One of the most-talented and successful artificial lure designers since the 1980s remembers the trials and tribulations associated with designing Stanley Jigs’ Racket Blade.
Texan Lonnie Stanley knew what he wanted from a bladed jig. It took him a while, but his persistence paid off.
“I’ve been playing with this thing for almost three years. It wouldn’t work right,” Stanley said.
He tweaked it and tweaked it and did some more tweaking until he was satisfied with its performance, i.e., its ability to trigger bites. Stanley, 75, and others fished with prototypes for a year or so before it was deemed worthy of reaching the market.
“We’ve had this for a year. We’ve been testing it. We’re excited about it. It does catch fish,” he said.
Big fish bait
Racket Blades were distributed a few months this year to stores around Lake Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend, Stanley said. If bass anglers want to get their hands on one more quickly, go to www.fishstanley.com.
“It’s a ‘big fish’ bait, but you can also catch a limit on it,” Stanley said. “You can catch a 1-pounder on it and an 8-pounder on it,” plus everything in between.
Stanley’s heaviest bass with his new bladed jig was a 9.8-pound hawg that bit in a private pond in east Texas. A native of Zavalia, Texas, he also has caught several 7-pound class bass on it at Lake Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend. Other bragging-size bass were boated by others who tied on the prototypes.
Stanley, whose business is based in Huntington, Texas, got an immediate thumbs-up on the design early on in the process from his longtime friend and business partner, John Hale, another veteran east Texas angler in his late 70s.
Some extra racket
What separates the Racket Blade is a short, wire harness between the familiar Stanley spinnerbait head and the steel or brass blade, which are available in different colors. That blade causes the bladed jig to thump, thump, thump, as others do, but look closer, and there are two silver beads — one smaller than the other — on the wire going to the eye for the line tie that clack on the blade as it vibrates up and down on the retrieve.
“It rattles as it comes through the water. It flashes like a spinnerbait and has the noise and vibration of a (Rat-L-)Trap,” said Stanley, whose company celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2019.
The rattling capability wasn’t planned, he confided. It was a pleasant surprise.
“That’s an action of the good Lord,” he said, chuckling.
Racket Blades are available in 3/8-, ½- and ¾-ounce models. The hand-tied silicone skirts, the company’s staple since the 1980s, are available in 16 colors.
Racket Blades are armed with a 4/0 Mustad Needlepoint hook on the 3/8-ounce model and 5/0 Mustad Needlepoint hooks on the ½- and ¾-ounce models.
Stanley, a five-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, is oh-so proud of another quality feature — a twin titanium-alloy wire weedguard. Bass anglers have the choice of models with or without the weedguard. Like Stanley said, some bassers who fish mostly around rocks feel like they don’t need them, but those who target bass in heavy cover and vegetation appreciate its fishability.
Each Racket Blade also comes with a solid, soft-plastic trailer keeper.
Stanley designed his pet project so that it would get the desired results whether fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass or even redfish.
“Everybody’s catching the heck out of fish on it,” he said.