On the way to the pond in back of his house, Greg Dorris had to stop at an inflatable kids pool for a demonstration of the lure he designed.
“See, when I stop that lure and let it drop to the bottom?” he said, referring to the lure that he embellished with “whiskers,” clumps of skirt material usually seen on spinnerbaits or bass jigs. “Those whiskers flare out and it looks just like a crawdad’s pinchers.
“It gets the basses’ attention, I’ll tell you that. This lure will flat-out catch fish.”
After the brief demonstration, Dorris laughed at the similarity to a day several years earlier when he recruited a “sponsor.”
“When I knew I was onto something, I wanted to patent the whiskers,” he said. “But it was a lot of money. So I called my 83-year-old mom to see if she would give me a loan. She wanted to see it first. So I went over to her house, we filled her bathtub, and I showed her the bait in action.
“She just walked out of the room, and I was wondering if she didn’t like the lure. But she came back with a check and handed it to me.”
Today, the lure is one of the hottest baits on the market, manufactured by Tightlines UV in Maryville, Mo.
It combines two of the most eye-catching innovations in recent lure design. Brett Ware, president of Tightlines, provides the plastic bodies that are injected with a substance that makes the lures stand out underwater. Then he uses the “whiskers” that Dorris patented to make five types of plastic baits that are already making waves.
“I took 1,000 packs of Whiskers baits to the Bassmaster Classic (in February) and I sold every one of them by noon the day the show opened,” Ware said. “I knew right then that we had something.
“I think these Whiskers baits are going to catch a lot of bass.”
They already are. Dorris proved that on rainy day recently.
Fishing in a downpour, he used one of the Tightlines Brokenback plastic jerkbaits that he had embellished with strands of whiskers. He put the plastic lure on a buzzbait, then flung it as far as he could.
As he retrieved the lure, it didn’t get far before a big bass rose and smashed it. The largemouth flew into the air and and landed with a belly flop, then pulled hard to get away. It wasn’t long, though, before Dorris had the fish that he estimated at 4 pounds in the boat.
That was only the start. As rainwater filled the bottom of the small johnboat, Dorris and I caught an impressive number of big bass. By the time we were done, we had caught and released five bass larger than 4 pounds, and had lost at least that many big ones, some of them right at the boat.
Dorris, a fourth-grade schoolteacher who is an avid bass fisherman, came up with the idea while watching a fishing show on television. A fisherman was using a topwater frog bait, and the legs on the bait impressed Dorris with their action.
“I wondered if there was any way I could get that kind of action on other baits,” he said.
He got strands of skirt material from his other baits and used his wife’s sewing needle to attach them to a plastic lure. While observing tournament fishermen working a bank on Grand Lake one day, he pulled the one Whiskers bait that he had out of his pocket and tied it onto his son’s line.
“We had just watched three boats of tournament fishermen work that bank without catching a thing,” Dorris said. “I took my boy down the bank using that Whiskers bait and he caught a 3-pounder on his first cast, then he caught two more.
“That last fish bit the plastic claws off, so that just the whiskers were showing. We kept fishing and he caught nine bass in a row, one of them 6 pounds.
“There’s something about those whiskers that the bass really go for.”
To reach outdoors editor Brent Frazee, call 816-234-4319 or send email to email@example.com.
To order Whiskers lures, call Tightlines UV at 660-562-3838 or go to tightlinesuv.com.