellent for jigging and detecting “up” and “down” bites.


13 Fishing Tickle Stick


13 Fishing Omen Ice


Many prefer inline reels for panfish. The Black Betty Free Fall reels deliver excellent line management and prevent line twist. This helps a finesse plastic appear realistic. Read more about inline reel advantages here. Those preferring a spinning reel will appreciate the reliable performance of 13 Fishing’s Wicked models.


Sufix Advance Ice Monofilament in 2- or 3-pound test performs flawlessly for panfish presentations. Its sensitive, has low stretch and minimal memory, and resists freeze-up. Sufix Ice Magic Monofilament or InvisiLine Ice Fluorocarbon are other great choices. These lines come in 1-pound test for the ultimate finesse panfish presentation.


Advance Ice Mono


Off-peak times, such as mid-day, mid-winter doldrums and on waterbodies receiving heavy fishing pressure are just some scenarios when a finesse plastic and tungsten jig will get bites from inactive panfish. But, really, there’s nowhere panfish swim where a finesse soft-bait and jig combination won’t catch ‘em.