One of the people I’ve most admired in my life passed away recently. Her name was Doris Parsons. She owned Tackle Town in Maiden, N.C., one of the premier custom fishing tackle shops in the country.
I’ve known her for at least 25 years. I can still remember the first time I went into Tackle Town and met her. I was mesmerized by all the spinnerbaits she had hanging around the place. They were everywhere, and it seemed like every one of them was unique — just a little different from the others.
She made them all herself, from scratch. She poured the heads, ordered the very best hooks, bent the wire and put the skirts together. Really, she was as much an artist as she was a lure maker. What she did wasn’t easy, either. Try to bend the wire or make a skirt to build a spinnerbait and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
She made custom spinnerbaits for a lot of us over the years. It didn’t matter what we wanted or how different it might be, she was able to build them, and if we wanted more than one — we all did, of course — every one would be perfect and exactly the same.
The “we” I’m referring to includes the likes of Ben Parker, son of legendary professional bass angler Hank Parker, Tom Mann and Tommy Martin. That’s a lot of talent. Anglers like them wouldn’t be going to her if she wasn’t one of the best.
I’m not for sure but I think she’s the one who made the first four-blade models. She made the first ones I ever saw, anyway. I remember thinking they were a little much, but after I fished with a couple of them I realized she was on to something.
That shouldn’t have ever been a question. I’m telling you this woman was the real deal.
And, she was not only a first-class lure maker but he was also a first-class angler. She could do it all. She fished for fun a lot, but she also competed in tournaments. I don’t know all the details of her competitive career but I do know it was pretty good. She won several big tournaments against serious anglers who knew what they were doing, and she fished a ton of club events, Federation events and at least one WBT tournament back in 2006.
She made jigs and spoons, too. I can tell you from personal experience they were just as good as her spinnerbaits.
Fishing wasn’t all Doris was about, though. She was a good person, inside and out. Not one person ever needed help that didn’t get it from her. Honestly, I don’t know anyone who would say a bad word about her. That’s unique in this business.
Doris fought her illness to the very end. When I was in the gym last year rehabbing my shoulder, I’d see her working to restore her strength. And she wasn’t just working at it. She was working hard at it. She did the best she could given the overwhelming odds she was facing.
The world needs more people in it like Doris Parsons. She was a credit to herself and to all of those who were fortunate enough to be around her. She’ll be missed — in more ways than one.