Dude designed a lead-head crappie jig with two barbs on the shank, as opposed to the single barb on most jigs. Two barbs make it twice as difficult for soft plastics to be ripped off by repeated strikes, bites and nibbles.
Dude calls it his “double cross” design.
“With the double barb sometimes I can fish with a single plastic jig all morning before it gets tore off,” says Dude, a retired Ford Glass Plant employee who lives in Mt. Juliet.
“It not only saves a lot of jigs, it saves a lot of time, not having to stop and replace a shredded jig every few casts.”
Necessity, as they say, was the mother of Dude’s invention.
“I do a lot of crappie fishing and I got tired of going through so many plastic jigs,” he says. “I started using my pocket knife to cut another barb in the lead shank that holds the plastic. Then it occurred to me that I could make a jig mold with a double barb on it.”
Dude’s double-cross design proved so effective that it is being used by the Trout Magnet lure company in its line of popular Crappie Magnets.
“I don’t get a royalty from it, just all the jigs I want,” Dude says.
“Jeff Smith (co-founder of Trout Magnets) is a friend of mine and when he asked about using my design, I was glad to let him do it.”
In addition to Crappie Magnets and Slab Magnets, Dude says the double-cross lead-head will work equally well for tube jigs, Twister Tails and any other types of plastic.
Dude knows his stuff – on a recent freezing February morning he and partner Brian Oldham hauled 30 big slabs out of the icy depths of Percy Priest Lake.
The best lure in the world can’t catch fish if there’s no fish there, and Dude knows where to find them. Since 1980 he estimates he has sunk some 4,000 fish-attracting wooden stake beds on various area lakes. He marks the beds on a GPS device, enabling him to find and fish them later.
“I build the beds in the winter when the water’s down,” Dude says. “It’s cold, hard work, hauling the stakes out on the lake and hammering them down in the bottom. But it’s worth it when you start catching crappie off them.”
Even though Dude’s submerged stake beds are not visibly marked, he knows other fishermen will often stumble on them by accident.
“I don’t mind other folks fishing them,” he says. “If I pull up to one spot and somebody’s on it, I’ve got plenty more to go to.”
Dude says he was led to crappie fishing through religion.
“I used to be a really serious bass fisherman,” he says. “I was consumed by it, bass fishing day and night, until one day I realized it was keeping me away from church. I decided to swap bass fishing for crappie fishing because it’s not as time-consuming.”
Now he’s an acclaimed crappie expert who knows how to bring in a boat-load of big slabs using his personally-designed jigs – and still has plenty of time for church.
Clearly Dude is living right.