The school of panfish below the ice moved in and out, and when they showed up on the Vexilar, I was quick to connect with them as our lures went up and down the hole. Big bluegills were the target, with an occasional crappie mixed in, and they were responding well at last ice in 18 feet of water. Getting down quickly was the trick to catch more than one as they’d move along the weededge. The trio of tiny tungsten jigs I offered them dropped like proverbial rocks in the clear water and were key in connecting.
The proliferation of tungsten lures has given anglers of all stripes the chance to get down to fish faster and work deeper areas where larger fish often hold. Tungsten is over twice as dense as lead, giving anglers significantly heavier lures in the same compact sizes. Tungsten is also less malleable than lead, meaning it doesn’t shift in shape or get scratched or dinged as easily. Where tungsten shines particularly is in the realms of ice fishing, fly fishing and when working deep structure for bass and offerings across the angling spectrum allow anglers to get down to business a whole lot quicker.
While a shortened ice fishing season is wrapping up with warm weather sweeping across the upper Midwest, the northern reaches of the region will still provide fast action for panfish like bull bluegills and slab crappies before the hardwater gives way to spring and the prespawn season. Oftentimes, with tiny lead panfish jigs, it takes valuable time for the offering to make its way down to the school of fish below. As fickle as crappies and perch can be, they may have passed through by the time the lure gets to them.
But tungsten lures drop fast, almost three times faster in freefall than lead, allowing you to get back to the action even faster without sacrificing the small size that often is required to connect with panfish. Paired with light line from two- to four-pound test, tungsten jigs will give you an edge on the ice when the bite is fast and schools are moving through intermittently.
Additionally, tungsten weighted flies are giving longrodders the advantage in fast flowing streams for trout from coast to coast. Where significant lead wrapping and brass beads were once the norm when anglers wanted to get deep in a flow, tungsten beads now get delicate nymphs down in the water quickly, and allow those standard beadhead patterns to hold in the strike zones where larger trout are also located. While about four times more expensive than brass beads, tungsten beads provide added weight for tiny flies to get down into deeper stretches of rivers, or larger pools, making them perfect for smaller nymph and midge patterns.
Where tungsten has impacted standard angling the most is in the realm of bass fishing. Smaller tungsten lures are obviously easier to make, en masse, for fishing but there are some bigger offerings available to anglers. For those deep clear smallmouth lakes up north, or for post-frontal largemouth on big lakes that hold on deeper breaks, tungsten-weighted tubes and worms, or bass jigs crafted out of the dense metal, allow anglers to get down to fish in high-percentage areas. At this time, many companies offer standard bullet weights in tungsten for rigging worms and creature baits along with an expanding line of standard bass jigs. Much like the on-ice option, these lures get down fast so anglers can hop and slither their offerings in deep water, while capitalizing on getting down there fast to catch more fish. What’s more, for fussy fish, anglers can use smaller sized tungsten weights in place of larger lead weights that weigh the same, for a more natural look and presentation.
While the metal is far more expensive than lead or other standard weight materials, the advantages it provides in terms of increased density in the same sized package, and the ability to get down to fish quickly is worth it in the scenarios set out above. As the season progresses, the options will expand for exploration as to how this unique metal fits into your adventures…in our outdoors