An Oklahoma bass fisherman has teamed with a Missouri bait company to produce one of the newest creature baits on the market.
“Whiskers” debuted at the 2014 Bassmaster Classic Outdoor Expo in Birmingham, Ala., three months ago. It’s manufactured by Tightlines UV (Ultimate Vision) of Maryville, Mo., and was designed by Greg Dorris of Bristow.
Dorris, a fourth-grade schoolteacher, has been a bass fisherman for almost 50 years. His father, J.E. Dorris, was a longtime bass fishing guide on Lake Texoma and Lake Eufaula whose former college roommate was Okiebug founder and 1972 Bassmaster Classic Champion Don Butler.
Dorris has tinkered with baits most of his life, trying to win money in bass tournaments. His father, who was a high school principal, designed his own spinnerbait called the Dorris Dandy, which many years ago was popular among bass anglers on Lake Eufaula.
Dorris got the idea for “Whiskers” — a soft plastic bait that looks like a crawdad with whiskers instead of claws — after watching a fishing show that featured a frog bait that had legs of bundled strands for legs, much like the rubber skirt on a spinnerbait or jig.
He created his first homemade baits using a sewing needle to attach the strands or “whiskers” to a soft plastic crawdad.
He decided to patent the design after a successful day of fishing with his 10-year-old son at Grand Lake. A bass tournament was being held on the lake that day, and Dorris would cast for his son and let him fish the new bait.
“I put the lure on a Carolina rig and we started going down this bank behind these tournament guys,” Dorris said. “The tournament guys were fishing in there with worms and jigs and not catching much.”
Dorris’ son, however, started catching bass. After landing three or four, the claws on the crawdad bait had been bit off. Dorris kept throwing the bait for his son with just the strands attached and the bites got even better.
“He caught nine in a row on that new bait without the claws,” Dorris said. “I said right then, I got to go see a (patent) lawyer.”
Dorris obtained a patent on the design, then months afterward discovered Tightlines had started manufacturing the same bait. Instead of a patent fight, the company cut Dorris in on a percentage.
Tightlines UV is one of the leaders in the tackle industry in the trend of UV colors in baits. While humans need a blacklight to see ultraviolet reflectivity, fish can see it naturally. Thus, the theory is that fish can more easily see baits with UV-reflective paint.
Tightlines UV, however, takes the process a step further and infuses a small amount of UV color in its soft plastic baits, including the Whiskers line.
Dorris said the Whiskers baits, which come in different colors and models, mimics a crawdad and should be fished slowly on the bottom.
“When you stop it, it stands up and those whiskers flare out just like a crawdad with its pincers out,” he said. “It looks just like a mad crawdad in the water.”
Dorris said he’s caught many smallmouth and spotted bass on the bait at Lake Tenkiller and Lake Eufaula. For more information or to order the baits, contact Tightlines UV at (660) 562-3838 or online at tightlinesuv.com