Author Topic: The Evolution of the keeper wire....  (Read 1396 times)

Offline ctom

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The Evolution of the keeper wire....
« on: 12/20/23 14:24 UTC »
I like to think that I stay abreast of what the fishing industry hands us today as far as innovations and new tackle/baits. I'll admit that the bass industry does little to get me excited but the panfish and walleye markets are a bit different, and I can spend a lot of time digging thru pages of tackle and tricks that may further my understanding and enjoyment of those two aspects of angling. There seems to be a never-ending parade of tactics and colors and bait profiles to keep this old mind busy trying to decide what I might buy into and what might just go the way of the Do-Do bird with me. I do, however, pay attention when something trips my trigger.... like the wire keeper. It has nothing to do with a bait's color, or action, or profile and certainly doesn't affect the primary way a jig works in the water, but it has changed how whatever is put on the jig as a dressing will work.

Of all of the contributions to fishing in recent years, I think the keeper wire leads the pack in usefulness and downright, unfettered utility. For years jigs were made with the ungainly keeper spur that tore very soft plastics or very thin, narrow plastics. Except for very large-bodied plastic baits, that cast on lead keeper simply was not a friend to the angler. Enter the wire keeper and almost overnight a whole new world of soft plastic baits came into use. Thinner, more action filled baits could now be put on the venerable old jig without having the head end torn up because the cold weather firmed up the plastic. The jig head itself became a balanced part of the tackle instead of too heavy because the lead barb and collar put too much weight behind the head. That wire keeper was a blessing to the walleye and panfish anglers. Of course when longer, thinner baits became more in vogue, jigs began being made with longer hook shanks with the idea of supporting those skinny plastic baits and the wire keeper did its job pretty well. Most of the time. Then people began wondering.... what if the keeper wire was longer?

The first wire keepers were held in place by a simple bend in the head end of the wire, but as the progression to longer wires started to take off it was apparent the longer wire need a little more support than just the lead. Do-It's WB800 wire answers that need by creating a small "saddle" that hooks over the hook shank inside the head. This gives the longer wires, prone to torquing, lateral stability and the extra stiffness needed to do what they're meant to do. In the top picture are several head styles that have been cast using the WB800 wires; a couple 1/8 and a couple 1/4 collarless ballheads and a couple Finesse Swim Jig Heads. The Finesse Swimbait Head mold utilizes a coil spring, screw-on keeper as can be seen in the painted head in with the other heads, and was modified to use the WB800 with a couple taps of a hammer. Nothing at all changed in the mold regarding the head itself. Either keeper style can be used without doing a thing. The collarless molds are the same way. Don't want a keeper, don't use one and cast away.... nothing changes, no flash at all where the tiny indent is where the wire would lie. 



The original Swimbait Head mold that Do-It introduced a few years back uses an even more aggressive double keeper wire as can be seen in the second picture. I like chucking the two larger heads the mold makes, 5/8 and 3/4, out into Lake Superior using 4 and 6 inch Do-It Rippers for Lake Trout and that double wire keeper is more than appreciated since casting force thru a 10 foot rod is extreme and those baits don't come off.  And those big baits stay put when a Laker decides its dinner time.



From the lead barb and collar to the first wire keeper was a huge leap that has changed a lot of how we fish today and subsequent keepers have been other strides in the same direction. Do-It Molds has been a real champion in staying abreast of the advancing technology that has wrapped the wire keeper in a nice bow. All three of the keepers are available from the Do-It store or from vendors such as Zeiners and Barlows. If it's not a plastic bait or a jig and just hitting the market, I may take a peek at it, but these keeper wires have changed so much for me and opened so many doors with regard to plastic baits I am able to use without fear of tearing that I'm still in a state of "wow". And I haven't really gotten into my jig molds yet to decide which will be wearing the wires come next spring!

« Last Edit: 12/20/23 15:52 UTC by ctom »
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Offline bigjim5589

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Re: The Evolution of the keeper wire....
« Reply #1 on: 12/20/23 19:42 UTC »
Great write up! I like the wire keepers on various jig head styles. When Do It came out with the Midwest Finesse molds, I got them and poured the jigs with the specified wire keepers, but have since gone to only using the longer WB800 wires, even if I have to bend or cut them for some cavities. The WB400 wires simply do not stay in the lead very well, even with harder lead.

I've also given consideration to modifying some molds for that double keeper. That would primarily be for some baits that I like when targeting Striped Bass.

Of course I also still use some jigs that have the lead keepers, but agree that most of them are not good for thinner or softer plastics.

When I got the Hybrid Grass Jig mold, my first thought was that the lead barb was way too big, so I cut them down like in this photo.


Online Lamar

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Re: The Evolution of the keeper wire....
« Reply #2 on: 12/21/23 07:47 UTC »
 I also play around with different wire keepers. I hate always adjusting my bait. I watched on a video where a pro was doing this and kind of modified it to fit my needs. It's just a simple paper staple. I tie it to the back of the hook with a drop of super glue gel to hold it straight and then bent the legs forward. You can add it to any bait. Jigs, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits or just a plain hook like you see here. The other wire keeper is the nose weight with the double barb. It's made from a neg head and double barb insert. I use it for a lot of baits. Wacky Rig a 4 inch senko or Icraw with it. The Icraw fished that way is a killer on smallmouth. When you pull it then it bends in the middle and stands straight up. As pictured I use it on a slick shiner. By putting the hook down a ways it makes the shiner swim nose down and a little like a rattle trap only with more control. For forward facing sonar fishing you can drop that bait right in their face.
« Last Edit: 12/21/23 07:54 UTC by Lamar »

Offline ctom

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Re: The Evolution of the keeper wire....
« Reply #3 on: 12/21/23 08:29 UTC »
That's a pretty slick trick with that finesse head Lamar
There are good ships
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Online Lamar

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Re: The Evolution of the keeper wire....
« Reply #4 on: 12/21/23 09:29 UTC »
That's a pretty slick trick with that finesse head Lamar

 I'm guessing you could do that with crappie too. You may have to down size the bait a bit. I don't know if you use forward facing sonar or not but you learn a lot on how the fish interact with your bait and what makes them trigger to bite. Bass will drive you nuts. You'll watch them charge your bait and then just follow it so what you need to do is when he charges you need to do something different to make him commit. So it's tricky but that slick shiner is a good bait for that. You can move it fast or slow or drop it straight down.