Inside the Plant “Gem-n-Eye”

December 8th, 2016 · 4 Comments


JB Lures: Inside the Plant

The “Gem-n-Eye”

The original flutter jig, the “Gem-n-Eye”. Perhaps one of the products JB Lures is best known for, the Gem-n-Eye has been around since the start. Few and far between haven’t fished with or at least heard fishing stories about this jig. If I were to have one lure to use year round it would be the Gem-n-Eye, it steadily puts fish on the ice and you can’t go wrong casting and retrieving it with a head or tail hooked minnow. If you have fished it you love it, if you haven’t you need to!

The "Gem-n-Eye"

                        The “Gem-n-Eye”

What Makes a Gem-n-Eye?

When it comes down to it, local hardworking people make the Gem-n-Eye from start to finish.  Here are the steps involved.

The Gem-n-Eye starts as simply a hammered nickel blade and a gold Mustad hook. Those two parts are each hand soldered together. This is a very precise and important part of the process, too much solder will fill the hole in the blade and not enough will expose the hook. We have a great group of young men that solder all of the Gem-n-Eyes, and much more, locally just outside of Winthrop, MN. After each jig is soldered there is a cleaning process to take off left over residue before paint.

Painting starts with someone racking each individual jig in a foam stick, once racked they are ready to be painted. Gem-n-Eyes along with the rest of JB Lures products are air brushed with a primer, paint, and a super tough epoxy finish.  A prism eye and split ring are the finishing touches that bring everything together.

Fishing With a Gem-n-Eye

The 18 Colors of Gem-n-Eyes

               The 18 Colors of Gem-n-Eyes

With three sizes and 18 colors it’s easy to understand why this jig is so versatile. Many of our color options glow which, in many conditions, is essential to put fish on the ice. The #8 Gem-n-Eye is the smallest size we make and it is a great jig for crappies and bluegills. The #6 and #4 Gem-n-Eye are both great for Walleyes.

  • Ice

There are many plastics out there that work great on a Gem-n-Eye but there is something about tipping it with a minnow. Under a slip bobber, whether it’s a #8 for crappies or a #4 for walleyes, when you hook a minnow right behind the dorsal fin this jig turns with each movement the minnow makes flashing between the hammered and painted sides of the jig.

  • Summer

Tom touches on this below in the history however, he and many other fishermen that have tried it agree that the Gem-n-Eye is a game-changer in the summer too. From a lighted slip bobber at night to pitching it from shore or in a river, the Gem-n-Eye is a must have in your tackle box. Because the hook faces up while retrieving there are very few snags along with a great hookset. With a minnow hooked through the head there is a great wobbling action to this jig as it is retrieved or even trolled. Give it a try next summer!

The History Behind “The Original Flutter Jig”, by Tom Langhoff Himself

It was 1988 when JB Lures, a fledgling tackle manufacturing company started soldering up the Gem-n-Eye. Being an unknown name in tackle, JB Lures had a very hard time selling any of the Gem-n-Eyes. Originally made to be used as an ice lure there was no interest in the lure in January and February of 1988. I had fished with the lure myself and found out some of the secrets of the Gem-n-Eye. The large prism eye, the action when jigged with the addition of a split-ring, along with the way it was presented with a minnow hooked under the dorsal fin seemed to call in fish and trigger a bite under a slip bobber.

This was just the beginning, soon as spring came and the ice was off the lakes and rivers more secrets emerged. By pitching the Gem-n-Eye and using a cadence which the fish were adhering to would attract and also trigger bites. Under open water conditions I originally hooked the minnow through the lips but, when the bite became more lethargic hooking the minnow in the tail gave a better hooking percentage.

In the summer of 1988 JB tried to sell Gem-n-Eyes to the launch drivers around Mille Lacs. No one wanted to give them a try. Finally we gave out a card of 12 Gem-n-Eyes to most every launch on the big lake. Soon reports came back of the success the launches were having using the Gem-n-Eye under a slip-bobber for Walleyes. By the fall of 1988 the bait shop owners around Mille Lacs were desperate to order some Gem-n-Eyes and people started using them as soon as the ice was safe that winter. The lure caught on so fast that there were signs in front of bait shops say, “YES WE HAVE GEM-N-EYES”. This warmed up my body on those cold days on the road. Sales were great as was the fishing in those days around the big lake. The word spread and by the following year many of the bait shops in northern Minnesota eagerly placed an early order to make sure Gem-n-Eyes would be delivered before the ice season got under way.

In those days most of the sales were done right out the JB Cargo Van. Soon orders were called in to the plant and we added extra help to produce Gem-n-Eyes, which went out the door as fast as we could get them soldered up, painted, eyed, split ringed and packaged.

In the past 30 plus years of selling JB Tackle I have never seen a JB product hit the market and become as popular as the Gem-n-Eye “The Original Flutter Jig”! For over 30 years this little All American Made lure has been such a great fish-catching machine.


A few of the different paints over                                the years

The Gem-n-Eye has had a lot of different faces, at one point there were 5 sizes two of which were larger than the biggest we sell now, #1/0 and #2. There were two-toned hand brushed paint jobs, transparent paint jobs, airbrushing, and many other paint styles. From five sizes and probably hundreds of colors over the years the Gem-n-Eye has now become the well-known three sizes and 18 outstanding colors.

Now I use the Gem-n-Eyes even more in the open water then on the ice. River fishing becomes easier while fishing an eddy, tributary, slow current or even using as a pitch and slow retrieve along the river bank. The lure rides more flat in the water, and because the hook faces up while retrieving there are very few snags along with a great hookset.

Gem-n-Eyes can usually be found where any other ice tackle is being sold. I hope more Gem-n-Eyes will be used in open water in the future. Numbers have been on the rise for several years, along with our color selection. As of today, we have eighteen colors and three sizes. The weights are very close to 1/8oz with a #4 Hook, 1/16oz with a #6 Hook and a 1/32oz with a #8 Hook. All hooks are gold and yes, they are all still made one at a time right here in Winthrop, Minnesota.

Thank You!

Thank you to everyone that has supported the American Made company that JB Lures has been and will continue to be! We take great pride in providing high quality fishing tackle made locally in Minnesota. Everyone here at JB Lures is looking forward to another great ice season. This winter be sure to stay safe, have fun, and try out some Gem-n-Eyes!

Tags: "Inside the Plant" · Ice Fishing ·


4 responses to “Inside the Plant “Gem-n-Eye””

  1. Great story!! I lived it and soldered some of the first Gem-N-Eyes. I’ve caught many fish with them!!!

  2. Steve Schuette says:

    I was using the original Gen-N-Eye for ice fishing since they first came out. Glow with prism eye.

  3. Bruce Barnum says:

    I did many of these working for Scenic Tackle in Bemidji. I didn’t solder, just placed the hooks in the fixture for the solderer. I know the process very well!

  4. Mike J. Hoots says:

    I used to make my own soldered ice fishing lures way back in the 1960’s. Laying # 14 Gold Mustad hooks on a pine board, and dropping solder on each hook, using a base coat of white “testers” paint, followed with different colored top coats. They were “Killer”lures back then. Fast forward to last week, in Michigan for a “Labor Day” getaway, and fishing holiday for the grand kids. My two grand daughters were “killing” the bluegills with “old ” teardrop lures I put on their rods. They never hardly ever missed a “bite”. They “outfished” me, with my regular round jig.

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