Making your own walleye jigs is an easy & rewarding experience. It is a great way to keep help get your fishing fix in the off season. Up here in the northland we need something fishing related to do after the ice melts and before the fishing season opens in May. This is the time of year when I spend the most time building my own walleye jigs. Making your own walleye jigs is a pretty easy project and only requires a handful of things, listed below:
Equipment required for pouring your own walleye jigs
- Round Jig Head Mold
- Lead melter (I use the Lee Production Pot IV)
- Jig Hooks (1/0 or 2/0 for all but the smallest or largest jigheads)
- Finish (I use powder coat which also requires either a heat gun or an oven)
- Spru Cutter (or good set of diagonal cutters)
I am going to go into a bit more detail on the equipment here & some of it may feel redundant. Skip down the page if this isn’t relevant to you.
Round Head Jig Mold
When it comes to walleye jig molds there is a large variety of molds out there. Big, small, flat sided, egg shaped, etc. For pouring my own walleye jigs I use the Do-It Molds Round Head Jig Part # RHB-7-A. It is a standard round jig head mold with a single barb. I use this mold because instead of containing 6-8 cavities of the same size, it is a variety of sizes from 1/32 oz to 1/2 oz. For more information, check out my separate post on the RHB-7-A round head jig mold.
Pretty much any old soft lead will do here. Weather you purchase some virgin fresh soft lead or use recycled lead you should be fine. The softer lead will be better for filling out the smaller sizes. For the best results you should also flux you lead. Check out these other articles on lead and fluxing. Believe it or not, despite the heavy weight you can actually get lead for a pretty reasonable price (around $3 per pound) on amazon (like this Rotometals listing).
I use a Lee production pot IV for casting my lead lures. It holds 10lbs of lead and has an easy to use spout and valve. It has a full writeup here, but you don’t have to use something this specialized. A cast iron skillet or pot over a camp stove will do the trick as well. If you go the pot route make sure to get a ladle for scooping the lead and pouring it into the mold.
The size of the hook you use will be dependent on the weight and size of your jig. The do-it round head jig mold that I am using actually has the hook sizes for each weight built into the inside of the jig. There sized for eagle claw jig hooks but for the most part you can use any other 90 degree bend Aberdeen hook. These hooks are the same as your typical Aberdeen hook except that right before the eyelet the hook is turned upwards 90 degrees. I personally prefer to use Mustad or Gamakatsu jig hooks. Honestly the eagle claw ones just seem cheap and chintzy to me, and if my tacklebox gets a little wet there always the first to rust.
Now it is time to prep the mold. This is why we didn’t add the hooks yet. The main thing we need to do is get the mold heated up. A warm mold will help the lead flow into the entire cavity. A mold that is too cool will cause the lead to solidify before it has filled all the way. I find the easiest way to do this is to just fill every cavity on the mold, pull the jig heads out, toss them back in the pot, and repeat. Usually after 5-6 rounds of this it is ready. A good way to tell is to look at the puddle that forms on the top of the mold when the cavity is full. If it stays liquid for a few seconds before it “freezes” over, then your good. This may seem unclear until you do it a few times, but once you see it you will know it. The lead goes from a shiny color to a dull almost frosted look. You can’t miss it. Once this mold is warm, your ready to start pouring some jigs!
Quick note: Sometimes people get a “sticky” mold, where the lead doesn’t easily come free from the mold. If this is the case you should spend an extra few minutes to “smoke” the mold. This is as simple as lighting a candle or lighter, and passing the mold cavities over the flame an inch or two. Not to heat the mold, but to leave the black char on the inside of the cavities. This little layer of soot can help to keep the lead from sticking to the mold.
Now that our mold is heated, its time to put in the hooks. If you look closely at the mold you will see a thin channel where the hook shank goes. Line the hook up with the shank in the channel and the eye of the hook flat against the round depression made for it. Be sure to put the right size hook in the right size cavity. You can see here that in this run I’m only making a 5/16 oz jig head. I find it easiest to lay the mold flat on the table and then lay the hook down. I have found that hooks (especially thin gauge hooks) then do have a little bit of a warp to them. As long as the shank is in the slot and the eye is where it belongs, dont worry too much about it. When the mold halves come together everything seems to straighten out. Once you have your hooks in place, I leave the mold flat on the table and bring the other half around to close the two halves together. Only once both haves are securely together do I pick the mold up. You 90% of the way through making your own walleye jig!
The part you have been waiting for, pouring the lead! This step is a little anticlimactic because of how fast it happens, but still super satisfying. If using a ladle, pre-warm the ladle in the lead to warm it up before you use it to pour your final jigs. In my case, I am using the Lee Production Pot, so I position the cavity under the nozzle on the bottom of the pot. I usually place a small piece of wood under the pot so I can rest my mold on it while still being close to the pot, otherwise it can be hard to free hand. Open the valve on the pot, or pour in your ladle full of lead. Target the cavity just off center so that the lead swirls into the cavity. You will be surprised how quickly it fills. Leave a small pool of lead on top and move to the next cavity if applicable until you have filled all the size you wanted.
Now we just have to finish up a little housekeeping on our jigs. When you open the mold you should see your finished jig but it will have a “sprue” on the top of it from where you poured in your lead. Use your sprue cutter to cut off the sprue, leaving you with a freshly poured jig head. It is likly that cutting off the sprue has left you with a nub on the jig head. For my own personally jigs, I usually just leave this. If I am giving them to someone as a gift or if you were to sell them, you may want to remove this. When I need to remove it, I use a file as it creates fairly large shavings that can be recycled. I would advise against using sandpaper though, as you really don’t want a bunch of fine lead powder blowing around your work area. Plus, the file just goes faster on the soft lead. Your jig heads are now done! You could leave it at this if you like, or you can move onto powder coating your own jig heads. If you have any questions about the process of casting or making your own walleye jigs, let us know in the comments below!