I just got off the phone with Mike Cole, owner, lure designer and one-man show for the Pure Poison Jig Company. I was interviewing him for a future Bassmaster Magazine article on slow sinking jigs.
Cole makes two slow sinking jigs, the Warhead and the Slow Fall Swimming Jig. Besides being a fishing entrepreneur, he is also an avid eastern Tennessee bass fisherman.
Cole can drive 10 minutes from home and launch his boat in Watts Bar, Tellico or Ft. Loudon. He also fishes Lake Douglas a dozen or more times a year, which is the site of the next Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open.
I'll be fishing that event as a nonboater. When Cole mentioned Douglas, I couldn't resist picking his brain about what is likely to happen during the early June tournament.
First of all, the bass will be postspawn. There may still be some spinnerbait fish, and some of the competitors will probably get on a flipping bite, Cole believes.
However, most of the bass will be caught 10 to 20 feet deep from rocky humps, drops and creek channel ledges. Offshore cranking will catch good limits, but Cole thinks the winner will be dragging a football jig much of the time.
Specifically, Cole believes his Pure Poison Smashmouth Football Jig in the Smokey Mountain Craw color could anchor the winning bags.
"I sell tons of football jigs to guys that fish Douglas," Cole says. "When the bass go deep, it's hard to beat draggin' a jig there."
It comes as no shock that Cole is partial to his Smashmouth Football Jig. But aren't all football jigs pretty much alike?
Cole makes a convincing case that the Smashmouth is superior. The jig's main feature is a 29-degree eye that's slightly higher than the hook's point. This pulls the jig straight up on the hook set and buries the barb in the roof off the bass' mouth or through its nose, Cole claims.
When you set the hook with other football jigs, the bait pulls straight out of the bass' mouth. You miss many strikes and lightly hook bass that throw the jig when they jump.
I'm all too familiar with bass spitting football jigs at me. I will definitely have some Smashmouth Football Jigs in my tacklebox when I fish Douglas.
Before I headed home after the last Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open at Lake Norman, I did a quick photo shoot with Alabama's Jimmy Mason. The photos are for an upcoming B.A.S.S. Times story on bulging spinnerbaits.
When we took a short break, Mason let me make a few casts with his baitcasting outfits. Dobyns Rods and Lew's Reels are two of his sponsors.
Since I make my living writing mainly about fishing, I'm supposed to be up on all the latest gear. My bad.
I had never heard of Dobyns Rods. I was impressed with them. They are light and sweet casting.
I didn't backlash the super light Lew's Speed Spool reels, which is saying something. I can thoroughly backlash any baitcasting reel ever made. It's almost a point of pride.
We headed back to the ramp after taking the photos I needed. As I loaded my camera gear into my truck, Mason talked on his cell phone. I didn't know it, but he was talking to the folks at Dobyns about giving me one of their rods. They agreed.
Mason was putting tackle away in his boat when I stopped to say goodbye. He handed me a Dobyns flippin' rod.
"Take that home with you," he said.
"Yeah, I just talked to the boss. He said it was OK."
Should I have accepted the rod? Maybe another writer would have turned it down.
Me? I snatched that rod and drove home like a bandit.
Back home, I matched the Dobyns flippin' stick with a 5.5-ounce Shimano Core baitcasting reel. The outfit is so light that I've had to adjust my pitching motion.
I plan to stick with it until I get in the groove. This combination will make pitching and flippin' nearly effortless.
I might not need the flippin' outfit at Douglas, but I'll surely bring it, just in case.
Editor's note: Mark Hicks is one of the country's most widely read and respected bass writers. He has penned countless articles for Bassmaster Magazine, B.A.S.S. Times and other publications.