By Mark Schram, myfishingpartner.com
There is a new debate brewing related to ice fishing. The question…Should I be using tungsten jigs or lead jigs when ice fishing for pan fish?
Late last year I started using some of the tungsten ice jigs instead of my stand-by lead jigs. Tungsten is a chemical element which is 1.7 times heavier than lead, according to Wikipedia. When I originally purchased these jigs, I did so for the paint schemes and for no other reason.
After doing some research on the product, I began to realize the incredible advantages tungsten provides over the lead jig counterpart.
Tungsten’s heavier weight allows for a smaller profile jig, which is a huge advantage with finicky fish. The added weight also allows the jig to fall quicker, to get back down to the fish when a school of pan fish appears. In addition, the tungsten jig will be more visible on your Hummingbird/Vexilar due to the heavier density of the material.
Another advantage is that the jigs will fall easier through the slush which forms at the top of the hole and through weed remnants, which often hold fish. The increased weight will also keep your fishing lines tighter while in the water, allowing a better feel with your fishing rod.
According to many outdoor experts, tungsten is environmentally friendly. Lead has been banned by some states due to the potential harm to wildlife, especially water fowl, if ingested. California has passed a law to ban lead in ammunition, which will take effect in 2019, and more states are expected to follow California’s directive.
Unfortunately, tungsten jigs are more expensive than their lead counterparts, often running up to three dollars per jig. These jigs are also difficult to find at local retailers, and are often specialty items sold by bait shops exclusively. I have found some homemade versions on E-bay, which might be an excellent source for purchase if your local bait shop does not carry these jigs.
Consider tungsten as an alternative to your ice fishing jig assortment. The advantages are numerous, and the wildlife will thank you. It will also save you from the toxic properties inherent in lead.