A veteran crappie fishing guide in North Alabama got arguably the most pleasant surprise of his life earlier this year when he first got his hands on the Lindy Legendary Fishing Tackle hair jigs that are part of Bill Dance’s Crappie Series.
The hair jig has legendary television fishing show host Bill Dance written all over it — well, at least on the front and back of the package bearing Dance’s recognizable mug under the trademark “T” for Tennessee baseball cap.
Dance was behind the project to create the slab-catching Dancin’ Crappie Jigs proclaimed as “the perfect size to mimic young-of-the-year shad, minnows, large aquatic insects and other preferred forage species.
“When I heard John Phelen (Lindy official) and them talking about the crappie jigs, I thought it’d probably be tubes,” said Brad Whitehead of Muscle Shoals, Ala.
Imagine Whitehead’s pure delight when he got his first look this spring at the Dancin’ Crappie Jig, an artificial lure that looked just like the homemade hair jigs he has relied on to put slabs in the boat for the past decade as he targeted crappie in Pickwick Lake, Wilson Lake and watershed lakes around the upper reaches of Alabama.
The hair jig has a “lifelike tail, baitfish-imitating profile and strike-triggering colors,” according to a spokesman for the well-known fishing-tackle manufacturer.
“I never thought it would be a hair jig tied the same way. When this jig came out, it was absolutely perfect, tied up the way we do. There’s a lot of hair on them,” Whitehead said the second week of May, getting more excited with every sentence, “and they added something — tinsel. They put four strips in it, which is great.”
Like a carpenter with his tools, or a chef with his pots and pans, the 34-year-old Whitehead relies on quality artificial lures to put crappie in the boat when it counts, which, for him is every weekend (weather permitting) from January through June and every weekend October to the end of November.
“It’s a confidence bait ever since I started crappie fishing. Now they’ve put it on the market and added a few touches. They’ve started making the ultimate crappie jig,” Whitehead said. “Ninety-nine percent of the (artificial lures) I use have hair on them. It’s absolutely perfect.”
Whitehead, who works full time for the city in his hometown of Muscle Shoals, where he oversees a street department crew, tips his cap to Dance, who was responsible for the creation of six great “crappie killers” being touted and introduced this year by Lindy.
Whitehead said Dance’s creations more than likely were inspired by those hand-tied hair jigs made by Roger Gant of Counts, Tenn., who, like Whitehead, is a crappie fishing guide who taps the crappie population on, among other waterbodies, Pickwick Lake.
Dance has fished for crappie often with Gant, Whitehead said. The television fishing show host and former bass fishing pro obviously thought plenty about those hairy crappie jigs made by Gant.
Lindy officials and Dance put their heads together and came up with a crappie jig worthy of the name Lindy.
The Dancin’ Crappie Jig is made with “Fish Hair,” a coarse, synthetic material known for its strength and durability, so durable that it is used also for artificial lures Lindy manufacturers for toothy bluefish, pike and muskies.
Whitehead said the leadhead’s paint job also sets it apart from other crappie jigs.
“The paint job is top-notch and that’s a big deal to me. I don’t want one side chartreuse, one side lead,” he said.
He admitted some newly minted artificial lures on the market don’t catch fish, and others don’t fit the style of fishing favored by the fishermen.
“I like the 1/8-ounce,” he said. “You’ve got to understand I normally fish 20- to 25-feet of water. I like deep fish. Deep fish don’t change (patterns) as much as shallow fish.
“You can use one in clear or muddy water, or hot and cold. I’ve used it when the water’s 90 degrees and I’ve iused it when the water temperature’s in the 30s.”
Lindy’s Dancin’ Crappie Jigs are available in 1/32-, 1/16- and 1/8-ounce weights, Whitehead said.
A Lindy spokesman said each of the hair jigs “appeals to a sac-a-lait’s predatory instincts and triggers strike after strike when other baits fail.”
For more information, go to www.LindyFishingTackle.com, or write to Lindy Legendary Fishing Tackle, P.O. Box 973, Brainerd, Minn. 56401.