The mouth of the Mississippi River is a long way from where Bassmaster Classic anglers will launch, but those who make the run should find winning stringers waiting for them.
The first time I saw Eddie Borne of Clinton, Miss., he was as excited about his entry into the soft-plastic manufacturing business as he was about his bassin’ outing in the marsh out of Bayou Black Marina in Gibson.
Borne, who grew up in Luling before moving to Mississippi, and a partner were buying V&M, a line of soft plastics well known in Alabama and up the East Coast. The 30-year-old industrial paint salesman for Technical Coating Service couldn’t wait to introduce V&M products, such as the new Super High-Tail, a creature bait on a larger scale than the established High-Tail, to Louisiana bass fishermen.
Borne was prefishing for a tournament in the area and had caught some nice bass, he said as he docked at the marina late one morning in April. He couldn’t speak highly enough about V&M, an Anniston, Ala.-based company that had been in business 13 years.
“They have quality products. Unbelievable,” he said as he opened a bag for inspection.
“It appears to be a deal too hard to pass up, and it’s something I love,” he said. “I always dreamed of waking up in the morning and I can’t wait to go to work.”
Later, Borne sent some Super High-Tails to New Iberia.
It feels good, smells good and looks good … whatever it’s supposed to look like. Bass must react the same way when they see the creature bait from V&M.
Super High-Tails started getting on board in the Louisiana market soon after the mold was ready in early June. They are called High-Tails because the tail floats when the weighted soft plastic is on the bottom, much like a crawfish.
“When it’s got a weight and it falls to the bottom, other creature baits stay there laying on the bottom. Ours is standing up,” Borne said. “It’s got a lot more action. We turned our legs the opposite way so when you pull ours, the legs actually spread apart from each other rather than wrapping up with each other.”
Anglers are catching bass on them in Louisiana. In fact, the 2003 Bassmaster Classic at the Louisiana Delta could be won with a V&M Super High-Tail, or any number of other soft plastics manufactured by Bayou Outdoors in West Monroe, where co-owner Tim Brandon, an architect, got the plant up and running in mid-May. Another partner is Robert Ellis.
Borne said Classic qualifiers Matt Reed of Texas, Ron Shuffield of Arkansas and Roger Boler of Slidell will be armed with V&Ms. A soft plastic could be the main meal ticket down there in the dog days of summer for any of the pros.
“He (Boler) had a really good year. We’ve got our team now, and we’re really proud of that. Between him and Ron and Matt, any of those guys can do well in the Classic,” he said.
V&M plans to have a booth at the Classic Outdoor Show in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, he said.
“I’m as excited as I can be about it. Things are coming together. We’ve got production pretty well caught up,” he said as his company entered the heavy demand of summer bass fishing.
And, he said after seeing the reaction of anglers getting their hands on them for the first time in Mississippi and coming back for more, the co-owners don’t plan on making any major changes to the soft plastics.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is their motto. The makeup is there for plenty of bass to be caught on V&Ms. They sure produce in the Atchafalaya Basin, and are bound to make a splash at Toledo Bend and other popular bass fishing hotspots in the Sportsman’s Paradise.
“All of our baits have anise oil and pork fat cooked in the bait. You’re going to have that scent and taste throughout,” he said.
V&M soft plastics aren’t impregnated with salt, he said, because salt reduces buoyancy.
That special combination of anise oil and pork fat has impressed Ricky Naquin of Thibodaux. Naquin, who teamed with Louisiana Sportsman Publisher Tony Taylor earlier this year to win the Eric Andolsek Memorial Tournament, said he noticed the smell stays with the soft plastics no matter how long he’s been throwing them.
That’s the idea, Borne said, noting that scents that are sprayed on eventually wash off. Fishermen go fishing to fish, not spend their day squirting or spraying attractants, he said.
V&M boasts rigid quality control on its products, which means each soft plastic has clean lines and smooth edges thanks to a state-of-the-art injection process, he said.
That injection process produces true two-tones, he said, not dipped colors that bleed and run.
Speaking of color, Borne said V&M uses high-grade plastics that ensure the colors are bright and lifelike.
The Super High-Tail will be available in 22 colors, including popular hues such as black/blue glitter, green pumpkin/red, june bug red, red shad, sapphire blue and watermelon candy. There were five colors available the third week of June.
Borne recommends fishing Super High-Tails with a 4/0 extra wide gap hook but, of course, he said, the hook size and weight depends on what you’re doing with the soft plastic.
For more information on V&M’s Super High-Tails, log on to bayououtdoors.com or call 601-924-9120.
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