By: TJ Hester

Bobber and jig is to steelheading like apple pie is to American culture. While other techniques have evolved and developed, so has perfecting the original. Last year I mentioned how I tip my jigs with Pautzke eggs as well as coon shrimp tails. That hasn’t changed.

Meanwhile, I’ve learned other ways to tweak using jigs for better odds and adding options to catch steelhead. I credit Marlin Lefever of Fishing Addicts Northwest for opening my eyes to this technique. Tipping jigs with raw prawn (that aren’t brined) from the grocery store has become a regular method on my boat. Keep in mind, I do heavily scent these with Pautzke Red Nectar and Fire Power (krill powder).

I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. I do brine shrimp with Fire Brine and always have those on my boat. However, I also want to have some shrimp on my boat that are scented, yet raw. This allows the fish to tell me what they want on that particular day: either brined or raw with scent.

Why have I started using more prawns instead of solely coon shrimp? They are cheaper than coon shrimp, for one. Using prawns is conducive to matching the bait to the size of the jig, and frankly it’s easier. In addition, when other shrimp types aren’t working a prawn brings a different scent.


Creating The Unbrined Tipping Shrimp

Step 1:

Get your mix ready and allow the raw shrimp to defrost, but use caution not to let them get warm.


Step 2:

Peel off the shell and cut the shrimp into preferred offering size. Different jigs sizes require different sizes of bait. It’s important not to offset the jig with the weight of your prawn.


Step 3:

Take prawns and place in a container. Fill the container with Nectar adding to enough to cover the shrimp (steelhead love Nectar because of it’s strong egg scent). At this time I add a few shakes of Fire Power (just enough to cover the surface of the liquid).


Step 4:

Let the Nectar scent soak into the prawns overnight. They’ll be fishable in the morning.


Due to the cold, steelhead fishing can be challenging in many areas of the Northwest and Great Lakes this time of year. This is why getting technical with bait is important. I prefer not to go out with just eggs, coon tails or just shrimp. It’s important to have a complete arsenal. Most days if you’re flexible with your baits you’ll find something they’ll eat.

Editor’s Note: TJ Hester operates Hester’s Sportfishing. For more information on his guides service please visit