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Building a Better Bucktail

BEMIDJI, Minn. – If you’ve been fishing for any length of time, you undoubtedly realize bucktail jigs catch a ton of fish. In fact, so productive is this basic fishing lure that for years the U.S. Army included it in their survival kits.

With a storied past and reputation for producing under a wide array of fishing conditions, you might think it would be impossible to improve on this simple and legendary lure design, but Northland Fishing Tackle has done just that – they’ve built a better bucktail! Meet the Deep-Vee Bucktail, a jig that has been quietly amassing a legion of believers who reach for it first when arriving at their honey holes.

Benefiting from a new keeled “Deep-Vee” head design that’s thicker on the top and thinner on the bottom, this “hair jig” tracks straight and true whether dragged on the drift, cast and retrieved, or even trolled. It features large 3D eyes that exude a match-the-hatch realism and descends at a rate both fast enough to get it to the bottom and slow enough to get whacked on the way down whether tipped with a minnow, soft-plastic trailer or left unadorned. It’s Barb-Wire® Keeper hook locks both plastic and live-bait additions in place and is suitable for use in a wide range of situations. With a dozen fish-catching color patterns and four sizes, you can fish this baby from the shallows to channel edges, main lake humps and deep structure or mud flats connecting with walleye, bass, crappie and just about any other predatory species that swims in your waters.

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Still, it’s for the walleye that most anglers tie on this smoking new entry during spring and summer. Exceptionally versatile, the heavier versions excel in deeper water for vertically targeting the tasty predators, while lighter options can be cast shallow and hopped, dragged, or “ripped” back to the boat. The Deep-Vee Bucktail Jig is an excellent open water walleye bait, and excels in river and stream scenarios, too, where it hugs the bottom with little “washout” due to its innovative low-drag design.

“There’s a lot to like about this lure, says Midwestern walleye hot shot, Joel Nelson. “For starters, it has a natural look. Watch it in the water and you’ll see the materials combine to present a lifelike quality that seems to pulse in the water. You don’t even need to tip this jig to make it work, although I usually do.”

Nelson especially likes to work the Deep-Vee Bucktail tipped with “meat” as a river option in May, noting the larger sizes are his first choice whenever he needs to fish vertically. As the waters push up over 50 degrees and the fish slide deeper, he’ll swap out the minnows for soft plastic trailers.

“If the fish are holding deep and you can park over them, there’s just no way to beat this bait,” says Nelson, “but you can also drag the Deep-Vee Bucktail on the drift because its head shape cheats the current and it tracks so straight. Either way, it’s vital to stay near the bottom on river systems because walleyes love to hold in deep sand traps, divots, and small swales. Jigging mindlessly at mid-depths doesn’t help. Staying glued to the bottom is what counts and the Deep-Vee Bucktail excels in that respect.”

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One tip Nelson offers for drifting is to use your trolling motor to go just a little faster than the current, which will push you when heading down-stream. Conversely, when dragging upstream, proceed very slowly to keep your lure as close to the bottom as possible. “I absolutely love fishing in the latter scenario,” he explains, “because if you can see the fish with your electronics, you can slowly crawl along and keep your Deep-Vee Bucktail right in front of them for a long time. That bucktail waving in their faces is ultimately irresistible. I love this approach when walleye are over slightly hard bottom, one littered with clams, for example.”

As for productive colors, Nelson favors Firetiger and Glow Pink in turbid waters, plus White and Chartreuse. “That Firetiger is dynamite on the ‘eyes,” he reveals. “For river smallmouth bass, I’ll toss a Black or White Deep-Vee Bucktail behind rocks, in current seams and anywhere current flows converge. The Black has a little streak of red in it, a touch I really like. I also suspect the Purple will be great for crappies when throwing the 1/16-ounce size, but that’s on my list of things to try later this spring.”

Like Nelson, Northland Tackle’s own diehard multi-species angler and content creator, Nick Lindner, considers the Deep-Vee Bucktail a truly solid, all-around tool for walleye. “Combining that new style head with those 3D eyes really sets it apart,” he says, “But I also love the hook because it’s perfect for a lot of walleye-fishing situations.”

Lindner believes that bucktail jigs are ideal for targeting walleyes because the hair, in combination with a minnow or soft-plastic trailer, really slow the lure’s drop speed when rip-jigging. “Early in the season, that slower drop speed can be vital to success,” he points out. “You don’t want your jig to drop too quickly.

“I’ve done some tank tests with the Deep-Vee Bucktail and I can tell you that it descends noticeably softer than other bucktails I’ve tried when tipped with a minnow,” continues Lindner. “Tip it with a soft-plastic, either straight or paddle tail, and it drops even slower. That combination can be super productive during the crispness of early spring and even when the water begins to warm. That slow drop speed is an awesome draw for walleyes both during the pre- and post-spawn periods.” Early in the season he prefers a simple lift-and-drop presentation.

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As waters warm in late May and early June, Lindner will often graduate to a rip-and-drop presentation. At that point, he might even try ripping a Deep-Vee Bucktail with no plastic or minnow at all. “That’s one of the great things about this bait,” he says, “Because you don’t actually need to tip it, you can keep fishing for a few seconds after missing a strike even if you suspect you’ve lost your bait. Oftentimes, that fish will return to finish the job, resulting in a solid hook-up.”

Of course, it’s always important to match the size of your lure with the water depth, current and your intended targets, adds Lindner. As a general rule, the 1/16 ounce is great for targeting big crappies and panfish, the 1/8 ounce works great in shallow water, ¼ at mid-depths and 3/8 ounce if you go deep or fish in heavy current, he advises. “You’ve got to get out there an experiment until you find the right size for the present conditions. You’ll know you’ve got things dialed in when your rods all start to double over.”

All 12 Northland Fishing Deep-Vee Bucktail fish-catching color patterns are available in four sizes. Lures come packaged 1/card with an MSRP of $3.99 – $4.59.

Deep-Vee Bucktail Features:

  • Life-like bucktail moves and acts like an injured baitfish
  • Features 3D eyes to “match the hatch”
  • Barb-Wire® Keeper keeps plastics or live bait in place
  • Keeled “DEEP-VEE” design tracks straight and true
  • Available in 12 color patterns and four sizes: 1/16 oz. (#2 hook), 1/8 oz. (#1/0 hook), 1/4 oz. (#2/0 hook), 3/8 oz. (#3/0 hook)

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