Brett McComas

Tungsten panfish jigs: LIVE BAIT vs PLASTICS?

Aside from color, these jigs might look extremely similar at first glance…

…but there’s a few tiny details that can make a big difference when it comes to icing hardwater panfish, and the type of meat – or, uh, vegetarian option – you have on the business end of the presentation.

Simple answer:

The VMC Tungsten Tubby Jig shines w/ live bait (euro larva, waxworms, etc).

The VMC Tungsten Mongo Jig excels w/ plastics.

These are the same jigs as pictured above, only shot from a different angle. The 1/16-oz Tungsten Mongo Jig (top) and a 1/16-oz Tungsten Tubby (bottom). Now it’s probably a little easier to play the “spot the differences game,” eh?

Now here’s the why not just the what. 🕵️‍♂️

The Tungsten Tubby already has a VMC Power Gap hook – aka wider round gap compared to other micro jigs in equal sizes = increases your hookup percentage. Though it still has the shorter shank which is ideal for having a compact, inhale-able option when fishing “meat.”

But if you prefer fishing plastics, I 10/10 recommend checking out the VMC Tungsten Mongo Jigs with X-long Power Gap hooks. They bumped-up the hook size on each compared to the Tungsten Tubby (1/16-oz: #8 hook, instead of #10…1/32-oz: #10 hook, instead of #12). Makes ’em fit plastics beautifully and less chance of fish just nipping at the tails ‘n not getting a hook to their snoot.

Did you notice the slight difference in head shape? 👀 The Mongo’s head has a flat bottom so that plastics sit flush.

Why is that such a big deal? ‘Cuz if your plastic isn’t perfectly straight, it’s going to cause the bait to spin in a circle when you jig it. If you don’t believe me, try it in your ice hole just a couple inches under the water before you drop down. That “spin of death” can stop fish right in their tracks and send ’em in the opposite direction.

Want another example that’s often overlooked? Too bad I’m giving it to you anyway. 🤣

Both of these jigs have a 90-degree hook eye which helps to keep your jig in the perfect horizontal position. Of course it all depends on the day, the fish’s mood, personal preference…but I tend to get more bites with tungsten that sits perfectly horizontal vs offset at a 45-degree angle.

Just one more minor detail to pay attention to when buying panfish tungsten based on your own personal preference. And little snippets that can go unnoticed on the ice, but may be the reason buddy is 5 fish up on you in the next hole over.

Of course you can make all this fishing schtuff as complicated or simple as you want…but paying attention to minor details can and will get you more bites when it matters.

I’m not trying to make you go out and spend a ton of money on more panfish jigs. Just spewing a few of the differences you might already have going on in that big box of tungsten you’ve already accumulated over the years. And if you are hitting the aisles to stock up, I’ll apologize in advance for the “sticker shock” at check-out lol:

When you realize how much $$$ you’ve spent on fishing tackle:

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